Sweet Treats: Paris vs. New York City

  • 01 of 08

    New York City vs. Paris

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    Among life’s great questions: To eat a pain au chocolate or a cronut? In case you ever have to choose between the two, we’ve ranked the iconic pastries—along with seven other classic treats—in the ultimate battle of the desserts: Paris versus New York City. Each confection is ranked from 1 to 5 for price and accessibility, with 1 as the lowest and easiest to get, and 5 the priciest and most difficult to find. Don’t agree with our rankings? Sample them all. No judgments here.

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  • 02 of 08

    The Cronut vs. The Pain au Chocolat

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    The Cronut

    Few confections have generated buzz like Dominique Ansel’s famed Cronut, which has been said to draw lines of nearly 100 to the SoHo shop. The Cronut’s flavor rotates each month—think Rose Vanilla or Bosc Pear and Sage—and each customer may buy only  two treats. The concept is a tad gimmicky, but the product is truly delicious.

    Price: 4. At a retail price of $5.50, this is not a cheap fix for that sugar hankering. You do pay for novelty and the three-day prep time associated with the item.

    Accessibility: 5. Though the Cronut made its debut in 2013, the crowd-inducing infatuation continues. The bakery produces around 350 per day, and each person can only buy two.


    The Pain au Chocolat

    One of the wonderful things about Paris is that you can find truly superb breads and pastries on almost every street corner. And while a great traditional croissant is heavenly, the French can shake up their classics a bit too. Head to Blé Sucré in the 12th arrondissement for its pain au chocolat, a buttery pocket made from the same flakey pastry dough as a croissant and dotted with chunks of rich chocolate, or kouign amann, a caramelized Bretagne pastry that has been favorably compared to the cronut. And for a nod to both Proust and your palate, grab a sachet of the bakery’s famous madeleines to-go, too.

    Price: 2. Pastry prices are relatively standard across Paris bakeries and a pain au chocolat from Blé Sucré will run you a mere 1.30€.

    Accessibility: 2. The 12th arrondissement isn’t where first-time visitors to Paris generally hang, but it is easily reachable by metro, like most of the city, and located steps from the wonderful Marché d’Aligre food market.


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  • 03 of 08

    Chocolate Chip Cookie vs. The Macaron

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    The Classic Cookie

    A chocolate chip cookie isn’t always high on travelers’ must-try dessert lists, but the Upper West Side’s Levain Bakery does them right. Not so much cookies, but mounds of dough the size of an ice cream scoop, these sugar bombs still manage to have a perfectly crisp outside and gooey, but not underdone, inside. Not a chocolate chip fan? Opt for double chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, or chocolate peanut butter chip.

    Price: 3. Is $4 hefty for a cookie ? Yes. Will we all keep indulging? Yes.

    Accessibility: 2. If you’re based Downtown, Levain may be a stretch, especially given the long weekend lines. Visit the Harlem location for a short wait and the exact same cookies.


    The Macaron

    Macarons are probably one France’s most recognizable sweets, not to be confused with coconut-based macaroons. Paris’s two best known macaron makers — Pierre Hermé and Ladurée — each have an impressively loyal following, and though my vote sits with Mr. Hermé (try the Mogodor and Ispahan), you really can’t go wrong.

    Price: 2. These little treats don’t come particularly cheap for their size, but they’re worth the 2€..

    Accessibility: 1. With 11 locations around Paris, finding Pierre Hermé macarons isn’t tough.


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  • 04 of 08

    Mast Brothers vs. La Maison du Chocolat

    Mast Brothers ; grilledahi/cc/flickr

    Mast Brothers

    Trendy New York craft chocolate maker, Mast Brothers, has taken a hit in the press recently for allegedly reselling pre-made Valrhona chocolate, but there is something to be said for the brand’s sensory experience. The product is tasty, the pretty packaging immediately identifiable, and the Brooklyn store sleekly museum-like with a tantalizing aroma.

    Price: 3. When you buy a bar of Mast Brothers chocolate, you do pay a $10 premium for that oh-so-attractive wrapping.

    Accessibility: 1. Mast Brothers is carried in hip shops across the city, like Dean & DeLuca and Upstate Stock, so finding it is a cinch.


    La Maison du Chocolat

    One of France’s most esteemed chocolatiers has to be La Maison du Chocolat, opened in 1977 by visionary founder Robert Linxe. There are exciting new chocolate makers dotting Paris today — the St-Germain-dès-Pres neighborhood houses many — but there is something to be said for tradition.

    Price: 2. The chocolate is not cheap, but it is on par with its bespoke competitors. A bar will run you about 6€ and individual truffles hover around 2€/piece.

    Accessibility: 2. You can find shops around Paris, and even in New York.

