HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Are you making a specialty food? Tell us about it
TELL US

Help me satisfy my night-time sweet tooth: chocolate cake to go in the East Bay?

a
abstractpoet Mar 12, 2009 09:59 PM

I've gotten more and more of a sweet tooth as the years go by, and sometimes a nice thick slice of chocolate cake would totally hit the spot after a midweek home-cooked meal. Since moving out here to Oakland, though, I've noticed that most of the places that sell cakes and pastries are bakeries that close by 6:00 or even earlier. Back when I lived on the East Coast, I had a couple of favorite dessert joints where I could grab a giant, decadent slice of cake or, say, a fruit tart, to go at 8:00 or 9:00 in the evening.

So what's a chocolate lover to do? Any places you folks can recommend where a fella can get a GOOD slice of chocolate cake to go on a weeknight? (I'm not talking about the sugary nastiness they're serving up in the bakery section of the Merritt Bakery.) Would be glad to hear other to-go dessert recs too. Preferably in the East Bay, and ideally in Oakland.

  1. m
    ML8000 Mar 12, 2009 11:40 PM

    Au Coquelet on University and Milvia in Berkeley has choco cake, fruit tarts, etc. by the slice. Open until 1 a.m. most nights. I had a piece about 1.5 years ago. It was good but I don't remember it. Also could hit up Andronico's.

    -----
    Au Coquelet Cafe Restaurant
    2000 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

    3 Replies
    1. re: ML8000
      Ruth Lafler Mar 13, 2009 09:53 AM

      Funny -- that was the place that came to mind for me, too, even though I haven't been there in decades.

      I think most restaurants will sell you a dessert to go -- the problem is finding a really good chocolate cake. I was having a chocolate cake craving last year and never did find one that "did it" for me!

      1. re: ML8000
        a
        abstractpoet Mar 13, 2009 10:51 AM

        Hmm...most of the recent reports on Yelp are from Berkeley students who like studying there but say that the sweets are mediocre to bad. I'm picky about cake, too, so that doesn't seem to bode well for Au Coquelet.

        I'm a fan of the desserts at Crixa and Bakesale Betty, but those both close early. Haven't tried chocolate cake at either place, in any case. Don't think it's offered at BB...

        1. re: abstractpoet
          choctastic Mar 26, 2009 08:37 AM

          Their desserts have been the same for the last 20 years that I've gone there. Their chocolate cake slice is actually pretty decent, with a nice chocolate ganache. Also, I have always had a fondness for their blueberry tart. Everything has been the same, exactly the same, since I went to college. That alone amazes me. I dunno what the Berkeley students are sayin, unless things have changed drastically in the last few months, which I seriously doubt.

          I'm not a huge fan of the actual food here, but I like that the desserts are reliably good, reasonably priced, and conveniently available at late hours (great after a movie, unless you decide to go for gelato instead)

      2. k
        kc72 Mar 13, 2009 09:57 AM

        Arizmendi has a chocolate fudge cake but I think they close at 7pm

        3 Replies
        1. re: kc72
          a
          abstractpoet Mar 13, 2009 10:52 AM

          Which Arizmendi location? I've never seen cake at the Lake Merritt branch, which is the one I go to.

          1. re: abstractpoet
            k
            kc72 Mar 13, 2009 10:55 AM

            I'm pretty sure I saw it at the Lakeshore location on a Sunday morning a few weeks ago. It's listed on their website, so I would think Lakeshore and Emeryville should carry it.

            1. re: kc72
              a
              abstractpoet Mar 13, 2009 11:10 AM

              Hmm...maybe it's only offered on certain days? I rarely go in on weekends, so maybe that's why I haven't seen it.

        2. Robert Lauriston Mar 13, 2009 10:10 AM

          Cioccolata Di Vino in Berkeley is open till 9 or later every night.

          http://www.cioccolatadivino.com/desse...

