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RECOMMENDED: The 100 best things we ate and drank this year

Photograph: Martha Williams

Milk chocolate cream pie at Bang Bang Pie Shop
Choosing a standout among this sweet little shop's biscuits, pies and candied bacon is like picking a favorite child: They're each perfect in their own way. And yet, of the way-too-many Bang Bang pies we've proudly consumed, this might be our favorite, thanks to the luscious interior and the crumbly graham-cracker crust. Seasonal.

Photograph: Anjali M. PInto

Caramel pie at Beatrix
Beatrix had perhaps the most absurd restaurant concept of the year: a menu comprised of dishes created in the Lettuce Entertain You test kitchen, but which didn't fit the menus of any other Lettuce restaurants. It's absurd because the food here is delicious and perfectly executed. And it's even more absurd, because someone has been sitting on the recipe for this thick, rich, sweet-but-not-cloying caramel pie, and hasn't shared it with us until now. $6.95.

Photograph: Jason Little

Bella at Blackbird
Cheese plate? Dessert? Who cares what you call it-when Blackbird's pastry chef Dana Cree combines Raspberry BellaVitano cheese, chocolate and raspberries into a dish, the result is the perfect hybrid of both. No longer available.

Photograph: Jason Little

Bacon chocolate chip cookie at Burke's Bacon Bar
Skip all the sandwiches and go straight for dessert at David Burke's teeny storefront. The bacon chocolate chip cookie is soft, salty and filled with chocolate chips and pieces of bacon. $2.25.

Photograph: Jason Little

Doughnut ice cream sandwich at Firecakes
This is the first time we've had doughnut ice cream sandwiches, made with glazed doughnuts, vanilla bean or espresso ice cream, and a chocolate drizzle, but it isn't going to be the last. $4.

Photograph: Martha Williams

Gelato at J.P. Graziano Grocery Company
When chef Ben Roche (formerly of Baume & Brix and Moto) teamed up with Italian grocer JP Graziano to make gelato, Chicago's gelato scene changed overnight. Most of the ingredients Roche uses are from the store, which has led to flavors like tomato, pistachio, lemon-basil, a blood orange sorbetto, and the creamy, mild risotto gelato, made with arborio rice, white wine, olive oil, Parmesan and saffron. Seasonal.

Photograph: Jason Little

Sweet corn and black raspberry ice cream at Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams
Ohio-based ice cream maker Jeni's moved into Southport this year, bringing an array of creative flavors. We're partial to the buttery sweet corn ice cream, laced with tart swirls of black raspberry. Pint $11.

Photograph: Martha Williams

Choco-banana at Mott St.
After giving the vast Asian street food menu the attention it deserves, you won't have much room for dessert. Edward Kim has you covered. He dips teeny Thai baby bananas in chocolate and coats them with peanuts, Szechuan peppercorns and salt. Sweet, salty and just the right size. $3.

Photograph: Christian Seel

Maris otter at Next: the Hunt
Toward the end of the Hunt, we were served a cast-iron pan of maris otter, a porridge made with barley, and a tray with English toffee, basil and mint, pecans, tart cherry jam, and brown sugar and cinnamon to sprinkle over the warm pudding. It was the homiest dish we've had at Next and exactly what we'd like for breakfast each morning. No longer available.

Photograph: Amy Cavanaugh

Maple custard tart from Rustic Tart
Maybe it's because we're from New England, but we drop everything whenever we hear about a maple dish. This time, we ran to Bow Truss in Lakeview, where Rustic Tart was hosting a pop-up. Stephanie Lock's tart has a sweet, custard filling and a perfect crust, and tastes just like home. $5. Seasonally available at Bow Truss Monday-Friday.

Photograph: Martha Williams

PB&J soft serve at Urban Belly
This dish is on the kids' menu at the newly relocated Urban Belly. But don't let that stop you from demolishing the dish of vanilla soft serve topped with huckleberry jelly and crispy peanut butter bits-it definitely didn't stop us. $6.

Photograph: Amy Cavanaugh

Sweet basil gelato and white chocolate bar from Zarlengo's Italian Ice
When Zarlengo's, a Chicago Heights family company, brought its gelato cart to Wicker Park's food market the Nosh this summer, it brought a gelato bar. And this is no ordinary ice cream bar-it's fresh sweet basil gelato encased in a white chocolate shell. Seasonal.

RECOMMENDED: The 100 best things we ate and drank this year