Seattle’s Best Desserts
By Andrea Delimont , Cynthia Nims , Ginny Morey , Sara Dickerman
Be sure to leave room for dessert? Who are we kidding? In a city nearly dribbling delicious ice creams and heady with the scent of artisan chocolates, finding something sweet has never been easier—or more sinfully satisfying. We’ve licked our spoons eagerly at the highest-end eateries, the most irresistible bakeries and the humblest holes-in-the-wall, searching high and low for full-fat goodies, sky-high cakes and chewy, gooey cookies (tough research, we know). And boy, did we find the best of them.
A WALK ON THE DARK SIDE: BEST CHOCOLATE DESSERTS
As any serious chocoholic will tell you, a little too much chocolate is just about right. Luckily, our fair city is blessed with a seemingly endless array of the darkest, most wickedly scrumptious offerings, and we’ve savored every morsel!
Restaurant Dessert of the Year
Chocolate Covered Chocolate ($12) at Canlis restaurant
Creator: Pastry chef Neil Robertson
Why we love it: We adore the chocolate blackout of it all. While we have a tendency to yawn when we see another molten cake, Robertson executes the new-school classic perfectly with Cacao Barry 64 percent Guayaquil chocolate—dark and deep, but not too acidic—and then pairs it with a lollipop of chocolate ice cream that’s covered in a chocolate shell and dipped in the crumbs of homemade chocolate cookies.
Best Updated Retro Cake: Triple Layer chocolate cake at Bakery Nouveau
($4.50/slice) We don’t know if this chocolate-chocolate cake is better than your nana’s, but the retro-luxe triple-layer cake with thick, rich ganache frosting and a lighter bittersweet chocolate mousse filling is a surefire contender.
Most Valuable Chocolate Truffle: Gold-flecked bittersweet truffle at Cadeaux Chocolates ($2 each) A tiny edible gold flake adorns the almost-too-pretty-to-eat dark chocolate truffle from Seattle-based Cadeaux. Melt-in-your-mouth smooth and deliciously rich, one is never enough.
Most Decadent Fusion of Chocolate and Coffee: Deathcake Royale from Cupcake Royale ($6.65)
This intense cupcake-on-steroids made with Theo dark chocolate, and a combo of chocolate cake, espresso-infused ganache and flourless chocolate cake—all enrobed in more ganache—is only in stores around Valentine’s Day, but Seattle magazine readers can custom order for pickup on November 26.
Fieriest Truffle: Chocolat Moderne’s Sesame Shichimi Praline ($2.25 each) The dainty beauty of this shichimi (Japanese seven-spice blend) praline packs a deliciously fiery punch with an underlying note of caramelized orange zest. (Pssst—Queen Anne’s Chocolopolis is the only place in the city to sample this upscale New York line.)
Best-Excuse-to-Eat-the-Whole-Box Truffle: Theo’s Earl Grey Tea ganache ($2 each) Velvety ganache laced with the distinct fragrance of bergamot orange is just one reason to surrender to this box of truffles. A double whammy of antioxidants never tasted so good!
Prettiest Chocolate Gem: Red Wine Rosewater chocolate tart at Dahlia Bakery ($5.95) Each perfectly
crisp chocolate tart shell is filled with smooth, dark ganache and then crowned with a sweetly sugared rose petal for a darling, picture-perfect treat.
Best Chocolate-Chocolate Cookie: Chocolate truffle cookie at Dahlia Bakery ($2.50) Dahlia Bakery is generally a sunny place, but its chocolate truffle cookie takes you to chocolate’s dark heart: It’s a brownie-like cookie, studded with small slabs of bittersweet chocolate. We won’t tell if you need a glass of milk to handle its fudgy punch.
Best Deep, Dark and Delicious Dessert: Mousse au Chocolat at Cremant ($9) With a bit of magic, someone in Cremant’s kitchen takes rich, dark bars of bittersweet chocolate and transforms them into big bowls of fluffy, deeply delicious chocolate mousse. Order two—this dessert will have everyone clamoring for spoons!