          5 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston
            a
            abstractpoet Mar 13, 2009 10:58 AM

            Thanks for the recommendation. This seems promising, though some of the desserts seem a little bit fussy for what I'm thinking of. Has anyone tried the chocolate cake here?

            For the link you posted, apparently there's a polenta chocolate cake (which seems like maybe it wouldn't be very chocolaty?) and a molten lava cake (does this work as a take-home item?). The lemon tart option also seems appealing.

            1. re: abstractpoet
              rworange Mar 13, 2009 04:04 PM

              I hate to say anything against a place that looks like it needs business, but the scone I had at Cioccolata Di Vino was disappointing. I've been putting off posting because they seemed like nice people and I want to try something else, but I'm having trouble working up enthusiasm to go back.

              Even after it changed owners and closed most of its cafes, the Just Desserts chocolate cake remains my favorite. I think they sell mini versions as well as full cakes.

              Has anyone tried the chocolate cake at Whole Foods in Oakland?

              It is not open late and not what you are looking for, but Virginia Bakery was giving out samples of some sort of chocolate cream cake that was like an Italian rum cake, but with chocolate and without the rum. Good heavens it was wonderful. Definately what I'm bringing to the next event where I need a dessert. Don't think much of their classic chocolate cake though.

              1. re: rworange
                a
                annec Mar 14, 2009 09:40 AM

                Whole Foods Oakland didn't have much by the slice when I was looking. I did not look at whole cakes. Whole Foods Berkeley sells a cake - called tuxedo I think - that I love. As one might expect from the name the cake is chocolate but the frosting and ganache are white - not necessarily vanilla.

                1. re: rworange
                  a
                  abstractpoet Mar 25, 2009 10:03 PM

                  We got a lemon tart (with some kind of thyme-infused whipped cream) to go from Cioccolata Di Vino the other night, and it was OK, though I'll admit that I like the simple, classic lemon bar from Bakesale Betty a lot more (and for like half the price). For $6.50, you're paying restaurant dessert prices--you're paying for ambiance and service, which isn't the best deal if you're just grabbing something to go.

                  It does seem like a quaint little place to have a light dinner with wine and dessert, though, so I'd like to go back and give that experience a try. They seem like really nice people who run the place...

                  1. re: abstractpoet
                    a
                    abstractpoet Mar 25, 2009 10:05 PM

                    Link.

                    -----
                    Cioccolata di Vino
                    1801 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA

            2. Ruth Lafler Mar 13, 2009 10:22 AM

              Rockridge seems like a target-rich environment: Bittersweet is open until 9 pm Thu-Sat. I seem to remember that last time I was in the cafe that when I was growing up was The Edible on College across from the Rockridge Market Hall they had chocolate cake. I bet Claremont Diner has chocolate cake.

              -----
              Bittersweet Cafe
              5427 College Ave, Oakland, CA

              Claremont Diner
              6200 Claremont Ave, Oakland, CA

              14 Replies
              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                MollyGee Mar 13, 2009 10:51 AM

                The Edible Complex? I miss that place. It was one of the few places that was open late and had decent food. Now in that spot is that seriously subpar crepe place (unless it closed).

                I second the Andronico's suggestion. The one on Solano has Just Desserts cakes (maybe other Andronico's, too, it's just that I bought one at that specific store within the last year, but it closes an hour earlier- at 10 - than the other Andronico's in Berkeley). I'm obsessed with cake and they make a very good chocolate cake.

                But if you want to sit down and have it served on a plate Bittersweet Cafe, as mentioned above, would be where I'd look.

                1. re: MollyGee
                  a
                  abstractpoet Mar 13, 2009 11:08 AM

                  Most of the time, on a weeknight, I just want to eat my cake at home, so Andronico's sounds like a great option if their cake is up to par. I've never been, believe it or not (the Berkeley Bowl devotee that I am)!

