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When it comes getting a cake to impress, go to Danielle’s Desserts or just go away

This is a little piece I wrote a couple of years ago about one of my favorite places for sweets…

My flame’s brother came into town last weekend.  He lives in Switzerland and doesn’t get here very often.  So, whenever Joan has an opportunity to spend a little 3D time with him, it is a special occasion.   David is one of the world’s foremost authorities in an area of scientific research that would take this entire blog piece to explain.  So, I’ll just say that he was coming for an important sit down at NIH. It was going to be a great opportunity for them to reconnect.

I had never met David before, as Joan and I have been seeing each other for less than a year.  She was very eager for us to meet, and she planned a Saturday night dinner at her house for us to have an opportunity to convoke.  I am always a bit anxious when first meeting the family members of a lover.  However, when food is involved, it always makes things just a bit less edgy.  I’ll meet an angry ninja, if you feed me during the introduction.  I was actually very excited when Joan called with the invitation. She is a spectacular chef, and I am always up to pick the brain of the hyper-learned.

Naturally, being the son of Howard & Eva, I knew that I should bring something to the dinner party.  I am big on first impressions (at least the ones that I make).  So, I wanted to bring something that would be extraordinary.  My first inclination was wine.  But, Joan (a consummate oenophile) told me that she had the bottles covered.  The next option in my flow chart is always dessert.  My offer was graciously accepted.  The hostess knows me too well.  She knew what was coming.  And, she knew it was going to be great.

I am a connoisseur of baked goods.  There are times that I wish my palate was educated in more sophisticated gastronomic sensations such as wine, exotic peppers, caviar, scotch, truffles, tea, or even chocolate.  No.  No.  My tongue is attuned to doughnuts, cakes, pies, and pastry.  I am proud to report that because my taste buds are so acutely discerning, I have not wasted my gift or taken it for granted.  I do as much research as possible.  That is why for my most special occasions (or whenever I am in Tysons Galleria), I patronize Danielle’s Desserts.

Truth be told, I am a late-comer to Danielle’s.  Since I am a native Washingtonian/Marylander, I very seldom travelled over the river except to list and sell houses.  Therefore, the smaller establishments in the Tysons area were unknown to me.  I happened upon Danielle’s Desserts because I was seeing a woman who lived in Virginia (it’s Joan, I’m not that popular), and I wanted to bring her a couple of cupcakes as a surprise.  I stopped into Tysons Galleria to see if I could find a restaurant that sold cupcakes on their dessert menu.  When I looked on the directory, there was “Danielle’s Desserts” on the list of restaurants and specialty shops.  Of course, it was my first choice.  Besides, I’m a sucker for alliteration.

Danielle’s is on the third level, and I was on the first.  So, it took me a little walking to get there.  I will say that if you have to walk through a mall, Tysons Galleria is not hard on the eyes.  I took the escalator to the top level.  Strolled past a few designer boutiques, and eagerly bopped right into my destination.  I love bakeries.  My relationship with cakes has never been the same.

I won’t take you through an item-by-item critique of her fare.  I will just say that everything that I have experienced there has been superlatively sublime.  When I stopped by last Saturday evening on my way to Joan’s, my plan was to purchase three assorted slices of cake, knowing that we would end up sharing the lot.  Danielle’s Triple Chocolate Fudge cake had become a “go-to” slice for Joan and me.  So, I knew that was going to be one of the three.  I thought that the other two would be Red Velvet and possibly Southern Caramel.

Danielle Poux is the owner of Danielle’s Desserts in Tysons Galleria

As usual, Danielle Poux, was there baking away.  I have come to enjoy watching as her staff is busily assisting her, while others take care of customer orders.  A very friendly and engaging entrepreneur, I am always delighted to let her know just how much we have been relishing her creations.  On this night, I told her where I was headed with my goodies.  Then, I asked her what slice of cake she would bring if she were going to a dinner party.  She told me, “our best seller by far is the Southern Caramel, but my favorite is the Coconut.”  Well, that did it for me.  The Red Velvet Cake was substituted with Coconut. The baker knows best, right?

Yep, apparently so.

Joan’s dinner was fabulous as usual.  She can take a recipe from anywhere and turn it into her own.  This one, I understand, came from the New York Times. (Yeah…  She’s a New Yorker…) It had a name, but I call it Joan’s NYT Pasta.  It was yummy.  David loved it too.

By the time we cleared the dinner dishes, we were already pretty full.  David is a runner, Joan is a cyclist, and I move around and sweat.  So, although none of us is into overindulgence, I strongly suggested that everyone at least taste the cake because it is so special.  Joan didn’t need any urging.  She knew what to expect.

She put the three slices on the table in front of us, and we passed them around taking a

Southern Caramel Cake, YUM!

small forkful out of each cake to put on our respective dessert plates.  Then, we did it again.  Then, we did it again…  The Triple Chocolate was its normal delicious self.  The Coconut was a very welcome addition to the mix, and I am very happy that Danielle suggested it.  The star of the show, however, was the Southern Caramel Cake. (I am about to use an adjective that I stay away from because I hear it at least 25 times a day.  There are way too many juicy words to not use them all.  But, in this case, the word is most appropriate.)  The Southern Caramel Cake was amazing!

The moral of the story is this:  If you ever (EVER) want to bring a cake or pie or cupcakes or brownies or cookies or any sweet bakery item to a party and make an unrivaled impression, go to Danielle’s Desserts and have at it.  Or, if you are in Tysons Galleria for any reason at all, I would strongly recommend that you go in, order some coffee or tea, look around, and select whatever looks good to you.  Trust me, the looks are not deceiving.

If you see Danielle (and, you most likely will), please tell her that I said, “Hello.”

For more information about Danielle’s Desserts:

Howard Fletcher is a journalist and podcaster who lives in Silver Spring, MD.  

The Number One 2 Podcast is available on iTunes, SoundCloud, and Buzzsprout.

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