Best Rainy-Day Sweet: Chocolate cranberry pound cake at Macrina ($3.65/slice) The chocolate cranberry cake makes an occasional appearance in Macrina’s gloriously overstuffed pastry case—an indulgently generous slice is the perfect soul-satisfying treat on a rainy Seattle day.
A PIECE OF CAKE
Whether your tastes lean toward that perfectly simple old-fashioned white cake, chocolate cake or the fantastically constructed custom cakes dreamed up by Seattle’s best bakers, we have your cake—and you can eat it, too!
Best Custom Cake: The Phoenix cake at Bakery Nouveau ($5.50/individual size, $38 for 8 inch) This intricate, three-layer creation of caramel, pear and chocolate mousse sandwiched between sheets of chocolate sponge cake and surrounded by thin tiles of chocolate, was specially created for Seattle magazine food columnist Lorna Yee’s recent wedding by head baker William Leaman.
Tastiest Tropical Treat:
Hawaiian haupia and guava cake at Hiroki ($5/slice) Light as air and not too sweet, this treat with thickened coconut milk sports a sponge-cake bottom, a creamy white haupia middle, and a thin, tangy top layer of pinkish guava goo. Yum.
Best Steamed Cake:
Banana cake with savory coconut sauce at Monsoon ($6) The irresistible cake, which gets its moist texture from a quick steam in banana leaves, is embellished with pillowy mounds of slightly salty coconut cream—the quintessential foil to this barely sweet dessert.
Best White Cake with a Twist: Cassata cake at Columbia City Bakery ($4/slice, $45 whole) • Transport yourself (if only for a moment) to the fragrant hillsides of Sicily with a cassata cake. Two layers of white cake are brushed with Marsala wine, bedecked with an orange flower-scented ricotta filling and encased in a thin sheet of almond paste.
Best Fall Fruit Cake: Pear, hazelnut and thyme at Canlis ($11/slice) • This almond brown-butter pear cake languishes in a sweet pool of spiced dessert-wine poaching liquid; the house-made thyme ice cream that caps it off is the consummate accompaniment.
Best Tea Party Cake: Almond cake at North Hill Bakery ($32/whole) • The unassuming simplicity of this moist almond buttercream cake is an appealing choice for a crowd—even those who claim to have no sweet tooth will happily indulge.
Best Hong Kong–style Cake in the ID: Chestnut cream cake at Cake House My Favorite ($26/whole) • A generous smear of chestnut purée is cradled between layers of soft white sponge cake, simply adorned with whipped cream. (Turns out this cake is their baker’s favorite, too!)
Nuttiest Cake: Pistachio financièrs at Spur Gastropub ($13/slice) • The intensely buttery, warm-from-the-oven financière takes the cake on a dessert plate that also features a subtle foie gras ice cream, elderflower gelée, and Rainier cherries.
BEST BIRTHDAY CAKES
Sure, you can get a birthday, graduation or retirement cake at Costco and feed a crowd, but a step up in price is worth it to get a taste of these irresistible cakes
Affordable and Elegant: Both the coconut cake and the carrot cake at Whole Foods are our top picks for quality cakes without the sticker shock. (8-inch cake for $27, serves 10–12.)
More Bang for Your Buck: Macrina’s Mom’s Chocolate Cake has that retro-elegance that’s perfect for a dinner party. (25-inch cake for $60, serves 20–25.)
Completely Splurge-worthy: Iska Pallis of Cake is garnering raves for her winsome flavor combinations—try the orange blueberry, with layers of moist orange cake, white chocolate Bavarian mousse, orange curd and organic blueberries. ($60, serves 8–10.)
HEY THERE, CUPCAKE!
Cupcake parlors are sprouting up all over town, tempting us with little cakes topped with billowy frostings in the creamiest, dreamiest of flavors. But when a craving hits, we make a beeline for Trophy, which creams the competition by baking their beauties every hour! Located in the south end, Tacoma’s Hello Cupcake’s sweet temptations are irresistible with pretty toppings that put a finishing touch on moist cakes and decadent frostings. In fact we liked ’em so much, we couldn’t pick just, um, six.
