Sunday, January 1, 2012

Desserts Make Me Insanely Happy's Top 5 Best Desserts of 2011

A really close runner-up:  The seriously addicting
Beignets at Cafe Du Monde, New Orleans, LA.
Note: this is not a staged picture.  I seriously
get this excited about desserts.
I'm a sucker for rankings.  Whether it's College Football (sadly neither of my teams-- Colorado or UH-- have made the Top 25 for many, many years), Music Videos (I'm convinced this is the sole reason why VH1 exists), or dentists (if it's not immediately obvious why this is important, allow me to explain: I have a dessert blog). 

I've had the privilege of traveling and, of course, eating A LOT of desserts in 2011.  And because I love rankings, I thought it might be fun to share with you my favorite desserts of the year.  But first, a shout out.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to my lovely friends and family who accompanied me on my little Dessert Adventures.  You all seriously deserve a medal.  That you put up with me dragging you to odd and out of the way bakeries, the incessant picture taking/food styling, for making you wear silly hats (see Sylvia below), and for the oh-so embarrassing gasping and overall giddy eye-popping deepest appreciation.

Actually, I really like this idea.  Maybe I'll make Certificates: "I Survived Eating Dessert with This Really Crazy Lady".  Hmmm.  Stay tuned.
Oh the things my wonderful friends will do for me.
Thanks, Syl, for being the most patient and up for
anything friend I've ever known.  Love ya, babe.

Since there are so many different types of desserts, I've thoughtfully organized them by category.  

I hereby declare Desserts Make Me Insanely Happy's First Annual Top 5 Best Desserts of The Year! 

Drum roll please, Keri (yet another extremely patient friend who also happens to play the drums)...

5. Most Interesting Combination of Weird Things Dessert: Waffles with Ice Cream 
From This Swedish Place (sorry I forgot to write it down), Stockholm, Sweden.

We devoured this refreshing treat outside the nameless store,
 on the beautiful streets of Old Town Stockholm
I first spotted these my first day as I was walking through the streets of Old Town Stockholm.  My friend Amy, who lives in Sweden, and I decided that though we had just had breakfast, we needed to try these magical waffles with ice cream ASAP.  

As expected, this combination was absolutely delightful.  The Swedish Waffles were sugary and crisp, which perfectly offset the soft and creamy blueberry and nutella ice cream placed delicately on top (you can choose your own ice cream!) They were so good, I had them again the next day (thanks for indulging me, Scott).

The only thing that sucks about these is that
they live in Sweden.

4. Most Chocolate You Can Cram Into A Dessert Dessert: La Dame Chocolat  
Extraordinary Desserts, San Diego, California

I've never had reason to call a cake gorgeous, until now. 
Extraordinary Desserts is a beautiful and unique space that offers many special desserts, but I was a bit blown away by the chocolate intensity of La Dame Chocolat.  If the picture of this decadent treat didn't already move you, listen to the description: rich chocolate mousse, interrupted by layers of flourless chocolate cake, covered in chocolate ganache and sprinkled with chocolate shavings.  Mmmmmm.

Ryan, I still can't believe we ate this thing AFTER a huge brunch. (Who am I kidding, of course I believe this).

This thing is mouthwatering from all angles.  
3. Most Unexpected Finding Dessert: Peanut Butter Chocolate Nanaimo Bar 
The Sweet Escape Patisserie, Toronto, Canada

Why "unexpected," you ask?  Because I found it here.
And no, this is not a prison.
Truly a diamond in the rough.  I stumbled upon this adorable distillery-turned-shopping-space in Toronto after a business meeting.  I'm a beacon for bakeries, and when I spotted the Sweet Escape Patisserie, I knew I had to stop in.  

The Peanut Butter Chocolate Nanaimo Bar was instantly recommended to me when I requested the most unique item in the shop.  This Canadian favorite is traditionally made without Peanut Butter, but apparently The Sweet Escape Patisserie agrees with me: Peanut Butter makes everything better.  Layers of chocolate, whipped cream, coconut flakes, and of course, peanut butter, all in a conveniently portable bar.  Ridiculously good. 

I want to jump through this picture right now.

2. Most Hugest Thing I've Ever Seen Dessert: Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookie 
Levain Bakery, New York, New York

It's a bit blurry because I was too excited to hold the camera still.
I love living in New York for many reasons, but now I have an even better reason: I can have these bad boys anytime I want.  Levain's cookies are legend, and it's so easy to see why.  They're gigantic, they contain combinations of mouthwatering ingredients, and they're soft, chewy, and crumbly all at the same time.  While the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip is my favorite, they're all incredibly good.

My friend Rebekah, who joined me on this cookie quest, and I agreed: it's The Perfect Cookie.  And so did Andrew, who thoughtfully replenished our stock the following morning.
With 4 outstanding choices, you can't go wrong
And last, but certainly not least...

1. Most Awesome and Highly Craved When I'm Homesick Dessert: Haupia Malasada  
Leonard's Bakery, Honolulu, Hawaii

The Fab Four: Original, Lilikoi, Haupia, and Dobash 
Oh how I love these things. I have fond memories of growing up and eating these all over Hawaii, but if you want the best, you head to Leonard's Bakery, the island malasada king.  So what's a malasada?  It's a Portugese Doughnut, without the hole.  You can order The Original, or the Malasada Puff, a cream-filled version offered in a variety of yummy local flavors: lilikoi (passionfruit), dobash (chocolate), and haupia (coconut).  

If that wasn't enough to make you happy, they also arrive warm and fresh, and are a steal at $1.25 a piece. This place is one of my top stops for breakfast before a much-needed hike in Manoa Valley, which is where my sister, mom and I are about to go in this below picture.
Fun for the whole family!
This was a difficult task for me, as there were so many other incredible desserts that were begging to be mentioned (seriously, I had about 35 Honorable Mentions).  But this list feels right.  Well,, no, I'm done. 

I hope you've enjoyed my little Adventures in Dessert, as much as I've enjoyed sharing my delicious journey with you.  I feel very blessed and privileged to live a truly amazing life.  I can't wait to see which new desserts 2012 will bring!

Wishing you all an "Insanely Happy" New Year!

If you have any comments or recommendations, please feel free to comment directly, or email me at:

You can find these incredible desserts at:

Waffle and Ice Cream Shop Place
Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden

Extraordinary Desserts
1430 Union Street 
San Diego, CA 92101

The Sweet Escape Patisserie
55 Mill Street  
Toronto, ON M5A 3C4, Canada

Levain Bakery
167 West 74th St 
New York, NY 10023

Leonard's Bakery 
933 Kapahulu Ave  
Honolulu, HI 96816-1434

1 comment:

  1. I was just in Hawaii - but did not get to Leonards - so bummed. Do you know if they deliver at all? Also - I am on the hunt for Guava Fans that can be delivered - any leads? Thank you!!