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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Soufflé: Zamalek Sweet Spot
A good neighbour is always available to lend you a cup of sugar. On the island of Zamalek, sweet shop Soufflé knows what being a good neighbour is all about.
While some sweet shops specialise in oriental treats, ice cream or chocolate cake; Soufflé has it all. The large shop is packed with several coolers, a central counter and shelf-lined walls all loaded with sugary delights.
One section of baskets is brimming with bite-sized goodies of both the oriental and western persuasion. Tiny, crunchy tartlets filled with cashews, little chocolate-covered sandwich cookies and petite shortbreads with gooey apricot centres are just a few of the mini-treats in this section. Sold by weight, you can mix a bunch of your favourites for a tasty and colourful cookie platter at 70LE per kilo. For bite-sized savoury snacks, take a peek behind the gateau counter, where a slew of breadsticks and crackers in varying shapes with seeded toppings go for 26LE to 30LE per kilo.
The centre of the shop is devoted to a high counter, where traditional oriental sweets are on display. Soufflé’s selection includes traditional basbousa for 30LE per kilo– expect to pay more for the crunchy nut toppings– and konafa stuffed with pistachio for 140LE.
A refrigerated display of Soufflé’s cakes and tarts showcases the shop’s gourmet side. A number of beautifully designed cakes are available, including one covered with glistening peaches (120LE). Even better is the counter just next to this cooler, where chic single servings of a variety of cakes and tarts are sold.
One in particular features a double layered crunchy crust beneath a decadently rich layer of thick chocolate mousse which is topped with a combed design of dark and milk chocolate sauce. Another delightful option had a spongy white cake base topped with mounds of pastry cream and finished with pineapple, peach and kiwi. The sweetest part about these desserts is the price. At 9LE per piece, these gourmet treats are as nice on your wallet as they are on your tongue.Soufflé delivers to the Zamalek, Mohandiseen and Dokki neighbourhoods, and although they don’t cater; they do have a nice selection of dyed, fruit-shaped marzipan and lots of chocolates and candies in elegant wrappers that would make excellent favours for a party or a wedding.
And while there isn’t a single soufflé to be found in the store, their selection is so sweet that we barely notice the misdirection.
Four years ago, the Batter Half and Co. opened its first shop in Zamalek and it wasn’t long before it earned a wide fan base with their signature Chocolate Heaven and Red Velvet Cake. Comfortably nestled among the best confectionary shops in Cairo, the Batter Half & Co. decided to take it up a notch this summer by offering ice cream lovers a selection of flavours to choose from.
Wondering if The Batter Half and Co. has what it takes to impress ice cream addicts, we made up our minds to go and see for ourselves.
Arriving a little bit too early, the ice cream hadn’t been put on display yet, so we had to wait for about 10 minutes before everything was in its place. Besides a number of innovative flavours like red velvet and biscuit, we found some fruity flavours like mango and lemon as well as the universally-loved flavours including Nutella, coffee and caramel.
Easy as it was to choose what flavours we wanted to try, the process of having them scooped was laborious for the staff; the stone-hard ice cream needed to rest a little before it could be served. But with the lemon being the only flavour supple enough, we decided to have one scoop (15LE) in a cone until the rest of our order was ready, which happened to be a scoop of biscuit, caramel and coffee ice cream .
We had mixed feelings about the lemon; despite being the creamiest lemon ice cream we’ve ever tasted, we expected a zestier taste worthy of the distinctive flavour of lemon. In regards to the cone, we can’t really judge given that we were too early to have a freshly-baked one, but the flavoursome buttery taste made up for the slight limpness the cone had.
Thinking that it would taste like baby food, we were a bit skeptical about the biscuit ice cream, but it turned out to be the highlight of our visit; in addition to being as tasty as fresh butter cookies, it had an exquisite grainy texture – something we never thought we’d enjoy in an ice cream.
Flavoursome and rich, the coffee ice cream also had crunchy bits of something that we honestly couldn’t identify. Whether they were chocolate chips, coffee beans or both, those bits boosted the flavour as a whole. Just as good, the caramel flavour had a natural taste without being over sweet.
Now that we liked almost every single ice cream flavour we tasted at The Batter Half & Co., it’s clear that the place mastered the art of ice cream making –all the more reason to love it.