Monday, June 30, 2008

Pecan Sticky Buns

Okay, so I love eating fresh, unprocessed foods. But, every once in a while, my sweet tooth gets the better of my brain, and I become paralyzed, unable to resist the temptation of the week until my taste buds are satisfied.

This was the dilemma of last weekend. I had brought a friend out to CT with me for some nature and sun. We were at the local Starbucks getting our morning caffeine fix before running some errands, talking and waiting in an epic long line. Ten minutes had passed, and my system needed something - fast - because I began drooling over the nutty sticky buns in the case.

A year or two ago, I would have succumbed to those teeth-achingly sweet pastries that tempted every customer. But, after re-examining my sugar intake, I had successfully and happily elimated all those treats (Iced Lemon Loaf, (brown sugar streusel topped) Bran Muffin...) from my diet, and I really did not crave them any more.

'Til I saw that nutty beast staring right back at my.

"Oh, my...that sticky bun looks good," I exclaimed to my friend, "but, too bad I swore off Starbucks sweets last year."

"Have you had Bouchon's Pecan Sticky Buns?" She replied.

Bouchon. Just hearing that word I was transported off into Thomas Keller land. Oh, to visit Healdsburg and dine at French Laundry. I might not like foie gras, but I oh so want to try the tasting menu at Per Se. And the cookbook! I could daydream all day about the pictures and layout. And sadly (embarassingly!) I had never ventured out to his bakery/takeaway outpost at the Time Warner Center!

"Noooo, why?" I replied. "Are they good?"

Good does not begin to describe these delicacies sent from above (Napa?). My friend and I made a date for sticky buns for the following weekend - this past Saturday. As I rode up the escalator, my mind was abuzz, excited for what lay ahead for my taste buds. Would they be sickenly sweet? What were the nuts going to be like? A little give with a little toasty crunch? Would the dough be too dry and yeasty? Would there be enough sticky sweetness to balance the dough?

As we waited in line, mesmerized by the smart and fresh country decor (I was mesmerized by the white wall, and the perfect font type, color, and size for the writing), I watched the last bun disappear from the display. NO! I had waited and travelled crosstown all for nothing?

When it came to my turn to order, I asked if there were more hiding...there had to be! It was only 12:30 p.m., and these things were apparently amazing. Sure enough, my tastebuds would be spared disappointment. She placed my bun in the bag, and I paid a very reasonable $3.

Grabbing a couple of extra napkins (as any sticky bun fan would know to do), we strode over to a nearby cafe table overlooking the entrance atrium of the TWC. I unrolled the open end, and peered in, strategizing how I was to eat this without wasting anything. My friend stuck her hand in her bag, and pulled off a piece while I immediately decided that would not be the appropriate strategy. I briefly thought about ripping open the top, but that would only spread my mess. So, before I knew it, I reached in, pulled out the bun, and gingerly placed it on top of my now flattened bag, as if it were a plate, without wasting a crumb!

I immediately ripped off a piece from the side, and stuck it in my mouth. The buttery delicateness of the dough, with the not-too-sweet, but perfectly sticky glaze dissolved immediately. There was just enough dough for the glaze, with a little but of cinnamony-nutty filling to go along. I now knew what all the buzz was about. Next, I tried the large pecan staring back at me. It was softened from the sweet glaze, but it had not lost it's nuttiness, which often happens to some nuts when chopped and subjected to such sickeningly sweet toppings. Bit, by bit, I worked my way methodically around the bun, savoring each sweet, doughy, nutty bit. I don't think I could complain about any aspect of this bun - except maybe that it finally disappeared?

I already can't wait to go back!

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