April 12th, 2012
Dolce Delights: Sweets Without the Shame
In 5 Words: Sugar, Shock, Macaron, Pasterie, Mousse
I always assumed that Dolce Delights was the devil. It was a snap judgment, based on the fact that the sleek little pastry shop just had to go and open its doors within steps of the entrance to the gym. Do you have any idea how painful it is to force yourself past a sidewalk sign boasting “chocolate croissants,” to opt for an hour or two on the treadmill instead? Eventually, the temptation just became too much and I had to stop and take a peek. Just a peek. Eye candy never hurt anyone, right?
Through the front door and past the small tables, I suddenly found myself standing over a glass case of some of the most aesthetically pleasing sweets I had ever encountered. Rows upon rows of brightly colored mini cakes stared up at me, each one seeming… mysterious, somehow. I found myself wondering, what on earth was inside that one shaped like a bright green dome? What was with the gelatinous looking orange glaze on what I assumed was a tiny cheesecake? And most importantly, was there any possible way that any of those pretty little treats could ever taste as good as they looked?
Just coffee, I decided. Or maybe some matcha green tea. Then off to yoga class. But it was that moment that the friendly gal behind the counter offered to explain each and every cake enigma in that case. Passion fruit white chocolate mousse. Tart lemon blueberry fusion with a hint of basil. Rum raisin truffle cake. And by the register, a platter overflowing with perfectly pastel macarons. Screw yoga. Resolve was overrated.
But as fate would have it, my internal struggle turned out to be for naught. As my pasterie tutor proceeded to dish up my treats, she explained that all their Dolce Delights were made with fresh ingredients, minimal fat and reduced sugar. What could possibly have been better than learning that the pre-workout dessert I was about to devour was at the very least reduced-guilt, if not quite guilt-free.
Well then, I decided, why not indulge a bit more? I requested a macaron alongside my mini cake and was treated to an interesting education on the inherent difficulties in baking those treats in the Bayou City. Apparently, macarons tend to crack when made in a humid environment, hence the lack of decent French meringue confections in this city. The Dolce Delights crew bothers to seal their front door, crank up the A/C and take the time to make sure their macarons come out just right, while other pastry shops in town just avoid the subject altogether.
I snuggled down on the plush green sofa near the front window and dug in. My selection of the white chocolate mousse with strawberry glaze and a dark chocolate cake center was nothing short of divine. Each bite revealed a new flavor, as the layers of the cake disappeared behind the big goofy grin that formed on my face. The brilliance behind the low sugar approach to confections instantly became clear. You hear something like “white-chocolate-mousse-dark-chocolate-strawberry” and you instantly think “sugar shock,” right? But this didn’t even come close. In the absence of an excess of refined sugar, I truly tasted… get this…food. Chocolates that actually tasted like chocolates, strawberry that actually tasted like strawberry. I found myself wondering if I would ever touch a store-bought sweet of any kind ever again.
Then, I bit into that macaron. A banana and chocolate beauty, to be exact. Oreos were dead to me then. Chocolate chips could all just go straight to hell. This was what a sweet was supposed to taste like all along. Airy and playful, with nothing heavy or overly indulgent about it, that macaron truly was a little wisp of perfection.
Subsequent highlights of Dolce’s menu have included their German chocolate cake bites, the dark chocolate cheese cake, and their fruit smoothies. Every time I find myself wandering through their front door, I’m looking forward to the friendly and enlightening conversation behind the counter almost as much as the treats in the sacred glass cases. I’m a sucker for a nice helping of personality alongside dessert. Open only since February 2012, Dolce’s welcoming environment and healthy options is already winning them a loyal clientele of foodies and gym rats, alike.
Clearly, Dolce Delights turned out to be anything but the devil I assumed it was. Not only are they offering relatively healthy sweet tooth satisfiers, they are also doing it while standing firmly on good technique. Innovative without being too trendy and sophisticated without being unapproachable, this is a shop that doesn’t hide ingredients behind a cloud of too-sweet distraction. The result is, to resort to a completely necessary cliché, a little taste of heaven.
Where: 3201 Louisiana St. Suite 100, Houston, TX 77006
What: Pasterie and Macarons (NOT to be confused with pastry and macaroons)
Wear: Workout gear, generally
How Much: About $6-$7 for a mini dessert
Web: Website; Facebook; Twitter