Sweets for the Sweet
And for the Stoned, the Vegan, the Rich, the Poor, the Broken-Jawed…
You can't throw a Twizzler these days in Seattle without hitting a new bakery, pie shop, or steampunk strudel cart (wait, why don't we have a steampunk strudel cart!?). So. Many. Sweets. And with Valentine's Day coming up—a day rooted in the premise of pigging out on sugar and chocolate—the pressure is on to find the right spot to take your sweetheart one sugary step closer to diabetes. Never fear: We've done the work for you, whoever you may be (and whatever the hell your problem is).
Are you shameless? Try the fudge-ejaculating sundae at the Icon Grill! Are you broke? Get cheap but really yummy cake in the International District! There's something for the 1-percenter in your life, the indecisive Gemini, and the new relationship that can't yet commit to a full-size waffle. We even have a suggestion for the functioning alcoholic who would rather drink their candy in booze form.
Perhaps, though, you're sick of this institutionalized "love" crap, and that's fine. You don't need a date to eat dessert—you don't even need to leave the house. Spend some quality time with our favorite store-bought candies in the comfort of your own home and PajamaJeans™. Happy Valentine's Day, or whatever day it may happen to be.
Oh my God. You can't do this if you're on a first date. You just can't. I mean, you should totally have ice cream on your first date. That's a fine idea, as long as you don't overdo it. But in case you can't tell from the ridiculously ornate decor, everything about the Icon Grill (1933 Fifth Ave, 441-6330, icongrill.com) is overdoing it, from the monumental steaks to, most especially, their enormous and obscene hot fudge sundae ($12).
This is more ice cream than any two people need. I can't even count how many scoops of vanilla Olympic Mountain they cram into this thing, because the GIANT BOWL MADE OUT OF COOKIE DOUGH gets in the way. Along with the ice cream in the edible bowl, the waiter brings along an elaborate silver tray of toppings and asks which ones you want. Just get all of them: the tiny M&Ms, the crumbled-up sugar cookies, the almond slivers, and the whipped cream.
But the thing that makes this so un-first-date-worthy is that once all your toppings are in place, the waiter will grab the tall, slender ice cream cone filled with fudge in the middle of the sundae and YANK IT OUT, and because the bottom is cut out of the cone, it just SPLOOGES DELICIOUS HOT FUDGE all over the whole thing. It's ejaculatory. It's maybe the most pornographic dessert you've ever had. Your date won't even be able to look you in the eye because you just took a trip to the candyland of sex, and everything was sweet and well-crafted and amazing, but it came too soon. This could ruin a burgeoning relationship; it's a dessert that's only for lovers who have extensively shared bodily fluids. PAUL CONSTANT
Every time I sell an organ or a relative dies and I have a little extra cash burning another hole in my moth-eaten pockets, I make a reservation at Spur in Belltown (113 Blanchard St, 728-6706, spurseattle.com). There are many reasons to love Spur—the staff is sweet-tempered, handsome, and jokey, and the drinks are tasty-strong—but what really makes a poor organless gal like me feel rich are the desserts. At around $10 each, they aren't even that expensive, but every aspect of the plate is made of weird, showy, edible grandeur. For instance, the descriptions on the menu read like this: "Strawberry. Lemon Balm. Crème Fraîche. sorbet. meringue. sponge." Or: "Chocolate. Huckleberry. Cigar. Cognac. pudding. sorbet. caramel." It took me years—years!—to figure out that the first word of each dessert corresponds to the fourth, e.g., "Strawberry sorbet," the second to the fifth, "Lemon Balm meringue," and so on (which to me is proof that my poverty is a personal failing linked to mild stupidity). It's nearly impossible to choose among the desserts, which is why you should bring a date and order all of them—the bourbon-butter soils, the edible cigars, the lilac gelatins, and the homemade ice creams the shape of elf-sized footballs, all with other "playful accompaniments." The desserts are all made in-house and change with the season, so every time someone like me can afford to take a date to Spur, a new batch of delicious, ridiculous surprises await. CIENNA MADRID
