Be honest: How often does a sugar craving hit and instantaneously cause you to pull into the nearest convenience store for a quick pick-me-up via a jumbo-sized candy bar? Or worse, lead you into the nearest fro-yo shop for an overpriced cup of boring yogurt?
For those who crave a little of the dulce vida, a decadent sweet ending to any meal is worth its weight in fat and sugar. Even if you're the type of person to turn down the dessert, just remember: Each and every one of these pictures is calorie-free to look at.
Next time the need for a sugar rush comes calling your name, here's our list of the best desserts in Broward and Palm Beach counties to help you get your fix.
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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.
About the only place you won't find seafood on this Lighthouse Point gastropub menu is with the desserts. We recommend Patty's Banana Cheesecake Chonga, pliant slices of fried banana cheesecake cut in two, leaning against a giant ball of vanilla ice cream. It's a play of texture and an artery-clogging affair, but it's worth it.
Chef Angelo Elia at Casa D'Angelo in Fort Lauderdale makes many handcrafted desserts from scratch, but his favorite is the torta di mela al forgo. Also known as apple tart, Elia combines white wine and fresh cinnamon to braise Granny Smith apples to tender perfection. They're served over a puffed pastry baked in the kitchen's wood oven, topped with hand-churned cinnamon gelato, and finished with a drizzling of warm caramel sauce.
In 1946, Jimmie Vonglis and his family escaped war-torn Europe for a new life in the States. A year later, he opened the doors to Jimmie's Chocolates in Dania Beach. Vonglis is long gone, and the shop has changed hands several times since then, but his legacy lives on at his original storefront, which is hailed as the longest-running chocolate shop in the state. Today, the iconic homey Caribbean-inspired tapas café offers plenty of fare, but the desserts are still what will keep you coming back for more. Like any of the specialty, made-to-order crepes topped (or stuffed) with a variety of decadent sweets.
Nothing quite captures Tucker Duke's creator Brian Cartenuto's SoCo charm better than his pappi churro dessert. A Mexican-style cruller, this simple alchemy of flour, sugar, egg, and oil is given an authentic presentation, arriving hot from the fryer and pillowy-soft, with a dusting of cinnamon and sugar. And the instant banana pudding side proves pleasure can be coaxed from familiar favorites.
This Jupiter landmark is best-known for its sweet-potato-encrusted fresh-catch fish, but the daily dessert menu is equally splendid. Like the regular menu, the dessert specials change from day to day, but a few mainstays are locked into steady rotation, like the flourless chocolate Whoiswhatzit, a dense cake topped with the restaurant's homemade ice cream or signature "nut mash."
Raised in Tanzania, Africa -- and of Greek descent -- pastry chef Nico Jambetakis is a true gem in the South Florida dessert world. Jambetakis developed a passion for baking from his grandmother, who owned a bakery in Tanzania. Most recently, he spearheaded the opening of an in-house pastry shop at City Oyster in Delray Beach, where dessert standouts include a white chocolate banana Nutella bread and a pie-of-the-month program. For this list, his pecan pie in a glass takes center stage, a combination of salted caramel, homemade butter pecan ice cream, handmade pecan brittle, and fresh-whipped cream.
The peanut butter pie at Brimstone in Pembroke Pines isn't really pie. But it's not cake either. Instead, it's a chocolate-drenched pile of pure, peanut-butter-cream heaven. The chocolate graham-cracker crust is the perfect contrast to the rich, velvety peanut butter mousse that's coated in a thick layer of chocolate granache frosting. Just be sure to leave room for this baby -- it's one of the richest desserts around.
Sure, it's vegan (which means this version of a typically dairy-full dessert is actually dairy-free). But the desserts here are extra-special, from the chocolate-covered banana cheesecake to the peach cobbler. The most amazing, however, is the strawberry layer cake -- the chef's take on strawberry shortcake. A stacked slice arrives on the plate, rich and creamy sponge cake with layers of whipped faux-cream, sugar-sweetened strawberries, and strawberry icing. The Boca Raton Darbster restaurant (where it was created) just can't keep enough of it in-house either.
A fluffy chocolate soufflé with salted caramel ice cream and bittersweet chocolate ganache. Sinfully rich gluten-free cheesecake. Decadent peanut butter and huckleberry jam pop-tarts. All of these are on the dessert menu at Steak 954 in Fort Lauderdale, but none of them quite compares to the Baked Alaska. It's the ideal end to any meal here and a creative variation of South Florida's quintessential dessert. A frozen slice of Key lime pie is hidden beneath a pillowy blanket of fluffy, oven-toasted Italian meringue.
Nicole Danna is a food blogger covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on Clean Plate's Instagram.
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