                  So do they sell the Just Desserts chocolate cake by the slice or only as an entire cake? Are there different varieties--is there a particular version you've had that you liked?

                  1. re: MollyGee
                    a
                    abstractpoet Mar 13, 2009 08:58 PM

                    Swung by Andronico's tonight and picked up a 6-inch Classic Chocolate Cake (on sale for $9.99). It did hit the spot and is definitely in the ballpark of the kind of cake I'm looking for. I did think the icing was still a bit on the sweet side, though (definitely wouldn't be able to eat more than a tiny slice without coffee or a big glass of cold milk), and it wasn't as moist as I would like. Maybe I need to let it come to room temperature for a bit longer? Or would it be anathema to give it a quick nuke in the microwave?

                    I was looking at the Just Desserts website, and I wonder if the Black Velvet 3-Layer Cake might be more my style. The description on the website: "A dark chocolate lovers dream baked with bittersweet chocolate. This cake has three layers of dark chocolate cake, two layers of bittersweet chocolate ganache, finished with a smooth, velvety glaze."

                    Anyone tried this one? It's listed as a new product.

                    For those interested, it seems Andronico's has the whole line of 6-inch Just Desserts cakes on sale through the end of the weekend. Regular price is $13.99, so it's four dollars off.

                    1. re: abstractpoet
                      Ruth Lafler Mar 13, 2009 09:20 PM

                      You should definitely let the cake come to room temp, but don't nuke it: frosting melts *very* quickly.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler
                        a
                        abstractpoet Mar 22, 2009 12:45 AM

                        After letting it sit at room temperature a while longer, the cake was more moist and the frosting was creamier. If the first slice I tried was a "B", the second was at least a "B+" or "A-".

                        Just saw that they actually have these Just Desserts cakes at Berkeley Bowl, so now I don't need to go out of my way! And they're cheaper there, too--$9.99 all the time, not just when they're on sale. Didn't notice if they maybe have less of a selection that Andronico's, though.

                        I'll have to try the Draeger's one next, if I ever make it out to Danville...

                        1. re: abstractpoet
                          Ruth Lafler Mar 22, 2009 10:21 AM

                          Thanks for the update. I hate it that stuff that really doesn't need to be refrigerated is sold that way. For some things it doesn't matter, but for anything with a high fat content, it makes a huge difference to both the flavor and texture if the fat is at room temperature vs. chilled. In addition to being unpleasantly hard and waxy, cold fats don't melt in your mouth quickly enough to release their flavors.

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler
                            a
                            abstractpoet Mar 22, 2009 10:54 AM

                            Yeah, I noticed that at Berkeley Bowl, the cakes were not refrigerated. Interesting...any idea how many days a cake like that would keep if you just never refrigerated it at all?

                            1. re: abstractpoet
                              Ruth Lafler Mar 22, 2009 01:33 PM

                              Good question. It really depends on the storage conditions. The cake itself doesn't really keep any better in the fridge than at room temp -- either way it will start to get stale/dried out after a couple of days. The frosting is the issue. Buttercream frosting is not going to go bad as in grow bacteria, but if it has a high butterfat content it will start to "go off" after a couple of days (I'm guessing the Bowl has such a high turnover it's not an issue for them). But if you keep it well wrapped and in a cool-ish part of the kitchen (away from the stove and out of the sun), in the Bay Area it should keep for a few days.

                              1. re: abstractpoet
                                k
                                kc72 Mar 22, 2009 02:05 PM

                                Costco didn't keep their JD cakes refrigerated when they sold them

                        2. re: abstractpoet
                          JasmineG Apr 9, 2009 10:43 PM

                          I was at the Andronicos at Shattuck and Cedar tonight, and in the interests only of reporting back to Chowhound, I got one of the Petite Black Magic cakes in the bakery (behind the bakery case). After coming to room temp, this little cake was great, and only $3.99. Good very chocolately frosting, and very moist cake. And that Andronicos is open until 11. Definitely better than the similar cakes that I've tried from the bakery case at Whole Foods (though farther from my house, alas).

