I'm going to be honest — I'm not a sweets girl by any means. I always pick a steak over a piece of cake, but every so often I'll bite into a piece of dark chocolate after dinner (though I always prefer seconds rather than dessert). I live literally up the street from the original Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken, NJ, and being a Jersey girl, I've always watched Buddy Valastro and his family on TLC's Cake Boss. That said, I figured it was time I finally learned if he's really a dessert boss (Spoiler Alert: He is).
I came home from the immaculate, tourist-filled sugar heaven with a perfectly-squared white box filled with their top five bestselling items to review (I asked the woman behind the counter to pick them out for me). The anticipation was real, as the box was tied up with that signature red and white string that's iconic at Italian bakeries (wait, is that just a Jersey thing?). When I opened it, my eyes bulged, my mouth began to water, and I sent a snap of the five pretty goodies to all my friends. At that exact moment, I knew I'd now become a regular at Carlo's Bakery.
Then came the fun part, the tasting! I mean, come on, I'm sitting in my apartment with a box of deliciousness. Don't you wish we could trade places? Below is a breakdown of how I felt about each dessert (Warning: You may leave hungry!).
Growing up, my mom loved carrot cake, so on the occasions that I craved a sweet, this was always my go-to. However, I've never tasted something as delicious as the carrot cake from Carlo's Bakery. Not only was the cake moist, but it had that perfect bit of crunch thanks to the delicious nuts inside. Everyone that loves carrot cake also knows the key is the perfect icing. Well, Carlo's Bakery gets a 10/10 on that. It's light, sweet, creamy, and the carrot garnish on top makes it even better. I'm saving the second half for after dinner tonight...
OK, here's the deal. I've had a lot of cannolis in my lifetime. It seems like the sweet treat is at every family gathering. Like literally every one. But, this one is unlike anything I've ever tasted. First off, it's a nice size. A lot of times bakeries make them too small, and then you're forced to eat like two (LOL). Can we just talk about the cream filling, though? Sorry grandma, but it's better than yours. It's unexplainably good. It's rich, creamy, sweet, and has the perfect ratio of chocolate chips mixed in. I've had experiences with cannolis when the shell is basically stale — the one from Carlo's Bakery is crispy, firm, and pairs perfectly with the filling. I'd like to taste a cake made with that filling, that's for sure. Needless to say, I'll be bringing a box of these cannolis to Christmas dinner this year.
Another classic made iconic at Carlo's Bakery. I love how they come portioned as little individual cakes with ladyfingers making a pretty border. When I finally got the nerve to "destroy" the little masterpiece, I quickly learned that the inside was soft, fluffy, sweet, and basically perfect. The cookies paired with the light cream feeling would go great with a cup of espresso (too bad it's the middle of the day and I don't have an espresso machine). Speaking of espresso, the cocoa powder on top was a nice finishing touch.
I've always loved that these pastries are called lobster tails — they're shaped exactly like one! There's something satisfying about breaking one open: getting the powdered sugar all over your hands, watching the amazing filling ooze out, and hearing that crunching of the crust. Are you craving one now? If so, Carlo's Bakery makes one of the best lobster tails I've ever had. I literally said "mmmmm" out loud, and I meant it. It's nicely-sized, sweet, and quite frankly, scrumptious.
Have you ever seen anything prettier? Me neither. I mean, it jumped out at me in the bakery case, and I can see why it's a bestseller. On top of being the most gorgeous thing you've ever seen, it's probably the most delicious thing I've ever eaten. Not kidding. I'm a huge fan of rainbow sprinkles, so to see them coated all over the perfectly creamy, delicious icing, I must say, I think literally saw rainbows. This cake is #InstaWorthy, gorgeous, yummy, and was the cherry on top (pun intended) to my perfect experience at Carlo's Bakery.
According to the Carlo's Bakery website, the prices of the cakes change depending on the bakery location, cake size, cake flavor, and more. At the original location in Hoboken where I visited, many of the traditional cakes that serve six-eight people range anywhere from $24.95 to $34.95. That includes flavors like chocolate fudge, caramel, vanilla buttercream, peanut butter, strawberry shortcake, and more!
Buttercream and whipped cream cakes vary between nine, 10, 12, and 14 inches with prices ranging from $81.95 to $140. The sheet cakes (which come in different sizes) range from $65 to $330.
Some of the fancier fondant cakes range from $81.95 to $455, all depending on the size. Depending on the size as well, edible image cakes range between $65 and $175. The gorgeous special occasion two-tier cakes are priced between $225 and $500. Italian cakes sell for between $60 and $100. Please note prices will vary depending on the bakery location.
Tune in to TLC on Saturday, Sept. 30 for a new season of Cake Boss!
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