Chocolate mint cupcake at Trophy ($2.99)
Many chocolate cakes disappoint with underwhelming flavor, but not these dark beauties. Each cupcake is topped with creamy mint buttercream flecked with chocolate sprinkles and adorned with a green mint wafer.
Chocolate graham cracker with toasted marshmallow at Trophy ($3.50)
Yup, you guessed it: This cupcake tastes a lot like a S’more, right down to the perfectly browned Swiss meringue topping. Glowing embers not required.
Chai Cardamom cupcake at Trophy ($2.99)
Imbued with an exotic, subtly spicy, cinnamony flavor, these cupcakes are a delicious departure from your standard vanilla or chocolate combo.
Carrot cupcake with cream cheese frosting at Hello Cupcake ($1.95)
With just the right balance of spices, this carrot cupcake is the most delicious way to get in an extra veggie serving for the day. (We kid, we kid!)
The Hummingbird cupcake at Trophy ($2.99)
Made with coconut, banana and pineapple and adorned with a lavish portion of tangy cream cheese frosting, this little hummer wins points for its tender crumb and moist texture.
Red velvet cupcake at Trophy ($2.99)
This classic Southern favorite is a slightly tangy, moist, cocoa-flavored cake with a generous swoop of cream cheese frosting.
Lemon cupcake with various frostings at Trophy ($2.99)
Citrus lovers: Sink your teeth into Trophy’s moist, dense-crumb lemon cupcake with lemon butter cream, or, for a kiss of the tropics, try it with coconut cream frosting and shaved coconut sprinkles. The sweetest-tasting version is strawberry-frosted.
Mocha cupcake with coffee butter cream at Hello Cupcake ($1.95)
The dark chocolate cake portion of this cupcake is tasty, but it’s the pronounced espresso flavor in the decadent icing that makes this treat sensational.
SWEET STACK: A BAKER’S DOZEN OF SEATTLE’S TASTIEST COOKIES
Best in Show: Chocolate chip cookie at DeLaurenti
DeLaurenti makes the purest expression of this classic in town: big and beefy with large chocolate chips ($1.75). If your timing is
right (around 11 a.m.), you can get one still warm and gooey from the oven.
Best Nut Cookie: Brutti ma buoni at Café Juanita
Brutti ma buoni translates roughly to “ugly but yummy,” but these staples, served on cookie plates ($8 for a cookie assortment including this one) aren’t even all that ugly. They are dense and bumpy with fragrant Holmquist orchard hazelnuts, but also a little bit chewy.
Best Madeleine: Chocolate madeleines at Lark
Whether a madeleine is a cookie or a cake might be a matter of debate, but there is little doubt as to the happiest way to eat them: chocolaty and straight from the oven ($8/order of 20).
Best Butter Cookie: Scottish oat cake at Macrina Bakery
It takes a good bakery to make a cookie as plain as this ($1.10) so delicious. The diamond-shaped crisp is thin, flaky and just right for tea.
Best Texture in a Cookie: Chocolate macaroon at Honoré
With a perfect meringue-like chewy texture and a deep, oozing chocolate ganache filling, this Ballard newcomer’s soft chocolate macaroons ($1.75) have already earned “best in Seattle” status.
Best Crumble: Russian tea cookie at Café Besalu
Fragility is strength in a Russian tea cookie ($1.35), and these are so tender they practically quiver. They collapse in your mouth into an airy cloud of confectioner’s sugar and buttery pecans.
Best Use of Peanut Butter: Peanut butter sandwich cookies at Dahlia Bakery
Nutter Butters are a fantastic concept—peanut butter cookie, peanut butter filling—but if you’ve always found them a little disappointing, restore your faith with this ultra-intense cookie ($2).
Best Tea Cookie: Black sesame tea cookie at Fresh Flours
This buttery cookie (75 cents) is an ideal dipping shortbread—not too sweet and almost effervescent with tiny, nutty-tasting black seeds.
Best Grown-up Cookie: Chocolate ginger cookie at Volunteer Park Café & Marketplace
Dark and brooding among the kid-friendly classic cookies here, this cookie ($1.75) offers the grown-up heat of freshly grated ginger in perfect balance with dark chocolate chunks.
