I don’t think it will come as a surprise to anyone for me to say that I have a bit of a sweet tooth – much like the majority of people. I love me the sugar. I mean, I equally love the savoury stuff too. I just basically want all of the food. Thankfully, in London, that is not a problem: there are plenty of options for both. In particular, there is an infinite amount of bakeries and cafes that serve up every sweet treat you could dream of – from cupcakes and cookies to macarons and giant milkshakes. (If you are looking for something more of the coffee and cake variety then check out this post as well)!
1. Ben’s Cookies
Where: Carnaby Street, Covent Garden, Hammersmith, High Street Kensington, Oxford Street, South Kensington and Westfield London
Ben’s Cookies was one of my first ever London loves. There are various branches dotted around but wherever I was in the city and whatever I was doing, I would always make my way over to the little shop in the Covent Garden piazza. The cookies are quite cakey, so these satisfy my two great loves – for cookies and cake. They also come with big old chunks of chocolate in them (if you’ve picked a flavour with chocolate chips in that is). If you’re lucky and get there at the right time, you can get them fresh from the oven, when the chocolate is all melty. But even if you miss that, don’t worry – they’re still great.
What makes Ben’s Cookies even better is that you can also order a cup of milk to have with them, which is just a classic, winning combination. Once you’ve got your cookie of choice (white chocolate for me) and your cup of milk, you can them take them and sit round the corner and munch away whilst watching some of the regular Covent Garden street performers.
2. Blu Top
Where: Druid Street Market and KERB (Camden everyday, Kings Cross on Thursdays and West India Quay on Fridays)
When my friend pointed out an ice cream sandwich stall amongst KERB’s Camden street food lineup, I knew it didn’t matter how much I’d eaten already, how much money I’d spent or how chilly it was – I was going to be buying one. Ice cream sandwiched between two cookies and covered in either salted caramel sauce or chocolate chips (£4.50) – you don’t say no to that. There were a few different cookie options: I went for a chocolate chip one and a double chocolate, with chocolate ice cream and salted caramel sauce. I was given a pretty generous scoop of ice cream so I had to eat some of it with a spoon before I could actually pick it up and eat it the way sandwiches were meant to be eaten. It was as delicious as it sounds.
3. Caffè Concerto
Where: Charing Cross, Green Park, Haymarket, Kensington High Street, King’s Road, Knightsbridge, Piccadilly, Shaftesbury Avenue, Regent Street, Westfield London, Westfield Stratford and Whitehall
I was tempted into Caffe Concerto as I wandered down Northumberland Avenue, towards Trafalgar Square and Charing Cross station, and spotted the amazing cake display in the window. I walked in to find a very snazzy looking restaurant, which had the feel of a vintage and luxurious French eatery. It looked expensive (and it kind of was for what it was) but it looked worth it.
I’d decided on my order before I’d even looked at the menu. I’d clocked the chocolate gateau as I passed the cake stand and happily it was delivered to my table relatively quick. Often things that look that good don’t live up to expectations but thankfully this one did. It was full of chocolatey goodness. Sadly my hot chocolate wasn’t nearly as good (it took a while to come and wasn’t particularly chocolatey) but the cake made up for it. Next time I’ll just have the gateau, and maybe the lobster and spaghetti that the table next to me was eating. It smelled insanely good. I’m not much of a seafood person but I’m not sure I have ever craved anything more.
4. Comptoir Gourmand
Where: Borough Market
Once you’ve filled up on a main course of duck confit burgers, salt beef sandwiches, potatoes covered in melted raclette cheese or one of the many other delicious options at Borough Market, Comptoir Gourmand – a stall hosted by a French patisserie – provides a chance for dessert. There are multiple options to satisfy your sugary cravings: big meringues and cookies, tarts and colourful macarons. I couldn’t pick just one thing so went for a white chocolate cookie (£2.00) and a salted caramel macaron (£1.10). The cookie was pretty good but the winner here was the macaron: crunchy on the outside, nice and creamy on the inside. I should have just got multiple of those.