Duuuuuuude. After a long night of Jell-O-shooting, brassiere-twirling, and mechanical-bull-riding in Pioneer Square, where can you possibly go for a nightcap? Two words: THE. ROCK. This small Northwest chain has a newish location in Lower Queen Anne (300 Roy St, 254-4900, therockwfp.com). Here, the wood-fired pizzas have names like Bad to the Bone, Slow Ride, and Wild Child, and the Rocktails (dude, ROCK-tails are COCK-tails that RRRRR-AAAWK!) have names like The Wango Tango, Dreamweaver, and Double Vision. What the two of you want is a Bucket. Buckets come in a small plastic bucket with a plastic shovel not unlike the ones you got at Walgreen's for your illegitimate kid last summer. The Basic Bucket ($9.99) is a sweet and fruity brassiere-twirler of a drink with five different kinds of rum, "tropical juices," and a large handful of maraschino cherries. There's also the Susie Q Skinny Bucket ($10.99): four different flavored vodkas and an entire zero-calorie Rockstar energy drink—it's like a house-made Four Loko! They let you keep the plastic bucket (and shovel) afterward, too. It's good for kids and/or burying your dignity the next morning. KELLY O
The dessert chimichanga is not for the faint of heart, the high of cholesterol, or the new of relationship. When ordering the dessert chimichanga at El Gallito (1700 20th Ave, 329-8088), be sure your date loves you, or at least cares about you enough not to leave you there, wallowing in caramel sauce.
The words "dessert" and "chimichanga" just don't slip off the tongue together, or make your tongue want to have anything to do with it, really, but don't be a snob. The other dessert items on the menu sound almost cute: churro (aww, like the noise a baby Pegasus would make!), flan (ooh, sounds like an elven city made of ivory!). But DESSERT CHIMICHANGA? You're going for it. Even if you didn't save room, you're piling that dessert 'changa right on top of your regular 'changa.
The classic dinner chimichanga is a deep-fried burrito that was probably invented in Arizona (there appears to be a Wiki-fight about who should actually take credit for the monstrosity). El Gallito's dessert chimichanga ($4.79) is simply described on the menu as "Cream-filled chimichanga," and the waitress fondly refers to it as a "chimi."
The presentation looks something like a strawberry-and-cream-cheese-filled Hot Pocket that's been quartered and then gussied up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and squirts of store-bought whipped cream and caramel sauce. It's delicious. Your date is having second thoughts and no one is getting laid, but you don't need all that. All you need is 'changa—you and 'changa for the long haul. EMILY NOKES
I was assigned to eat deconstructed s'mores because I declared deconstructed s'mores "bullshit." Dispatched to Ballard's Hot Cakes (5427 Ballard Ave NW, 420-3431, getyourhotcakes.com), where it turns out they serve constructed and deconstructed s'mores, I ordered both. ("A s'moresgasbord," I declared at the counter. The fellow taking orders graciously indulged the pun.) A regular s'more at Hot Cakes is $4 and consists of a quarter-inch-thick slice of chocolate ganache and a hand-toasted, house-made marshmallow in between two also house-made graham crackers. The warm guts squoosh out the edges; you should be ready to lick your fingers. (This is perfect for dates, as a test: If this person wastes gobs of rich chocolate by wiping it off on a napkin, do you really want to kiss them?) The deconstructed s'more that I'd seen here before was actually the s'mores version of the shop's famous molten chocolate cake—chocolate cake with a toasted marshmallow and single graham cracker on the side; you eat it with a spoon. At $7.50, it does seem like an overly fancy version of something usually cooked on a dirty stick in the forest. However, its decadence is undeniable: warm chocolate goo under a shell of cake, the marshmallow a perfect shade of burnt sienna, the substantial graham cracker almost the best part. I prefer old-school, but hey, if you're into postmodern desserts... ANNA MINARD
