Kyotofu has undergone a huge, delicious identity shift recently. Until this year they were primarily a restaurant in New York City known for their twists on asian desserts, from tofu cheesecake to a black sesame soft serve that changed how I looked at dessert.
Recently they closed the restaurant to focus on baked goods, and primarily gluten free treats, working with Cup4Cup, Thomas Keller and Lena Kwak’s gluten free flour. I was sent an assortment of their muffins, financiers, shortbread, and a miso chocolate brownie to try out, and I’m glad to see they haven’t sacrificed creativity or their love of dessert. At about $1-$4 per cookie or brownie, I was also curious to find out if I had a new option for gifting my vegan or gluten-free friends for the holidays.
Even for a fan of Asian and Asian-inspired desserts, I found the set hit or miss – but there were some seriously good treats in the batch. My favorites included the pumpkin spice cupcake, which was aromatic with ginger and tons of pumpkin flavor, like an amazing, soft pumpkin gingerbread. The yuzu blueberry muffin was drier, and the tang from the yuzu was present, but it couldn’t compete with the pumpkin.
Of the shortbread, I liked the Genmai Toasted Brown Rice best. Almost like a good senbei, a type of rice cracker, in taste, the cookies were crisp and lightly nutty, with the toasted rice as pops of texture. The sesame and green tea shortbread were nearly savory, which as delicate, crumbly bites, but not as deliciously as the genmai.
And if you love your savory and sweet together, definitely try the Valrhona chocolate miso brownie. Crowned with sesame seeds, it looks and smells like a fairly straightforward brownie. The brownie tastes of chocolate at first bite, then the miso takes over for a chocolate-umami rush before it all blends together. It grew on me with every bite, but I could see traditionalists not wanting to try it.
The Kyotofu line is definitely for someone who wants to see experimentation in their desserts – especially gluten-free options with a less sweet, delicate edge. If that’s you, I definitely recommend getting an assortment first, as what you fall in love with may surprise you.