They say sugar is your enemy, but when you eat these 18 desserts you will realize sugar is actually your best friend, your lover, and your idol all rolled into one.
18. Tyber Creek’s Skillet Cobbler
Baked to seductive golden hue, studded with fruit, and crowned with creamy ice cream, Tyber Creek’s cobbler is classic American dessert at its best. The fruit used in the cobbler changes with the seasons; they were using succulent cherries when I was last there, and that was a smashing success. The fruit comes encased in a chewy, rustic dough which is topped with a sphere of homestyle vanilla ice cream. The trifecta of the tartness of the cherries with the sweet dough and rich ice cream brought all my dessert dreams to life.
17. Milk Bar’s Cereal Soft Serve
When I was growing up in the 1980s there was no deep-rooted societal fear of sugar that grips the world today. My mom thought it was fine for us to eat the sugariest cereal in the world as long as we poured some milk over it. So I grew up on frosted flakes cereal, soaked in a bowl of milk. Now as an adult I long for the breakfast of my early years while I eat flaxseed toast and black coffee every day. At Milk Bar, my childhood breakfast comes to life via their famous cereal milk soft serve. Somehow, Christina Tosi has infused creamy soft serve with the flavor of sweet cereal milk. She tops it with a sprinkling of sweet cereal, and with each nostalgic bite I am visiting the simple, happy, free-of-the-fear-of-sugar days of my youth. Try it and be instantly transported to your happy place.
16. Nino’s Bakery’s Sicilian Almond Cookies
This tiny, charming Italian bakery occupies an inconspicuous spot on L street in downtown D.C. You wouldn’t even know it’s a bakery – until you open the door and a heavenly smell emerges. The smell of freshly baking croissants, cakes, and pastries will blow you away. My favorite item is the Sicilian almond cookies, that are light yet chewy, fragrant, and a perfect partner to a cup of hot coffee.
15. Officina’s Cannoli
I know the cannoli at Officina is amazing because frankly, I usually don’t like cannoli. I find the filling to be grainy, the crust too much like a cracker, and the dessert overall to not be sweet enough. At Officina, the cannoli is completely different. The crispy shell encircles a sweet, silky smooth ricotta filling, which is dipped in bittersweet chocolate chip pieces on either end. The crispy versus creamy textures are the perfect ying and yang, and the chocolate chips bring a perfect cocoa note to the confection.
14. Indique’s Gulab Jamun
Gulab jamun is a classic Indian dessert. Indian desserts are very sweet. If you want to be swimming in a delightfully sweet dessert, this one is for you. Tender, spongy dumplings come soaking in a honeyed syrup, ready to be popped in your mouth. Not all gulab jamun are created equal; some are dry and tough but the ones at Indique are succulent and luscious.
13. Zaytinya’s Greek Yogurt and Apricots
This dish is a surprise win. Greek yogurt with fruit? Is it a breakfast dish? Nope, its actually a decadent but light, sweet but refreshing end to a meal. Tangy vanilla bean flecked yogurt serves as a bed for syrupy apricots soaked in a sweet wine, which are then dusted with crushed pistachios and adorned with a globe of cool apricot gelato.
12. Blue Duck Tavern’s Coconut Tapoica
Blue Duck Tavern is famous for their apple pie, their simple but perfect sugar cookies, and their incredibly rich ice cream. But the American restaurant also serves a rotating dessert menu with gems like hazelnut cardamom mousse, chocolate cake, and my current favorite, coconut tapioca. The refreshing dessert is a whirlwind of flavors with cubes of carrot cake, curried nuts and all spice pineapple sorbet. Sweet, spicy, nutty and earthy; this dessert hits all the parts of your palate and will light up your taste buds.
11. Bindaas’ Saffron Scones
These enchanting scones had me captivated by their enticing aroma and buttery glow before I even bit into them. The combination of saffron and butter is a magical one; I was practically drooling as I pulled the biscuits apart and spread a dollop of strawberry rose jam across each side. Buttery, flaky, sweet and savory these scones have an added element of warmth and depth of flavor from the saffron. The strawberry rose is fruity and fragrant, a lovely match to the delicious scones.
