Chocolate Cake "Survey" - South Bay
My mission: find the best chocolate cake in the South Bay. For me, the Buttery in Santa Cruz does the style of cake I love best: rich, decadent, clear & pronounced flavors. I don't like "wimpy" chocolate cakes: light and airy, a mild chocolate taste, with a too-sweet icing, just don't do it for me. These remind me of the typical birthday style cakes, like you would get at Costco or Safeway. However I'm too lazy to drive to Santa Cruz. Can I have my cake and eat it too?
896 Willow St.
San Jose 408-879-0843
This small bakery in the Willow Glen area does a pretty decent chocolate cake. The chocolate cake is layered with chocolate mousse and chocolate ganache. Definitely very rich, not wimpy, good texture. The chocolate flavor really shines through. I love cakes that are not overly decorated, and this one fits the bill. I must mention that Flower Flour's rustic cinnamon rolls are one of the best I've tasted. No ooey gooey cream cheese frosting, just fresh baked cinnamon goodness. Yum. My husband sampled their spinach quiche pie while I was indulging with the sugar, and he said it was very good.
SWEET PASSIONS BAKERY
1512 Alum Rock Ave.
San Jose 408-251-1080
After hearing many great things about this bakery, I had a chance to sample their cake at a family birthday party. It wasn't chocolate. The cake was decorated in a very juvenile, brightly colored style, appropriate for the occasion. The cake flavor was Marble with a banana cream filling. It was a very light and airy cake, tasty but very sugary sweet. I suspect that their chocolate cake may not be rich enough for me. I know, picky, picky! However, their prices are reasonable, and they have many cake/filling combinations you can choose from. How about a banana cake with strawberry cream filling? But I digress ;)
FLEUR DE COCOA
39 N. Santa Cruz Ave.
Los Gatos 408-354-3574
I read the description of the "Fleur de Cocoa" cake with some trepidation: "bittersweet chocolate mousse alternates with chocolate sponge cake that has been lightly soaked with Grand Marnier." Not because I don't like all these components, but because they sound really light. I wondered how mousse and sponge cake could add up to the richness I'm seeking. However, this confection bowled me over. It is not light at all. I got that strong hit of cocoa and a good texture, surprising me. I'm a believer! It is beautifully decorated with just a few spare touches of edible gold. A bit pricey at $5.50 for the mini individual serving, but in my chocoholic view, worth every penny. The pan au chocolat was also sublime: small, not overstuffed with chocolate, very buttery, rich layers. Well done. My husband had the apricotine: a pasty with a layer of apricots sitting on sweet cream cheese. As delicious as it sounds. The pastries were very fresh tasting.
I will be only to happy to try other chocolate cakes, if anyone cares to share their experiences. Any bakery located in the South Bay (Mountain View/Palo Alto/Los Altos are OK too) that does a decadent chocolate cake is fair game. I have tried Aki's and although they do a fabulous guava cake (haven't tried since change of ownership) their chocolate cake is not for me. Many Asian bakeries do light and airy confections, that are great summertime desserts, but I'm looking for something different. Thanks Hounds!
I don't usually buy chocolate cake because I make my own: deep flavor, not too sweet, good balance of ganache, blah blah blah. However, Icing on the Cake is just down the street and around the corner from Fleur de Cocoa, and while I've never bought choc cake from them, everything else I've tried has been excellent, so why not give them a try? (Call first to make sure they have one on hand.)
BTW: Everyone raves about Aki's guava cake, but I found it light on guava flavor, even though I don't have anything against light cakes. (This was a year ago; I can't remember when ownership changed.)
I'd recommend checking out The Prolific Oven in Palo Alto (it looks like they have a couple of other locations, but that's the one I know best). I think you might really like their chocolate cake - rich, dense, not too sweet, and a seriously luxurious frosting. I am also very fond of their chocolate rum cake, orange almond, and german chocolate flavors too. http://www.prolific-oven.com/cakes.php
Our absolute favorite is also Prolific Oven's Chocolate Decadence (note: NOT their American style Chocolate Cake, which is Safeway-ey). I never saw it in single servings (though they always have the american-style choc cake in single servings so don't mistake it for the Choc Decadence), so you may need to wait for an occasion when you need a whole cake. Like YSZ says, very rich & dense, almost like flourless choc cake. The minus for me was the abundant amount of whipped cream as the frosting, but hubby likes it that way. We also went to the Santa Clara location; having tasted both locations they were pretty much exactly the same. Their princess cake is also pretty good.
re: Alice Patis
Thanks Alice, a chocoholic co-worker also recommended the Chocolate Decadence -so it must be good. I totally bypassed that cake on their website, it didn't catch my eye because it was covered in the white whipped cream frosting. ;) The Santa Clara location is near my parents', good to know both locations are the same.
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The chocolate cakes at Draegers (Los Altos, Menlo Park) are pretty darned good.
I agree with you about Fleur De Cocoa. The owner, Pascal Janvier, is one of the finest pastry chefs in the world, and has undoubtedly the best croissants in the bay area.
I would definitely add La Patisserie in Cupertino to your list. I have tried many cakes from there and they are top notch.
19758 Stevens Creek Blvd. Cupertino, CA 95014 Tel: 408.446.4744