Of Scones and Strudels: Neovian Pastries
Throughout its winding and dimly-lit streets that snake through rivers of a green glow, Neovia offers an aura something short of welcoming. However, even in the deepest of the night hours, Neovia is actual an alive and rather riveting—if a little strange—community filled with many curiosities.
Behind the sloping clock tower that constitutes what appears to be city hall, a small (but tidy) place named The Crumpetmonger has struck up shop. This little bakery offers some of the sweetest confections to be found in all of Neopia, although they go mostly unnoticed due to Neovia's creepy reputation. As I dared to enter Neovia, I found that—much to my delight—I truly had nothing to be afraid of in the first place. Navigating through the Haunted Woods was the most unfortunate part of my trip, but upon entering Neovia, I felt very glad that I had made the dreary and frightening passage through its neighbour.
As I entered The Crumpetmonger in pursuit of what had smelt so sweetly from the outside, its gregarious owner immediately offered me a plate of scones and strudels. “Have yerself a seat, if ye don’ mind sittin’ a spell, dearie,” she chirped, rubbing her hands and hurrying to the ovens present behind the counter. “Excuse’m, I’ve got more ‘un a few crumpets comin’ round, now!”
As soon as I bit into one of the strudels she had placed before me, I was instantly stunned by the flawlessness of the beautiful confection. With its drizzling of rich vanilla icing coupled with its warm apple interior, I was immediately taken with the dessert. The scone proved to be just as divine and was also the source of the sweet aroma I had detected before entering the small shoppe. Just as soon as the Crumpetmonger herself returned, I asked to sample the very best of her fine sweets so that I could share them with the world. She then kindly baked an additional eight items of which she was proudest and presented them to me. And so, have yerself a seat, if ye don’ mind sittin’ a spell...
These tiny Berry Tarts are made of only the freshest of ingredients. A small berry has been placed atop a generous spoonful of cream that has been dolloped onto a crisp butter crust. Berry Tarts are reputed to melt in your mouth with their unique mixture of tangy and sweet flavouring, all mediated by the ambrosial taste of the buttery crust. The berries themselves are hand-picked by Neovian bakers on a basis of how sweet-smelling and palatable they are. Each tart carries a berry of different taste. The first berry is a simple strawberry, tangy with its classical blend of sweetness; the second berry is a raspberry, divine in its dulcet flavouring; the third being a small cherry, which is the epitome of a sweet with no sourness at all. Neovian bakers have also skillfully selected the tastiest of cream to layer beneath the berries; indeed, the cream is rather mild and soft, and most definitely light to the taste. The crust is baked with care to complete each tart with a finishing touch of golden brown deliciousness.
Caramel Cream Puff
The Crumpetmonger is known to bake only the most heavenly of cream puffs, and of their selection the Caramel Cream Puff takes the cake. Sweet choux paste creates a warm base for the pastry cream, and it is poured and prepared in a way that adds considerable crisp to the otherwise light cream puff. The contrast in textures created by the choux paste is one of the highlights of the pastry. The pastry cream itself already has small hints of caramel flavour in its base ingredients, and has been piped upward into the appealing curling shape that is signature of Neovian cream puffs. Atop the cream is a drizzle of rich caramel glaze that will make Neovian residents come running from anywhere in Neopia!
Chocolate Cherry Bundt Cake
Cherries and chocolate are timelessly perfect ingredients on their own, and when combined, the effect is nothing short of succulent. A delicious deep chocolate bundt cake laden with its own entourage of fresh cherries can only be marvellous. The bakers of Neovia have certainly outdone themselves with the creation of the beautiful Chocolate Cherry Bundt Cake. The richest of dark chocolate was used to create the perfect mixture for the bundt cake, and the artful adornment of chocolate icing atop the cake itself provides for additional depth to be given to the cake. The cherries add a bit of dimension to the chocolate so that the confection's base isn't overpowering in its sweetness. This luscious cake is not one to be missed by voracious chocolate lovers.
