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Maadi, Cairo, Egypt.
Salé Sucré: Maadi Sweets and Treats
Sweet shop Salé Sucré has many venues in Cairo, including Mohandiseen and Roxy. Maadi’s side street branch is aesthetically pleasing while offering a range of delectable cookies, cakes and oriental sweets. With large glass windows displaying sleek cases of tantalising sweets, you can’t go wrong.
While Cairo suffers no shortage of good bakeries full of tempting cakes and yummy biscuits, Salé Sucré has something of a neighbourhood cult following. Upon entering, the smell of freshly baked sweets rushes to meet you as you browse through the wonderland of baked goods. There is a wide variety of cakes in the left-hand side display case, from rich black forest cakes with decorative cherries and chocolate shavings to creamy cheese cakes with brightly coloured berry glazes, in addition to fruit and chocolate concoctions. Prices range between 50LE and upwards of 200LE for a special occasion cake.
The central display case carries every cookie, petit-four and tartlet that you could dream of in a variety of bright colours. You can buy chocolate and walnut petit-fours, date cake or berry tartlets by the kilo, which should cost around 60LE to 100LE. You can either hand-pick the selection yourself or choose a ready-made selection of flaky biscuits, chocolaty petit-fours or fruit and custard tartlets.
While the shop is dominated by miniature sweets, large cakes and sweet breads, a section of the counter is also stocked with savoury pastries, cheese and mini-deli sandwiches. These are also sold by the kilo, with an average of 60LE per kilo.
With Ramadan upon us, patrons can find all their favourite Ramadan desserts here, starting from a 1/4 kilo box. The oriental sweets are artfully arranged on tall silver platters, including the basbousa, which is the perfect blend of sweetness, konafa of every kind, and sticky pastries with both nuts and cream.
The prices are quite reasonable: a kilo of petit-fours and mini-cakes starting at about 80LE, and 1/4 kilo oriental sweets starting at 35LE. For the divine taste and sugar rush that Sale Sucré induces; this is not a bad deal. The service is great; the staff are spot on with orders and eager to help you choose from the baked delicacies on display.
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.