                          1. re: JasmineG
                            a
                            abstractpoet Apr 10, 2009 09:20 AM

                            Thanks for the tip. And very generous of you to sacrifice yourself for the benefit of the greater Chowhound community. =)

                      2. re: Ruth Lafler
                        a
                        abstractpoet Mar 13, 2009 11:01 AM

                        Oh yeah, I forgot about Bittersweet Cafe. Great suggestion, though it does close at 7:00 most weeknights. Had a chocolate drink that I liked the one time I went here. I vaguely remember seeing some pastries and cakes. Anyone tried the chocolate cake here?

                        1. re: abstractpoet
                          singleguychef Mar 30, 2009 12:43 PM

                          I've had their mini cupcakes before and really loved when they had the cocoa flavor, real nice sense of coffee to it. But sometimes they sell a pear and ginger which is good too but not as good as the cocoa. It is a mini cupcake though, so probably you'd need two of them to make up a cake slice. Wow, abstractpoet, you really are a die-hard chocolate cake eater! ;-)

                          1. re: singleguychef
                            a
                            abstractpoet Mar 30, 2009 02:13 PM

                            Ha. "Die-hard chocolate cake eater." They can engrave that on my tombstone. I suppose there are worse things to be known for. =)

                      3. l
                        LarryW Mar 13, 2009 04:19 PM

                        I'm a sucker for the cakes from Draegers. They have a chocolate cake with buttercream frosting that is moist and yummy and I simply crave every once in a while.

                        -----
                        Draeger's Supermarket
                        4100 Blackhawk Plaza Circle, Danville, CA

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: LarryW
                          bbqman Mar 14, 2009 06:21 AM

                          I second the Draeger's chocolate cake. Best of all, you get the real chocolate flavor that is not too sweet, and is moist enough to go down so easily with a glass of milk, or your favorite bev. I think I'll pick up a slice to go later!

                          bbqman

                        2. Jumbo_Jack Mar 22, 2009 04:53 PM

                          I'm surprised nobody mentioned La Farine. I've had several of their cakes at events, and they're all quite good. I've mostly been to their Solano Ave location, but there's a Rockridge and Dimond bakery as well...

                          I like the Chamonix (devil's food) cake... I'm not quite sure if they have a traditional straight chocolate cake. They are a bit pricey, but open till 7pm...

                          1. rworange Mar 27, 2009 12:45 AM

                            Don't know if it any good, but I was at Saul's Deli in Berkeley tonight and they had chocolate cake. Saul's is open until 10 pm every day.

                            Saul's isn't a great deli but they do somethings very well, like the new house-made celery soda. Can't say if the cake is one of the things they do well.

                            -----
                            Saul's Deli
                            1475 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: rworange
                              rworange Mar 29, 2009 11:42 PM

                              I was at Saul's again and asked who made the chocolate cake. They said Sweet Things bakery which has had mainly positive comments in general.

                              Saw chocolate cake by the slice at Berkeley Bowl. They are open till 8pm every night except Sunday when they close at 6 pm. Anyone tried it or knows who makes it?

                              While I was picking up my hot cross bun this weekend at Sweet Adeline's, they had the most marvelous looking chocolate cake. I don't often splurge on chocolate cake, but I was sorely tempted. However, this is the first time I've seen it and they are not open late.

                            2. k
                              klutchman Mar 27, 2009 08:15 AM

                              Late night can be tricky, but if you have enough foresight to plan ahead, try Katrina Rozelle at 5931 College Ave. I am partial to the Chocolate Gianduja. They do sell by the slice, but a whole cake is much more satisfying. One significant drawback...$$$. But for that special indulgence, why not?

                              1. w
                                wahbahdoo Apr 11, 2009 03:10 AM

                                not really a cake, but the adult brownie bites from the downtown berkeley andronico's were surprisingly good, esp after you reheat them in the oven - very dense chocolate flavor and not too sweet.

