Albemarle Baking Company is the bakery you didn’t know you needed

Adorable eatery provides large variety of pastries, perfect outing for chilly Saturday afternoon

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The bakery's menu features the chocolate praline crunch dome, a rich and delightful blend of chocolate textures.

Marlena Becker | Cavalier Daily

When it's too freezing to even consider dartying, I suggest hopping on the free trolley and making your way over to Albemarle Baking Company on Main Street. It's the perfect outing for a Saturday afternoon — far enough away to feel like you're escaping Grounds, but not as long a bus ride to downtown Charlottesville. 

Albemarle Baking Company — or “ABC” as the locals call it — is a staple for many Charlottesville residents, and for good reason. The bakery sells a variety of baked goods including cakes and bread, but I came interested in trying its pastries. The bakery has everything from muffins and scones to more sophisticated pastries such as mini tarts and French macarons. The cakes are also superb. I would recommend the Princess Cake — a vanilla cake with marzipan frosting and custard filling. The next time you want to surprise a friend on their birthday, splurge on a cake from ABC — you won’t regret it. 

When I stopped in Saturday, we ordered a blueberry muffin, chocolate almond croissant and a chocolate praline crunch dome. The muffin is actually the reason I originally wanted to go to ABC. I had been craving a blueberry muffin all week, and it completely satisfied my taste buds. We all know that the best part of a muffin is the top, and ABC’s product was no exception. The muffins are huge and the topping spills over the edge of the wrapper — tempting you to eat it all the way from the display case. They use fresh blueberries and stuff a lot into each muffin so you’re guaranteed a blueberry in every bite, which is very important to me — as it should be. 

I went into the bakery knowing that I also wanted a croissant in addition to the blueberry muffin, but I was not expecting that I would be able to choose from so many flavors — chocolate, almond, chocolate almond, raisin and veggie, egg and bacon. After much deliberation, I chose chocolate almond. These croissants are flaky on the outside and topped with toasted almonds and powdered sugar, and on the inside, they are moist, buttery and filled with almond paste and dark chocolate. The almond and chocolate flavors complimented each other perfectly, but weren’t sickly sweet. You could definitely taste the croissant itself, instead of it being overpowered by the chocolate, which is a common problem when it comes to chocolate croissants. 

The chocolate praline crunch dome was definitely the most sophisticated pastry I tried from ABC. The dessert looked almost too good to eat — the outside had a dark chocolate coating in the shape of a dome with a decorative dark chocolate wafer on top. Underneath the coating, the dome is filled with chocolate mousse and has a chocolate wafer and chocolate cake on the bottom as the foundation. What makes the chocolate dome so special is the mixing of texture. The coating is soft and rich, while the mousse is very light and airy, and the wafer provides a contrasting crunch. The moist chocolate cake on the bottom ties the whole dessert together perfectly. Although I went into ABC craving something a little more casual, I was very satisfied by the chocolate dome. It was incredibly rich though, so I was happy to split it with a friend. 

The atmosphere in Albemarle Baking Company is absolutely delightful. With huge windows and warm lighting, I immediately felt at ease when I walked in. There is a window into the kitchen so you can watch bakers work their magic, and everyone who works behind the counter seems genuinely happy to be there. There are plenty of tables and chairs that allow you to sit and enjoy your pastries with a hot cup of coffee. While we ate, we watched a number of people come and go who were clearly regulars, observed plenty of adorable children and even ran into a professor. Overall, Albemarle Baking Company provides a perfect relaxing escape from Grounds and will leave you dreaming of pastries for days.

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