Wandering: ultimate pastry shop
Quick stops are the key. Run in, run out. Quick. Before the sippy cup goes flying or the stroller harness gets too tight or the credit card is given away to a stranger or my shirt gets hauled off my shoulder because, well, it’s never done that before, and mama’s reaction sure is interesting, isn’t it? I’ve come to abhor long lines and dread long lunches. Gone are my pre-baby days of leisure. In their place, a whirling dervish who has reintroduced me to the joys of dandelions, train whistles, tractors (“da-dors”), splashing fountains, and gifting strangers with credit cards. My little dervish prefers quick stops, preferably if some kind of food is involved. I’m thrilled to find that The Ultimate Pastry Shop in Sewickley, PA is the ultimate mom-plus-kid pit stop.
The Ultimate Pastry Shop is located on Sewickley’s quaintly chic main street. The Shop’s neighbors include a genuine Italian shoe repairman, a Starbucks, and a smattering of boutique clothing stores with prices that will raise eyebrows of non-Sewickleyites. While many small bakeries today are competing on flash and bling in the store decor as much as the cupcake toppings, The Ultimate Pastry Shop is a more relaxed, whimsical break from strenuous perfection. The brightly colored walls, floors, and even bandanas of the shop clerks set a quirky stage for the equally brightly colored shelves of home-made cookies. Stepping into The Ultimate Pastry Shop is like stepping from a polished, swanky, saccharine main street into a warm, authentic, and inviting home kitchen. A kitchen that just happens to be stacked ceiling-high with mouth-watering temptations. (A kitchen of my dreams.)
Little Friend was new to The Ultimate Pastry Shop scene because she just recently overcame a milk protein intolerance that had plagued her since birth. Now with yummy things like butter, milk, and cheese introduced in her menu, a little blue coupon for a free cookie received gratefully at library storytime seemed like a compelling reason to push the stroller through Sewickley’s summer streets and pop through the UPS door. Bells jangled, four brightly colored bandana-ed heads poked up from behind kitchen and counter, and cookies, rows upon rows of them, beckoned enticingly. I wish I could give advice on which cookies to choose, but since the flavors range from key lime crinkles, to pumpkin raisin, to southern oatmeal (chocolate chips and pecans), to mudslide, to toxic chocolate, to strawberry chocolate chip, to … well, I think you get the point. My advice for cookie selection is this: close your eyes and point. You’re sure to end up with something delicious that will only set you back a mere $0.75.
My blind pointing resulted in a Far Out cookie—a peanut butter oatmeal cookie with a chocolate frosting center. Little Friend came away with a sprinkled sugar cookie. And sprinkles seemed to be the main ingredient rather than an afterthought. Not a crumb of sugar cookie could be seen beneath the crust of sprinkles, most of which had sunk into the dough and melted a bit, creating a brilliant kaleidoscope of a cookie. I’m fortunate that Little Friend is a generous friend (not just with my credit card but also her foodie treats). She invited me to take a number of bites from her cookie, which I gladly did. I was buckled back in the car and brushing crumbs from my lips when I realized I’d inhaled my own cookie so all-consumingly that I hadn’t returned the favor.
The Ultimate Pastry Shop is a perfect quick treat trip for summer time. A few minutes, a blind point, and some pocket change later, and you can be on your way to the pool or playground with a sugary, home-made, hand-dipped cookie for company. Add to the mix a friendly, helpful staff and nostalgia for the Main Streets of old, and The Ultimate Pastry Shop moves quickly to the top of my “summer highlights” list.
The Ultimate Pastry Shop offers goodies ranging far beyond mere cookies. They excel at pies, cakes, and tarts. Their cooler is consistently stocked with take-home quiches and soups. It’s an easy (and quick) stop for a three-course meal, with the third course, dessert, being the crown jewel. The Ultimate Pastry Shop is located at 445 Beaver Street, Sewickley PA, 15143 | 412-741-9150. Their hours are Monday thru Friday 5am-5 pm and Sat 6am-4pm. If you can’t make it to The Ultimate Pastry Shop but are willing to brave a hot oven in high summer, keep reading for my family’s personal favorite cookie recipe. It’s never let us down!
LACY OATMEAL COOKIES
(Compliments of The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins)
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried currants (We frequently substitute dried cranberries or raisins.)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheets.
2. Toss the oats, flour, cinnamon, and baking soda together in a bowl.
3. Cream the butter and both sugars together in a mixing bowl until light. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Then slowly beat in the dry ingredients, then the currants, and walnuts.
4. Drop the batter by rounded teaspoonfuls, 2 inches apart, onto the prepared baking sheets and bake until golden, 10 minutes. Leave the cookies on the baking sheets for 2 minutes; then transfer them to wire racks to cool.
Makes 4 1/2 dozen cookies. (Sounds like a lot until you taste one. They go down real easy, and 4 1/2 dozen soon disappears!)