Select: Sweet spots for a sugar rush
Indulge your sweet tooth with some of these saccharine-heavy treats
Traditional French patisserie Le Petit Parisien on Wicklow Street, Dublin
A shop recently opened in Dublin called Sweet Republic. It sells – you guessed it – all manner of desserts, cakes, cookies, and, well, sweet things. This rainbow-hued sugar palace is run by Decobake, a chain of cake-decorating shops, so it’s hardly surprising that the menu is saccharine-heavy and includes such items as “freak shakes”, a trend that began in Australia (enormous milkshakes in Mason jars, loaded with toppings such as Nutella, Oreo cookies, toasted marshmallow and bubblegum, €7.50). There are frequently queues out the door here, which is good news for Decobake and great news for local dentists. There are less terrifying ways to get your sugar rush, so we’ve rounded up some sweet treats around the country.
Traditional French patisserie couldn’t be further from freak shakes, so for some understated but excellent almond croissants (€2.50), head to Le Petit Parisien (17 Wicklow Street, Dublin 2, 01-6717331). These French fancies have flaky pastry and a sweet, dense filling of almond paste, are sprinkled with icing sugar and toasted, flaked almonds and are seriously moreish.
Another flaky pastry must-try is the raisin Danish (€2.75) at the Science Gallery Café (Naughton Insitute, Trinity College, Pearse St, Dublin 2). These pastry swirls are made by Enguerran Douzet of Project 12, and are packed with fat, juicy rasins and are a custardy, gooey delight. There’s a smear of apricot preserve over the top to bring the sweetness up a notch.
Nearby on Clare Street lies the very pretty Hansel and Gretel Bakery & Patisserie (20 Clare Street, Dublin 2). Almond croissants (€2.45) are also a hit here, but the old-school bakewells are what brings us through the door. Simple, fluffy sponge with jam and pastry for €2.20.
For a taste of Italy, head to Grand Canal Dock to Il Valentino, a bakery specialising in rustic Italian breads and cakes. We come here for the marzipan ricciarelli – Tuscan finger- shaped almond biscuits. These soft-centred biscuits are covered in powdered sugar and cost just €1.20 each, so you can always justify a second, or a third (5, Gallery Quay, Grand Canal Harbour, Dublin 2 and now also at Sutton Cross, Sutton, Co Dublin).
To get your doughnut fix, you can go traditional (you can’t beat the hot, sugared ring doughnuts, 80 cent each, from The Rolling Donut kiosk on O’Connell Street, especially as they serve until 10pm most nights). Or for the whole hog, head to 147 Deli (147 Parnell Street, Dublin 1) or Vice Coffee Inc (The Twisted Pepper, 54 Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1) on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and sample some of the Dublin Doughnut Co’s fat, stuffed creations, (€2.95 in 147, €2.50 in Vice). These American-style behemoths, created by Hilary Quinn, include flavours such as crème brulee, toffee apple and New York cheesecake. They sell out, so be sure to get there early.
Lolly and Cooks, which started as a stall at 1A George’s Street Arcade, Dublin 2 and now includes two other cafes (Unit 1 The Marker, Forbes Street, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin 2 and on the corner of Baggot Street and Merrion Street, Dublin 2) is known for its cupcakes, with interesting flavours and not too much icing (we like the lemon curd and toasted marshmallow ones – €2.50 each/six for €12). But for something really indulgent, try the Squillionaires Shortbread – a buttery, chocolaty indulgence, with a layer of buttery shortbread, sticky caramel and really good chocolate on top. They’re €2.50 each and could sink a ship . . . in the tastiest way possible.
Also in George’s St Arcade (at unit 23) Yogism is a self-serve frozen yoghurt shop that sells its wares by weight. An 8oz tub will cost roughly €2 to €4, depending on how many toppings you pile on . . . be careful, there are some 50 to choose from (including fresh fruit, jellies, coconut flakes, chocolate sprinkles and wickedly flavoured sauces such as the inside of a Kinder Bueno). For some fun, you can guess the weight of your purchase. If you’re right, it’s free. They’ve just introduced some self-serve waffle cones, and a new premises has opened on the corner of Dawson St and St Stephen’s Green.
For a comforting slice of traditional apple tart (you can call it pie but we all know it’s tart), head to Tillie’s Cafe (18 St Gabriel’s Road, Clontarf, Dublin 3, 01-8534226). This friendly little neighbourhood cafe serves some of the best in town, and a big slice with buttery pastry, sweet Irish apples and cream is €4.80.
In Galway, the Gourmet Tart Co has a seriously attractive display of sweet things at its Salthill café (Salthill Upper, Galway, opposite Salthill Church). No wonder, with some 14 bakers working on site each day. The meringues (€1.50 each), stacked high in pillowy piles of white, pink and chocolatey brown, beckon you in the door. Although in our mind, the glazed fruit tartlets are the stars of the show. Try plum and hazelnut or the fresh rhubarb crumble (€2.20). There are three other café-bakeries around Galway city, see gourmettartco.com for locations. Or if you’re in Limerick, you can find them at the Milk Market every Saturday, stall 19.
In Sligo, the Bakeshop (Henry Lyons, Wine Street, Sligo), on the ground floor of Lyons’ department store, is the place to go for some of Christophe Messageot’s authentic French éclairs, with flavours such as praline or vanilla bourbon (€2.75). Or head along the coast to Strandhill, where the lemon squares (€2.20) at the gorgeous Shells Seaside Bakery and Café are so good, they’ve had to share the recipe in their cookbook.
In Cork, Heaven’s Cakes has been trading at the English Market (at Unit 30) for 17 years so they know a thing or two about baking great fruit tartlets. Try the raspberry and almond or creamy clafoutis and mixed berries, €2 each.