This year’s choices for the best desserts in Miami don’t go to the usual players with a few exceptions. They include artisanal bakery items made by one person bakers, a new chocolatier on the scene, and several restaurant offerings from South Beach to Sunny Isles. There’s one New York entry which I couldn’t resist including. Sweet tooths get ready!
Pastry bites — Casa Gioia‘s signature item are the bites, small squares of buttery shortbread crust filled with everything from macadamia nuts, dulce de leche and toasted coconut to lemon, orange made with real orange juice and orange zest and pineapple upside down. All fillings are made from scratch so the flavors are deep, rich and authentic. The bites crust and fillings are also made into 9 inch tarts. They were the prize for the reader making the most blog comments in July. She tried them and immediately sent out an email to her friends singing their praises.
Walnut tuiles at Bourbon Steak. This restaurant in Turnberry Isle never disappoints. You’d expect top notch steaks but dessert? Yes, especially when it’s their walnut tuiles, better than ones I’ve had in France.
Real Almond Cake – The Nicaraguan born Zandra Zampieri is a former New York public relations executive who fell in love with luxury Greek food products (and a successful Greek naval architect), lived on a Greek island for a year and a half, and found a new passion: making almond cakes inspired by mythology. The cake is made from an ancient recipe she found in the cooking diary of her husband’s Mother from Patras in the Peloponnese. The cakes are made with pure almond paste and thin-sliced almonds. After baking they are soaked in sugar syrup laced with rum, a lengthy process. Especially good served with vanilla ice cream.
Baked Alaska – Never can I resist a baked Alaska and this one was a slightly different riff on a classic from Timo restaurant in Sunny Isles. Instead of cake, it’s made with a shortbread cookie topped with blackberry swirl ice cream, meringue and a drizzling of blueberry sauce. OMG was it ever good.
Glazed key lime donuts — Even those who don’t love donuts won’t be able to resist the glazed key lime ones at STK Miami. They’re freshly made, melt in your mouth and the key lime glaze is just the right mix of tang and sweetness.
Peach Melba – Do you remember the peach melba? The sundae of vanilla ice cream, peaches and raspberry sauce — and some whipped cream for good measure? It was “the”dessert of the 60’s into the 70’s, the cap on a meal that might also have included an artichoke vinaigrette and coq au vin or boeuf bourguignon. Then, it somehow regretably disappeared from menus. It should never have fallen off the culinary map. It’s too delicious. Peche melba, its French name, was created in 1892 or 1893 by the French chef Auguste Escoffier at the Savoy Hotel, London, to honour the Australian soprano Nellie Melba.Enter uber French chef Alain Ducasse’s Benoit, 60 W. 55th Street, a bistro in New York City with the classics — Their classic peach melba with their own touch of toasted almonds is tops. Worth a trip in itself.
Key Lime Pie – Whatever you do, order a slice of the key lime pie, arguably the best in Miami at Plethore et Balthazar at the Hilton Bentley. Unlike most key lime pies, this is more shades of a European lemon tart with thick, rich meringue and an exquisite thick graham cracker crust. You can order it for takeout as well.
Chocolate cake – If you love a traditional American chocolate layer cake the one to beat is at Romanico’s Chocolates on Coral Way. It’s moist, super chocolately, and rich, and is available on special order only. There are a few tables as well for a coffee and slice of one of the other delish cakes of the day.
Sushi rolls – New chocolate boutique Beacon Hill Chocolates touts its truffles but my fave are what they call the “sushi rolls” — a shell of dark chocolate with marshmallow cream and caramel swirl. Exquisite, and so satisfying that one piece goes a long way.