Earlier this week we shared our twenty best bites from the year. However, at the end of any good meal should come an equally good dessert… or 3. Here are the best we had in 2014.
S’mores Bar from Table 28
Chef Scott Rains is certainly a talented guy…and nothing proves that more than his ability to churn out desserts that are every bit as interesting and creative as his savory items. His take on s’mores really impressed us…housemade graham cracker bar topped with a light chocolate mousse, a housemade marshmallow toasted on all sides, everything drizzled in dark chocolate and paired with a scoop of chocolate ice cream.
It will be difficult (as the dinner menu at One Eleven is full of fantastic food) but be sure to save room for dessert…this chocolate soufflé deserves your attention. It’s light and airy with a slightly crispy exterior…but the inside is as soft and smooth as rich chocolate pudding. Topped with Chantilly whipped cream…it’s an unbeatable dessert.
Lucky Charms Milkshake from Big Orange
This little number is no longer on the menu (although it would be great to see its return at some point), but it became such a popular item, it launched a whole series of specialty cereal and snack cake shakes at Big Orange this summer. Autumn Hall was the brains behind the whole operation, and there were several winners in the line-up, but it was the Lucky Charms version that really won us over.
Elizabeth McMullen is a force to be reckoned with in the kitchen. Her restaurant, E’s Bistro, may be tucked away in a fairly hidden corner of North Little Rock, but her desserts can hold their own with any other in town. This creamy, cool coconut pie topped with crunchy toasted coconut shavings was the perfect ending to an already excellent meal.
Oatmeal Cream Pie from The Pie Shop at Terry’s
That bit of nostalgia for the classic Little Debbie snack is probably part of the reason this jumbo-sized cookie sandwich was so good. But it was impressive to see just how similar to the original Jacquelyn Pittman’s version turned out. Thick, chewy, soft, and sweet…it’s better than any cookie you’ll find boxed up in the grocery store.
It may be the best tasting cake Kelli Marks has ever created. There’s hints of sugar (of course) and spicy cinnamon, tangy cranberry and apple…all slathered in a not-too-sweet, thick buttercream frosting. Call up Sweet Love, place an order for this cake, and make your parties even more popular.
Craquelin from Mylo Coffee Co.
It’s only barely qualifies as a dessert…as it’s really more a hybrid between a yeast dinner roll and a sugar-filled sticky bun. But it’s one of the best things Mylo baked up this year. Soft and chewy white bread gives way to a center filled with crunchy, orange-flavored sugar crystals. When served up hot, they’re perfect…you’ll be wanting to bring home a dozen or so for later.
You might even want to skip barbecue all-together in order to put down more pie. This hefty chunk of peanut butter cream comes topped with roasted peanuts and mini Reese’s chocolate/peanut butter bites. Best to plan on a nap after a slice of this stuff…but it’s definitely worth getting your hands on.
Cinnamon Ginger Ice Cream from Loblolly Creamery
You probably all know Loblolly. And you know they hardly ever leave you disappointed when ordering ice cream. But their most memorable flavor in recent months was this excellent cinnamon and ginger concoction…smooth, rich, and ever-so creamy with the occasional bite of ginger. Topped with their fine salted caramel sauce and whipped cream…it’s good eating any time of year.
Ashton Woodward is bringing something to Little Rock that we’ve been hurting for a long time…elegant, beautiful handmade chocolates. You’ll pay a bit more for them than your average mass-produced chocolate bar…but they’re very good and they’re worth the extra expense. The cappuccino and milk chocolate/hazelnut, particularly, are worth sampling.
Chocolate Cookie with Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache at South on Main
This dessert is right in chef Matthew Lowman’s wheelhouse. He’s a master at baking cookies that take on both a crunchy and chewy texture, but his method of making simple, yet tasty ganache and coupling it with said cookie is what lands the dessert on this list.
Not to brag, but we’ve been to the Florida Keys, feel like we know a thing or two about authentic Key lime pie … and this is authentic Key lime pie.
Chocolate Banana Muffin at Mylo Coffee Co.
You can have your kouign amanns … the chocolate banana muffin is where it’s really at. The chunks of dark chocolate scattered throughout the muffin are what really separate this baked good from so many others.
This is the banana pudding of all banana puddings. To top things off, pretty sure CBG actually makes its own wafers. Let that sink in for a second. Nothing finishes off a lunch plate of fried chicken like a jar of banana pudding.
Crème brûlée at Arthurs’s Prime Steakhouse
Lactose intolerant eaters, beware! When this oversized square of custard arrives at the table, you better have a few Lactaids handy. And unless you have a huge appetite, the crème brûlée is definitely best suited for sharing.
SO’s chocolate sack—quite simply, Little Rock’s most iconic dessert. It’s literally a Belgium chocolate mold of a paper sack, filled with ice cream, cherry compote and what seems like 15 other items. You better split it with three friends.
Strawberry Shortcake at E’s Bistro
Chef Elizabeth McMullen might be the most underrated dessert chef in Central Arkansas. Her cakes are just outstanding, but if this beautiful strawberry shortcake (seasonal) is on the menu, please order it and get a piece of cake to-go.
No frills, just plain old strawberry cake with strawberry cream cheese icing. But the cake, itself, is so moist and the strawberry flavor really is pronounced.
Brownie Ice Cream Sandwich with Shiraz Ice Cream and Merlot Caramel at Natchez
Forget for a moment that a work of art is sitting in front of you. No, this dessert brings more than a fancy presentation. Pairing the flavors of a shiraz with the rich chocolate is a brilliant move by chef Zara Abbasi.
Two things make The Pantry’s cheesecake truly stand out—a thick graham cracker crust and that paper-thin sheet of brûlée. The chocolate salami is a “sexier” dessert, but the cheesecake is the way to go.