National Dessert Day 2017 recap: don’t worry, I celebrated

I awoke this past Saturday (better known as National Dessert Day), to the sound of thunder shaking the walls. Stormy days do not always motivate desserty travel adventures, but the bakery magnetism forcefield is strong in my family, and so along with torrential rain, I also awoke to a platter full of kolacky from the Oak Park Bakery. Perfect start to this all-important national holiday. #thanksdad

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Luckily, the destination planned for the day’s celebration is as well-known for their hot drinking chocolate as they are for their expansive collection of artisinal chocolate bars from around the world: Cocoa + Co, located in Chicago’s Old Town.

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Cocoa + Co has six different versions of drinking chocolate, and on this day I chose Abuela’s Elixir – a rich chocolate spiked with citrus, spices and molasses and then topped with homemade whipped cream and cocoa powder. But, alas, I don’t really believe that a beverage counts as a dessert. I mean, it’s a drink and frankly you need fluids to stay alive, so therefore it’s more of a necessity than a sweet luxury. Plus, during a rainstorm, it is a requirement for hygge maintenance.

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And so, for dessert(s), I ordered: a dark chocolate s’mores bite (fluffy marshmallow, crisp graham, chocolate ganache center),

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a milk chocolate peanut butter bomb (thick gourmet peanut butter cup with the perf amount of crunch and salt),

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and a slice of their signature inside-out German chocolate cake (BEST GERMAN CHOCOLATE EVER – bittersweet buttercream frosting – like a truffle was hugging this cake, non-cloying filling packed with fresh coconut and pecans, layers of moist dark chocolate cake).

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Because that’s what you do on National Dessert Day ( / any other day of the year).

Cocoa + Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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WLW: Dessert Charcuterie FTW

Obviously dessert is my fave course. But running a *close so close it’s almost nearly a tie” second, is a cheese/charcuterie board. So when I heard about such a thing as a DESSERT CHARCUTERIE BOARD, wellllll I just had to take a Wish List Wednesday trip on over to Montclair, NJ to see for myself. (just a quickie trip up from Newark!)

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I’ve been gazing at Vanillamore Dessert Kitchen‘s IG pics of chocolate salami for awhile now. Like A.WHILE. Little did I realize that this sweet (non-meat) salami was the main attraction on their bountiful dessert charcuterie boards. The salami (dark: almonds, cranberries, apricots, orange zest; milk: hazelnuts, cherries, shortbread cookies; or white: white chocolate, almonds, apricots) is sliced up and paired with just a delightful, delectable assortment featuring ginger molasses cookies, espresso caramel, honey poached pears, vanilla cream filled brioche doughnuts, red wine cherries, coffee hazelnut mousse, candied lemons, candied orange, banana bread, thyme marinated strawberries, olive oil cake…….the list just goes on and on and on.

Like Willy Wonka took a step up from fizzy lifting drink and had a proper soirée.

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Vanillamore is now serving lunch and dinner in addition to dessert, and while everything looks pos scrummy, I am still most pumped about the salami…..

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….aaaaand the s’mores bars. I mean, I’m not blind. COME. ON.

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ps: the s’mores bars hang out next to seasonal dessert kebabs, milk and cookies, and house-made gelato, on the section of the menu called “Dessert Tapas,” which is just above the “Dessert Flights” section. Perfect for when you want a little taste of everything, which I always do.

This place. They really get me.

*all pics by @vanillamore

 

WLW: Gnome Cones (guest post)

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Hello, hello and happy Wish List Wednesday!

This is Finn, Dessert Oasis’s longtime trusty road trip companion, with you today on assignment at the Dessert Oasis travel desk (because I’m literally stationed on top of desk).

We’ve crisscrossed the country together more than a few times, and oh the sweet memories we’ve shared….. stopping for custard at Ted Drewe’s in St. Louis, eating apple pie in Julian, CA, picking peaches in Bethlehem, CT, lamenting over waffles in Payson, AZ after a car breakdown #kialater…… but if my feet could reach the pedals (no, gnomes don’t have access to magic carpets like genies), or if I was ever asked my destination preference, ahem, where would I go??? Well, I would drive us straight to Argyle, TX, home of Gnome Cones!

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Just thinking about Gnome Cones I’m transported back to my homeland (somewhere in the Austrian Alps), where floral meadows blossom after winter snowfall, pastries are abundant, and I can still procure the occasional exotic fruit. Ahhhh…. Not quite what you picture when you imagine Dallas-Fort Worth, but it’s hard to overcome the mental obstacle of that nightmare airport – I feel you. That’s why we’re driving.

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These snow cones are all natural – no dyes or preservatives – only juice, tea, coffee, coconut cream and SNOW! Snow in Texas!! The world is magic!!! I can only imagine how refreshing and delightful they must be – a far cry from the sickly sweet rainbow “flavored” cones that state fair carnivals try to pass off as “sno” (if it’s not spelled right, you know it’s not right – I’ve picked up a few tips during my time on the desk). Plus – and this is a BIG plus – they look just like me! What’s not to love??

Signing off now – yours in happy travels and sweetie pie dreams,

Finn

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*photos by @jjordanllane, @food_curator_510, @thebestofdfw_, @gnomecones

 

Pie Cone: the future of à la mode

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For when you can’t quite decide between ice cream or pie (and for whatever excuse aren’t just solving this common dilemma by getting both): PIE CONE.

