These are the desserts I enjoyed most during the past year. Looking over my list, I can't help but note that three contain bananas, and only one is chocolate-based. I love chocolate desserts, but so often the only restaurant menu choice is the ubiquitous chocolate molten cake -- which I've grown too weary of to order anymore. Or brownies, which I've also had one too many of. Can't remember the last time I saw a homemade chocolate devil's food cake on a menu.
Other than that, the selection is pretty self-explanatory.
In alphabetical order:
Milk Chocolate Semifreddo at AltaMare:
Pastry chef Crystal Cullison knocked it out of the park with her ethereal milk chocolate semifreddo that came embedded with Maldon salt and garnished with warm fudge sauce and a dark chocolate tuille ($9).
Banana Cream Pie at Emeril's:
It was one of the only things I enjoyed about my meal here. The tall wedge featured chunks of the fruit suspended in dense vanilla custard, with a moist banana/graham cracker crust, chantilly cream, caramel drizzles, and dark chocolate shavings on top. Yes, go ahead and say it: Bam!
Apricot Tart at Essensia Restaurant & Lounge:
Before becoming pastry chef at Essensia, Gail Goetsch worked under dessert doyen Hedy Goldsmith. Her apricot tart is stunning, half-moons of the baked fruit lined up atop a buttery pastry crust -- brilliantly paired with ginger-almond ice cream.
Lemon Pannacotta at The Forge:
Pastry chef Malka Espinel thrilled us with this tart of creamy lemon curd with a mild fennel infusion. It came paired with toasted almond gelato and fresh biscotti ($9). Alas, Malka is no longer at The Forge.
Homemade Doughnuts at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink:
Didn't review Michael's this year, but did finish a dinner there with Hedy Goldsmith's custard-filled beignets: Perfectly light and greaseless, not too sweet, with silky vanilla pastry cream within. We may not have a great doughnut shop, but at least we've got these great doughnuts.
Coconut Cake at The Morgans Restaurant:
One doesn't even have to say why a fresh, homemade wedge of coconut layer cake is better than almost anything else on earth. It just is, and The Morgans Restaurant makes a damn good version ($6).
Some Wacky Peanut Butter & Jelly-Based Thing at Prelude by Barton G:
Prelude foregoes the usual Barton G theatrics, but this dessert was one wild and wonderful finish: A generous scoop of grape jelly gelato flanked by two pyramids of peanut butter mousse -- one with a pink macadamia-praline glaze, the other bathed in chocolate ganache. Unfortunately, it appears as though I liked this more than most folks, as it's no longer on the menu.
Banana Pudding at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar:
A marvelously mushy mess of fresh banana slices, shortbread crust, sumptuous pudding, and a crackly caramelized banana spear ($5).
Soffiato di guayaba at Zucchero:
This signature dessert of the house features a warm, flourless dome of guava cake that oozes a luscious caramel-like fruit center. Homemade vanilla-cream cheese ice cream with flecks of guava comes on the side, and if that doesn't whet your appetite maybe you'd better just eat another Twinkie.
Green Tea-Banana Cake at Zuma:
Moist, dense banana cake striped on the bottom by a mesmerizing layer of green tea cake. Crowing the slice are banana disks and a sweet, syrupy topping with bits of toffee. Cool coconut gelato on the side completed this tropical Zen masterpiece.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.