10. Cuba Libre’s Churros
I love a good churro and the ones at Cuba Libre are just the way they should be: soft on the outside, crisp on the outside, a generous showering of cinnamon sugar and a profoundly chocolatey cocoa dipping sauce. Eat them with your hands and lick your fingers; that’s exactly how you’re supposed to do it.
9. The Oval Room’s Ricotta Cheesecake
Sure, you can get cheesecake anywhere. But I have never had cheesecake like the one at the Oval Room. The sweet ricotta cheesecake is so light and so fluffy it literally melts in your mouth. This summer, it came topped with a sweet tomato relish – unusual, but outstanding. A sprinkling of few candied pine nuts added texture and crunch.
8. Centrolina’s Torta Caprese
You may head to Centrolina when you are craving pasta, but make sure you stay for dessert. Their revolving menu features gems like flourless chocolate cake, served with poached pears over a smear of salted caramel, with a petite scoop of decadent coffee ice cream. It doesn’t get much better than this.
8. Pleasant Pop’s Strawberry Ginger Popsicle
I love all the popsicle flavors at Pleasant Pop’s, but I have a special place in my heart for the strawberry ginger. It has just such a quintessential strawberry flavor, it tastes like summer on a stick. The ginger adds just the right kick, a little pop of flavor to keep you on your toes. Eat one of these in winter and you can pretend for just a few minutes that the easy days of summer are still here.
7. Toki Underground’s Chocolate Chip Miso Cookies
I love chocolate chip cookies more than anything else in the world. You probably know this because I write about my love for chocolate chip cookies all the time. The ones at Toki are exceptional. Thick and cakey and warm, they come with a cream dipping sauce and a smear of salty miso butter, which makes the best sweet/salty combination you can imagine.
6. Sticky Finger’s Chocolate Love Cupcake
All your chocolate drenched fantasies will come to life when you bite into Sticky Finger’s chocolate love cupcake. The deep, dark chocolate cake is decked out with a generous dollop of rich chocolate frosting and a smattering of chocolate chips. It is dense and heady and divine. Close your eyes and lose yourself in the chocolate flavor.
5. Little Havana’s Pastellitos de Guava y Queso
I was so full after dining at Little Havana I wasn’t even thinking about something sweet. But my friend wanted to share something, so we ordered the pastellitos. Best decision ever. These sweet pastries have a rich, lush filling surrounded by warm, buttery puff pastry. It is uber comforting, a delight whether you are full, hungry or just need a sweet pick me up.
4. Fare Well’s Jenny’s Big Boy
I am a fiend for classic American desserts. Brownies with ice cream is my jam, and this is what Jennie’s Big Boy is. A velvety chocolate brownie, so moist you barely need to chew it, arrives with mounds of coconut ice cream, swirls of glossy hot fudge, whipped cream and of course a bright red maraschino cherry. Don’t share, you will want this big boy all to yourself.
3. The Source’s 15 Layer Carrot Cake
This is no ordinary carrot cake. In fact, it is the carrot cake that defeats all other carrot cakes. This cake is made with layers of carrot cake and cream cheese frosting are so thin, they meld together in your mouth and create a velvety richness that will make you shiver with happiness. Ginger ice cream gives the dish a kick, and candied walnuts add a crunch. Save room for this one.
2. Lupo Osteria’s Capri Island
I love the thought that went into this dessert. It includes a very light, cool vanilla bean soup with torched Italian meringue, slowly toasted almond slices, caramel slivers and edible gold leaf. It is so pretty to look at you may not want to bite into it, but you need to. Who knew that fluffy meringue, bold vanilla soup and crunchy gold candy would be everything and more that you need in dessert.
1. 2941 Restaurant’s Exotic
Perhaps the most visually delightful dessert of the year, the Exotic is a white chocolate dinosaur’s egg, filled with tropical sorbet and overflowing with a passion fruit flavored caramel sauce. It is a beautiful, youthful, exciting dessert. Why did it get the #1 spot? It is the most creative dessert I had all year, and easily one of the tastiest.