100 best things we ate: Desserts

To end your meal. or to be your meal altogether.

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Photograph: Brendan lekan
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Photograph: Brendan Lekan
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Photograph: Brendan Lekan
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Photograph: Brendan Lekan
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Photograph: Jeremy Bolen
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Photograph: Taylor Lacey
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Photograph: Taylor Lacey
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Photograph: Kate Dessa
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Photograph: Kate Dessa
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Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki
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Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki
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Photograph: Brendan Lekan, Food Stylist: Tobe Lemoine, Assistant: Holly Degarmo

PB&J COOKIE AT FLORIOLE
Sandra Holl’s bakery is known for its sophistication—petite cookies, elegant cakes, gorgeous tarts. We love it all, but the nostalgic peanut-butter sandwich cookie is our favorite.

CRUNCHY CHOCOLATE PEANUT-BUTTER BAR AT SARAH’S PASTRIES & CANDIES
Crispy, rich, nutty, creamy—okay, this is what a candy bar is supposed to taste like.

CHOCOLATE-CHIP COOKIE AT COOKIE BAR
When all you do is cookies, you’d better not mess around. This thin, crisp-on-the-outside cookie, sprinkled with sea salt, is serious business.

OATMEAL-CHOCOLATE-CHIP COOKIE AT POTBELLY
Like being handed a big cookie, warm from the oven, by your beaming, beautiful mother. (In exchange for $1.09.)

APPLE CAKE AT NIGHTWOOD
Pastry chef Jed Slaughter hit up the grandma of a friend for this heirloom recipe, the best part of which is the crunchy, sugar-coated crust.

HOT CHOCOLATE AT CASSAVA
Note: This is hot chocolate, not hot cocoa powder. That’s because there’s not a trace of the gritty stuff in this thing—it’s just melted chocolate and milk. It’s so thick that if you let it cool it’ll practically become chocolate mousse. But don’t worry—there’s no chance in hell you can keep yourself from sipping it that long.

RICE PUDDING AT CERES’ TABLE
Pastry chef Leticia Zenteno makes her rice pudding in the purest, simplest fashion, then dresses it up with crisped rice, crunchy brittle and tart cherries.

CHOCOLATE–PEANUT BUTTER CUPCAKE AT SPRINKLES
Of all the cupcakes at this new-to-Chicago spot, the chocolate options are the best. The only thing that makes a chocolate cupcake even better? A layer of creamy peanut butter under the ganache.

CHE AT SAIGON SISTERS
This sophisticated rectangle of squash custard is topped with taro chips, making this the best savory, salty dessert in the Loop.

ASKINOSIE CHOCOLATE BARS AT MARION STREET CHEESE MARKET
These Missouri-made chocolate bars are in limited supply at shops around Chicago. But we can’t get enough of the clean, complex, almost savory character of the single-origin chocolates.

GREEN TEA CREAM PUFF AT BEARD PAPA’S
This Japanese chain pretty much made France its bitch when it started churning out the most delicate choux pastry shells this world has seen and filling them to order. Then it upped the ante with a green-tea custard filling, making this our favorite chain on Earth.

GOAT CHEESE-CASHEW-CARAMEL GELATO AT BLACK DOG GELATO
Sample Jessica Oloroso’s flavors to your heart’s content, but our money’s on the tangy goat cheese gelato, with a ribbon of just-sweet-enough caramel and a handful of cashews for crunch.

CRÊPE CAKE WITH CRESCENZA CHEESE AT RIA
Pastry chef Stephanie Prida’s crêpe cake is a summertime must: two-dozen whole-wheat crêpes alternating layers with egg custard and plated with brûléed Italian plums, crispy basil chips, puffed wheat berries and a chilled scoop of custardy crescenza cheese.

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