5. Cookies and Scream
I don’t remember where or when I first heard about Cookies and Scream but I know that it doesn’t take much to convince me to go to a place. As soon as I heard there was good ice cream and cookies I was sold. I first spotted it when I was heading for a Friday night dinner at KERB but unfortunately it closes at 6pm so I wasn’t able to check it out. Then, despite not having been to Camden for ages, I suddenly ended up there the next day as well. I knew this was my chance. I queued for a short while, having absolutely no idea what to order. A lot of people were going for the shakes, which looked good, while others were going for cookies and ice cream – I did think perhaps I should go for the bakery’s namesake. But that’s not what I wanted. I wanted the doughnut ice cream sandwich. For some reason recently, I have started ordering things I think I should order (sometimes for money saving reasons) as opposed to what I really want and I wasn’t going to do that this time. The doughnuts looked so great. And they were – like I can’t even put into words how good they were. Which is even more impressive when you realise the bakery is completely vegan and gluten free.
6. Crumbs and Doilies
Where: Carnaby Street
I stumbled across C&D one Saturday afternoon, en route from a bar in Soho to the tube station at Oxford Circus, and it looked too cute not to go in. The inside was small but my two friends and I were still able to grab a seat by the window. There were a few cupcake options on display in the counter – including a maple and bacon flavoured one. I did think I should try something different and I do love the combination of maple syrup and bacon (particularly if it also comes with fried eggs and American pancakes) but I also spotted a cookie dough cupcake – complete with a little piece of cookie dough on top. I simply cannot pass up on anything cookie dough. It wasn’t the biggest cupcake in the world and the flavour wasn’t particularly rich, instead it was nice and light. Next time I promise to be more adventurous and go for the maple and bacon one.
7. Hummingbird Bakery
Where: Islington, Notting Hill, Richmond, Soho, South Kensington and Spitalfields
The Hummingbird Bakery was one of the main reasons I wanted to go to Portobello Road – even though I know they have branches elsewhere – and it did not disappoint. The place is the indisputable king of cupcakes. The only issue is choosing which one you want. I wanted them all. And by that I don’t mean I wanted one of each. I wanted them ALL. The Black Bottom Cupcake, made up of chocolate sponge, with a gooey white cheesecake centre and thick, creamy white icing, quickly became my favourite. It barely needs saying but I’ll say it anyway (this is kind of a review after all), it’s amazing. The only time I have actually ordered something different was when I went for one of their festive specials last Christmas: the gingerbread cupcake. I wish they did it all year round.
8. Lola’s Cupcakes
Where: basically everywhere
You can find Lola’s Cupcakes stalls all over London, particularly in train stations. The stand in King’s Cross St Pancras underground taunts me every time I go to and from work but I’d never been able to justify actually buying one until I realised that I needed to review them for my blog. The things I do for you guys, eh?! The cheapest option was mini-cupcakes for £1.40 each but I was concerned that just wouldn’t be enough to base an informed opinion on, so I splashed out on the larger £2.90 premium cookies & cream option. Although the sponge itself wasn’t overly flavourful, when it was mixed with that thick, creamy icing and soft Oreo biscuit, that changed everything. It was a delicious cupcake. There, I’m sure you appreciate the lengths I went to for that review!
Recently, I managed to find another excuse for buying another – I had a long train journey ahead and needed a pre-dinner snack. Since it was a Friday night, I went for a cocktail cupcake: the Mojito flavour for £2.95. It tasted relatively strongly of lime which was quite refreshing. I wasn’t too sure about the minty goo in the centre but I was still left wishing that I’d bought two.
9. The Primrose Bakery
Where: Covent Garden, Kensington High Street and Primrose Hill
Usually Covent Garden for me means Ben’s Cookies but, having heard tell of the deliciousness that is Primrose Bakery, on one trip I decided to break the habit of a lifetime and try something new. I arrived to find that there was a £5 card limit which meant that, since I rarely carry cash these days, I had no choice but to buy two so that I could pay on card. Oh well, look how that turned out! I opted for two chocolate based ones (on my next trip I tried out the salted caramel). The inside of the bakery was small and cute – like a quaint, pink, retro diner – but since there weren’t any free seats I got mine in a box to go (later I used the box as part of my YouTube yoga practice at home – so I could totally justify buying the cupcakes – I’m sure a 30 minute practice worked them off). They were both very nice – the sponge wasn’t the best I’ve had but with the tasty, creamy icing it turned into an excellent combination.
