While Buffalo’s food-truck fleet teems with tacos, pulled pork and burgers, the Sweet Hearth satisfies a devoted group of eaters: sweet-tooths.
From velvety, rich chocolate bread pudding blanketed with warm bourbon caramel sauce to impossibly light-yet-creamy Key lime pie, Kelly Brewer’s from-scratch desserts remind us that “pleasure” does follow “guilty.”
At a recent Food Truck Tuesday in Larkin Square, the line in front of the Sweet Hearth was comparable to Lloyd Taco Truck’s, and, judging from the orders of customers in front of us, the depth of Brewer’s ambitious 14-item menu was being tested.
You can’t talk about Buffalo’s first dessert truck without praising its most popular treat: the Hummingbird Cake, a thick slice of three-layer cake boasting bananas, pineapple and toasted pecans, topped with “the world’s greatest cream-cheese icing” ($5.75).
Even if your wallet just winced, give the Hummingbird Cake a chance – each piece is gargantuan, a bite is a cruise through smooth, chewy and crunchy textures, and the finished product is painstaking enough that you’d likely shy away from making it at home. As for the Sweet Hearth’s bold cream cheese claim? The jury remains out.
Brewer doesn’t fully understand why the cake, a Southern-inspired recipe named after a Jamaican relative of the hummingbird, is so popular. “It has such a following – it’s hard to believe,” she said. “It’s not my personal favorite, but people still drive for miles [to get it].”
As far as Brewer knows, the Sweet Hearth is the only bakery in the area to regularly feature hummingbird cake.
Other staples include the chocolate bread pudding ($6.50), a chocolate fanatic’s dream that peaks in the cooler months as a warm, gooey comfort food. Key lime pie (graham cracker crust with Key lime filling, topped with whipped cream, $4.75) tempted me to buy seconds, as the tart lime flavor provided a welcomed reprieve from a menu otherwise saturated with sweets.
Another menu regular is the peanut butter pie (vanilla cookie crust, a layer of fudge, crushed peanut butter cups and ribbons of peanut butter whirled in a creamy filling, topped with whipped cream, $4.50), which was lauded by a peanut-butter lover at the table, but deemed too rich by others.
Late summer and fall are the best times to visit the Sweet Hearth, as Brewer’s locally sourced fruits from farmers markets in Clarence take center stage. While the season of fresh strawberries, blueberries and raspberries has already come and gone, peaches were the stars at my visit. Brewer’s peach crisp, described as “deliciously sweet and juicy fresh, local peaches topped with the most irresistible crisp topping, served with whipped cream ($5) or with a scoop of Silver Cloud vanilla ice cream ($7)” came layered deep into a Styrofoam bowl.
Though I was a little disappointed in the quantity of peaches, there’s no doubt that their canned relatives would hide in shame compared to this season’s harvest, which exploded with flavor.
Count on finding the Sweet Hearth at Larkinville’s Food Truck Tuesday through Oct. 27, as well as one-off events highlighted on thesweethearth.net’s homepage calendar, updated weekly. (Hint: apple crisp, made with both Granny Smith and McIntosh apples, is on the way).
Thanks to Brewer, Buffalo’s sweet-tooths can revel in the knowledge that a truck committed to from-scratch desserts roams the streets.
What: The Sweet Hearth
Where: Larkinville's Food Truck Tuesdays and other one-off events
When: Tuesdays through Oct. 27, see more stops at The Sweet Hearth's website
Email Ben Tsujimoto, who will gladly eat cobbler at any time of day, at firstname.lastname@example.org