City sweet tooths had plenty to choose from in the dessert department this year. Ice cream went next level, one of the city’s best doughnuts was born from a car wash, and Dominique Ansel broke the blogosphere for the second year in a row with his ingenious cookie shot. Sate your sugar cravings with the best desserts in New York City.
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Dessert isn’t often the highpoint of a Mexican dinner, but most South of the Border sweets aren’t the workings of Enrique Olvera, the famed brain behind Mexico City’s world-renowned Pujol. At his well-buzzed NYC newcomer, you’ll find an otherworldly orb of delicate meringue imbued with burnt-corn-husk, its crackly shell shattering around a sweet corn mousse thickened with heavy cream and tangy mascarpone cheese. Those deep notes of heirloom corn will stick with ya long after you leave the restaurant. $12.
Tableside theatrics are aplenty at this Quality Meats sibling, but the most head-turning display is the cannoli cart that rolls between tables after dinner. Pastry chef Cory Colton fills chocolate-dipped Ferrara shells á la minute with rich ricotta-mascarpone cream—in peanut-butter-chocolate, pistachio-strawberry and cookies-and-cream varities—to ensure those tender pastry tubes don’t go soggy, then tricks them out Seuss-style with your choices of cherry, caramel and mint-chocolate sauces. Our advice? Trick yourself into thinking you’re eating healthy with a cherry-sauced pistachio-strawberry treat. $10.
“Virgin chocolate” is the M.O. of this Kings County raw-choc operation, which turns unroasted cocoa beans into nuanced sweets like this bourbon-inspired bar. Matured in Berkshire Mountain Distilling oak barrels, Belizean cacao nibs soak up subtle caramel and rich vanilla notes like a slug of good whiskey, except the only hangover you’ll thankfully be dealing with is the sugar kind. $7.95 for 1.8oz bar.
Combining the best of American baking and French technique, the chocolate-studded stunner at Armand Arnal’s Soho café could tempt even the most ardent Levain loyalist. The Michelin-starred chef (France’s La Chassagnette) uses imported chocolate for its melty core, sprinkled with sea salt and crammed with macadamias, almonds and walnuts, with oven-kissed edges so buttery, they rival toffee. $3.75.
A foodstuff inspired by the murky, biofilm-bogged Gowanus Canal should not be this delicious, but owner Brian Smith’s ice-cream genius knows no limits. The neighborhood-tributing scoop is crammed with 72-percent Guittard dark chocolate and cocoa powder for a heady cacao bite, with orange-infused brownie hunks splashed with Grand Marnier, hazelnut crack-cookie bits and white-chocolate pearls lurking in its decadent depths. $4.75.
After nearly obliterating the blogosphere with the Cronut in 2013, Dominique Ansel was at risk of the hype wave crashing down on him. He kept the backlash at bay, though, by turning out a dessert as impressive and imaginative as that croissant-doughnut hybrid. That buttery cookie “glass” is studded with high-end 66-percent Valrhona chocolate and, because no cookie is complete without milk, is filled with Swede Farms dairy cold-infused with Tahitian vanilla. The ingenious heat-resistant glaze between liquid and treat ensures your cookie stays warm and your milk, ice cold. $3.
Sweet tooths don’t have to worry about cracked molars when digging into this frozen Taiwanaese treat, the ethereal cross between shaved ice and ice cream. Toasted sesame seeds and Battenkill Valley dairy are made into chilled blocks and whittled down into airy, melt-in-your-mouth ribbons, with sweetened red beans balancing out the robust nuttiness and mini mochi balls acting as chewy foils to the delicate flurry. $10.79.
If you told us we’d find this year’s best new doughnut at a 63-year-old car wash along the Westside Highway, we would have thought you inhaled one too many fumes. But former Chanterelle sous chef Scott Levine creates sinker magic in the unlikely setting. For this exotic cake round, nutty tahini and halva are folded into the batter—a dollop of sour cream ensures a moist crumb—with shreds of extra halva sticking to the doughnut’s thick, sugary glaze. $2.50
The stunner of Tomoko Kato’s dessert tasting menu is her bite-sized mochi, which combines the sweet, supple Japanese rice dough around dense dark-chocolate ganache in lieu of the customary ice cream. That fudgey center is infused with Earl Grey tea, giving it a subtle floral flavor and pulling the treat straight into truffle territory. Three-course prix fixe for $16.
Picking just one stand-out scoop from Nick Morgenstern’s exceptional LES parlor is like an ice-cream Sophie’s Choice, but if we have to choose, it’s this salty-sweet confection, webbed with silky, toasty caramel sauce, whipped cream and pretzel chunks that magically stay crunchy throughout the smooth, creamy base. The cherry on top is actually the gooey caramel cake on the bottom, hidden treasure beneath the golden orbs. $13.
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It’s a surprising scene: a burlesque dancer—clad in sequins, tassels and not much else—lifts her leg until a stiletto heel grazes the top of her ear to the sounds of a live jazz trio. No more than a foot away, groups of men in Buddy Holly glasses and women in Stevie Nicks shawls feast on corn-masa tamales fitted with bone marrow ($11), and dark-plum mole studded with grilled octopus ($18). Guadalupe Inn is not what you’d expect from the area—a stretch of Knickerbocker Avenue that’s littered with auto garages and minimarts—and it’s not what you’d typically expect from a New York Mexican restaurant. There’s, thankfully, no jalapeño-shaped string-light kitsch. Instead, glass chandeliers and a rotating disco ball provide a sultry amount of illumination. Curved banquettes the color of salsa verde are angled toward a velvet-curtained stage, where performances range from traditional mariachi bands to bawdy drag comics. The swank supper-club feel is a decided distinction not only from the city’s fellow South of the Border ambassadors but also from the team’s own portfolio of cantinas: Mexico City natives Jorge Boetto, Gerardo Zabaleta and chef Ivan Garcia are also behind Williamsburg’s rustic Mesa Coyoacán and Zona Rosa, which doles dishes out of an Airstream-trailer kitchen. If only Garcia’s modern Mexican plates matched the room’s flashy elegance. The earthy nuttiness of masa tostadas are overpowered by the fishy funk of tuna and an acrid nest of pickled cabbage ($12), and an ag
Venue says: “June Performance Schedule: Latin/Burlesque on Wed., Vinyl Happy Hour on Thurs., Latin bands on Fri./Sat., Boozy Bossa Nova Brunch on Sunday!”