Blond Giraffe Key Lime Pie Factory
Photo by Allen Rokach

If anything is worth an extended drive south on U.S. 1, this is it. Blond Giraffe creates the pinnacle of key lime pie: heavenly peaks of meringue atop a silky pie filling with just the right sweetness-to-tang ratio, held together by a buttery crust. Owners Roberto Madeira and Tania Beguinati opened the shop in Key West in 1999 — but as a small vegetarian restaurant. When the two decided to add a dessert to their otherwise healthy menu, they called on a treasured family recipe for key lime pie. The dish became a huge hit and an overnight sensation after it beat 17 other varieties in a Key West contest. Soon, Madeira and Beguinati renamed the store "Blond Giraffe Key Lime Pie Factory." They moved to the Tavernier location in 2014. Though its bright-green walls and shack-like structure feel like a neighborhood joint, Blond Giraffe is far from a local secret. Their pie has earned repeated appearances on Food Network and acclaimed mentions in national publications, including Southern Living and National Geographic Traveler. A full pie costs $18.25 — settle for a single piece only if it's the signature frozen dark-chocolate-dipped slice on a stick ($4.95). Blond Giraffe is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Ma-Ka-Rohn, an online macaron store based in Miami, is all about love. The company was created by pastry chefs Romain Montsarrat and Alexandra Moller, who continue to craft with love, using ingredients imported from France, chocolate from Switzerland, and all flavors (besides cookies and cream) made 100 percent gluten-free. In the past six years, they've traveled around the United States and France, taste-testing as many macarons as possible, fusing everything they've learned (and devoured) into 17 varieties sold online and delivered to your door. Flavors include blue vanilla, cotton candy, maple bacon, pistachio, and fruity pebble. Choose a box size or upgrade to a tower ($1.99 to $110), and because Ma-Ka-Rohn is based in the 305, snag your order within 30 minutes from its kitchen in the Miller Heights Shopping Center.

The Salty
Photo courtesy of the Salty

Amanda Pizarro and Andy Rodriguez love doughnuts so much that they set out to open their own craft shop, the Salty Donut. In less than six months, their small artisanal doughnut and coffee bar had taken over Miami, generating a buzz the city had never experienced. They've tapped into the hearts and stomachs of young and old sweets-lovers through handcrafted varieties such as traditional glazed buttermilk. There are savory choices like maple bacon, gluten-free versions, and even alcohol-infused treats like mimosa-style or spiked doughnut holes (prices vary). Along with Pizarro and Rodriguez, executive pastry chef Max Santiago is behind the Salty Donut's production. Each treat is made in-house from scratch, with no ingredient ever frozen. Batches are made throughout the day, ensuring freshness. There's even a good chance your sweetness will still be warm by the time you get your hands (and mouth) on it.

Gringa Flan

Most flan recipes are deeply rooted in Latin America, but at Gringa Flan, the dessert is crafted by an all-American home cook with no culinary training, simply a love of Miami's Latin flair. The result is a refreshing twist on a traditional dessert that converts even the most adamant of flan haters. Owner Jessica Welsh moved to Miami from the D.C. area more than 25 years ago and had never tried flan. She quickly fell in love with the local culture and cuisine and began baking her own version of the custard confection before opening for business. Gringa Flan incorporates coconut milk into the base for a dish that's less "eggy" and sweet, and creamier and richer than its traditional counterpart. The signature flan is topped with a golden caramel sauce and crunchy coconut flakes, but flavors continue to evolve. Options include chocolate, coffee, mango, and pumpkin. Welsh still works as a project analyst for a human resources company, but flan is her hobby and passion. She sells her treats at local markets and festivals, as well as in a shared location with Wendy's Chocolates. The flan is available either whole ($24) or by the slice ($3) — just give her a call ahead of time because each one is made to order.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®