Going to town for ice cream was a big treat when I was a child. I lived on a farm — some would say in the middle of nowhere — and that bumpy, 25-minute drive to the ice cream shop in Olean, N.Y., was the perfect end to a perfect summer day. My order was always the same: one scoop of homemade black raspberry ice cream on a cake cone. No matter how long I tried to savor it, the cone was gone long before we got back in the car. But the sticky, sleepy ride home was pure heaven.
Perhaps there was a second, more subconscious reason behind my move to South Florida some 25 years later: here, it’s perpetually summer, and you can have dessert any day of the week. Equipped with a spoon, a toddler and a three-year-old, I set out on a dessert-seeking mission to recapture those sweet summer days and discover tasty treats worth at least a 25-minute drive.
BY REBECCA CAHILLY
MAKE CUPCAKES, NOT WAR
I might have a bit of a cupcake fetish, (after all, I have little people at home and cupcakes are a staple food item), but there was never someone more excited than yours truly when the cupcake craze hit. A shop dedicated to cupcakes? I’m there! Cupcakes freshly baked and delivered? Yes, please! Sadly, many of the once-fabulous cupcake shops haven’t weathered the recession, but there are still a few places to enjoy two bites of creative genius.
Sweeter Days Bake Shop
To my three year old (OK, and to me too), going to this cute little bake shop in Fort Lauderdale is like jumping into a magical cupcake fairytale storybook. Each one of their delicious cupcake and cake creations is handcrafted on site daily, and is simply a work of art. Try the Pancake Cupcake — a vanilla, maple buttercream cake topped with brown sugar and crumbled bacon bits — for a sweet and savory treat; or their signature creation, a rich chocolate cake infused with chocolate buttercream with vanilla-flavored Aqua Swiss Buttercream icing topped with chocolate sprinkles. Take your cupcake to go in a sweet little container or order a selection online to be delivered for your next event or cupcake emergency.
1497 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, 33304, Tel: 954-396-3979, www.sweeterdaysbakeshop.com
Hey Sugar Cupcakes
In our search for the best cupcake, we were sent directly to Mark and Deborah Rogge, the creative duo behind Hey Sugar Cupcakes. Focusing on an ethos of creating a very high quality product and flavors that matter, the Rogges are not only passionate about cupcakes, they stand behind their claim that their cupcakes are not only “Filled, Frosted and Fabulous”, they are the “absolute best cakes you’ll ever eat.” Bold claim? Au contraire. This wholesale-only commissary delivers cupcakes all over the tri-county area and also worldwide. But if you simply must know where to go to taste the best cupcake ever, head to the Cheese Course in Weston (other locations can be found at www.thecheesecourse.com) where you can sample the jumbo size of their most popular red velvet, chocolate and carrot cupcakes. “We don’t do cutesy cupcakes,” says Mark, “It’s food. You don’t eat with your eyes; you eat with your mouth. If you’re going to spend the calories, you’d better enjoy what you’re eating.” Curious? Call Mark or Deborah and order a few for yourself or have them direct you to a retail outlet near you where you might enjoy some worthwhile calories — we hear that Hey Sugar Cupcakes are also offered on select restaurant menus…
Tel: 954-600-3747, www.heysugarcupcakes.com
THE PROOF IS IN THE (BREAD) PUDDING
Evolving from the practice of utilizing stale bread in either a sweet or savory mixture, bread pudding goes back centuries, and this dessert is often listed on South Florida dessert menus. Who has the best? You’ll have to see for yourself.
Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding
This hip and happening restaurant on Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale might not be immediately known for its desserts, but try the chocolate chip bread pudding and you’ll instantly be transported to Gram’s kitchen table snuggled in your pajamas with the feet in them. One of the secrets to this recipe is that the bread comes from croissants, which lends a rich, buttery texture to the pudding. Chocolate chips, pecans and raisins give it a delightful sweetness punctuated by a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of warm caramel sauce. Just don’t wear your bunny pajamas to the restaurant. People will think you are strange.
333 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 33301, Tel: 954-523-1000, www.yolorestaurant.com
Signature Chocolate Bread Pudding
This authentic supper club on Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach invites guests to slip back to a glamorous era when dining was a social experience. While the restaurant’s steak and seafood items draw a crowd, this decadent dessert has its own following. “Baked just for you,” PRIME’s Signature Chocolate Bread Pudding is lusciously rich and custardy, topped with vanilla ice cream, raspberry purée and a touch of caramel drizzle. It’s just the sort of thing you’d imagine Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers might have shared.
