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All Natural Hot Mini Cakes
How to end a tour of the city’s best street carts? With dessert, of course. You need no more incentive than the stop-you-in-your-tracks aroma emanating from the mini-cake carts of Chinatown, where the going rate for twenty sweet puffy confections is one smackeroo. Half the fun of eating them is watching their production, especially at this tidy little stand where septuagenarian Shao Chen blasts classical music on the world’s smallest boom box. Forearms protected with elasticized pull-on shirt sleeves that make him look a little like a riverboat gambler, Chen has honed his technique into a carefully orchestrated rhythm: Brush the lingering bits out of a multi-holed waffle-iron contraption, pour the flour-sugar-and-egg batter from a metal teapot, bake for just over a minute, scoop out the sweet, spongy balls, and separate them with a spoon. For the street-cart connoisseur, they’re the closest thing to Proust’s madeleines.
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