After a year of too many chicken sandwiches, let loose and celebrate the joy of life with a beautiful dessert. The options are legion around the Bay but we found a few that were just a little more special. And yes, these desserts are worth the calories.
Featured Photo: Tribune
Bay Area Dessert Map
After an extended Covid closure, executive chef Rogelio Garcia and his team relaunched with an eight-course tasting menu that highlights his deep knowledge of contemporary American cuisine. At dessert, that means Tenbrink Farms Stoneftuit Pavlova. Like the ballerina it is named for, the meringue is light but intensely flavorful, crispy at first bite before giving way to a delicate softness. “The creme fraiche underneath gives it a deep rich note that accents the white peach,” chef says. “It’s a perfect dessert for me.” lucewinerestaurant.com
Calling this dessert a Magic Stone does not do justice to the trompe l’oeil finale of the Stone Soup menu currently running at this theme-and experience-driven boutique restaurant. Carrot cake is disguised as a “stone” that sits on a bed of chocolate and fleur de sel cookie crumble meant to resemble soil. The sweet potato mousse and meringue mushrooms round out the forest floor idyl. Make sure to get a bit of each component in every bite for the full-on Hobbit experience. merchantroots.com
Not content to style San Francisco’s fog into a dessert, the pastry team at Alexander’s sweet spin-off went further afield for inspiration. Their iridescent blue London Fog is as cheery as a an English teapot. Slice into it to reveal chocolate mousse infused with the bright flavor of Earl Grey tea. Blackberry puree at the center adds a nice berry sweetness while the little black dress of the cookie world, chocolate sable, gives the base a just-right crunch. Audrey Hepburn would approve. alexanderssteakhouse.com
Nobu Palo Alto
On the menu since day one, the Cashew Praline Cake is a favorite of Chef Pujan Sarkar who loves it as an example of modern Indian cooking technique. “The rice pudding, or phirni, on which the cake sits is blitzed and passed through nitrous oxide, making it super light,” chef says. By preventing the starches from coating your palette, the flavor of the praline really shines through. noburestaurants.com
The Bungalow Kitchen by Michael Mina
The Snowball is comprised of Brooklyn Blackout Cake as a homage to Chef Adam Sobel’s New York roots, paired with a lush filling of coconut cream and marshmallow fluff inside a crispy meringue dome — some may say that this dessert has taken on a new cult following of its own — possibly due to the surprise crunch of candied Valrhona cocoa nibs that you get when you crack through the outer shell, or perhaps the raspberry powder sprinkled atop the outside shell as a playful nod to the classic Snoball’s bright pink coloring from Sobel’s youth. bungalowkitchen.com/tiburon
The most famous pie in Marin — Buckeye’s S’more Pie — earned its reputation with plenty of old-fashioned yum. Chef Robert Price layers a honey-infused graham cracker crust with semisweet chocolate and toasted almonds, then ops it with meringue and more chocolate. The chocolate oozes from its meringue nest, a dark eye in a storm of fluffy white. The top layer of meringue is teased and toasted to look like waves cresting or a porcupine’s needles. buckeyeroadhouse.com
Valenti & Co
Chocolate, the ultimate happiness creator, is the heart, soul and body of a satisfying dessert crafted to capture chocolate’s ephemeral qualities. Chef Duilio Valenti uses olive oil instead of butter that gives the cake’s layers a silky texture, smoothed further by chocolate mousse filling. Topped with chocolate sauce and chocolate shavings, its actually a tower of triple chocolate love, but who’s counting? valentico.com
Seeking a refined but not complicated dessert, Chef Omri Aflalo rethought an American classic, the s’more. His Caramelized White Chocolate Cheesecake S’more has a graham cracker crust and brûléed marshmallow, as one might expect. But the cream cheese cake is infused with white chocolate for a slightly firmer texture, a nice contrast to the fluff. White chocolate shavings on top may or may not remind you of your childhood but should inspire a sense of play. tribuneoakland.com
The Asian-inspired desserts at Tammy Boonlieng’s Castro dessert café take cues from all over the world. The Hojicha Banoffee riffs on the English original with Japan flair. Made with organic hojicha custom grown for them at a farm in Kyoto Prefecture, Japan, the aroma alone can stop you in your tracks. Then consider that an Oreo-almond crust supports sliced banana cradled by a layer dulce de leche caramel. The whole thing is topped with homemade hojicha cream and topped with fresh whipped cream. Garnished with a sprig of rosemary and Heath bar crumble, the pie looks like it was whipped up by elves from an enchanted land. udessertstorysf.com
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