Best Morning Cookie: Cornmeal cherry cookie at Seattle Art Museum’s Taste Restaurant • Chubby as a muffin top, this buttery but not-too-sweet cookie ($2) is a great morning snack; perfect with a cup of coffee beneath the hanging cars in the museum’s lobby.
Best Kids’ Cookie: The super chips at Columbia City Bakery
They might look puny, but these little chocolate chip cookies (75 cents) are packed with almost double the chocolate chips (and none of the nuts) as the bakery’s Columbia Chip cookies.
Best Sugar Cookie: Lemon Crunch cookie at Sugar Bakery & Café
A really good sugar cookie is hard to find, but this one ($1.95) is a star. Chewy-tender and vibrant with oodles of lemon zest, it gets its all-important crunch from sparkling briolettes of coarse sugar.
Best Over-the-Top Cookie:
The Redmond crisp at Pomegranate Bistro • Oatmeal cookies may seem wholesome, but this crisp ($1.75) is as racy as they come—lots of butter and brown sugar for a smooth taste, while cornflakes and pecans add texture and tang.
Best Prepacked Grocery Store Cookies: Chewy Molasses Ginger
You can’t always get to your favorite bakery, and for that we’re grateful to local packaged-cookie maker Cougar Mountain for making the best grocery store cookies we know, including a classic ginger molasses ($3.99/box of 8) that is always chewy and tender.
THE COOLEST OF THE COOL
Nothing brings out the kid in us quite like ice cream, from a drippy,
rich sundae to more upscale end-of-the-meal offerings
Handheld dessert of the year: Molly Moon’s sundae with salted caramel ice cream and Dana’s hot fudge sauce ($4)
Creators: Molly Moon Neitzel (left) and Dana Cree
Why we love it: With her very neighborly ice cream shop, Neitzel, who in her previous career combined music promotion with political organizing, has led the charge here for organic, gourmet ice cream. The opening of her picture-perfect shop—and her mainstreaming of flavors like balsamic strawberry, Vivace coffee and honey lavender—was far and away the biggest sweet development this year. But mostly, we love that the sweet-creamy-salty-bittersweet combination reminds us of our favorite childhood candy bars, but tastes much better.
What to look for next: Cree, formerly pastry chef at ultramodern Veil, is working on packaging her magical ice cream toppings—vanilla-bean caramel, butterscotch, hot fudge and seasonal fruit compotes—a retail line that Neitzel is helping her develop.
Most Delicious Restaurant Ice Cream: Housemade malt ice cream at Lark ($8/scoop)
The not-too-sweet, musky, deeply flavored after-dinner treat brings out the malted-milk-ball-loving kid in you.
Best Restaurant-quality Ice Cream Not in a Restaurant: Poco Carretto Gelato ($3/scoop)
Holly Smith, chef/owner of Café Juanita, began spreading gelato and sorbetto joy this summer at a few area farmers’ markets, including Columbia City and Bellevue. The intense, almost bitter burnt-sugar gelato—an early signature flavor—ups the bar on caramelized sugar from here on out. The two carts should be sighted this winter as well, at year-round markets, scooping out decadent treats to sustain shoppers.
Most Unusual Ice Cream Dessert: Cream cheese sorbet at Tilth ($7)
It is impossible to pass up this intriguing dessert constructed of tangy cream cheese sorbet with naturally sweet fresh carrot juice, candied walnuts and golden raisins: carrot cake taken apart and creatively put back together.
Best Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor: Snoqualmie Gourmet
Think friendly and inviting: a black-and-white tile floor, cozy fireplace, an old-fashioned table and dozens of ice cream flavors ($3.25/scoop) to choose from (all made on site), served up however you like them: in dishes, cones or yummy sundaes (plain or with brownie, choice of toppings).
Best Ice Cream Sundae: Double chocolate sundae at Steelhead Diner ($9.95)
A chocolate lover’s treat, this shareable sundae comes generously endowed with brownies, Snickers ice cream from Olympic Mountain, chocolate sauce and decadent unsweetened real whipped cream.
