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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.
The number of dessert houses, bakerys and cafes in Cairo is forever growing, with cupcakes still enjoying the bulk of attention. Far from filling us with enthusiasm, we headed to Tiny Treats Cupcakes, situated competitively close to Cupcaker Baker in Ard El Golf.
Using a soft lilac and peach colour scheme, other than just two high tables and stools, the small shop space feels bare and a little uninviting. With a counter stretching across the back, a range of creative cupcakes are on display, along with a selection of take-away boxes.
Specialising only in cupcakes, the only other product on sale was a selection of fun, fluffy decorative banners (15LE plus) to add to your selection, stating celebratory phrases such as ‘happy birthday’ or, ‘congratulations’. Despite its name implying size-challenged sweet treats, the cupcakes are in fact averagely sized.
Rather than only providing run-of-the-mill flavours, refreshingly, more adventurous flavours of cupcakes are available (10LE-12LE). We filled up a box of six with choices including bubblegum, mint chocolate, caramel, blueberry, a mandatory red velvet and a peanut butter and chocolate creation named after the popular chocolate brand, Reese’s.
To our delight, each cupcake was delicious; soft and fresh, with a generous dollop of airy, flavourful icing on top. The bubblegum flavour took us right back to our school days without being overly artificial-tasting whilst the caramel cupcake was surprisingly light. The blueberry was scrumptiously fruity and the mint chocolate flavour-match was incredible. The Reese’s cupcake lived up to its name, with a wonderful balance between the rich chocolate sponge and thick peanut butter icing. Although equally as palatable, the red velvet cupcake was fairly tame in comparison.
Despite the plain interior, it’s clear that Tiny Treats Cupcakes focus their efforts on supplying fresh, flavourful cupcakes. Their range of refreshingly unique and delectable flavours also gives them an edge on local competition.