The last several years have seen a slew of standalone cupcake shops, bespoke chocolate purveyors and artisanal frozen banana stands turn dessert into a meal of its own. No longer a voluntary coda subject to how sickeningly stuffed you feel after your main course, sweets, pastries and custards now command center stage. Here are a few of the best.
1 Coconut Cake at Commerce
The nostalgic yellow Birthday Cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles gives it some competition, but the Coconut Cake at Commerce, which is light and not-too-sweet despite resembling a brick in shape and size, has earned accolades that line the entrance vestibule to this stylish Village clubhouse.
2 Banana Cream Pie at The Dutch
Kierin Baldwin's throwback pies have drawn as much attention as chef Luke Ostrom's hearty mains at this Soho scenester magnet. The banana cream is a favorite, even if the pretty young things that flock here might go dutch on it a few times over for fear of expanding their waistlines.
3 Glazed Cake Doughnut at Doughnut Plant
There are more whimsical concoctions--try the Tres Leches--on the menu at this Lower East Side favorite that now has a satellite at the Ace Hotel. But in our opinion there's no better showcase for the back-to-basics sturdy texture of these doughnuts than the straightforward glaze variety.
4 Blackberry Eton Mess Fool at Peels
This traditional British dessert--named after a staple sweet at the country's most prestigious boarding school--might seem an odd fit at this Southern-leaning restaurant from tastemaker Taavo Somer (Freemans, Isa, The Rusty Knot). But we can think of few stronger arguments for across-the-pond culinary synergy than a meal of fried chicken topped off by the Eton Mess's medley of crunchy meringue, yogurt mousse and mint ice cream.
5 Frrrozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity 3
No, you're not stumbling upon some top gastronomic secret. Yes, you'll have to vie for a table with a tour bus or two worth of out of town visitors. Still, this blend of 14 cocoas can claim to be the granddaddy of NYC dessert indulgences, and is particularly worth a try if you've got kids or grandkids in tow.