Rounding up for Pi(e) Day

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Because on Pi(e) Day, 3.14 = 4, and I’ll go any distance to get my slices.

Today, I had to drive a whole 5 minutes away.

Sweety Pies (aka my new fave neighbor) was bursting at the seams with fresh homemade pies: cherry, raspberry, apple, apple crumble, chocolate mint, chocolate peanut butter, crocodile pie, sunshine citrus, raspberry supreme, blueberry supreme, chocolate cashmere. Big ones, mini ones, slices. Hard not to take one of each, but of course I need an excuse to visit again asap, so for this holiday lunch, only:

crocodile pie – pecan with chocolate and rum, snap snap!
raspberry supreme – raspberry pie with a cheesecakey top
chocolate cashmere – rich, thick, mmmmmousse
sunshine citrus – orange cream in a crisp buttery graham crust with a dollop of meringue on top

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Yes yes yes yes all delicious. And I’ll be returning to try each of the rest.

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(Above: protecting the goods bc these pies were procured in the middle of a mad dash downpour – which made the cafe even cozier….. as if that was possible….. The shop is family run FOR REAL. The “grandma” described all the pies to me and gave her recs, the “grandpa” helped box and rang me up, the daughter baked the pies and answered the phone, and the grandson ate pie scraps.       !!!!!!!!)

 

 

 

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Never too cold for pie

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Hi Chicago. In case you’re thinking it’s too cold for ice cream (it isn’t – IT NEVER IS), let me tell you about Spumoni PIE. Yes. Spumoni in pie form. From Bang Bang.

Graham crust topped with pistachio pastry cream, then dark chocolate ganache, then cherry whipped cream, then candied pistachios, then into my mouth. SO GOOD. All the layers in one bite instead of hunting around to get a bit of each à la reg spumoni.

Get it now!!

And overheard while pieing:

7 year old to her parents: “What do you love more, comics or pie?”
Parents in unison: “PIE.”

7 year old: “The whole point of this place is pie. You want to get pie, get pie. Pie gets you feeling relaxed.”

They’re raising her right.

Honorable mention: Coco-nana pie – coconut pastry cream with roasted banana caramel and whipped cream. Instant transport away from icy sidewalks.

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WLW: all pie all the time

You guys. I’ve been sitting around eating lots of nuts and chocolate and appley ginger-based stuff lately, bc it’s freezing fall out and like a smart person I’m trying to prepare for hibernation. But you know what I really wish I was eating? No, no, not a cherpumple (tho I obvs wouldn’t dare turn it down….GIVE ME). While I sit here in my très chic hoodie/sweater/fat socks/blanket combo, I’m really wishing for some Strawberry Short Pie from Lauretta Jean’s. And I KNOW it’s seasonal and tisn’t the season now……that’s why it’s Wednesday and I’m wishing.

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How Stephanie Tanner rude that I tempt you with this unattainable pie, right? Looking more closely (NOT licking my screen, PROMISE!), it’s kinda like the springtimey little sister of the cherpumple. This truly looks like the dessert of dreams. Bake it and I will eat.

Anyhoo, not to leave you in tears of unsatisfiable dessert cravings, the good news is that it is at least pie season in the nation, and if you live in Portland you can still skedaddle over to Lauretta Jean’s for a more in-the-now seasonal offering. Might I suggest Chocolate Pecan or S’mores?

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Both clear winners and in keeping with my hibernation diet. Both also considered A+ choices to pair with coffee for a breakfast of champions. But you know what works really well at the end of the day after a heavy hearty meat and potatoes-rich fallwinter meal? Something with a bright little zip to cut right through the food coma. Something like Key Lime or Lemon Meringue:

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Mmmmmm pie. Never not in season.

*pics by @laurettajeans and @pdxfoodlove

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.)

 

 

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.

Dessert Detour: Blue’s Cafe

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If I described a place that made strawberry pie, strawberry silk pie, strawberry rhubarb pie, coconut cream pie, coconut meringue pie, peanut butter pie, triple berry pie, peach pie, blueberry pie, raisin pie, key lime pie, pecan pie, cherry pie, butterscotch meringue pie, custard pie, Hawaiian pie, apple pie and lemon meringue pie DAILY, you’d probably guess that I was describing a pie shop. If I told you that over half of these pies sold out by 3pm, you’d probably guess that this pie shop was located on a busy street in a major city. You probably would not guess that this is all going down in an unassuming diner on a quiet road in Kankakee. NO JOKE.

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When I called ahead to be sure they had the butterscotch meringue, I was on the phone for about 5 minutes while all pie varieties were rambled off. Who would have guessed, with all those options, that when I arrived a few hours later, the beloved butterscotch would be sold out?!? Where are all these crazy pie eaters coming from?? Do all Kankakee citizens have pie filling running through their veins?

Blue’s Cafe is about 10 min west of I-57, and has been around since maybe 1954 – or at least that’s what an old photo on the wall says. They have all the usual diner fare: good coffee, sandwiches, soups, omelets, etc., but to be honest, I didn’t even look at a regular menu. I came for the pie. I sat down, ordered a cup of coffee, and said, “I’ll be having a lot of pie.”

And when my three slices arrived on the table, they created a bit of a stir. Like everyone stared and shouted and beamed with pride and amazement.

“You go girl!”
“You should take a picture!”
“That’s my kind of meal.”
“I shoulda got that!”
“Are you a taste tester?”
“Even Trish can only do two slices (with ice cream).”
“I thought she was kidding when she said she was getting three slices.”

On the table:

blueberry – warm with a flaky, buttery crust

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strawberry silk – (because what is that?? it’s like what Strawberry Shortcake would bring to an afternoon tea if she made pies instead of cakes) – with a graham cracker crust and fresh strawberries

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coconut cream loaded with tons of coconut and piled high with whipped cream

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For the record, I didn’t not finish all of these in one sitting. I brought some samplings home with me much to the delight of my tasting assistants who – ahem –  literally drooled on the floor while they were devouring.

ps: three slices and a bottomless coffee cost $10
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WLW: Amsterdam Apple Pie

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When last I was in Amsterdam, I was not on the hunt for desserts. (I was on the hunt for Van Gogh paintings which just so happened to be on loan to the Art Institute of Chicago – of allllll places.) When next I am in Amsterdam, desserts will be high on the priority list. (namely, a very specific apple pie, and no, “high on the list” pun not intended)

The Dutch are ABOUT their apple pies. You will find some version of appeltaart on every bakery and cafe menu. They are served in large portions, and are of the deep dish variety, so how do you avoid getting stuffed on subpar slices while seeking out the best? I’m here to point you in the right (and only) direction you’ll need. #imthenewricksteves

In the Jordaan neighborhood of Amsterdam you will find Winkel 43, a cafe with a reputation for having the best apple tart. You guys, this is not a “world’s best coffee” situation where claims are thrown about willy-nilly. Literally EVERY review on EVERY place anyone could ever leave a review backs this up. The crust is sweet, crumbly, crunchy, thick but soft, pressed instead of rolled into a springform pan, and then filled with spiced apples (firmer than those in American apple pie). The result is something you dream about even if you’ve never actually eaten it. I can taste it now…….

Further support that this is the truly the best when I’ve yet to even taste it: How many other singular desserts – I’m talking one specific dessert from one specific restaurant – have had their own IG account created??

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*photos by: @gijskeadrienne and @juliezwing