Second Helpings



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Chocolate Cravings


    I am not what one would call a chocoholic. I don’t get a sense that chocolate gives me a high or turns me on, which it apparently does for others, and for the most part, I can take it or leave it. Except, that is, for one creation from Crixa Cakes in Berkeley.
    The cake looks plain and is unadorned except for a powdering of confectioners’ sugar, but it’s surprisingly moist, wearing the name Pavé Vergiate ($3.75) on a tag that describes it as a flourless chocolate cake made with, yes, chocolate, plus butter and eggs. Not overly sweet but sweet enough to contrast well with coffee, the cake has a lingering, rich chocolate aftertaste and comes with a side of cream.
    My food dictionary tells me that the word pavé is French for square or rectangle, as in a paving stone. Crixa owner Elizabeth Kloian confirmed that this refers both to the shape of the cake and how it is cut. Turns out that in her quest for the perfect chocolate blend, Kloian found her match in a manufacturer from Vergiate, Italy. The chocolate is no longer imported from there, but she kept the name—and tinkered with the texture to achieve perfection.
    To visit Crixa for coffee or one of the many loose teas served (and sold) by the pot is a treat that doesn’t seem to lose its flavor. The place has European style—and, thanks to Kloian’s Russian-Armenian heritage, cakes to match. The most difficult part is making a choice. Try the Bizet (Russian meringue) with whipped cream and the Puncs Torta, a Hungarian specialty with orange, lemon and, to quote Kloian, “lots of booze.”
    Crixa Cakes, 2748 Adeline St., Berkeley. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. (510) 548-0421, www.crixacakes.com.
—Wanda Hennig

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