No matter how stuffed I feel at the end of a meal, I’m always game for a dessert (or two). Heck, I’m down for a sweet treat at just about any hour of the day! Whether the dessert was Taiwanese, Spanish, or Belgian, I was an equal opportunity sugar fiend this year. Without further ado, here are the ten best sweets that I ate in 2010…
Shaved Snow from Class 302 in Los Angeles, CA
Shaved snow is a very distant cousin of Hawaiian shaved ice. Its unique ribbon-like texture is achieved by freezing huge chunks of flavored water and milk, and then shaving it using a special machine. The resulting sheets of snow are gloriously creamy and dissolve ever so quickly on the tongue. One of my favorite varieties pairs green tea snow with red beans, mochi, and condensed milk. The snow was perfectly balanced, not too sweet and not too bitter, and tasted even better with the array of toppings. I was fighting my friends for the limited number of sticky mochi balls.
Chocolate y Churros from San Gines in Madrid, Spain
The bittersweet brew was just as I had hoped—dark, warm, thick, and dreamy to sip and dip. The crisp and hot churros provided the perfect vehicle for delivering more richness down our gullets. The Astronomer and I polished off our mugs with ease.
Caramelized Bacon and Salted Caramel Bread Pudding from Crème Caramel LA in Los Angeles, CA
Based on appearance alone, I knew this was going to be crazy good. The pillowy tufts of brioche (from The Village Bakery & Cafe) were painted with a glossy caramel sheen, while the pieces of Cajun bacon (from Cast Iron Gourmet LA) were sliced nice and thick. Not to mention, the smells emanating from the little paper containers were completely intoxicating.
One forkful and I was totally blissed out—Ms. de la Cruz really hit this one out of the ballpark! Buttery, sweet, warm, salty, soft, and smoky, it was as if the bread pudding was calculated precisely to make me crumble to little pieces.
Liège Waffle with Speculoos from Shaky Alibi in Los Angeles, CA
The Liège waffle came smeared with a layer of crunchy Speculoos as suggested by our waiter. Served hot out of the iron, the waffle looked and smelled absolutely enticing. I bypassed the fork and knife, picked it straight up, and delivered it swiftly into my mouth. One bite and my eyeballs were rollin’ toward the back of my head. Its texture was perfectly dense, flaky, and caramelized, while the graham cracker spread was all sorts of wonderful. The crunch of pearl sugar was missing, but the glaze that it left behind more than made up for it.
Carrot Cake from Ludo Bites 6.0 in Los Angeles, CA
Chef Ludo Lefebvre blew us away with his warm carrot cake with coconut and Thai curry frosting, mango sorbet, and kaffir lime oil ($10). If my arteries didn’t mind too much, I would pour kaffir lime oil on everything that I ate.
Dulce Lunático from Restaurante Arzak in San Sebastian, Spain
This dessert resembled the surface of the moon. The lunar terrain was made of a gray powder that was simultaneously sweet and salty, while its craters were filled with red wine. The caramel-encased meteors exploded with tart orange juice. A pineapple ice cream was served on the side.
Ube Cupcake with Coconut Frosting from The Manila Machine in Los Angeles, CA
It’s rare for a food truck to churn out memorable savories and sweets, but aboard The Manila Machine, both are accomplished like it ain’t no thang. Created by Nastassia Johnson, the ube cupcake is pretty much perfect. The eye-poppingly purple cupcake is as soft as can be, while the coconut frosting strikes a smooth tropical note—five bites of pure pleasure.
Xocolata from Tapas 24 in Barcelona, Spain
The three rich scoops of chocolate mousse were garnished with toasted bread, olive oil, and sea salt. The drizzle of olive oil added a delightful and unexpected element to the savory and sweet creation.
Smokey Bacon Maple Bar from Frost Doughnuts in Mill Creek, WA
The doughnut that made me close my eyes and tilt my head in utter bliss was none other than the Smokey Bacon Maple Bar. A maple bar is pretty amazing on its own; add to it freshly fried bacon crumbles, and man oh man, this baby is a heart breaker. Heck, it’s breaking my heart at this very moment because there are 1,158 miles between us. Nickel Diner can’t compete.
Kalamansi Gelee from Providence in Los Angeles, CA
For the second course of our eight course dessert tasting, Chef Adrian Vasquez sent out a kalamansi gelee floating in a soup of white chocolate and coconut milk with tiny tapioca balls. The fruity gelee was topped with a quenelle of litchi-shiso sorbet and coconut crumbles. Every refreshing spoonful captured the tropical flavors of Southeast Asia.
Photo by Steven Lam Photography
Lemon, Blackberry, and Passion Fruit Wedding Cake from Sarah Schreckengaust in Los Angeles, CA
Inspired by my wedding colors (yellow, white, and black), Sarah Schreckengaust designed a one-of-a-kind cake with alternating layers of lemon mousse with blackberry jam and passion fruit curd with passion fruit mousseline. A classic yellow cake served as the base, while an Italian meringue buttercream provided a smooth finish. My favorite touch was the homemade white chocolate fondant dots with a gradient effect—darker yellow at the bottom and lighter yellow toward the top. It was a beautiful, festive, and delicious cake in honor of one of the sweetest days of my life.