The last several years have seen a slew of standalone cupcake shops, bespoke chocolate purveyors and artisanal frozen banana stands turn dessert into a meal of its own. No longer a voluntary coda subject to how sickeningly stuffed you feel after your main course, sweets, pastries and custards now command center stage. Here are a few of the best.
50 Commerce St, New York 10014
Coconut Cake at Commerce
The nostalgic yellow Birthday Cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles gives it some competition, but the Coconut Cake at Commerce, which is light and not-too-sweet despite resembling a brick in shape and size, has earned accolades that line the entrance vestibule to this stylish Village clubhouse.
131 Sullivan St, New York 10012
Banana Cream Pie at The Dutch
Kierin Baldwin's throwback pies have drawn as much attention as chef Luke Ostrom's hearty mains at this Soho scenester magnet. The banana cream is a favorite, even if the pretty young things that flock here might go dutch on it a few times over for fear of expanding their waistlines.
379 Grand St, New York 10002
Glazed Cake Doughnut at Doughnut Plant
There are more whimsical concoctions--try the Tres Leches--on the menu at this Lower East Side favorite that now has a satellite at the Ace Hotel. But in our opinion there's no better showcase for the back-to-basics sturdy texture of these doughnuts than the straightforward glaze variety.
325 Bowery, New York, 10003
Blackberry Eton Mess Fool at Peels
This traditional British dessert--named after a staple sweet at the country's most prestigious boarding school--might seem an odd fit at this Southern-leaning restaurant from tastemaker Taavo Somer (Freemans, Isa, The Rusty Knot). But we can think of few stronger arguments for across-the-pond culinary synergy than a meal of fried chicken topped off by the Eton Mess's medley of crunchy meringue, yogurt mousse and mint ice cream.
225 East 60th St., New York, 10022
Frrrozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity 3
No, you're not stumbling upon some top gastronomic secret. Yes, you'll have to vie for a table with a tour bus or two worth of out of town visitors. Still, this blend of 14 cocoas can claim to be the granddaddy of NYC dessert indulgences, and is particularly worth a try if you've got kids or grandkids in tow.