New Year resolutions made – check. Happiness Plan set in motion – check. Resolved: Eating dessert makes me a happier person.
I don’t feel deprived, I feel indulged. And if it means cutting out the bread basket or eating a salad for lunch, so be it. But I can’t afford to be indiscriminate about what I eat; every calorie must be worthy. So here are some of the North Shore and Chicago restaurants that delivered the goods: a great dessert that I refuse to feel guilty about.
5316 N. Clark St.
I was shaking after snarfing down the Espresso Budino with Cocoa Nibs. Still not sure if it was the sugar rush or the caffeine. Either works.
1747 N. Damen Ave.
James Beard-award winner and North Shore native Mindy Segal knows her way around the pastry kitchen. Each dessert is an explosion of flavors and ideas. Try the Glorious Apple, a warm apple confit and brown butter-streusel tart with cider semifreddo and an apple butter cream puff.
Longman and Eagle
2657 N. Kedzie Ave.
J.T.S. Brown Kentucky Bourbon Cream Soda with Almond Milk Ice Cream. The only dessert on this list that you will need your ID for. Be glad you’re of age.
Come the weekend, The Lobby is ground zero for The Chocolate Bar, an obscenely fabulous chocolate dessert buffet available Friday and Saturday nights from 8pm- midnight. It’s the Lollapalooza of chocolate, every weekend… and it’s indoors!
1401 W. Devon Ave.
The S’Mores Tart. I thought it was going to be too much. It was, but by the time it was in my stomach, I didn’t care. Chocolate ganache in a graham cracker crust, topped with bruleed homemade marshmallow.
815 Chicago Ave.
Sometimes simple is best. Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta, creamy and lush, served with candied kumquats in a light syrup. Delicioso!
1571 Sherman Ave.
Made the old-fashioned way on a Multimixer spindle machine, these hand-dipped milkshakes are oh-so-right. Special flavors like Salted Caramel and the Spicy Mexican Chocolate (with Ibarra chocolate, ancho chile and cayenne) really rock my socks.
804 Davis St.
Order the Wanton Wonton Sundae: rich coconut, banana fudge and vanilla ice cream between crispy wonton sheets sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and topped with chocolate and caramel sauces. Children, please share. Play nice.
1625 Hinman Ave.
A trio of hot, fresh Jelly Doughnuts, stuffed with raspberry, concord grape or cranberry preserves, with a side of chestnut sabayon for ultra-extravagant dippage.
493 Roger Williams Ave.
The Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake has been on the menu since they opened, and you can see why it’s a keeper. Topped with sour cream ice cream and a cinnamon tuile, it’s irresistible.
675 Central Ave.
Desserts with a southern twist. Banana-Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding is moist, sweet and redolent of bananas without cloying; just the right amount of melty chocolate, served warm. Sigh.
L. Woods Tap
7110 N. Lincoln Ave.
The baked-to-order Gooey Chocolate Cake is big enough for a table of four, unless you are complete gluttons. It’s gooey. It’s chocolatey. It’s warm. It’s gone.
Prairie Grass Café
601 Skokie Blvd.
Pie. In any flavor. Chef Sarah Stegner’s mom, Elizabeth, is the architect of these beauties. Always seasonal, always delish, but the strawberry rhubarb is my personal fave.
1222 Washington St.
This summer’s Vanilla Pot au Crème was a thing of beauty, decorated with blueberry compote, a drizzle of 25-year old Balsamic vinegar and a shard of ginger glass.
It’s a toss up between their Chocolava (baklava with layers of Callebaut chocolate) and the Greek Yogurt Mousse topped with Honey-Poached Figs. Decisions are hard!
64 Green Bay Rd.
Honey-Mascarpone Cheesecake with pean-poppyseed shortbread crust and citrus-honey syrup and fresh berries. I’m guessing this is what the gods ate on Mt. Olympus.