At the end of March, we spent a few days visiting New York City with Evan and Claire. I will be featuring our kid-friendly trip to NYC in a series of blog posts (so far I have published Chinatown/Little Italy, the Lower East Side, DUMBO in Brooklyn, and Xiao Long Bao; the American Museum of Natural History, Times Square, and Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies; The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, East Village, and Matcha Lava Cake); and Union Square, the James Beard House, Grand Central Terminal, and Chocolate Babka). Today I am sharing the final highlights of our visit: Choco-Story NY, Greenwich Village, SoHo, the New York Public Library, and a recipe for S’mores Macarons.
Miss our NYC travels last year? Here are the links to those posts: Rockefeller Center, Times Square, Chelsea Market, Greenwich Village, and New York Style Pizza; 9/11 Memorial & Museum, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Bagels; and Central Park, Chinatown, Flatiron District, and Black and White Cookies.
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Choco-Story New York
On our first day, we spent the afternoon in Choco-Story New York: The Chocolate Museum and Experience with Jacques Torres located at 350 Hudson Street. It was a great way to perk the kids up after a 3 am wake-up that morning.
A self-guided tour through this 5,000 sq. foot museum will teach you all about chocolate from tree to bar with original artifacts, tasting stations, a bon-bon making demonstration, Mayan hot chocolate freshly ground by hand, and a kid’s corner. We even got to meet Jacques Torres!
Choco-Story opened in New York City on March 7, 2017 in the area that once housed Jacques Torres’ manufacturing facility before it was moved to the new Brooklyn location. It is open Wednesday-Sunday from 10-5 pm. Other Choco-Story museums can be found in Belgium, Mexico, and France.
Evan was given a Choclala scavenger hunt with a sheet of paper and stickers to complete at the entrance. When finished, he turned the page in for a chocolate treat (a chocolate boat lollipop from the “treasure box”). It was a fun way to keep him engaged. He also loved the tasting stations set up around the museum.
The Kid’s Corner was another huge hit. Located in the middle of the museum, Evan and Claire were able to unwind with a with a sand pit and pretend chocolate shop best for children 7 and under.
Claire actually fell asleep in the stroller during the walk over, but woke up in the middle of the bon-bon demonstration with a full view of the chocolate fountain. Not a bad way to wake up at all and just in time to taste test a bon-bon.
We ended our experience with a Mayan hot chocolate demonstration. The cacao was freshly ground and made into hot chocolate. We were then able to individually season the drinks to taste with cinnamon, chili pepper, Mexican pepper, anise powder, and sugar.
Jacques Torres has a store attached to the museum where you can purchase sweet treats to take home. Other stores are located in Dumbo, Rockefeller Center, the Upper West Side, Midtown, and Grand Central Station.
In addition to the self-guided tour, the museum also offers the following (for additional cost): Hands-on classes taught by a professional chocolatier, cookie decorating for tots, and make your own Mendiants (tradtional French confections with nuts and dried fruits).
Flip Sigi was just a short walk north of Choco-Story. Located at 525 Hudson Street (with another restaurant on the Upper East Side), Flip Sigi features a modern take on Filipino cuisine with unique offerings such as Sinigang Flip Bowl, Longanisa Poutine, Toss My Salad with a Calamansi Vinaigrette, and Cali Burrito (menu items often change).
The Doughnut Project
The Doughnut Project was Evan’s dream come true. Two of his favorite things were both under one roof- Doughnuts and Star Wars. During our trip, we enjoyed the Prosecco; Bacon Maple Bar; Black Gold, Texas Tea (Evan’s pick: dark chocolate with dark chocolate cookie crumble and sea salt); and a Birthday Cake for Claire. Current fun flavors include Lemon Love Letter, The Bronx (glaze with olive oil and black pepper), The Everything Doughnut, and Strawberry Milkshake.
Around the corner from The Doughnut Project is Murray’s Cheese. Oh how I wish that I lived near this shop. There is such an incredible assortment of (obviously) cheese, cured meats, pasta, accompaniments, and pantry items. They also feature classes and other events.
Dominique Ansel Bakery
I first visited Dominique Ansel Bakery last year during our trip to New York City, but stopped by again to pick up these adorable Peep-a-Boos (it was a couple of days before Easter). The inside of real egg shells are coated in a layer of chocolate, filled with fluffy marshmallow, and have a salted caramel center. The recipe to make these little guys at home is also in Dominque Ansel: The Secret Recipes, but I have yet to try it myself.
Jack’s Wife Freda
We went to Jack’s Wife Freda for breakfast on a Monday morning. We got lucky with the last available table and didn’t have to wait at all. The space is quite cramped with tables close together, but efficient. The kids loved having crayons and a little pop-out robot to play with. We all enjoyed the Rosewater Waffle, Green Shakshuka (so good!), and Madame Freda (pressed sandwich with duck prosciutto, cheddar béchamel, gruyere & a sunny side up egg).
Despaña is another shop that I so wish I lived near. We went to the SoHo location on 408 Broome Street. This gourmet shop features a variety of Spanish olive oils, vinegars, vegetables, fruit preserves, cheese, cured meats, and more. We also tried a few different dishes in the café (check out the menu here). The Croqueta Serrano was a particular favorite.
Harney and Sons
Our very last stop before going back to Penn Station was the Harney & Sons shop in SoHo. We enjoyed afternoon tea with a Green Tea Flight and assortment of sweet and savory items such as scones, little cakes, and macarons. I took home a canister of their Tiramisu tea and quickly bought another two cases after returning home (free shipping on domestic orders!). It is one of my new favorites.
