1612 Niagara Falls Blvd., Tonawanda, NY 14150
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Desserts Favorites Tonawanda
"It's hard to find a truly bad Pastry Heart unless it's a day old, in which case you might never get what makes this dessert so special."
In Western New York, it is known as the Pastry Heart, but elsewhere, the exact equivalent is all but impossible to find despite the simplicity of its ingredients. Based upon French puff pastry, and resembling a palmier, the best versions of this heart-shaped dessert are loaded with what seems like an impossible depth of bright white sugar icing, while lesser versions have thinner top coatings.
The Story: If you're from Buffalo, you probably take the Pastry Heart for granted, but if you ever leave the area, you'll find that it is all but impossible to find, and permanently stuck on your mind until you get another fix. As the name suggests, the Pastry Heart is a flaky golden pastry, shaped from layers of puff pastry that peel off vertically rather than horizontally as you peel or chew. Each piece is topped by a sugary icing that starts out looking dry, but almost inevitably gives way to a gooey, sweet softness. Unusually, Google searches for the Pastry Heart phrase will bring you to results that bear no resemblance to the Buffalo version of this treat. Our photos are of the authentic version.
Best Location: Mom and pop bakeries such as Russ's Bakery on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Amherst tend to make Pastry Hearts the right way - with enough goop that you know you really shouldn't eat two (well, three) of these in one sitting, lest you suffer a congestive failure. Russ's version is physically larger than ones you'll see at other places: one heart is large enough for two people to share, and sells for $3. Our top picture here depicts Russ's version.
Wegmans supermarkets make a more than passable but less than completely thrilling version, preserving the shape and ingredients but typically missing the slightly moist, frosting-saturated texture of the original. Thanks to Wegmans' ever-increasing local footprint, their version is the easiest to find, and close enough to great to try if you're in a pinch.
Worst Location: Tough call. It's hard to find a truly bad Pastry Heart unless it's a day old, in which case you might never get what makes this dessert so special.