Every single one of my teeth is sweet. If I could, I would eat nothing but candy, because candy is the most magical of all foods. And marshmallows are the most magical of all candies (in a three-way tie with cotton candy and Lemonheads, of course). I love a Peep, and a Russell Stover marshmallow-based thing is okay when the opportunity strikes, but Mallow (shopmallow.com) takes the marshmallow to a whole new fancy-pants level. Mallow is a local operation that makes small batches of extra-special squares of spongy joy. The texture is soft and velvety, and the rectangular shape is nice, but it's the rotating flavors—ranging from the straightforward (toasted coconut, almond) to the complex (tangerine dream, Black Forest cake)—that make them ultimate. The best way to Mallow is to wake up before 4 p.m. on a Sunday (I know, uuugh) and head to the Fremont Sunday Market. The Mallow booth is usually run by the super-friendly owner, who started the company by making the very first batch as a surprise for his wife. See! Love! Marshmallow love! Treat your date to the tangy strawberry balsamic or the chocolate-dipped peanut butter cup, and stay tuned for the bouquet-themed flavors that are in the works (the rose and lavender prototypes were excellent—nice and subtle, without the perfumey aftertaste I live in fear of). You might owe your date a dental appointment, but they should rest assured that Mallows are soft enough to enjoy long after your pesky teeth dissolve! EMILY NOKES
Is the love of your life recovering from a recent wisdom-tooth removal? Or maybe they suffered a broken jaw in a drunken street fight and their mouth is wired closed for the next six weeks? It happens! And now you can share a cupcake-flavored milkshake! Last summer, Cupcake Royale, Seattle's beloved cupcake shop (various locations, cupcakeroyale.com), started serving ice cream, and any of their flavors can be made into a rich, cold, sippable shake (small $4.25, large $6.25). The flavors they've converted from adorable mini-cake to awesome creamy frozenness include red velvet (a buttermilk ice cream base with chunks of cream cheese and red velvet cake) and salted caramel (a sea-salt caramel base littered with hunks of salted caramel cupcake and a caramel swirl) (!!!). Even their seasonal Deathcake (a decadent flourless chocolate bomb available only until February 14) has an ice cream version, with swirls of salted fudge and chunks of Deathcake. They'll whip any of 'em up into a no-chewing-necessary delight. If you're worried about ice cream headaches, but still need something to wash those pain pills down with, try the new Deathcake mocha, a warm drink made with Stumptown espresso and a double dose of both chocolate syrup and chocolate ganache. A liquid diet never tasted so good. MEGAN SELING
The best goddamn thing about Arosa Cafe (3121 E Madison St and 1310 Madison St, arosacafe.com)—other than its affable owner, Hans Riechsteiner, and his talent for making the best freshly grated Swiss hot chocolate in town—is their plain, fresh-pressed Belgian Liege snack waffle ($2.60). What is a Belgian Liege snack waffle, you ask? Well. It is an entirely different beast than its fussy, oversize American waffle counterpart. There is no syrup, no whipped cream, no need for plates (unless you want whipped cream or strawberries or Nutella or peanut butter, in which case you can order all that delicious, fussy stuff). These waffles are smaller, sleeker, very European (SOCIALIST WAFFLE!). Hans's wife, Ellen, perfected the recipe over 20 years, and the end result is stunning in its simplicity: One fist-sized waffle, crunchy on the outside and not too sweet, but filled with pockets of sugar crystals that melt and caramelize as the waffle cooks. In other words, a perfectly sweet snack for a casual, sweet date. CIENNA MADRID
Each slice of cake at A Piece of Cake Bakery & Cafe in the International District (514 S King St, 623-8284, apieceofcakeseattle.com) costs roughly the same as a fancy latte ($3.25 to $5), but is SO MUCH less boring. Each slice is so perfect, it's as if they were constructed individually—baked in tiny triangle pans and frosted one by one—rather than cut from a larger cake (seriously, there is no indication they have been cut, unless they use some sort of diamond laser operated by fairy surgeons). Each slice is a variation on a squishy sponge-like base, a layer of flavored mousse, frosting that is actually whipped cream, and very thin gel topping with various decorations like chocolate shavings or fondant shards. The final touch is always a mysterious strip of clear plastic wrapped around the outside of the slice like a mid-'90s cake belt. Order the golden mango cheesecake if fruity is your thing. Get the triple chocolate mousse if your date has a "Chocolate Is Nature's Way of Making Up for Mondays" bumper sticker. To ensure intimacy, sit at the best seat in the place: the half-booth that faces a mirror pillar, so your only option is to sit side by side, making eye contact via the mirror while you get mousse on your face. Hot tip: Use the silver foil doily your cake is served on to fashion your date some free jewelry. EMILY NOKES
