A Visit to JennyCakes

My friend Sandi posted a link to an article about the best bakery in each state. Imagine my surprise when Kensington’s very own JennyCakes was listed as the Best Bakery in Maryland.

I have been a fan of JennyCakes since it opened in 2012. They started in small storefront on Armory Avenue behind Safeway. I got lured there by their cupcakes, stayed for the cherry scones, and my boys were thrilled to find a place that made bars and cookies as well as beautifully decorated cakes.

And I wasn’t the only one. They quickly expanded into the neighboring store and have been flourishing. The number of cars adorned with a Jenny Cakes magnet – round and cookie-sized with her signature orange and white ‘J’ – is impressive. I don’t think there is anyone in Montgomery County who hasn’t been to JennyCakes.

They are a true neighborhood bakery. Jenny and her employees all live close by and it’s easy to fall into a conversation with the other customers about what baked good to pick.

I took my partner in crime, Shaun, to JennyCakes so she (and I) could sample their wares AND I could fulfill my promise to Sandi that I would get there and buy a lemon ricotta cookie.

First of all, the bakery case was FILLED with sweets and treats so delicious I immediately gave up my internal pledge of buying only one and I had to buy two.

This was the day before Thanksgiving and being the curious person I am I asked Bonnie (Jenny’s top lieutenant) how many pies they had on order for the big day. The answer was an astonishing 200 pies were being baked that day for pick up! Alas, none of them were ours. I had already baked a pumpkin and a pecan pie for our dinner.

We got down to business and selected our cupcakes.

It was so hard to choose! Even if we had decided we were getting a dozen cupcakes some would have been left behind.  Do we get caramel apple? Pumpkin? Chocolate with strawberry buttercream? Coconut? German Chocolate? The choices were staggering.

And then there were the cookies!

Jenny’s chocolate chip cookies are the cookie that started it all. If you have one cookie to choose get this one. I asked about the lemon ricotta cookies and was told that the bakery was featuring a seasonal menu right now. The lemon ricotta cookies would be back in time for summer.

But in the end we did make our choices. (And we snagged two cherry scones as well. Because we were feeling just a little Downton Abbey. #teamEdith)

Our 4 choices: Classic yellow cake with chocolate fudge frosting, chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting, red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, chocolate cake with a cookie dough frosting.

Every cake was moist and delicious. That chocolate frosting on the yellow cake was intensely chocolate and fudgey, not vague and watered-down like from other places. The peanut butter cupcake was equally intense in flavor and eating the whole cake and frosting reminded us of a peanut butter cup. The red velvet cake was moist and light with a nicely sharp cream cheese frosting. Together they create a great counter balance between sweet and tangy.

The last cake, chocolate with a cookie dough frosting, is now my entire reason for living. Ohmigod it is amazing. My two favorite things all crammed together. The moist and slightly fudgey cake topped with a creamy and thick scoop of cookie dough is genius. I ate the cake and the frosting separately, lingering through the final bites of cookie dough.  I was sad that I bought only one.

You, too, can find your reason for living. JennyCakes is located at 10419 Armory Ave, Kensington, MD 20895 – right behind the Safeway. They are open Tuesday through Saturday between 8am until 7pm. Treat yourself!

 

Russian Tea Cakes

The winter holidays are filled with traditions. Growing up a lot of those traditions included food. Tons of food. And when I say “food” I mean “dessert.” Cookies specifically. Sugar cookies, thumbprints, peanut butter stars, chocolate covered pretzels, pecan tassies, chocolate drops, chocolate crinkles, candy cane cookies, and – a huge favorite – Russian tea cakes.

Russian tea cakes are also known as Mexican wedding cookies. I don’t care if you have them because it snows or because you are getting married, you should eat them.

They are so easy to make it’s a crime.  And they are delicious enough to get you out of multiple crimes. I know when I make them for Mark I can do no wrong.

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Russian Tea Cakes

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 2 & 1/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup very finely chopped nuts (pecans or hazelnuts are delicious)
  • More powdered sugar for rolling

In a medium sized mixing bowl combine the butter and powdered sugar. If you use a mixer, beat them together on low or you will have powder sugar on every surface of your kitchen. Once they are well combined add the vanilla and mix.

Then add the flour and salt to the bowl. Beat on medium speed until all the flour is just incorporated. Then add the nuts and beat on low until everything is well combined.

At this point test the dough with your finger. If it is sticky refrigerate it for about 2 hours. It will be easier to work with then. If it isn’t sticky go right to shaping and baking.

Preheat the oven to 400F/204C.

Having an ungreased cookie sheet at the ready, start rolling the dough into 1-inch balls. Don’t be temped to go big here. They should be bite-sized. Maybe 2 bites at the biggest. Place the balls about 1-inch apart on the cookie sheet and back for 10 to 12 minutes. The cookies should be set, but not brown. This is kind of tricky and you need to be patient. The cookie should be firm to the touch when you poke it, but still remain sort of white.

Straight out of the oven, roll the cookies in powdered sugar. This will be hot work. You can use two forks if you start burning your fingers. Put them on a cooling rack.

When they are totally cool, roll them in powdered sugar again. They look like little snowballs!

And this is why we want them bite-sized! The powdered sugar can be a little messy. 🙂

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They are wonderful treats for parties and just right for snacking at tea. I hope they will become a part of your holiday family traditions!