Just Desserts

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.

Chicago

Anteprima
5316 N. Clark St.
773-506-9990
anteprimachicago.com

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.

Hot Chocolate
1747 N. Damen Ave.
773-489-1747
hotchocolatechicago.com

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.
773-276-7110
longmanandeagle.com

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.

Peninsula Hotel
312-337-2888
peninsula.com/Chicago

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!

Uncommon Ground
1401 W. Devon Ave.
773-465-9801
uncommonground.com

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.

Evanston

Campagnola
815 Chicago Ave.
847-475-6100
campagnolarestaurant.com

Sometimes simple is best. Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta, creamy and lush, served with candied kumquats in a light syrup. Delicioso!

Edzo’s
1571 Sherman Ave.
847-864-EDZO
edzos.com

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.

Lulu’s
804 Davis St.
847-869-4343
lulusdimsum.com

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.

Quince
1625 Hinman Ave.
570-8400
quincerestaurant.net

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.

Highland Park

Abigail’s
493 Roger Williams Ave.
847-780-4862
abigails.com

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.

M
675 Central Ave.
847-748-8954

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.

Lincolnwood

L. Woods Tap
7110 N. Lincoln Ave.
847-677-3350
lwoodsrestaurant.com

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.

Northbrook

Prairie Grass Café
601 Skokie Blvd.
847-205-4433
prairiegrasscafe.com

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.

Wilmette

Fuel
1222 Washington St.
847-251 FUEL

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.

Winnetka

Avli
566 Chestnut
847-446-9300
avli.us

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!

Restaurant Michael
64 Green Bay Rd.
847-441-3100
restaurantmichael.com

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.