In the hall of eros-inducing phrases, "Edible Crotchless Gummy Panty for Him" ranks somewhere between "rolling brownout" and "grandma's fistula." So let us agree that the intended effect of the entire edible underwear genre—gummy panties for him and her, candy lingerie, fruit-leather thongs ("Strawberry Flavored, One Size Fits Most")—is not romance but comedy. Plus, candy! It's a cruel fact that adult metabolisms don't do so well with unlimited candy consumption, and a good method of portion control is to only eat candy in underwear form. Have your beloved wriggle into that candy-necklace G-string or posing pouch, then nibble your way to a hilarious sugar high. Then get up, brush your teeth so you don't get that thing where bacteria attacks the sugar on your teeth and makes your breath super gross, and get down to sweet, sexy business. (Edible underwear is available at all finer sex-toy emporiums and adult superstores.) DAVID SCHMADER
Both my husband and I are indecisive lunatics, and it isn't rare for us to spend half an evening ping-ponging back and forth with "What do you want to eat?" "I don't know, what do you want to eat?" before finally giving up and either going hungry or eating peanut butter straight from the jar. Don't fall into that trap! Both of you just shut up and go to Poppy on Capitol Hill (622 Broadway E, 324-1108, poppyseattle.com), where they'll serve you a sharable dessert thali that comes with six different delicious components ($16). The tray holds a selection of small sweet treats like mango-lime marshmallows, pâtés de fruit, and nutter-butter squares (which are literally my favorite thing in the world besides my cat), as well as two larger dishes, which you get to choose. Gah! Decisions! But don't worry. The seasonal menu currently includes a chocolate truffle torte, Tahitian vanilla panna cotta, and toasted-coconut rice-pudding ice cream, and everything's so goddamn delicious that even if you close your eyes and point, you'll end up happy. MEGAN SELING
Between the boom in medical marijuana "medibles" and the happy passage of the pot-legalizing I-502, there's never been a better time to get high by eating candy. In addition to being perfectly delicious, today's medical marijuana candy is admirably precise in its THC dosage. A popular item at one Pioneer Square medical marijuana dispensary is the Sweet 'n' Sour Gummy Bear, which tastes just like regular "sour gummy" products but with the finest misting of extra-virgin bong water and an extra sugar sprinkle. Best of all, each Sweet 'n' Sour Gummy Bear is individually dosed with 10 mg of THC, then sold in small bags, with portions left to individual users. Want to feel like you've had a nice glass of wine or two? Eat a couple gummies! Want to feel lightly baked? Eat three! Want to have a deep, rich stoner adventure? Eat four! Want to kiss the sky? Eat five! (Other available MMJ sweets: caramel corn, cookies, lollipops, and chocolate truffles.) DAVID SCHMADER
Conventional wisdom posits that desserts serve as decadent preludes to amorous encounters. Sometimes conventional wisdom bites. Let's see: You've just eaten a meal, you're probably full, and now you're going to consume another course, one of sugary/creamy excessiveness? So gluttony is a turn-on? A bloated stomach enhances your libido? Y'all are freaks.
Nevertheless, if you're dating a vegan and you crave dessert, you can avoid the usual ass-pain of trying to find something dairy-free by going to Plum Bistro (1429 12th Ave, 838-5333, plumbistro.com), which offers seven vegantastic treats for your picky partner. The seasonal tart ($7) this winter is a pear-and-almond delight served in a puddle of crème anglaise beautified with cranberry swirls. The tart's warm, juicy pear slices contrast with the delicate flakiness of the piecrust, and the almonds add a subtle nuttiness. This dish also has the advantage of not being grossly heavy (the last thing you want for later mattress-testing). The mocha bread pudding ($7) looks alluring in its pool of amaretto sauce, and it is as rich and creamy as a debutante (speculating here). Plum's vegan desserts prove that you can achieve gastronomical satisfaction without busting a gut. DAVE SEGAL
Suffice it to say that Southeast Asia has a very different idea of what constitutes dessert. Beans? Corn? Loads of salt? Absolutely. If you want to ditch an uptight date, take them to a deli in Little Saigon after dinner. Which desserts look weird but are actually super-good? Which ones look freaky and are, in fact, totally nasty? Here are some very short reviews by The Stranger's staff.
