The Craziest, Most-Over-the-Top Desserts in the Country
When it comes to sweets you can't go wrong with simplicity, but let's be real, the perfect dessert should be so eye-catching that it makes your tongue roll out like a cartoon character. So we've scoured the world for some of the most over-the-top culinary creations, be prepared to feel an ache in your sweet tooth.
Photo By: Hunter Townsend
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The Chocolate Horchata Mega-Shake at The Peached Tortilla (Austin, Texas)
One of Austin, Texas' great food-trailer success stories, fusion-taco slingers The Peached Tortilla have graduated to a brick-and-mortar business where they can finally showcase their sweeter side with a monthly over-the-top milkshake. Previous incarnations have included doughnut holes, muffins and tiny pies, but one of the very best was the Chocolate Horchata Mega-Shake, a riff on the traditional Mexican milk and cinnamon beverage plus a chocolate doughnut, whipped cream and a rim of sprinkles.
Smore's Melt at Ms. Cheezious (Miami)
There are few things more classically comforting than a grilled cheese. Ms. Cheezious makes some of Miami's meltiest sandwiches, but whether you order the Frito Pie Melt or the Southern Fried Chicken & Waffle Melt, you should save room for dessert. S'mores is a sandwich-ified version of the campfire classic, complete with roasted marshmallows, salted chocolate-hazelnut spread and graham cracker crumble between two slices of sourdough.
Bourbon Aficionado at 610 Magnolia (Louisville, Kentucky)
Louisville institution 610 Magnolia honors the South throughout their menu, including at dessert. Chef/owner Edward Lee breaks down Kentucky bourbon's flavors and components in a dessert called the Bourbon Aficionado. It starts with a base of whiskey butter cake that's topped with aerated butterscotch, dehydrated chocolate shards, maple syrup aged in bourbon barrels; brown butter ice cream; freeze-dried corn powder; and smoked wood from bourbon barrels for aroma. It's a dessert that's anything but old-fashioned.
Birthday Cake Soufflé at The Forge (Miami Beach, Florida)
The humble soufflé can swing sweet or savory, but few places take it to the limits quite like The Forge. This Florida steakhouse has mastered the egg-based French potted pastry, serving around 300,000 over its 50-year history. They currently offer classic chocolate, s'mores, and a boozy Grand Marnier version, but for special occasions there's no better order than the off-menu Birthday Cake, a delicious flashback that tastes like an elementary school class party. Thankfully, they leave off the trick candles.
The Fashionista at House of Chimney Cakes (Anaheim, California)
Transylvania isn't best known for its desserts, but one of the region's best known non-vampiric exports is the Kurtoskalac, also known as a chimney cake. Somewhere between a churro, doughnut, and ice cream cone, this rarely seen pastry creation has been drawing eyes and Instagram likes in the Anaheim area, where House of Chimney Cakes creates extreme versions like the Fashionista, which features Dutch chocolate ice cream, caramel chips, chocolate sauce, a Cocoa Pebbles chimney cake cone, plus the luxe designer touch of chocolate chunks adorned with the Louis Vuitton logo.
Shakin' The Cookie Jar Cheesecake Milkshake at Cheesecaked (Atlanta)
You'll want to try whatever comes out of the oven at Atlanta bakery Cheesecaked, but these days they're known more for the kitchen sink of ingredients that go into their milkshakes. The current star of the extreme lineup is the Shakin' the Cookie Jar, which blends cheesecake into ice cream, milk and vanilla. They fold in chocolate chip cookie chunks and brownies, and pour the whole thing into a chocolate chip cookie-rimmed cup, then top it all off with whipped cream, a brownie cheesecake cookie sandwich (aka Big Baby), a cheesecake bar rolled in cookie crumbs, a chocolate wafer, and even an Oreo (BYOB chaser of milk).