New York Public Library
The New York Public Library Main Branch (Stephen A. Schwarzman Building) is located in Midtown on 476 5th Avenue near Grand Central Terminal. We originally only planned on doing a quick walkthrough, but ended up spending an hour or so here.
One of the the biggest highlights was seeing the original stuffed animals that inspired Winnie the Pooh in the Children’s Center. Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga (Roo was lost in an apple orchid in the 1930s), and Tigger have been living at the New York Public Library since 1987 with a period of restoration from 2015-2016. Christopher Robin Milne received Pooh (originally Edward Bear) from his father, A. A. Milne, on his first birthday- August 21, 1921. The rest of Pooh’s friends were given as gifts between 1920 and 1928.
Evan enjoyed seeing the Lego versions of Patience and Fortitude, the Library Lions, at the entrance of the Children’s Center. We spent quite a bit of time just relaxing and reading books. It was the perfect spot for a break.
The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building took 16 years to build. It opened to the public at 9:00 a.m. on May 24, 1911 and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965. Along with exploring the four stories to take in the incredible architecture, notable features besides the Children’s Center include the Rose Main Reading Room, Dewitt Wallace Periodical Room, Map Division (“one of the world’s premier map collections in terms of size, scope, unique holdings, diversity and intensity of use,” note the photo above with the globe that has been touched so much that New York City is just a white spot), McGraw Rotunda, and more.
Directly behind the library is Kinokuniya, a Japanese bookstore on 1073 6th Avenue. If you can read Japanese, there is an incredible assortment of cookbooks (plus a large section for learning Japanese, other books in English, manga, DVDs, stationary, and more along with a cafe on the top floor). I picked up a Disney bento book here. The kids enjoyed the children’s section and collection of fun erasers. I also recently visited their shop in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles and there are locations throughout the United States and around the world.
It has been way too long since I have attempted macarons (the last time was almost three years ago with my Green Tea Macarons), but trying a few at Harney & Sons and seeing the recent fun creations from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures was all the push I needed.
I wanted to do something with chocolate, especially after my experience at Choco-Story NY and found myself with a ton of leftover Marshmallow Whip from a recent cookbook review. My mind immediately went to S’mores (as it often does). I incorporated finely crushed graham crackers right into the batter and filled the baked macaron shells with milk chocolate ganache and homemade marshmallow buttercream to help bring everything together.
If you want to make sure every macaron shell is the exact same size, use a circular cookie cutter to draw circles on the parchment paper, then flip it over so the drawn part is on the bottom (use the white translucent parchment paper so the circles can be seen through the top). When piping, hold the pastry bag and tip completely vertical. For this most recent batch, I used these Silicone Macaron Baking Mats.
A few tips
- I recommend using the metric measurements for the macaron shells for best results, but have also included the US Customary conversions.
- Save these for a day with lower humidity. Rain is not your friend here.
- For the ground almonds, I generally use almond meal/flour. You can also process whole almonds in the food processor. Just make sure the almonds, powdered sugar, and graham crackers are very fine to create smooth macaron shells.
- My previous failures have generally been attributed to overmixing- easy to do with overzealous young helpers. You want to gently fold in the beaten egg whites until they are completely combined, but not to the point of being runny. I have seen the resulting texture described as “molten lava” and others have listed an average of 40-65 folds.
- If your oven bakes unevenly, it helps to rotate the sheets halfway through baking.
- Since these macarons have two fillings, be careful to not overfill. My first couple overflowed a bit since I didn’t account for both the ganache and buttercream. Just a small dollop of each will do.
- Store the S’mores Macarons in the refrigerator, but bring to room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour before serving for the best texture.
S’mores Macarons Recipe
- 200 grams (1 3/4 cups) powdered sugar
- 65 grams (3/4 cup) almond flour
- 45 grams (~3) graham crackers
- 90 grams (3 smaller large) egg whites
- 30 grams (2 1/2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 cup marshmallow fluff homemade or store-bought
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
Milk Chocolate Ganache:
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
To make the Macarons:
In a food processor, combine the powdered sugar, almond flour, and graham crackers. Process until completely fine.
In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or using a handheld mixer, beat the egg whites until thickened. Add the granulated sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the ground almond and graham cracker mixture until combined, but be careful not to overmix. It should be the consistency of “molten lava” but not runny, about 40-65 folds. Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a 0.4 inch (10 mm) circular tip. On a parchment lined baking sheet, pipe 1 1/2 inch (4 cm) circles at least 2 inches apart. Repeat with remaining baking sheets.
Firmly tap the baking sheets against the counter to remove excess bubbles. Allow to rest uncovered 30-40 minutes to form a shell.
Preheat oven to 300˚F (150˚C).
Bake the macarons in preheated oven until the tops become firm, 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool before removing from baking sheet.
To make the Milk Chocolate Ganache:
Pour cream into small saucepan over medium heat. Right before coming to a boil, remove from heat and add the chocolate chips. Allow to rest for 30 seconds before mixing until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate, whisking occasionally, until firm enough to pipe.
To make the Marshmallow Buttercream:
In a large bowl, beat together the butter and marshmallow fluff until smooth.
Slowly beat in the powdered sugar. Beat in just enough milk to make a smooth and light marshmallow buttercream. Refrigerate until needed.
Pair the cooled macaron shells based on the closest matched shapes. On the bottom of one of the shells, pipe a small dollop of chocolate ganache, then another dollop of the marshmallow buttercream. Gently cover with with bottom of the other macaron shell. Lightly press together until the chocolate reaches the edges. Repeat with remaining pairs.
Refrigerate in single layers for 24 hours and up to a week. Bring to room temperature for 1 hour before serving.