Spongy rice cakes: You dip these sweet, spongy rice blobs into a coconut-milk sauce that is SALTY. "Yes! Yes! Yes!" was the consensus.
Tricolor custard: Layered in green, brown, and white, this is basically just water- flavored gelatin. The brown layer had a weak coffee taste, but the extra-stiff texture was unfoodlike. "No to that," said one of our tasters.
Coconut milk and potatoes: The combination of coconut, tapioca, potatoes, and sweet potatoes didn't look like dessert—but it was a hit! Turns out, the sweet creaminess of the coconut melds perfectly with the sweet mealiness of the potato. YUM!
Beans and tapioca: "Beans are not dessert," one taster insisted. Most of us disagreed—they are a lovely dessert, provided that you're still hungry. A few dense bites is a small meal.
Mung bean and rice: While it was mostly mild in flavor, the sandy bean texture earned this one a "No, no, no."
Coconut covered worms: Owing to a lack of labeling and a language barrier at the Saigon Deli, I can't tell you what these gummy- worm-like things are actually made of. Multicolored and bedecked in flakes of coconut, they can be dipped in sesame seeds. Cute food, but the jury is still out on these guys. DOMINIC HOLDEN
Husky Deli has a rich history in West Seattle—it survived the Depression and World War II, hand-making ice cream since 1932, when the owner bought an ice cream machine to put in the shop window. Originally a grocery store called Edgewood Farms, they sold their signature ice-cream treat, the "Husky," to the public-school lunch program and let shop customers run a tab when money was tight in the 1930s. Now Husky Deli is worth the trip to the Junction (it's at 4721 California Ave SW, 937-2810) for (1) that ice cream, handmade before artisan ice cream was trendy, (2) their deli, which serves up awesome deli sandwiches and sides and bag lunches, and (3) their aisles of strange imported candy from Europe. I love it! Wander around the little tables of strange treats, with their funny names and European wrappers, and buy a passel for someone you like. (But don't forget to try that ice cream!) ANNA MINARD
Joe's Peppermint Patty
Chocolatier Joe’s Chocolates has finally stepped in to correct the universal shame of sweet tooths—the York Peppermint Pattie. In place of watery goo and waxy chocolate, Joe’s uses a beefy disk of sharp, sugary peppermint covered in a thick layer of chocolate. Each hockey-puck-sized treat is then wrapped in pretty foil (silver for dark chocolate, red for milk) and shipped to shops like Caffe Vita (75 cents), where they provide the perfect antidote to coffee breath. CIENNA MADRID
Ritter Sport Butter Biscuit
Maybe you’ve never eaten one because of the vague threat of something healthy or exercise-based in the weird European name, but the Ritter Sport Butter Biscuit ($2.79 at Trader Joe’s, Bartell, and other retailers) is the best candy bar in the world. The milk chocolate is creamy and sweet, and the shortbread cookie hidden away inside the chocolate is crunchy without being too hard, buttery without being too sweet, and perfectly complementary to the chocolate. To hell with chocolate and peanut butter; if I could choose only one candy to eat for the rest of my life, you would not hear a moment’s hesitation before the (admittedly clumsy) words “Ritter Sport Butter Biscuit” escaped my lips. PAUL CONSTANT
Chimes Ginger Chews
Chimes Ginger Chews are sweet, chewy, spicy ginger candies that come individually wrapped in an adorable little metal tin. They come in original, mango, and orange flavors, and, sure, they might look like a sophisticated treat, intended for the occasional indulgence, but they’re so addictive, you could easily down a handful in less than 10 minutes. Thankfully, they also come in five-ounce bags, so you’re not left with dozens of tins littering the floor as evidence of your lack of willpower. MEGAN SELING