Though far from a new idea—these cream-puff parlors have been around for a few years now, and my daughters and I definitely enjoy wolfing a couple of their creations every now and again—popping by Beard Papa's for a sweet treat potentially got more interesting with the recent addition of the Cookie Crunch puff. Also new, available this winter only: the Mont Blanc puff, featuring a dollop of French Chestnut cream atop a regular vanilla custard puff.
Unfortunately, neither of Beard Papa's new species adds much to the admittedly already quite satisfying sugarbomb experience. In fact, in a rigorous side-by-side taste test conducted late last Saturday night in my kitchen, I can confidently say that there is absolutely no difference between the Beard Papa's regular and the Beard Papa's Cookie Crunch puff (at right and in back, above). No difference in flavor. No difference in texture. Nada.
Not that either puff was bad—in fact the special Caramel custard that filled my puffs was pleasantly rich, sweet, and butterscotchy—but they really need to rethink how to crunch these babies up, if that's the direction they're going in (maybe add cookie bits to filling?). As for the Mont Blanc, the unapologetically unsophisticated take on chestnut cream did add a certain amount of new flavoring to the puff, but mostly it just doubled up the gloppiness factor.
There are several Beard Papa's locations in the City. On this night, I got my puffs on Broadway between 76th and 77th streets.