There are few places I have on my master list of sweet treat destinations that are listed under multiple categories. One of those precious few is Mah-Ze-Dahr bakery. There are treats from Mah-Ze-Dahr recommended to try that fall under the designation of cookie, cake, brownie, cheesecake, and even doughnut. When compiling my list of destinations, I noticed this and was intrigued. Can all of these confections really be deserving of honorable mentions? Yet I had not happened upon the perfect occasion to sample any of them until a few weeks ago when my good friend Ndeye and I found ourselves in need of a place to hang out in the West Village while waiting to meet our other friend for dinner. Finally, I was in the neighborhood of Mah-Ze-Dahr, and as always, I was in a perfect mood to sample some sweets!
The vibe of Mah-Ze-Dahr is not quite upscale, not a homey bakery, but somewhere in the middle. Clean and polished but accessible. The walls are painted in a dark blue and everything is accented with a tasteful silver in a manner that I’m sure Bobby Berk from Queer Eye would be proud of. That day we knocked two items of the list: their Dark Chocolate Explosion Cookie and their Heavenly Cheesecake. Both were placed on small glass plates and we took them to the seating area in the back. I find it important to mention that before these two items were eaten, Ndeye and I had just been to the holiday market at Bryant Park and consumed some macarons from Woops! which were absolutely lovely. So we had already had some quality sweet treats just a little over an hour before.
But this is not about macarons! We agreed that the cookie was the first to try. The Dark Chocolate Explosion certainly looked to properly represent its name: a rich dark brown with little explosion cracks (I don’t know how else to describe them. I’ve attached a picture so you can see for yourself) of powdered sugar. We each took a piece and upon tearing some off, saw the silky interior that looked almost unbaked. The taste mirrored this perfectly, being akin to raw brownie batter, soft and rich. This is a cookie I might imagine at a holiday party. It could be on a fancy silver platter at a holiday benefit or in a tin, eaten while sitting on the rug of a New England home. Either way it would deliver the chocolaty comfort I experienced on that first bite. It was unlike any other cookie I have had before, but one I definitely want to have again and would be extremely interested in getting the recipe for. I tried my hardest to savor every bite, getting the complexities of the texture and the rich flavor. This was made difficult due to the fact that the cookie was on the thinner side. I do not fault them for this, because it didn’t take away from the experience for me. I honestly just wish there was more of it. But all good things must come to an end, and before I knew it the cookie had done just that.
The good things kept coming however, because we still had a slice of cheesecake! I have never been a huge fan of cheesecake. Perhaps because I have had many extremely thick and rich cheesecakes that towered before me as a monolith of dairy, such that they can often seem to be more of a chore than a treat. Perhaps because the flavor of cheesecake just isn’t that exciting to me. Perhaps if I hear something called a cake I would rather just have cake! I don’t quite know. The point is that my cheesecake experience is not as vast as with some other baked goods, and my passion for them is not as deep. This cheesecake, though, already brought something to the table that piqued my interest: a chocolate graham cracker crust. If you call yourself a cheesecake, I do maintain that you should have a graham cracker crust (Sorry Junior’s), so ticking off that requirement and making it chocolate is a big win for me. I plunged my fork into the tip of the cake (which is how I believe all cakes and pies should be consumed), and found that my fork went smoothly through the cake. The texture was a light as my fork had hinted. With the smallest hint of lemon working in tandem with the richness of the cheese, this cheesecake was full of flavor and an experience of luxury. The graham cracker crust not only provided the perfect texture foil – crunchy and crumbly – occasionally mixing right in with the filling to create an experience akin to cookies and crème ice cream kicked up a million notches, but the chocolate was a marvelous move. The three main players in the flavor game in this cheesecake – vanilla, lemon, and chocolate – were all in perfect proportion, one never overwhelming the other but making its partner shine even brighter.
These two sweet treats having been shared and thoroughly enjoyed, our hearts were full and spirits rejuvenated. Mah-Ze-Dahr was exactly what we needed on that cold night, not only providing a warm place to sit, but some truly stellar treats. I hope to be back soon to try some more of their items that have made it onto my list. They have certainly set the bar high for themselves.