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Photograph: Jason Little

The 100 best dishes in Chicago 2017: Desserts

If you've got a sweet tooth, consider this your checklist to sugar-coated bliss

Written by
Morgan Olsen
,
Elizabeth Atkinson
&
Maggie Hennessy
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Call us gluttonous, but we'd never pass on dessert. There's something special about capping off a scrumptious meal with a sweet treat—even when we're nearing food-coma territory. Chicago's best pastry chefs whipped up pies, cakes, brownies and tarts that delighted our senses in 2017. But these are a few of the most decadent bites we got our hands (and mouths) on this year.

RECOMMENDED: 100 best dishes and drinks 2017

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  • Bars
  • Breweries
  • Near South Side
  • price 2 of 4

This towering 12-layer confection starts with a sturdy crust made from graham cracker crumbs, pretzels and cereal. From there, alternating layers of decadent German chocolate cake and creamy espresso cheesecake are covered in chocolate buttercream and coated in a sleek chocolate mirror glaze. Each monstrous slice is designed to be shared (only if you want) and to be paired with the brewery’s culinary-focused beers (we recommend the Smoked Applewood Gold). $15.

  • Restaurants
  • West Loop

It'd be foolish to skip the apple-based dessert at a restaurant that was named after an apple. This crisp, caramelized tart is topped with oat crumble and a scoop of Prairie Breeze cheddar cheese ice cream. We repeat: cheddar cheese ice cream. We are officially fangirling over everything that pastry chef Mari Katsumura creates. $10.

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  • Restaurants
  • Latin American
  • West Loop

Even if you’re dropping by this West Loop spot for a quick drink at the bar, you’d be remiss not to peep the dessert menu. The “alfajores” are not what you expect: A disk of creamy dulce de leche flan is garnished with crumbly cocoa shortbread, blackberries and delicate marigold blossoms. $9.

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Chocolate Cremeux at the Press Room
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

Chocolate Cremeux at the Press Room

This subterranean wine bar has a few tricks up its sleeve. Take this deceptively simple dessert, in which domes of velvety chocolate pudding are adorned with malt crumble, shards of sesame crisp, dots of buttermilk pudding and marigold petals. Think of it as a very sophisticated dirt pudding—sans gummy worms. It will take every ounce of your self-control not to lick the plate clean.  $12.

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • River North
  • price 2 of 4

With its generously portioned bowls of gnocchi bolognese and plates of oil-dappled fried calamari, you’ll have to make an effort to save room for dessert at this River North eatery. But trust us: It’s worth showing some restraint for a slice of butterscotch pie, which boasts an addictively sweet and slightly smoky center topped with a cloud of house-made whipped cream. It’s the kind of dessert you’ll keep eating long after declaring, “This is my last bite.” $6.95.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Lincoln Park
  • price 3 of 4

There’s something inherently playful about coconut cake; perhaps it’s the fact that each slice looks like a cloud plucked from the sky. The version at this East Coastinspired spot tastes like a beach vacation, sunshine and all. $8.95.

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