New pastry pantheon: Four international treats at New York City bakeries

Forget dime-a-dozen cupcakes and croissants—expand your pastry palate with far-flung treats like merveilleux and tebirke.

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New Yorkers are savvy when it comes to sweets, with Chinese hopia, Jewish rugalach and, of course, meteoric French-American mash-up cronut all part of our everyday pastry lexicon. But the category is widening, with bakeries and restaurants offering unsung pastries from far-off locales like Scandinavia and Turkey. Featuring both savory snacks and sweet options, here are four must-try bites to add to your pastry Rolodex.

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    Tebirke at Bien Cuit

    Don’t call it a Danish—though a Copenhagen café staple, this deceptively simple poppy-seed pastry is actually a product of the Viennese, not the Danes. Owner Zachary Golper gives the Austria-by-way-of-Denmark novelty a New York revamp at his Cobble Hill bakeshop. He jacks up richness by padding the viennoiserie with extra butter, making for a superbly moist, delicate dough. Subbing out traditional dense marzipan, the pâtissier fills the bundle with smooth almond cream laced with poppy seeds, echoing the savory nuttiness with a generous sprinkle of dried seeds on the crust. 120 Smith St between Dean and Pacific Sts, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn (718-852-0200, biencuit.com). $4.

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Kanafeh at Balaboosta

    This warm dessert at Einat Admony’s beloved New Israeli kitchen is the Middle Eastern answer to Italian cheesecake. Atop a butter-drizzled round of kataif (shredded phyllo dough) are layers of creamy ricotta—a swap-out for goat cheese—perfumed with lemon zest and orange blossom and another nest of phyllo. The golden-brown, crisp-edged pastry is then soaked with a not-so-simple syrup of rosewater, cardamom, orange peel and berries, the kataif threads held together with a baklava-like stickiness. Alongside the traditional pistachio-nut topping, the dish is capped with a scoop of rosewater ice cream and airy floss halva (Persian cotton candy). 214 Mulberry St between Prince and Spring Sts (212-966-7366, balaboostanyc.com). $10.

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Borek at Bedford Baking Studio

    From empanadas to samosas, it seems every culture has a signature turnover—in Turkey, it’s the borek, a phyllo-wrapped pastry stuffed with ground lamb, vegetables or brined cheese. At this South Williamsburg coffeeshop, Tolga Eyidemir puts a Brooklyn spin on the traditional snacks. In addition to classic combinations like hummus with roasted pepper, the Malatya, Turkey, native spirals flaky pastry dough (called yufka) with outré fillings: sweet-potato-pecan-rosemary, pumpkin-feta-walnut and—a standout—biting French blue cheese studded with chewy, honey-sweet dates, the piping-hot cheese oozing out from beneath the pastry when it’s pulled from the oven. 347 Bedford Ave between South 3rd and 4th Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (347-278-4548, bedfordbakingstudio.com). $4.50.

  • Merveilleux at Ô Merveilleux

    Before Anne-Sophie Diotallevi opened her fetching Upper East Side bakery, the shop’s namesake sweet was virtually unheard-of in New York. Amid brioche buns and full-size cakes, you can find the star confections: Belgian meringues bathed in whipped cream and coated with chocolate shavings or crumbles of house-baked speculoos (spiced gingerbread cookies). Deviating from French meringue recipes, Diotallevi bakes hers at a relatively low temp for a soft, hollow interior and a whisper-light shell, acting as a crunchy foil to the fluffy cream and crumbly coating. 1509 Second Ave between 78th and 79th Sts (646-681-8688, omerveilleux.com). Small $2.20, large $5.90.

Photograph: Jessica Lin

Tebirke at Bien Cuit

Don’t call it a Danish—though a Copenhagen café staple, this deceptively simple poppy-seed pastry is actually a product of the Viennese, not the Danes. Owner Zachary Golper gives the Austria-by-way-of-Denmark novelty a New York revamp at his Cobble Hill bakeshop. He jacks up richness by padding the viennoiserie with extra butter, making for a superbly moist, delicate dough. Subbing out traditional dense marzipan, the pâtissier fills the bundle with smooth almond cream laced with poppy seeds, echoing the savory nuttiness with a generous sprinkle of dried seeds on the crust. 120 Smith St between Dean and Pacific Sts, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn (718-852-0200, biencuit.com). $4.


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