Jam and Cream Scone
This freshly-baked scone is as scrumptious as they come. The soft bread of the scone is accented with a rather crumbly centre, leaving pieces of the golden-brown delight to be much crisper than its exterior. The jam within is brimming with flavour, exhibiting a colourful barrage of tang and sweetness combined. As is the case with the Berry Tarts, the cream is light and enjoyable and balances the mixture of strong flavours given by the jam. The Jam and Cream Scone is most often served with a side of coffee or tea, and it is the delight of many Neovians before they get on with their business.
Pumpkin Rolls are one of autumn's signatures in Neovia. It is typical to see residents withdrawing one from the confines of their suit coat, eager to enjoy one or more on their brisk morning walk. The pumpkin roll contains authentic pumpkin ingredients combined with generous helpings of sugar. The pumpkin adds a rather fragrant attribute to this dessert, which manifests itself as a a spicy aroma. Layered between the rolls of pumpkin is a thin slice of cream, making the pumpkin roll have a smooth and gooey texture in addition to the solidness of the roll itself. Sprinkled outside of the roll is powdered sugar.
A delicious onslaught of sugar, cream, chocolate sauce, crisped dough, and, of course, a classical cherry, the Neovian Cannoli is simply immaculate. The fried pastry dough is sweet on its own (being infused with sugar by the spoonful!) and the combination of the other ingredients is enough to take one's breath away. Chocolate sauce has been drizzled on top of the cannoli's exterior to make the treat offer almost everything essential in beautiful confections. The cannoli has a traditional softened cream filling that is topped with a perfect red cherry. It is absolutely bursting with sweet taste!
Imagine the taste of hazelnuts, blackberries, cinnamon, and whipped cream, all present together in and around a moulding of fresh pastry. The Crumpetmonger satisfies this fantasy with the Linzer Torte. Flavourful pastry surrounds layers upon layers of moist blackberries. A lattice of the pastry crowns the top section of blackberries, and powdered sugar is poured atop the lattice to provide extra sweetness, while hazelnuts are arranged in a flowery pattern on the very back of the torte. Freshly whipped cream imbued with striking cinnamon flavour completes the portrait of the delicious pastry. Though they are quite popular year round, Linzer Tortes are an especial favourite of Neovians during the Month of Celebrating, during which time residents surround themselves with family as they enjoy the torte within the warmth of their Neohomes.
Stuffed Custard Eclair
Éclairs are known for their brilliantly bold yet sophisticated taste, and the Stuffed Custard Eclair that I sampled at The Crumpetmonger surpassed these expectations. As is characteristic of most éclairs, the Stuffed Custard Eclair retains an oblong shape of sweet dough. The dough is then filled with a rather delicious custard, the exquisite flavour of which is unique to The Crumpetmonger. The top of the éclair is iced with a small drizzle of caramel that perfectly accentuates the smoothness of the custard.
Crumpets, anyone? Of all of the many varieties of crumpets offered by Neopian shoppes, The Crumpetmonger tops the lot with the classical Honey Crumpet. What appears to be a standard crumpet dripping with honey and butter is actually much more once you've tasted it; indeed, the skill of the Neovian bakery is very apparent after just one bite. This crumpet has just the right balance of soft and spongy texture, making it an undeniably well-executed treat. The honey is smooth, warm, and to an agreeable viscosity, while the butter is warm and smooth as well. All of these ingredients together combine to make a perfect honey crumpet. The Crumpetmonger has most certainly earned her title!
The Apple Strudel offered in Neovia was, quite simply, a treasure to taste. The dough was firm on the outside but rather soft on the inside, providing for an interesting blend of textures that was rather appealing in my ultimate assessment of the treat and added considerable charm to the otherwise popular strudel recipe. The apple inside was warm and clearly of the highest calibre (I noted this as I observed a ripe apple tree just outside of the window seated with bright red apples); it positively melted in my mouth. In the highly likely event that I should pass again through the swinging doors of The Crumpetmonger, I have the opinion that I must enjoy another Apple Strudel.