10. Ms. Cupcake
I’d heard about the cupcakes from Ms. Cupcake long before I actually made it inside (I have no idea why it took me so long – your guess is as good as mine). What I didn’t realise beforehand was that the cupcakes are vegan – which made the dairy-intolerant Flatmate super happy when we arrived and she realised she could eat anything on display. I opted for the Jaffa Cake cupcake – topped with a thick layer of icing, orange goo and a moist sponge. The orange flavour came through but was subtle and went well with the chocolate. The Flatmate ordered a Red Velvet cupcake and commented that the sponge was probably the best bit of hers. I think opting for a flavour which had a flavoured icing won it for me.
11. On Cafe
Having taken an infinite amount of bus journeys between my home in Streatham and the tube station in Clapham Common during the past year and a half, I’m not sure how it took me so long to notice On Cafe en route. As it was, it was only a few weeks ago that The Flatmate pointed it out as we passed, having spotted a sign in the window saying that Time Out had rated it as one of the best places for macarons in London. We didn’t need a better selling point than that. It took us a while to actually find the time to go, but then we found ourselves arriving early for a night out in Clapham so we decided to start the night with a macaron or two.
We arrived to find many delicious sounding options on display – there were also other French patisserie options on offer (as well as Chinese dim sum but that will be something for another day) that made my mouth water but I decided to stick with the original macaron plan. Unfortunately, none of them were suitable for The Flatmate with her dairy intolerance, so instead of getting a box of three each we just got one box to share (she couldn’t not have anything after all). I went for the salted caramel with charcoal (I didn’t know what charcoal would be like but I can’t see something with salted caramel and not order it) and the Nutella and hazelnut (basically for the same reason). They were quite different to the light and delicate macarons I have otherwise had but they were creamy and delicious (and the charcoal taste wasn’t too strong in comparison to the caramel). The Flatmate was equally happy with her strawberry and champagne macaron. I want that one next time.
12. St. John’s Bakery
St. John’s Bakery is renowned for its freshly baked doughnuts, stuffed with creamy fillings. There’s a bakery on Druid Street where you can grab a doughnut to go as well as a little restaurant under the railway arches on Maltby Street (which hosts the Ropewalk food market at the weekend) where you can pull up a table and treat yourself to a meal or just a doughnut and coffee – which is what I did.
The restaurant’s interior is quite rustic. The wooden floor was a bit creaky and there was an array of old-fashioned wooden chairs set up around several tables. It felt like I was in a cafe in a little French village. My doughnut buddy and I both ordered chocolate but since there was only one of those left we split one chocolate and one vanilla (£3.50 each). The chocolate filling was thick and rich. The vanilla filling was much lighter and had a less intense flavour but it was exactly what I had been craving. They actually complemented each other well, I’d definitely recommend buying both. My latte (£2.50) was the perfect accompaniment. It might have been more expensive than a Krispie Kreme but it was totally worth it – and coming from me (who is obsessed with Krispie Kremes) that means a lot.
13. Thompson’s Deli and Baker
Where: Streatham Hill
Despite having lived in Streatham for about 18 months now, I’ve been to a sadly low number of places round here. I always end up hopping on a bus into Brixton or Clapham instead. Now don’t get me wrong, Brixton and Clapham have many amazing options but Thompson’s Deli is a prime example of why not having checked out Streatham more has been my loss. I was passing one morning on my way back from the bank and noticed the delicious looking display of baked goods in the window. I didn’t know what to pick but settled on the cinnamon ciambella (£1.20). I had no idea what ciambella was but it turned out to be some tasty cinnamon bread. It was light and fluffy and huge. As I was paying, I noticed a tray of jumbo sized doughnuts being brought out. I needed one of them. So, I returned soon for a jumbo custard doughnut (£1.50). It was tasty but I did want more filling considering the amount of dough – although the cinnamon sugar on top did help give it flavour. However, once again, I spotted something else as I was paying: creamy slices of cake. So, I went back for one of those. The amaretti cake looked lovely but I ended up going with the chocolate gateau. And, Oh. My. God.
14. Yum Bun
Where: Street Feast (Dalston Yard and Dinerama, Shoreditch)
Yum Bun’s street food menu is short and mainly savoury but it does have one sweet option (at least only one at their Dalston Yard venue anyway). But one is fine because you wouldn’t want to order anything other than their coconut ice cream with peanut brittle and butterscotch inside a deep fried bun (£4). On my visit to Dalston Yard, Yum Bun seemed to be the place with the longest queue but this combination was absolutely worth it. I actually stood in it twice – first for my main course of two savoury options and then again when I heard about the dessert.