Sweet City

No place in America makes (or eats) dessert like we do. A guide to Philly’s sugar obsession

Waiters, you don’t even need to ask: Of course you can tempt us with dessert. The delicious truth is that Philadelphians indulge in dessert more than diners anywhere else in the ­country — except New York. Fifty-nine percent of us will almost always say yes to an heirloom apple tart, a ­coffee-spiked sundae or a generous slice of coconut cream pound cake. The city’s on a sugar high, from the indulgent sweets buffets at the Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons, to the all-­dessert arrays at Bella Vista café Dessert and Atlantic City’s Brûlée, to Le Bec-Fin’s ultimate dessert display. (Drool over page 129.) Even the smallest BYOBs are making room for pastry chefs in their miniature kitchens.

Join the rush. We’ve found the region’s top 20 bakeries, the most creative sugar chefs, and — dozens and dozens of batches later — our favorite cookie recipe.

Classic Confections

Local pastry chefs are trying something new — updating the old standards

 Doughnuts   These heartier versions of hole-less doughnuts get their sweetness from butterscotch sauce and creamy gelato. “I added cold ice cream to warm doughnuts, because contrast in desserts is always a great thing.”
—Jemal Edwards, Brûlée

Tapioca pudding   Refreshing coconut blends with the soft, creamy consistency of classic tapioca pudding and gets some crunch from guava oatmeal bars. “We’re taking comfort food and putting a Cuban twist on it.”
—Kate Honeyman, Alma de Cuba

Bread pudding
Liquor-infused cherries, green apples and sweet vanilla ice cream add depth to moist bread pudding. “We change the ingredients seasonally but always have bread pudding, because it’s a best-seller.”
—Evan Turney, Valanni