Most Stylish Ice Cream Parlor: Mora Iced Creamery
A contemporary counterpoint to the classic homespun ice cream parlor, Mora serves incredibly smooth, velvety treats with bold but balanced flavor. Their ice creams, including eggy-rich sabayon with a whisper of Marsala, and brightly flavored sorbets (zippy mojito is rave worthy) are made with Old World style to suit modern tastes.
Best Profiteroles: Profiteroles with honey rosemary ice cream at Trellis ($7)
The choux puffs are perfect browned domes, and the chocolate and caramel sauce luxurious and silky, but what really makes these profiteroles shine is the honey rosemary ice cream, a signature flavor made by Olympic Mountain Ice Cream, that fills the choux shells.
Tastiest Ice Cream on a Stick: Whidbey Island ice cream bars ($3)
Their old-fashioned ice cream bars—sold from a cart at area farmers’ markets, including Ballard on Sundays and Wallingford on Wednesdays—come in a surprising array of flavors: dark cherry, mint and intriguingly tasty chocolate chardonnay among them, all hand-dipped in a rich Guittard dark chocolate.
Best Use of English Royalty in Ice Cream: Earl Grey ice cream sandwich at Dinette ($7)
Here’s an ice cream sandwich that stands out because it’s more about the ice cream—a lush creamy concoction that has subtle flavoring from Earl Grey tea—than about the cookie, though the crisp gingersnap is a worthy partner.
Most Elegant Ice Cream Cake: Torte
gelato at Gelatiamo ($30, serves 8–10 people)
Ramp up your image of “ice cream cake” a bit. This version layers two of Gelatiamo’s 16 luscious flavors on house-made Italian sponge cake that gets a little drizzle of rum. Plan ahead to customize the combo, or take a chance on what’s available from the twirling case in the shop.
Most Decadent Ice Cream Float: Stout float at Pike Brewing Company ($6.50)
You’ll have to show your ID for this savory-meets-sweet grown-up float, using Pike’s XXXXX Extra Stout with your choice of vanilla or chocolate gelato (from nearby Gelatiamo). Pike also serves up a framboise float, using a raspberry Lambic ale.
BEST DESSERTS FOR YOUR INNER CHILD
Sweets that satisfy the ooey, gooey, sticky, icky, chocolate-sauce-dripping, caramel-loving kid in you
Best Sticky Sweet Puffed Rice Treat: Krispettes at Caroline’s Desserts ($4.29)
We go weak in the knees for the marshmallow goodness, especially this extra-thick buttery version of a classic American indulgence. Some varieties come studded with chocolate, nuts and even mint patties, but for sheer nostalgia, reach for the lavish but minimalist Not-So-Plain-Jayne, studded simply with miniature marshmallows.
Best Excuse Not to Act Your Age: Peanut butter and jelly confection at Theo ($2)
What goes together better than PB&J? Add chocolate to the mix and this perfect truffle is sure to please, whatever your age.
Best Chocolate-Almond Toffee: Pete’s Perfect Toffee ($10/half pound)
It’s virtually impossible to eat just one piece, topped with a layer of either milk or dark chocolate, with chopped almonds and pecans. Available at several area farmers’ markets or by direct order.
Tastiest Mom-n-Pop Lollypops: See’s Candies’ butterscotch lollypops (60 cents)
The hard, square caramel candies on a stick—which also come in a delicious caffé latté version—are a reminder of a simpler time, when one of these was a reward for good behavior.
Nuttiest Goodness: Bag O’Rocher at Salty’s ($12)
A visit to Salty’s isn’t complete without their signature bite-
size stacks of caramelized slivered almonds dipped in chocolate, with enough tantalizing salt and crunch to keep you diving in for more.
Best Grown-up Caramel: Fran’s Chocolates’ smoked salt caramels ($11.50 for seven truffles)
Much hoopla has been made about Fran’s salt caramels, and for good reason: Her chewy-rich caramels, with a careful sprinkle of just enough salt, are nothing short of wonderful.