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  • 05 of 08

    Junior's Cheesecake vs. Hotel Costes Cheesecake

    Junior's ; Marc Piasecki/Contributor/Getty Images

    Junior's Cheesecake

    “The Best Cheesecake in N.Y.! “ reads each box of Brooklyn-born Junior’s Cheesecake, touting its New York magazine credentials. If you prefer whipped cream cheese to original, however, move along. Junior’s serves up a sweet, thick, cream cheese-y version of the classic.

    Price: 2. The dense slices and full cakes merit their $7.50 and $24+ prices.

    Accessibility: 2. You can find a Junior’s location, or somewhere selling Junior’s, in multiple spots around New York City, including inside Grand Central Station.


    Hotel Costes Cheesecake

    American food favorites have been popping up around Paris over the past few years, from authentic Texas BBQ to a Californian-run burger truck, and cheesecake is no exception. The French seem to have a particular affinity for the dessert, and not only because of its name. One of the best addresses to grab a personal-sized version is the Napoleon-III-style Hotel Costes—Kim Kardashian reportedly scheduled a trip to Paris just for this dessert.

    Price: 5. The Hotel Costes is an address with cache and the lofty prices reflect that. The  personal-sized cheesecake runs 4€.

    Accessibility: 4. You’ll need to get a reservation, which can be notoriously tedious though not impossible. 

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  • 06 of 08

    Pancakes vs. Crêpes

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    The Pancake

    One could consider weekend brunch in New York something of an art. And if so, Clinton Street Baking Company’s pancakes are the chef d'oeuvre. Perfectly browned and crispy along the circular brim, pocket-filled and airy inside, this is what we all dream of for breakfast. Or dinner! The restaurant serves until 11pm.

    Price: 2. At $15, the pancakes are on par with New York City brunch prices, and affordable by dinner standards.

    Accessibility: 3. The restaurant does not take reservations and the wait is hours-long during prime time. 


    The Crêpe

    The first time a Parisian suggested crêpes for dinner, I was entirely amenable but a bit confused. It turns out the plan was not Nutella for dinner; crêpes come in savory varieties, too. Fortunately, there are still plenty of places that serve up sweet renditions, so no need to resort to a street cart parked near Notre Dame. The Marais’s Breizh Café is a real favorite, serving crêpes and galettes in the traditional Breton style, a coastal region in Western France, near Normandy.

    Price: 3. The crêpes are on the small side compared to the price, but the quality justifies the cost. Crêpes average 8€.

    Accessibility: 2. Making a reservation a few days in advance is recommended.

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  • 07 of 08

    Crème Brûlée Donut vs. Crème Brûlée

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    The Crème Brûlée Donut

    Doughnut Plant is one of the top spots for a tasty and creative doughnut in New York. The Lower East Side bakery has a number of creations worth every calorie, including its crème brûlée version. Don’t be fooled by its small size, this doughnut carries its weight in its creamy custard filling. And as with the classic dessert, the top is caramelized to add a nice crunch.

    Price: 2. At $3.75, the doughnut isn’t the easiest on the wallet, but the value is there.

    Accessibility: 1. Doughnut Plant has four flagship shops and sells in other food markets and shops around the city.


    The Crème Brûlée 

    As drool-worthy as a crème brûlée doughnut is, we can’t honor the innovation without looking at the original. For a superior rendition of the simple classic in Paris, stop by Le Potager du Père Thierry. Tucked between Place des Abbesses and Sacré Coeur, this little resto does the caramelized custard dessert justice.

    Price: 2. Prices at Le Potager are very reasonable, especially the prix fixe at 20€ - 27€.  The crème brûlée goes for 6€ à la carte.

    Accessibility: 2. Make a reservation or try your luck without, if you don’t mind waiting a bit. But be wary, the restaurant is petite.

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  • 08 of 08

    Cupcakes vs. Paris-Brest

    Chikalicious ; Bernard Van Berg/EyeEm/Getty Images

    The Cupcake

    Cupcakes were all the rage in New York a few years back, though many crowd favorites failed to live up to expectations. Enter Chikalicious in Manhattan’s East Village. The pint-sized space sells a variety of desserts to stay or to go, but the not-too-sweet cupcakes are the stars. The selection is a mix of classics, like vanilla bean and red velvet, and funky flavors, like matcha green tea.

    Price: 3. The creativity and quality are reflected in the prices, which are on the higher side (think just under $10 for an ice cream cone)

    Accessibility: 3. The shop is tiny, so be prepared to take-away or wait for a seat. If you go later in the day, options can be limited.


    The Paris-Brest

    Though procuring cupcakes in Paris isn’t terribly hard these days, opting for a French classic instead is never a bad idea. In honor of The City of Light, indulge in a Paris-Brest, a crown-shaped choux pastry halved and filled with praline cream, from the quintessential Bistrot Paul Bert, if you have room after the hearty and meat-heavy dinner that will certainly precede.

    Price: 4. While the dessert itself isn’t pricey, it comes as a closing to a full bistrot meal.

    Accessibility: 3. Reserving in advance for lunch and dinner is recommended, but entirely doable with a touch of advanced planning.