110 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach, 33483,Tel: 561-865-5845, www.primedelray.com
Canyon Southwest Café
Mixed Berry White Chocolate Bread Pudding
“Good grief, what is THAT?!” was the way my husband alerted me to the monstrous bowl of gooey, berry-laden goodness set down on the table next to us. Why, it was none other than the Mixed Berry White Chocolate Bread Pudding that subsequently had our neighbors feigning euphoria and falling out of their chairs. Canyon is our must-stop for any date night, as you simply can not go wrong with any of their fabulous “American Artisanal” menu items, including the Prickly Pear house margarita famous in its own right. But now we’ve added this always-packed, no reservations, don’t-even-think-of-asking-for-our-recipe gem to our favorite desserts list. Luckily for us, we don’t have to drive far.
1818 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 33304, Tel: 954-765-1950, www.canyonfl.com
HAVE YOUR CAKE…
From cakes to pies to everything à la mode, selecting the most fabulous desserts in South Florida was no easy task. There are simply too many to mention, but these tasty tidbits round out our list. So grab your keys and relive your childhood in the more sophisticated, South Florida way.
Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlour and Restaurant
I’m not going to pick a favorite dessert when it comes to Jaxson’s old-fashioned ice cream parlour in Dania Beach. That’s because, in my opinion, you can’t go wrong with anything you order from this charming, 1950s-style ice cream bar and candy shop. Bring an old license plate to add to the wall and enjoy some popcorn while they prepare your order. The best part? All of the ice cream is homemade, on the premises. I’ll leave you with this: It takes us about 30 minutes to drive to Jaxson’s from our home. On the way the rear-view mirror shows the excitement building in the back seat. It’s not even summer yet, and I’ve already introduced my daughter to a scoop of black raspberry on a cake cone.
128 S. Federal Highway, Dania Beach, 33004, Tel: 954-923-4445, www.jaxsonsicecream.com
Brimstone Woodfire Grill
Peanut Butter Pie
Yeah, this isn’t really a pie; it’s more like a perfectly formed, chocolate-covered cylinder of sin. The Peanut Butter Pie at Brimstone Grill in Pembroke Pines wins the award for “dessert to drive for” because if you live east, it’s a haul. Located at the open-air Shops at Pembroke Gardens, this is a great restaurant for steak and seafood or, as we discovered, a perfect apres-shopping slip-into-something-more-comfortable (like peanut butter) retreat.
14575 SW Fifth Street, Pembroke Pines, 33027, Tel: 954-430-BEEF (2333), www.brimstonewoodfiregrill.com
Flourless Chocolate Waffle
Gluten-free or wheat-intolerant foodies rejoice! The sister restaurant of Brimstone Woodfire Grill (mentioned above) shares the same passion for decadent desserts. Tantalizing the taste buds of the most discerning foodie is the Flourless Chocolate Waffle, comprised of flourless chocolate batter mixed with sun-dried cherries and cooked on a Belgian waffle iron. The presentation is simple and effortless: ice cream, raspberry sauce and chocolate ganache; the result is delightful.
6000 Glades Road, Boca Raton, 33431, Tel: 561-391-7770, www.pinongrill.com
Red Velvet Cake
Every time I bite into a piece of the red velvet cake at Philippe Chow’s location in Boca Raton I want to say, in my best raspy New Yorker voice, “This is beautiful. What is this, velvet?” This in-house dessert is the creation of Philippe Boca’s own pastry chef, Keith Freiman, who adds a splash or orange juice to the filling to give a natural sweetener to this, ahem, velvety creation.
200 E. Palmetto Park Road, Boca Raton, 33432-5623, Tel: 561-393-4666, www.philippechow.com
AiZiAat the Westin Diplomat
Passion Fruit Crème Brûlée
Indulge your taste buds and your senses at this waterfront Asian fusion restaurant and nightclub, where meals are served in a spectacle of fire, smoke, ice and lights. The desserts here are no less illuminating, but it is the Passion Fruit Crème Brûlée that takes the cake; this sweet and creamy creation has just the right amount of zing for your zang.
3660 S. Ocean Drive, Hollywood, 33019, Tel: 954-602-8347, www.aziahollywood.com