Best Way to Blow Your Calorie Budget: Fried chocolate truffle sundae at Elliott’s Oyster House ($8)
The most jaw-dropping indulgence at Elliott’s isn’t an oyster—it’s this treat of dark ganache, coated with graham-cracker-almond crumbs and deep-fried, served with vanilla ice cream in a praline cup and topped with chocolate and caramel-rum sauces and toasted almonds.
Best Salty/Sweet Combo: Salted caramel at Bakery Nouveau ($1)
Yes, salted caramels have become ubiquitous, but the ones that continue to hold our fancy are these dainty little squares. Perfectly tempered, exquisitely thin chocolate shells house the liquid gold.
For people passionate about citrus, only the tangiest contenders will suffice. These options deliver bursts of lemon flavor so vivid that just thinking about them puts sunshine on the back of your tongue
Most Marvelous Lemon Bar: Lemon bar at Columbia City Bakery ($2.25)
This ne plus ultra of lemon bars boasts a generously high ratio of tart yellow curd to thin, buttery-crisp crust, finished
with an opaque layer of confectioner’s sugar. It’s even better with
Most Lemony Slice: Lemon tea bread at Blackbird Bakery ($2.60)
A lot of flavor is packed into the easily transported cake, made in loaf form and served in generous slices. The glaze imparts extra tart-sweetness, so save the top for last.
Best Lemon-Chocolate Combo: Lemon Rivoli at Salty’s ($8.95)
Named for the ultrachic street in Paris, the multifaceted “Rivoli,” hazelnut dacquoise topped with hazelnut mousse, chocolate sponge cake and lemon cream, is garnished with lemon curd, raspberries and a bright yellow lemon macaroon.
Richest Lemon Ice Cream: Lemon bar ice cream at Mora Iced Creamery ($3.59/scoop)
The seasonal lemon ice cream bar is two treats in one. It’s got eye-rollingly creamy mouthfeel, loads of lemon flavor and bits of moist crust for texture.
Most Delectable Lemon Tart: Signature lemon meringue tart at Dahlia Bakery ($5.95)
Cradled in each golden-brown tart shell is Dahlia’s signature lemon curd (only available in the summer), festooned with a burnished wisp of Italian meringue.
Most Satisfying Lemon Pie: Sour cream lemon pie at B & O Espresso ($6.50/slice)
A longstanding favorite, this pie renders a heavenly tart tang, edged with just enough whipped cream to tease; get an extra dollop on the side.
Most Intense Blast of Lemon: Affogato al limoncello at Tidbit Bistro ($9)
Devout lemonheads: Get thee to Tidbit pronto for tart lemon gelato molded around a creamy limoncello center, encased in vibrant lemon meringue sprinkles, drowned in a shot of limoncello liqueur. (Also available sans booze…but why?)
Best Lemon Triple Threat: Meyer lemon pound cake at Elliott’s Oyster House ($7)
A mini Bundt-shaped pound cake is infused with Meyer lemon juice, accompanied by Olympic Mountain lemon ice cream and, on the side, a boat of warm Meyer lemon curd so sweet-tarterrific, it’ll curl your toes.
BEST FRUITY AND NUTTY DESSERTS
‘Tis the season for pastry chefs to turn to richer flavors:
Apples, pears, nuts and spice fuel a slew of holiday desserts
Cranberry Pumpkin cheesecake at Macrina Bakery ($30 whole)
You get two fall flavors for the price of one from Leslie Mackie’s gently spiced pumpkin cheesecake, topped with a zingy, jewel-toned layer of fresh cranberry compote.
Musician’s tart at the Harvest Vine ($7.50)
Every year, co-owner and pastry chef Carolin Messier de Jiménez brings out these tarts, which feature a crunchy-gooey mix of caramel and nuts—walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, almonds and pine nuts—atop a sinuous layer of date and fig purée.
Crespelle with compote or gianduja at Café Juanita ($9)
Chef Holly Smith regularly serves chestnut-flour crepes called crespelle filled with either quince compote or gianduja (think Nutella, but made with higher-quality chocolate and hazelnuts).
