Ever since Deb Perelman started her cult-favorite food blog Smitten Kitchen in 2006, the only way to taste her baked goods was, well, to make them yourself. That changed earlier this month, when Perelman unexpectedly announced over Instagram that she would be teaming up with Williamsburg cafe Gertie on a Valentine’s Day-themed pastry box.
It’s the first time Perelman has worked with a local restaurant to sell her pastries — and New York City took note. Almost all of the boxes sold out immediately, according to Gertie co-owner Nate Adler, and Perelman deleted an Instagram Story announcing the collaboration within hours of it going live. Priced at $40 each, the pastry boxes included three baked goods from the Smitten Kitchen recipe archives — chocolate peanut butter cup cookie, baklava babka, and salted brown butter crispy treats — along with three pastries from acclaimed baker Melissa Weller, who took up a residency at Gertie in November last year.
The collaboration was part of Gertie’s ongoing fight to stay afloat, according to Adler, whose Jewish-American restaurant opened in 2019. Despite the hype leading up to Valentine’s Day, Adler says the pastry boxes are likely a one-off collaboration with Smitten Kitchen, though they could return as part of an annual tradition in the future. Weller, who executed all of the recipes for the boxes with her team, will continue on at Gertie for the foreseeable future. Eater managed to snag one last box, so here’s a look at each of the pastries from Smitten Kitchen’s restaurant debut.
The passionfruit chocolate chunk cookie
Behold, the chocolate chip cookie of your dreams, but probably not your childhood. Nestled between pieces of flaky sea salt and chocolate chips are bites of passionfruit, which we hunted for until we realized we had finished the cookie. A baked good that could be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner — every day.
The baklava babka
Perelman renewed our hope for “fusion” pairings with this slice of babka, a riff on baklava that’s mixed with pistachios and walnuts. After an hour walk home in 30-degree weather, we figured the dense slice of babka would have all but dried out, but its interior managed to stay light and bright with help from some orange zest. The babka is brushed with honey syrup, which serves as the finishing soak in the baklava’s crispy baked phyllo dough.
The chocolate marzipan babka
This pastry bears passing resemblance to a kouign amann or pain au chocolat, but on first taste, it’s undeniably a babka. Our favorite of the baked goods in the box, Weller’s chocolate marzipan babka has it all: A flaky crust, a moist interior, and lots of chocolate filling. It’s probably a crime to dip this pastry in coffee, but we would do it again if we had the chance. (And, thankfully, we do: The babka is available from Gertie Thursday through Sunday.)
The chocolate peanut butter cup cookie
By weight, this cookie might be more peanut butter than chocolate. Rolled in granulated sugar but still perfectly salty, the cookie’s dark exterior gives way to a core of creamy peanut butter and powdered sugar. The cross-section was something of wonder, which you’ll have to take our word for because the cookie went down in two oversized bites.
The pink and red rainbow cookie
Pair it with Perelman’s chocolate peanut butter cookie, and you’re almost to a PB&J. Beneath the snap of its dark chocolate frosting, there are a few moist layers of cookie and jam. When Weller posted a photograph of the cookies to Instagram in January, commenters called for her to make them with seasonal blood oranges. This cookie certainly tasted of winter citrus.
The salted brown butter crispy treat
The Rice Krispies Treats of home kitchens and childhood bake sales already bordered on perfection, and this recipe gets them all the way there. Bolstered by a bag of marshmallows and a half-cup of butter that’s browned until nutty, Perelman’s crispy treats are the only recipe we might be able to pull off in our own kitchens. (“They’re so freaking easy to make,” she promises in her blog.) These crispies are rich and dense with a little bit of crunch.