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Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
Carousel: Colourful Cakes in Heliopolis
With an abundance of cake shops, bakeries and cafés in Cairo, we really are spoilt for choice. Carousel has managed to bring the sugary craze all the way to Heliopolis, opening up on El Horreya Street, close to one of our favourite tea-time destinations, Dukes.
In adopting gimmicks, dining venues in the city come in all shapes and sizes, but at first glance, Carousel has managed to distinguish itself with bright lights, vibrant colours and wonderful window displays of imaginative cakes.
Fun, custom-made cakes can be made in two-three days; you can either present your own design or choose one of the one's previously made. At the time of our visit, a pastel pink and white three-tier cake sat proudly in the window, topped with a tiara – perfect for every little princess.
Several brightly-coloured tables display their offerings of various chocolate cookies (10LE), brownies (10LE) and a multitude of cupcakes (15LE), whilst a large refrigerator chills eight-serving cakes (130LE), cheesecake (170LE), éclair buns (10LE), chocolate volcano cakes (20LE) and small boxes of truffles, complete with sugary sprinkles (20LE).
Watching us torn between all the different choices, the friendly shop assistant supplied us with a truffle to try. Although they were textured more like cake pops than truffles as we know them, they were absolutely delicious; cold, sticky and chocolatey with a hint of almond flavouring. However, we went on to choose a couple of cupcakes, a Twix brownie, and an M&M cookie.
Amongst the chocolate, strawberry cream, peanut butter and coffee cupcakes, we noticed the practically mandatory Oreo cupcake alongside a white chocolate one. Considering we arrived late in the day, the sponge of both cupcakes tasted surprisingly fresh, whilst the creamy toppings were fluffy and sweet. Unfortunately, the Oreo taste was a little too subtle, leaving the creation a little bland. The same applied to the white chocolate cupcake; the creamy topping tasted more like fresh cream than white chocolate, but was delectable nonetheless.
Twix fans, unfortunately, maw well be disappointed with the Twix brownie; no caramel was detected whatsoever, but the bulk of the giant slice was a thick, sticky chocolate fudge cake, sitting on top of a thin, crunchy biscuit base. The M&M cookie fared the best, with crunchy biscuit sides, a gooey middle and plenty of M&Ms. Overall, had we not felt ever so slightly misled with some of the offerings, we would have little to complain about.
It's very early days for Carousel but should the quality remain high, and the prices stay reasonable, it certainly has the potential to compete with existing cake giants to become a must-have dinner party accessory – particularly as their take-away boxes are so pretty.
With Brew & Chew satisfying the cravings of Maadi residents, and Dip n Dip spreading their fantastic desserts in New Cairo, Nasr City and 6 of October City, the sweet-toothed of Zamalek can be forgiven for feeling a little neglected – that is until now. Chocolate by name, chocolaty by nature, Joe’s Chocolate Bar on Taha Hussein Street could be the answer to every chocaholic’s dreams.
As a venue, Joe’s Chocolate Bar is divided into two floors; the top floor has nothing remarkable about it but allows smoking, while the ground floor is where the ‘chocolate is. Besides the melted chocolate-like decoration on the wall (which is installed upside down, so instead looks like chocolate waves) the calm lighting and wood walls create a relaxing and cosy ambiance to the place.
The items on the menu are limited and nothing grabbed our attention, but we opted for the Molten Chocolate Cake (47LE), Triple Chocolate Crepe (41LE) and their new special item – as the waiter was so keen to mention – Oreo Waffle (49LE).
The molten chocolate cake had a bold chocolate flavour and a very moist texture; the gooey centre had a fantastic pudding-like consistency, which shows that it was cooked to perfection and, overall, the dessert had a spot-on sweetness. On the other hand, we would have preferred that the ice cream was served separately, because the hot temperature of cake melted it quickly and made the top of the cake rather soggy.
The triple chocolate crepe was just as good, meanwhile; coming as three thin, light and fluffy triangular servings, each one was filled with a generous amount of melted milk chocolate, and drizzled with white, milk, and dark chocolate. We also asked for fruit (10LE) on the side which consists of mini cubes of kiwi, bananas, and strawberries, and it was surprisingly fresh even though it’s not strawberry season yet.
As for the Oreo waffle, we expected nothing more than a waffle with crushed Oreo on top, but, impressively, the waffle itself had an actual layer of Oreo in the middle. Despite the waffles needing a little more milk chocolate on top and being a bit chewy, they were largely soft with a slightly crispy exterior, and the flavour of the Oreo popped in every single bite.
Joe’s Chocolate Bar definitely impressed with their well-executed desserts and big flavours, but we felt that the variety on the menu is too safe and a bit limited for a dessert specialist. We’d very happily come back for the molten chocolate cake, though.