Tarte tatin at Campagne ($9)
There’s more than one way to make an apple pie, and this French classic is a knockout: caramelized apples baked underneath a puff pastry crust. Come serving time, the whole affair is inverted to show off the glossy apples and it is served with sweetened crème fraîche.
Holiday cookies at Café Besalu ($1.50–$1.75)
Besalu’s masterful baker, James Miller, who did some of his training in Switzerland, brings in a ringer—a retired Swiss baker—to help him craft his spiced holiday cookies (available in late November, call ahead). Together they create hard-to-find classics, such as anise-scented springerle, spiced chocolate Basel brunsli and leckerli with its minced candied citrus peel.
Apple and quince pie at Betty ($8)
Pastry chef Brittany Bardeleben has a knack for distilling a season’s essence with no-nonsense clarity: Take her double-crusted pie made with Washington apples and fragrant quince, which she serves with homemade vanilla bean ice cream.
Sweet potato pie at Café Flora ($7.50)
This Southern classic gets a vegan twist, with a whole wheat flour crust, candied pecans and vegan pear ice cream. A tad healthy, a whole lot tasty.
Pecan Pie at Tilth ($8)
Maria Hines is not afraid to use good booze in her baking. She spikes her miniature pecan pies with plenty of Woodford Kentucky bourbon and then serves them up with ice cream made from local Fresh Breeze cream, Skagit Ranch eggs and yet more of the craft-distilled whiskey.
CREAMY AND DREAMY
Luscious, scrumptious and smooth, these creamy desserts hit our sweet spot
Most A-Peeling Banana Cream Pie: Yama-Nana pie at Yama ($8.95)
In an Oreo crust, Yama’s multilayered, not-too-sweet, mountain-high version alternates sliced bananas (eight per pie!) with dense cream, served with house-made caramel sauce, topped with chopped macadamias, chocolate sauce and more caramel. Bananarific.
Best Dessert with a Jolt: Filomena’s tiramisu at Tutta Bella ($8)
Served in deep square bowls and big enough for two (or more), this is an espresso lover’s version of the classic “pick me up” dessert: layers of ladyfingers soaked in heady coffee and slathered with soft, cloud-like mascarpone cream.
Quirkiest Pudding: Joule Box at Joule ($6)
The unique “Joule Box” tops heavenly coconut-milk tapioca pudding with zingy grapefruit segments and shreds of opal basil for a supremely fresh take on dessert.
Coconuttiest Confection: Triple coconut cream pie at Dahlia Bakery ($5.95/slice)
Many make the pilgrimage to Dahlia just to taste the famed coconut cream pie, and it’s still a knockout: a coconut-laden crust, luscious coconut cream and a bouffant pouf of toasted coconut and white chocolate shavings.
Best Caramel Custard: Flan de caramel at Salvadorean Bakery ($3/serving)
Caramel fairly oozes from this perfect flan. The custard is rich with eggs and cream, and baked until just set yet still wobbly beneath a shiny, burnished caramel glaze.
Best Traditional French Pastry: Mille feuilles at Le Fournil ($2.95)
Napoleons served here are called “mille feuilles” (thousand leaves), but whether you choose the traditional or the seasonal raspberry or chocolate, the layers of puff pastry and cream topped with icing are perfect to the last forkful.
Best Rice Pudding: Gateau de riz at Le Pichet ($6)
The gateau de riz is rice pudding gone one better: It’s been baked until softly firm in a caramelized dish that gives the exterior of each portion a sweet amber glaze. Coupled with whatever fruit is in season, it’s timelessly comforting.
Best Cheesecake with Flair: Caramel cheesecake at The Confectional ($4/slice)
Dense and creamy with a crown of salty, buttery caramel, this miniature caramel cheesecake is richer than rich and just the right size for a personal indulgence.
Supplest Flan: Espresso flan at the Harvest Vine ($6)
Unlike a lot of stiff, too-eggy flans, this one is quivering perfection, and beautifully flavored, too. Come the cold months, you’re likely to find a version of orange-scented espresso flan jiggling atop a dark chocolate base.
