When food and travel writer Yasmin Newman’s brother moved from Australia to New York City, her urge to visit the Big Apple became stronger than ever. The culinary scene, iconic desserts and the chance to explore the city in depth led Newman to pack up her home in Sydney, Australia, and move her family (husband, 2-year-old daughter, and baby on the way) to New York for a three-month-long adventure.
The Desserts of New York (And How to Eat Them All) is part cooking book and part tour guide, featuring 50 recipes over five mouth-watering chapters, exploring the numerous neighborhoods of NYC and the desserts most characteristic of each area. In each chapter Newman includes suggestion for where to go, neighborhood facts, and tips from locals about which desserts are must-trys! From Cronuts and Brooklyn blackout cake to
New York cheesecake, Crack Pie, and so much more, Newman covers all the of the most icon New York City desserts.
For anyone planning their own sweet culinary exploration of New York City, this book is a must-have.
Recipes featured include:
What is your philosophy of cooking (and/or eating)?
I wouldn’t say I have one grand, all-encompassing food philosophy. Instead, it’s always evolving. As I explore new countries through food, and meet chefs, artisans and providores, it continues to grow and change. This is what I love about food; it’s never fixed or static, and you’re always learning. My first book, 7000 Islands, tells the rich culinary story of the Philippines through its history and cultural traditions, while The Desserts Of New York is a sweet lovers’ adventure in one of the world’s most iconic metropolises — quite different subjects you could say, in food terms, but bound by the power of food to reveal incredible insights about a city or country, and to bring people of all walks of life together. This, in its way, is my philosophy to food.
As for my palate, I tend towards big, bold flavours combined with balance, and rustic in place of just-for-pretty’s sake, but that’s not to say I don’t really like or appreciate other styles. I definitely try to cook and eat everything, or at least a broad cross-section, as you never know when you’re going to come across that unexpected delight. This is particularly true when overseas, as it’s often your only chance to try it (hence the subtitle of The Desserts of New York – “How to Eat Them All!”).
How did it inspire the recipes you chose to include in this book?
A lot of my readers are armchair travellers, so I wanted them to come away with a real taste of the diversity New York has to offer, from the incredible range of styles to the wild flavours being mixed in. As you can imagine, it was extremely difficult condensing the vast landscape into just 44 recipes! It was also important that the recipes were inspired by New York rather than purely replicas, bar a few that just had to be included or shared with me by iconic New York sweet venues and the chefs themselves, such as Cosme’s cornhusk meringue with corn mousse. Finally, they had to be achievable for home cooks — while many New York desserts have multiple components or toppings, having to make them all can be off-putting in a recipe. The same goes for overly technical dishes. So it was about balancing flavor and finish with approachability.
What is your favorite recipe in the book and why?
Currently, the chocolate crack pie, snickerdoodles, and French toast ice cream sandwiches — they’re all so easy to whip up relative to their delicious, jaw-dropping flavor, which is very appealing even for someone like me who bakes constantly. The red velvet vacherin, s’mores baked Alaska, and whisky walnut babka are quite a bit more work, but pretty spectacular. I also adore all the chefs’ recipes. Sorry, I cheated with this answer, but it’s like asking who your favourite child is! I could also keep going…
What are some of the foods you can’t live without?
Clearly, dessert. I eat something sweet daily and when I was researching and writing this book, it was upwards of four per day. I’ve managed to get back to about one, but a sweet bite really does make me so happy, so I chalk up the indulgence as good for the soul. At the moment, I’m obsessed with chewy cookies and all-manner of pie, but I anticipate an ice cream obsession as it starts to warm up in Australia. Savory-wise, I’m a fan of big textured salads, herbaceous Southeast Asian fare, and spice-laden Middle Eastern. I start every day with a green or white tea. My current faves are longjing and yin zhen respectively.
Would you rather dine out or cook at home?
Is it a cop out to say I love both equally? Part of the joy of eating out is the atmospheric setting, the flavors and techniques you haven’t tried before, or simply the enjoyment of being well looked after. It is one of my favorite past times. But the catharsis that comes with making something with your own hands and sharing that with others is particularly special. I find baking especially therapeutic, but I really enjoy experimenting with new ingredients and techniques in savory applications. As a mum of a one- and three-year-old, however, I admit that I take little pleasure in the midweek dinner routine!
What is your favorite go-to meal or drink?
In a top-notch patisserie, I find it extremely hard to pass down an almond croissant, or anything perfectly soft and shatteringly flaky.
How do you hope readers will use this book, what do you hope they take away?
The Desserts of New York (And How to Eat Them All) is a combination of a few of my favorite genres — part cookbook, part travel guide, and part food memoir. It’s not trying to appeal to everyone — at a minimum, you have to be interested in New York or desserts (but let’s be honest, who in the world isn’t?!) — but these different facets mean that people can use it in different ways.
If you’re planning a trip to New York, the comprehensive guide at the end of each chapter will take you on your own dessert adventure, or if you don’t have a big sweet tooth, the neighborhood highlights are a great starting point to explore the city. As a softcover book, it’s designed to be packed in your bag, too. For bakers, the recipes will take you on a sweet tour of New York from the comfort of your own home. Finally, there’s the story of my young family and I picking up sticks for a food adventure in one of the greatest cities in the world, which I hope is inspirational in some way, as other food books have been for me — to follow your dreams, whatever they might be.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
If you bake from the book, or go on a sweet spree through New York, I’d love to hear from you! You can find me on Instagram and Facebook @yasmin_newman.