Dec 2011

The Year in Delicious: Top 10 Sweets of 2011

Year in Sweets 2011

I lost my sweet tooth about a month ago. It was the strangest thing ending meals on a savory note and feeling perfectly content with things. While my waistline was thankful for the breather, I missed the heart-pumping pleasure of sinking my teeth into something awesomely sweet. After a few weeks of pining for my sweet tooth, it finally returned to its proper owner. I was seriously getting worried there—whew!

Now that I’m back to my old dessert-loving self, it brings me great excitement to present the ten best sweets of 2011…

Dreamland - Birmingham

Nana Puddin’ from Dreamland BBQ in Birmingham, AL

A feast at Dreamland isn’t complete without a small dish of nana puddin’ to finish. The layers of ripe bananas, wilted ‘Nila wafers, sweet vanilla pudding, and rich whipped cream married together harmoniously. Hands down, this is my favorite dessert in all of Birmingham.

Huckleberry - Santa Monica

Salted Caramel Bar from Huckleberry in Los Angeles, CA

The absolute highlight of my meal at Huckleberry was the salted caramel bar.  Biting through its buttery shortbread crust and silky, salt-flecked caramel, I was seriously in heaven. Move over butterscotch budino, I’ve found a new favorite.

Tartine Bakery & Cafe - San Francisco

Coconut Tart from Tartine Bakery & Cafe  in San Francisco, CA

The base was a flaky pastry coated in dark chocolate, while the filling was one part pastry cream and one part lightly sweetened cream. The entire creation was topped with slivered almonds, toasted coconut, and powdered sugar. The tart took my taste buds to a sunny and happy place.

Dough - Brooklyn

Lemon Meringue Doughnut from Dough in Brooklyn, NY

Filled with lemon curd and topped with caramelized meringue peaks, the lemon meringue doughnut offered a splendid mouthful of soft dough, fruity curd, and sweet meringue—doughnut perfection.

Farmshop - Santa Monica

French Toast from Farmshop in Los Angeles, CA

The thick slices of egg-battered toast came topped with macerated strawberries, creme fraiche, and crushed pistachios; maple syrup was served in a small vessel on the side. Everyone at the table agreed that Farmshop’s specimen was a perfectly balanced and expertly executed French toast. And best of all, two slices of thick and smoky Hobbs’ bacon were served on the side.

Full of Life Flatbread - Los Alamos

“The Beast” from Full of Life Flatbread in Los Alamos, CA

Dreamed up by a genius customer, “The Beast” marries a thick and chocolaty brownie slab with an equally monstrous housemade marshmallow. The two elements are stacked atop one another and placed on the edge of the wood-fired oven. The fire’s residual heat gradually toasts the tower, creating a caramelized, sweet, and bubbly package.

LA County Fair 2011 - Opening Day

Maple Bacon Donut from Texas Donuts at the L.A. County Fair

The maple bacon “Big D” spanned eight inches in diameter and fit snugly onto a dinner-sized paper plate. I loved how the doughnut was glazed and garnished just moments before serving, leaving the maple cream delightfully runny, while the bacon was crisp and caramelized. The doughnut’s texture was fabulously soft with a slight chew, while the bacon and maple toppings offered a balanced sweet and savory complement. God, it was perfect.

Chuoi Nep Nuong Vo Van Thanh - Ho Chi Minh City

Choui Nep Nuong at 376 Vo Van Tan Street in Saigon, Vietnam

Ripe baby bananas are packed in glutinous rice and grilled slow and low over a flame. The result is a crisp and golden exterior with a slightly chewy interior and a pleasantly warm and sweet filling. To serve, the bananas are snipped into bite sized pieces and doused in sweetened coconut milk.

Carmela Ice Cream - Pasadena

Mint Cacao Nib Ice Cream from Carmela Ice Cream in Pasadena, CA

I appreciated that the mint flavor was derived from fresh herbs rather than a mint extract like most mint chip ice creams. The resulting flavor was clean and genuinely minty, just the way I like it. The crisp, buttery, and sturdy waffle cone was superb as well.

Le Bon Garçon

Salted Caramels from Le Bon Garçon in Los Angeles, CA

What made Le Bon Garçon’s salted caramels incredibly special was their silky texture. Each one was pleasingly chewy without being overly sticky. My molars were left caramel-free in the aftermath of my binge, which is quite a feat in the world of soft candies. In addition to their superior texture, the caramels’ flavor was rich, buttery, well-balanced, and just salty enough.

The Year in Delicious 2010:

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12 thoughts on “The Year in Delicious: Top 10 Sweets of 2011

  1. hmmm I notice a pattern of puffy mounds oozing carbs, fat and calories…. they all look fabulous! happy new year wishes to you and the astronomer!

  2. Long live the Huckleberry salted caramel – the finest sweet treat in all of La La Land! 🙂

    Happy to see that righteous French toast made an appearance too. And may I say, thank goodness your sweet tooth is back – you had me VERY worried!

  3. I’m pleased (and a little smug) to say I’ve known of Carmela’s deliciousness for a few years now thanks to the South Pasadena Farmer’s Market ~ I love their Mint Cacao Nib, strawberry buttermilk and I swear they used to have a rose flavor, but maybe it’s late and I’m hallucinating.

    I’m also going to have to go to Flatbrad some time in 2012 ’cause that thing looks incredible.

  4. I’ve enjoyed all your top 2011 posts. I need to do a Sweets one next year. I was going to do it this year but I ran out of time. Going through so many old posts to compile these lists were time consuming!

  5. The Brown Butter Sage Ice Cream from Carmela’s is also delicious!

    I was also told from a friend that works at Farmshop that they’re croissants are amazing too!

  6. Here are The Astronomer’s Top 10 Sweets for 2011. This list was quite a bit easier to narrow down than my Top 10 Savories–in fact, I was just barely able to find 10 suitable candidates. It’s partly me (I’ve always been more of a savories guy) but the restaurants are at fault as well: I really wish all fine dining establishments tried as hard on their desserts as they do on their entrees.

    Ricotta Budino — Whist at the Viceroy Hotel, Santa Monica
    Cardamom Ice Cream — Carmela, Pasadena
    Black and Blue Trifle — Rustic Canyon, Santa Monica
    Mango Passion Fruit Caramel — Le Bon Garcon, Los Angeles
    Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake — MB Post, Manhattan Beach
    Poached Pears with Honey Crumble and Creme Fraiche Sorbet — Eleven Madison Park, Manhattan
    Carrot Cake with Sage Gelato — Del Posto, New York City
    Filled Doughnut with Passion Fruit Curd — Dough Donuts, New York City
    Maple Bacon “Big D” Donut — L.A. County Fair, Pomona
    Bay Leaf Panna Cotta with Wild Blackberry Compote — The Walrus and the Carpenter, Seattle

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