Ask me to name my favorite bakery in San Diego and not only will I immediately say “Azucar“, once I start thinking about the Cuban-style patisserie in Ocean Beach, you’ll probably have to shake me by my shoulders to stop the visions of sugary treats dancing through my head. Vivian Hernandez-Jackson’s take on tiramisu was one of my first SD Sugar reviews, and I’ve also featured the bakery’s triple chocolate espresso cookie in a spread in San Diego Magazine. So, when Vivian invited me back to try some of the bakery’s newest creations, I jumped at the chance, and tried three items: doughnut muffins, the “It’s Your Birthday” cake, and the Turron de Havana.
Doughnut muffins ($2.50) are a new item, available on weekends only. The treat starts as a vanilla cupcake that’s baked, then dipped in melted butter and rolled in sugar and cinnamon. The final product is much more like the world’s biggest doughnut hole. It may be in the shape of a muffin, but this little guy is all doughnut, baby.
On Vivian’s advice, I popped the doughnut muffin in the microwave to warm it up before eating it. Once it was warmed up, the aromas of warm cinnamon filled the house, as if I had just taken a tray of cinnamon rolls out of the oven. Some of the caramelized sugar melted a bit, forming a thick syrupy puddle that moistened the bottom. The contrast of texture between the exterior (crumbly, and granular from the cinnamon and sugar) and the inside (fluffy and moist) was spectacular. I’d like to say that knowing I had two more desserts to try, I was able to restrain myself from eating nearly the whole thing, but I can’t. My only suggestion for this treat is to make sure you order a coffee (ideally a cafe con leche) with it. The crumbly texture begs for a beverage pairing.
The new “It’s Your Birthday” cake ($6) was inspired by the Momofuku Milk Bar Birthday Cake, created by Christina Tosi (recipe here). You can immediately see the resemblance. Azucar’s version is a little less sweet, with tangier frosting due to the addition of cream cheese. On top, there’s birthday cake crumble, which has a slightly salty edge that contrasts nicely with the sweet funfetti cake and the frosting. It’s definitely the best funfetti-style cake I’ve ever tasted. It has the look of something tooth-achingly sweet, but is much more balanced. More, please.
The Turron de Havana ($6) isn’t a new item, but apparently gets overlooked in the display case, for reasons I can’t fathom. This cake has got just about everything, including a flaky bottom layer, gooey caramel studded with hazelnuts, chocolate mousse, and a thick topper of dark chocolate ganache. It’s a four-layer wonder for all cravings, unless you don’t like chocolate (in which case, my condolences). Promise me you’ll try it.