Voodoo Doll at Voodoo Doughnut (Portland, Oregon)
It's not hard to find insane doughnut creations these days, but one of the earliest pioneers of the craze was Voodoo Doughnut. Now with five locations outside their native Portland, the trailblazing breakfast bakers are still best known for their eponymous offering, the Voodoo Doll. It may not have the current shock value of some of their latest creations — looking at you, Maple Blazer Blunt — but the raspberry jelly-filled raised yeast doughnut is impossible to miss in their rotating display cases because of the frosting face staring back at you, and the pretzel stake stabbed through its heart.
Noodle Cake at Lyla Jones Bake Shop (Raleigh, North Carolina)
Run by a pair of high school sweethearts, Lyla Jones Bake Shop in Raleigh, North Carolina, started in a home kitchen and quickly became a go-to for both small and massive clients. Their custom cake creations often play off pop culture — think R2D2, Pac-Man and a recent Assassin's Creed commission — but the most-grabbing visually looks like something you'd eat for dinner rather than dessert. One of their rich chocolate cakes is topped with a sugary bed of ramen, fake shrimp and a pair of gravity-defying chopsticks supported by a tower of twirled noodles that look tasty enough to slurp.
Margarita Whoopie Pie at Irene's (Austin, Texas)
During a busy happy hour, the sunny patio at Irene's is packed with Austinites enjoying savory toasts, salads and, of course, a various and sundry selection of adult beverages. Since this is Texas, margaritas are a must, but here they aren't just served in a glass. Every month Irene's creates a new signature whoopie pie, the fan favorite being a Tex-Mex-inspired margarita pie, which takes a pair of lime cakes, stuffs them with tequila buttercream, then adds crunchy salt.
The Harvest at Spot Dessert Bar (New York City)
A partnership between two cousins — one who cooks some of the best Thai food in New York City and one the Iron Chef of Thailand (Ian Kittichai) — Spot serves innovative sweets with an Asian twist. The most-head-turning option is The Harvest, which looks more like it belongs in your garden than your mouth. The chefs fill a faux terracotta pot with 10 layers of cheesecake, berries, Oreo crumbs and raspberry sorbet, plus a sprig of parsley. Water the plant with black rose milk tea and watch your appetite grow!
The BreakFast Club at Vicky's House (Coconut Grove, Florida)
A complete recreation of the owner's mother's home circa 1986 — down to the flower wallpaper and linoleum floor — Vicky's House in Coconut Grove, Florida, applies the tropes of the '80s to the art of the milkshake. The "E.T. Goes To The Movies to watch The Goonies" is the most-meta, but the creativity award goes to The BreakFast Club, which takes a vanilla milkshake and adds a peanut butter rim, Captain Crunch cereal, whipped cream, maple syrup, bacon, a glazed doughnut from Salt Donut, and a shot of colada. It's a milkshake so indulgent and guilt-inducing that you'll feel like you deserve detention.
Speakeasy Flight at Prohibition Creamery (Austin, Texas)
Prohibition was a dark era for bars, but probably a good time for desserts. Austin's Prohibition Creamery mixes the two into tooth-achingly sweet milkshakes and ice creams with a kick, spiked by liquors and toppings that amplify the flavors. Their Speakeasy Flight is the most extravagant, a trio of their seasonal booze-based ice creams that currently includes a deconstructed old-fashioned sundae, sangria sorbet, and Vietnamese coffee ice cream topped with a Baileys Irish Cream pour-over.
Carnival Fun Cakes Barton G (Los Angeles)
Barton G in Miami and LA aims to shock and awe at dessert, serving options truly unlike anywhere else in the country. Where else will you find tobacco-laced gianduja chocolate cigars? Or a chocolate ganache and dulce de leche tart under a gold brick shell shadowed by a giant dollar bill? But our favorite are the Carnival Fun Cakes, golden battered funnel cakes with chocolate, strawberry, spiced caramel, powdered sugar, and fresh whipped cream, served with sparklers beneath a backdrop of a Dunk the Duck carnival shooting game.