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5 Valentine's Day-Worthy Desserts

February 13 2013 - 9:01 AM

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty sick of those conversation hearts on Valentine’s Day. They just don’t do this sweets-centric holiday justice. The best Valentine’s Day treats are often the most unexpected, and you definitely won’t find them in your local grocery store. Here are a few of our favorite local picks to get you prepared for February 14th.

1. Basque Cake, The Bristol

The menu description for the basque cake sounds cryptic, strange and delicious…apple confit, candied cinnamon walnuts, cider sabayon. When the waiter tells you it’s the best thing on the menu and you must order it, believe him. And do it before pastry chef Amanda Rockman leaves The Bristol and Balena next week. The basque cake is unlike any other cake I’ve ever had. The outside is crunchy and buttery, like a freshly baked cookie, while the inside remains soft, custard-like and amazingly sweet. Don’t try to understand what it is. Just order it.

2. Fat Elvis Pie, Hoosier Mama Pie      

Pie is the ultimate winter dessert. It’s a serious dessert. And you can’t get a serious slice of pie anywhere better than Hoosier Mama Pies. The flavor choices are endless, but you have to try the Fat Elvis. It’s an incredible chocolate, peanut butter and banana combination with salty pretzel crust. I’d have a slice Valentine’s Day, or any other day of the year for that matter.

3. Valentine’s Day-Themed Cookies & Cupcakes, Sweet Mandy B’s

We all know about the sugary sweet Sprinkles cupcakes and creatively filled Molly’s. But the real deal in Lincoln Park is Sweet Mandy B’s. The bakery offers a number of Valentine’s treats decorated just for the holiday, from hugs and kisses cookies, to sugar cookies smothered in pink vanilla buttercream, to their incredible red velvet cupcakes. If you’re looking for something extra special you can order one of their jumbo cupcakes in the flavor of your choice.

4. Pretzel Chocolate Chunk Cookie, Southport Grocery & Cafe

Check out Southport Grocery for the out-of-this-world bread pudding pancakes and inventive sandwiches. Return for the baked goods. When you’re paying at the counter, perfectly frosted cupcakes, buttery scones and crazy cookies. Pretzel chocolate chunk? How can you resist? It’s crunchy, salty, sweet and addictive all in one bite – just look at that picture above. This is no small cookie so buy it for your sweetheart, and hopefully they’ll share.

5. Tiramisu, Quartino

If you don’t yet have a Valentine’s Day dinner reservation, good luck to you. But even if you don’t have plans for dinner, stop by Quartino after hours for a few glasses of wine and a classic Italian dessert. You can scour the restaurant’s dessert menu all you want, but you won’t find any mention of the house-made tiramisu. If you ask special for it, you might just get lucky. The restaurant generally only makes one batch per day, so that means it’s authentic, fresh and homemade.

–Marly Schuman