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The 100 best dishes in New York City 2014: Best desserts

A Mexican corn-custard meringue, cask-aged chocolate and an inventive cronut follow-up are our picks for the best desserts in New York City

Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
100 best dishes in New York: Salted caramel pretzel standard at Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream

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.

RECOMMENDED: Current guide to the best dessert in NYC


Husk meringue at Cosme

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.

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Cannoli at Quality Italian

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.

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Midtown West

Bourbon cask aged chocolate at Raaka Chocolate

“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.

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Red Hook

Chocolate chunk cookie at Maman

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.

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Little Italy

It Came From Gowanus at Ample Hills Creamery

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. 

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Cookie shot at Dominique Ansel Bakery

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.

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Black sesame shaved snow at Grace Street

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.

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Midtown West

Halva donut at Underwest Donuts

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

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Hell's Kitchen

Mochi with Earl Grey tea infused chocolate ganache at Patisserie Tomoko

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.

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Salted caramel pretzel standard at Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream

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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Lower East Side