America's Best: Top 10 Sweets
©dave lauridsen 2010
Alton Brings You the Sweetest Things
Alton Brown delivers Food Network Magazine's picks for the best desserts in the US. Check out this sneak peek of the finalists, then tune in September 20 to 23, 2010, at 9 p.m. ET, when Alton will reveal the winners.
Miette, San Francisco and Oakland, CA
A former dot-commer started this mini-chain after a successful stint at the Berkeley Farmers' Market, and her gingerbread cupcake might be the reason for Miette's popularity. Made with a dark stout beer, it's super moist and topped with lightly sweetened cream-cheese frosting and a candied orange flower.
Parkesdale Farm Market, Plant City, FL
The late farmer Roy Parke, who drove a strawberry-colored Cadillac and owned a strawberry-shaped pool, created this thick, not-too-sweet shake, filled with chunks of perfect berries that always get stuck in the straw. Luckily, his family still churns out the strawberry shakes, which President Obama deemed the best in the world. 3702 West Baker St., Plant City, FL
Kermit's Key West Lime Shoppe, Key West and DeLand, FL
Key West baker and local character Kermit Carpenter is a fixture at the corner of Greene and Elizabeth streets, where he jokingly threatens to throw his pies at tourists. His crazy-delicious Key lime pie is as outrageous as he is: Each piece is frozen, crust and all, on a stick, then dipped in melted chocolate.
Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream, Columbus, OH
Jeni Britton Bauer combines exotic ingredients with cream from grass-fed Ohio cows to make some seriously tasty and inventive ice cream flavors. Her top seller is Salty Caramel, but she's always mixing up new versions like molasses-praline or goat cheese with cognac figs. Five locations, Columbus, OH
Best-Dressed Doughnuts: The Donut Man, Glendora, CA
Elvis used to send a friend to pick up fruit-filled doughnuts from Jim Nakano's famous shop. Nakano, now 70, still works here seven days a week, serving hand-split yeast doughnuts stuffed with seasonal fillings, including strawberry from February through July and pumpkin cream cheese around Thanksgiving. 915 East Route 66, Glendora, CA; 626-335-9111
Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier, Madison, WI
When Gail Ambrosius was laid off as a mapmaker, she went to France to train with renowned chocolatiers. Now she travels the world sourcing chocolate for her confections, like cinnamon-cayenne truffles. She also puts her cartography skills to use, decorating candies with gold-dusted maps of cacao regions. 2086 Atwood Ave., Madison, WI
Ted Drewes, St. Louis
This no-frills roadside spot is a mecca for ice cream lovers: During the summer, lines never stop forming for Ted's simple frozen custard, sold in a single flavor (vanilla) with assorted mix-ins. The famous "concrete" is a shake so thick, servers often hand it to you upside down, with the spoon suspended in the cup.
Brennan's, New Orleans
Servers set more than 35,000 pounds of bananas on fire each year to make bananas Foster. The famed dessert caramelized bananas, rum and brown sugar, flambeed tableside and topped with ice cream was invented here in 1951, when New Orleans was an entry point for imported bananas, and it’s still a best-seller today. 417 Royal St., New Orleans, LA
Falai, New York City
What happens when the pastry chef at one of New York's highfalutin restaurants, Le Cirque, leaves to open a tiny restaurant way downtown? Dessert lovers follow him. The best of many great sweets here is chef Iacopo Falai's raspberry-truffle souffle: He puts a scoop of ice cream in the middle of the hot souffle. 68 Clinton St., New York, NY
Two Fat Cats Bakery, Portland, ME
Whoopie pies get the respect they deserve at this bakery, where they’re made with great local ingredients (in place of shortening: marshmallow buttercream) and fun flavor combos (pumpkin with maple filling in the fall). You can get a supersize one, too, if you can handle a whopping eight inches of whoopie. 47 India St., Portland, ME