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Sheikh Zayed, Cairo, Egypt.
Ruffles House: Ramadan Treats at Charming Bakery in Sheikh Zayed
Many come out of the end of Ramadan packing a few more pounds than they did entering it – an inevitable conclusion to the Holy Month, thanks to traditionally lavish fetars, late-night sohour and, of course, the heightened intake of desserts and sweets.
It certainly doesn't help that confectioners and bakers across the city battle for hearts, minds and stomachs every year with all manner of kooky adaptation to classic Egyptian favourites like konafa and basboosa – so, in a way it's their fault. Right?
One such place that is as guilty of driving our sweet-tooth cravings into overdrive is Ruffles House, thanks to some visually delicious and rich images of the Sheikh Zayed vendor's festive specials doing the rounds on social media in the lead-up to Ramadan; because let's be honest for a second – there's something irresistibly cute about a dessert in a mason jar. Sorry, make that three different sizes of mason jar. Cute.
But let's backtrack for a second; Ruffles House actually has two branches in the area – one inside Beverly Hills compound and the other in the little-known Curve Mall, which is located behind Tivoli Dome, and the one we visited. The mall is still under construction and Ruffles House is the only venue open at the moment, meaning that you needn't worry about long queues and mad crowds any time soon.
Of the several options we were faced with, we went for small jars of konafa with mango (21LE), red velvet basbousa (25LE) and filo pastry and date cupcake (21LE), as well as a jar of cherry cheesecake (25LE) – the latter isn't a Ramadan special, but looked too good not to try.
Pardon us for sounding like a broken record, but we need to talk about the mason jars again; it makes for a fantastic visual, showing you layers of colourful deliciousness all piled onto each other - an appetising sight if we ever saw one. The konafa with mango was surprisingly light but, despite tasting fresh, desperately needed more cream to break the richness of the mango and the sweet crunch of the konafa itself. Popular among bakeries in Cairo this year, the red velvet basbousa, is a little different than most. While many incorporate the food dye in the basbousa, Ruffles House's version also uses plain layers of basbousa. Although it was full of flavour, there were two points that let the dessert down; the first was the fact that the basboosa was perhaps a little undercooked – it was pale in colour and lacked that pleasing golden finish. In addition, it was also a little too sweet to keep going back for more.
The filo pastry and date cupcake, meanwhile, was a mixed bag; while the dates were used to good effect, much of the filo pastry was soggy, rather than crunchy, and needed more frosting or cream – something to help it go down a little bit smoother. Ironically, the standout was the non-Ramadan specific, cherry cheesecake; everything worked perfectly. The layers of biscuit were rich and buttery, the cream was fresh and, well, creamy, and the pieces of cherry gave the dessert just the right amount of subtle acidity.
Presentation-wise, Ruffles House can't be faulted – we'd challenge anyone to walk in and not walk out with several jars of goodies. Unfortunately, small miscues ruined what could have been perfect desserts – but that doesn't mean we won't be going back for more.
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.