Spinning J‘s flaky, buttery, sugared pie dough rolled and baked into a cone shape, topped with your choice of Black Dog Gelato flavors including blackberry passion fruit and strawberry rhubarb sorbet (pictured above), vanilla bean, Mexican chocolate, Oreo mint, cherry chocolate chip, or chocolate sorbet.

Ingenious.

Super Spinning J, once again helping to avert dessert crises for the sweet-toothed citizens of Chicago.

(although you are still free/encouraged to order a slice or three of pie too)

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(pictured: cherry apricot, hibiscus key lime with blueberry compote, chocolate hazelnut cream. not pictured: excavator required to remove me from the booth.)

 

 

WLW: Jacques Genin pâtes de fruits

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Though kids have started going back to school and days are sliiiiightly getting shorter, I’m under no delusion that summer is nearing an end. I know I still have until approx October to continue with BBQs and AC. I’m highly aware, however, that my days of summer produce are much more limited.

And so, for today’s Wish List journey, I’ll be traveling to Paris and stopping by Jacques Genin. I mean, of course I’ll be noshing on a tarte au citron with basil AND a Paris-Brest AND a made-to-order mille-feuille AND an individual St. Honoré, and def probs be taking an assortment of chocolates and caramels and nougats to go……but why I’m really here is for the pâtes de fruits. And even more so, for the pâtes de LÉGUMES. WUT/QUOI.

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Yes, yes, you’ve translated correctly. In addition to sugared jewel-toned concentrated bites of cassis, lychee, raspberry, pineapple, pear, rhubarb, mango-passionfruit, blood orange, etc etc, Jacques Genin has basically made veggie candy and I want some. I’ll take a healthy sampling of each: green tomato, carrot, celery, bell pepper, beet, fennel, pumpkin, and whatever else they have growing in the garden that day.

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This is my kind of summer preservation, and truly some next level eating of the rainbow. Maybe instead of coaxing kids to eat their vegetables because “look! so cute! broccoli is like a little tree!!,” just give them a plate of pâte and prepare to welcome some new members to the Clean Plate Club.

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*photos by: @jacquesgenin, @dafnamechlin, @lisatreehouse

Sunday Sundae: national day history mystery edition

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As if the sweltering summer heat wasn’t a good enough excuse to drown yourself in ice cream, July is National Ice Cream Month. And if you didn’t already know that, what better day to learn than today, National Ice Cream Day!

As much as I’d like to take credit for making up this glorious holiday and basically extending it for 1/12 of the YEAR, the Nobel Prize goes to desserty prez Ronnie Reagan, who in 1984 took a break from pounding jelly beans and proclaimed July as National Ice Cream Month, further driving it home by establishing the third Sunday in July as National Ice Cream Day. #justsayyes

Which brings us to today’s mystery: what did I just eat? Unable to decide, but definitely leaning chocolate for today’s observance, I had a turtle sundae with a nice foundation scoop of dark dark chocolate topped with a scoop of Agatha Christie from the newly opened Red Bicycle Ice Cream. The Agatha Christie is an ever-changing mysterious mélange of all the flavors, so you never know quite what you’ll taste. Thankfully, I did not come across arsenic or gun powder, but rather cookies and cream, rocky road, chocolate chip, and a hint of mint. (alas, no Poirot crème de cassis)

 

pit stops: Chi > Cle >FLks > Mont > Queb > Mich > Chi

Dear Dessert Oasis,
Your recent posting about your yummy cross country road trip bakery stop in Lincoln, NE made me think I should do some advance planning for my own upcoming road trip. Any tips on wish list dessert stops between Chicago-Cleveland-Finger Lakes region, NY-Montreal-Quebec City- Toronto-and back to Chicago (via Michigan)? Whew! It’ll be a long adventure and we could use some delicious car snacks.
Thanks!
Road Trippin’ Rover


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Dear Road Trippin’,
Having a few known dessert stops on your map will definitely save you from an overload of gas station candy bars and hot pockets – way to think ahead!! That being said, it can be tricky to find great stop offs that don’t veer too far away from the beaten path. (like, unfortch, much of the Ohio turnpike is a bland stretch of oasis pits.)
And so, I’ve outlined a few standouts near each of your destinations, and recommend you stock up as you approach/leave each locale. Be sure to bring a cooler, some extra tupperware, and a roll of paper towels!
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Munster, IN: Munster Donuts (get a sour creme donut or twelve)
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Cleveland: Presti’s Bakery (cannoli), Jack Frost Donuts (including a donut that looks like a hot dog! GET IT.), Sweet Moses (ice cream)
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Finger Lakes: Seneca Farms (banana splits – have to eat your fruits and veggies while you’re on the road), Colonial Inn (ice cream with historic charm)
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Montreal: Mamie Clafoutis (bakery – tarts and croissants and cream puffs, oh my!), Wild Willy’s (ice cream), Les Givres (a lil bit of everything)
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Quebec CityÉrico (chocolate everything, including a chocolate museum to stretch your road-weary legs!)
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and to really savor the last leg of your journey, Michigan! Sister Pie (Detroit – pie, duh), Hinkley Bakery (Jackson – for donuts), Whistle Stop Grocery (Union Pier – cakes, pastries, and maybe some provisions for your fridge back home)


Happy travels and happy eats!!
– Dessert Oasis


*photo creds to many IG travelers: @foodchristinaeats, @whistlestopgrocery, @deeedoyle, @sarhuzarski, @stephyaklin, @terrellm, @tastymorocco, @jenn_pearce, @nadiawasti


Have a dessert question?  Email me at courtneysconza@gmail.com – from funnel cakes to fondue fountains, if it has sugar, I’ve probably eaten it.