                                http://www.andronicos.com/Features/Co...

                                1. l
                                  Liberty Apr 11, 2009 07:19 PM

                                  I'd recommend the chocolate lava cake at Bobby G's (2072 University Avenue, near the downtown Berkeley BART station). There's nothing like a chocolate cake with rich, warm, chocolatey goodness erupting from the center... They also have a triple mousse cake, with dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate mousse. And they're open until 11 p.m. to boot!

                                  -----
                                  Bobby G's Pizzeria
                                  2074 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

                                  1. a
                                    abstractpoet May 4, 2010 11:22 PM

                                    Not late night (as per my original request), but I thought I'd mention that my current chocolate fix of choice is the caved-in chocolate chocolate chip cupcake that Phoenix Pastificio (Pacifico) has been selling at the Berkeley Tuesday farmers market (and elsewhere, I imagine).

                                    A quick Internet research revealed that these bad boys are called "black bottom cupcakes" and are, like, a real thing -- but they're the first of this kind of cake that I've seen, with the top caved in (intentionally) and then filled with a small dollop of cheesecake-y cream cheese frosting.

                                    These cupcakes ($3 for one; $5 for two) are exactly what I look for in a chocolate cake -- moist, not overly sweet, and dense enough and chocolaty enough to feel decadent. The cream cheese topping is great, as are the chocolate chips (which, according to their website, are Belgian chocolate).

                                    I'm hooked!

                                    -----
                                    Phoenix Pastificio
                                    1250 Addison St, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: abstractpoet
                                      rworange May 5, 2010 07:24 AM

                                      Keep on the lookout. A few bakeries sell black bottomo cupcakes ... though it sounds like you got the best of the best. My favorite were at the original Just Dessert ... gee I miss that place. When they went wholesale it was never the same.

                                      IIRC, the takeout shop at Betty's Oceanview Diner makes good black bottom cupcakes. If not, you can never go wrong with one of their cheese puffs ... not chocolate, but tasty. If you do give Betty's a try and don't see the black bottom cupcakes, ask. They make some things only on certain days of the week or at a whiim.

                                      -----
                                      Just Desserts
                                      101 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                      1. re: rworange
                                        a
                                        abstractpoet May 5, 2010 08:38 AM

                                        Thanks for the tip. We go to Bette's on occasion for breakfast, when our schedules allow us to somewhat avoid the crowds. But for whatever reason I've never paid much attention to the bakery/takeout side. Maybe my skepticism toward their pizza tainted my view of the place. Will have to check it out.

                                        1. re: abstractpoet
                                          rworange May 5, 2010 11:14 AM

                                          Betty's does some nice desserts around the time of Jewish holidays. The cheese puffs are great. The regular cupcales are ok, but there are better elsewhere, IMO

                                    2. a
                                      abstractpoet Jul 13, 2011 11:02 PM

                                      Also pretty satisfying: the "Tortino al Cioccolato" mini flourless chocolate cake, 3.5 oz, made by San Leandro-based A.G. Ferrari Foods - purchased at the Oakland Whole Foods for $3.99. Followed the instructions on the back and heated the cake in the microwave for 30 seconds for a "molten" effect.

                                      On the label it says this was the silver medal winner at the 2005 NY Fancy Food Show Dessert Competition. Don't know whether I ought to be impressed by that, but the cake did hit the spot - especially served with a bit of whipped cream, a handful of pitted cherries, and a glass of cold milk.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: abstractpoet
                                        JasmineG Jul 14, 2011 04:17 PM

                                        The bump of this topic has reminded me: the desserts at Homeroom in Oakland are pretty good, and I bet you'd be able to get any of their desserts to go. The homemade Oreo is pretty fantastic, and they have a brownie on the dessert menu too (though no chocolate cake).

                                      Show Hidden Posts