Most Perfect Bread Pudding: Bread pudding at Sweet & Savory ($2.60/slice)
Mount Baker’s country French bakery is home to the best no-frills brioche bread pudding around. Baked ’til brown around the edges in a deep cast-iron pan, the soft, eggy middle is pure heaven.
Heavenliest Cloud: Grand Marnier soufflé at Canlis ($14)
This Grand Marnier soufflé is a triumph, so evenly creamy and light on the tongue, with a perfect balance of orange liqueur flavor and vanilla crème anglaise. It takes extra time, so order in advance.
Best Boozy-Creamy Dessert: Zabaglione with fruit at La Medusa ($7)
Frequently appearing on the dessert menu, this silky, creamy, eggy, sweet Marsala-imbued zabaglione is topped with fresh berries in summer, dried fruit compote in cooler months, and is often accompanied by a cookie for dipping.
Best Cheesecake You’d Never Guess Was One: Torta di formaggio al balsamico invecchiato at Barolo ($7)
The lightest, fluffiest, most uncheesecake-like cheesecake in town is this balsamic-infused mascarpone cheesecake. Rich and creamy but not at all dense, every heavenly bite is like a soft, smooth, sweet cloud.
Best Classic Cheesecake: New York cheesecake at Hiroki ($4/slice)
The humble Tangletown bakery is famed for Asian-tinged desserts. But its version of this classic, with an intensely cream cheesy middle and perfect graham cracker crust, is even more irresistible.
Most Grownup Pudding: Malt pot de crème at Restaurant Zoë ($9)
Malt—this year’s “it” flavor in desserts—gives this smooth dessert an earthy, roasted flavor. Partnered with bite-size peanut butter brownies, it’s a sophisticated version of two childhood favorites.
Best Desserts Directory
A clip-and-save guide to locating sweets mentioned in this issue
B & O Espresso
Capitol Hill, 204 Belmont Ave. E 206.322.5028
South Lake Union,
1940 Westlake Ave.; 206.770.9000
Bainbridge Island, 210 Winslow Way E; 206.780.1322
Ballard, 5909 24th Ave. NW; 206.789.1463
Madison Valley, 2901 E Madison; 206.325.9100
By appointment only; 206.274.7516
Cake House My Favorite
International District, 620 S Weller St.; 206.223.2766
Queen Anne, 2576 Aurora Ave. N; 206.283.3313
Queen Anne, 1527 Queen Anne Ave. N; 206.282.0776
Columbia City Bakery
Columbia City, 4865 Rainier Ave. S; 206.722.9138
Ballard, 2052 NW Market St., 206.782.9557; Madrona, 1101 34th Ave., 206.709.4497; West Seattle, 4556 California Ave SW, 206.932.2971
Madrona, 1423 34th Ave.; 206.322.4600
Capitol Hill, 1514 E Olive Way; 206.328.2282
Bellevue, 10036 Main St., 425.453.1698; Downtown, 1325 First Ave.; University Village, 2626 NE University Village St., 206.528.9969
Downtown, 1400 Third Ave.; 206.467.9563
Green Lake/Tangletown, 2224 N 56th St.; 206.547.4128
Ballard, 1413 NW 70th St.; 206.706.4035
Wallingford, 1913 N 45th St.; 206.632.1913
Columbia City, 4857 Rainier Ave. S; 206.723.2192
Capitol Hill, 926 12th Ave.; 206.323.5275
Belltown, 1933 First Ave.; 206.256.1499
Belltown, 2408 First Ave., 206.448.4032; Queen Anne, 615 W McGraw, 206.283.5900; Vashon Island, 19603 Vashon Way SW, 206.567.4133
White Center, 1719 SW Roxbury St.; 206.762.4064
Wallingford, 1411 N 45th St.; 206.633.0801
Kirkland, 220 Kirkland Ave.; 425.284.5900
Columbia City, 4918 Rainier Ave. A, 206.721.350; Stone Way, 4411 Stone Way N, 206.633.3800; Westlake, 2200 Westlake, Suite 122, 206.624.4422
Various locations, including
South Lake Union, 2210 Westlake Ave.; 206.621.9700