You know what we love about dessert? Its versatility. Sure, it can be the perfect end to a great meal, but it also makes for a decadent late night bite, a light but delectable lunch, or the ultimate accompaniment with breakfast mimosas. See? Versatile.
Here, then, the most craveable desserts in some of our favorite cities.
Many desserts have been called works of art over the years, but at Grant Achatz’s fabled Alinea, the Table Dessert that’s the grand finale of their legendary, avant garde 20 course meal truly is. Achatz is one of the world’s foremost proponents of molecular gastronomy, mixing science and chefery in new and exciting ways, and this dessert is sweet sorcery. Using a special table cloth as his canvas, Achatz splashes and brushes luscious concoctions of chocolate, peanuts, honey, and blueberries across the table like an edible Jackson Pollock painting, and invites you to dive in. This is dessert as participatory theater, a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Honorable mention: The Meaning of Life cake at Gibsons—chocolate mousse, raspberry, banana, and whipped cream—that weighs in at an unbelievable six pounds per slice.
Creole Bread Pudding Soufflé
Commander’s Palace—New Orleans, Louisiana
In a city filled with world-class restaurants, Commander’s Palace sits atop the throne, an institution celebrating their 130th anniversary. You can’t go wrong with anything on their menu—don’t miss the jambalaya—but no matter what you choose, be sure to end your meal with their iconic Creole Bread Pudding Soufflé. Served in a special ceramic dish, the sky-high, golden-brown soufflé is a heady mix of cream, eggs, whipped egg whites, French bread, and exotic spices. When the warm whiskey sauce is poured tableside, close your eyes and breathe in the intoxicating scent that is New Orleans.
Tahitian Vanilla Sugar Salted Caramel Apple Pie
Random Order Coffeehouse and Bakery—Portland, Oregon
We know what you’re thinking—apple pie is great and all, delicious even, but it’s a humble dessert, not a showstopper. Think again. The Tahitian Vanilla Sugar Salted Caramel Apple Pie elevates that humble dessert to unbelievable heights. Like all good pies, it starts with the crust, and this one is special, baked to perfection with delicate yet spicy vanilla and apple cider vinegar. The filling is a wonder—rich and sticky, sugary caramel and a sweet, tart combination of Pink Lady and Granny Smith apples, with stripes of skin left on for an intriguing texture and bite. Pair that slice of pie with a boozy cup of Irish coffee, and an excellent day is virtually guaranteed.
The Melting Cloud
Seven Reasons—Washington, D.C.
There’s an old saying that’s particularly apropos when it comes to dessert—anything worth doing is worth overdoing. The mad culinary geniuses have certainly embraced it. The Melting Cloud is an evocative name for an evocative dessert. It starts as a sort of twisted lemon-coconut pie—lemon custard, almond crumble, limoncello marshmallow, butter cookie sorbet, and coconut foam. And if that was it, if that was all there was to it, it would be an excellent dessert. But no, Seven Reasons doesn’t stop there. They surround all that goodness with meltable cotton candy that they torch tableside, so that it disappears like, well, a melting cloud, leaving behind a delightful, sugary residue. Trust us, you’ve never tasted anything like this.
Coca Cola Cake
West Egg Cafe—Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta is the headquarters for several large corporations—Home Depot, UPS, and Delta Airlines to name just three—but perhaps most famously it’s the home to the Coca Cola Company. What’s that have to do with dessert? Glad you asked! Coca Cola Cake is a classic southern regional favorite, a richly decadent chocolate cake made with Coke, buttermilk, and cocoa powder, and the West Egg Cafe makes it better than any grandmother in Georgia. There’s Coke in both the frosting and the cake, giving it a distinctive, addictive sweetness, with a light, tender cake that will keep you coming back for more. Coca Cola’s current tagline is “Real Magic,” and this cake absolutely is.
Sticky Sticky Bun
Flour Bakery + Café—Boston, Massachusetts
The bun so sticky they had to say it twice. No, seriously. This is not your typical mall chain restaurant sticky bun. The Sticky Sticky Bun is lovingly crafted of brioche dough swirled with sugar and cinnamon and liberally sprinkled with chopped pecans. The whole thing is then dunked in a warm, soothing bath of honey, brown sugar, butter, and heavy cream. It’s exactly as sticky and messy and delightful as it sounds, and let’s face it, napkins may not do the trick—you’ll quite possibly require a hose. For this level of dessert nirvana, it’s worth it.
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