Tasty Tortes and Other Just Desserts

November 1, 2009

Virginia Nicholson, editor

Seattle is a great dessert town.  There is no shortage of excellent options to indulge one’s sweet tooth.  Alas, we do not have the time, calorie allowance or space in this column to touch on all of them.  But we will try to provide you some input on new places to stop by to pick up some goodies for an upcoming board meeting, family affair or bake sale.

Off the Egg-Beaten Path

A Midwest transplant raised on meat, potatoes, Spam and Velveeta, I first entered Chaco Canyon Organic Café, 4757 12th Ave NE, Seattle, 206-522-6966 stuttering and completely uncertain, drug in by my recently-turned-raw friend who knowledgeably talked about hemp seed and green smoothies with the friendly staff.

Having since tried the raw raspberry torte, I am a regular visitor.  A former raspberry hater, I am completely addicted to the creamy, sweet-but-tart (and totally seedless) treat with nut and coconut crust, topped with half a hazelnut.  The experience has me begging to try the raw carrot cake.  I may willingly go vegan if I can always have food this satiating (just don’t tell my dad).

Classic Seattle Desserts

If you are anything like me, you would rather not bake for holiday family affairs and fall ill at the suggestion of bringing dessert, because all you can think of is how anything you make could not possibly live up to a Tom Douglas triple coconut cream pie.  You do not have to eat at Dahlia Lounge or Lola to enjoy this classic Tom Douglas dessert.  You can get it at the Dahlia Bakery, 2001 Fourth Ave, Seattle, 206-441-4540.

It comes in several sizes for your convenience (and can help you ease your caloric intake conscience), along with an assortment of other rich and well-worth-tasting desserts.  It is a good idea to reserve your triple coconut cream pie in advance if you are planning on taking it with you for the holidays.

While you are picking up your pie, treat yourself to a run ball tart – smooth, rich chocolate with a brief hint of rum.  (Holiday survival tip: If you need a pick-me-up in the middle of holiday errands, try a cup of Tom’s tasty tomato soup, a great and energy-restoring treat).

Some of us are not fans of sweets in the morning and roll our eyes when breakfast meetings come with nothing but donuts or sweet scones.  For a good selection of sweet and savory baked goods for a morning meeting, we recommend grabbing little pink boxes tied up with pieces of white rope from Macrina, 2408 First Ave, Seattle, 206-448-4032 (with other locations throughout the region).  The Parmesan rosemary ham biscuit and the ham and cheese dumplings will make any savory eater satisfied, and Budapest or lemon sour cherry coffeecake will certainly satisfy the sweet teeth around your conference room table.

Even a brief survey of dessert options in Seattle would not be complete without acknowledging B&O Espresso, 204 Belmont Ave. East, Seattle, 206-322-5028, as one of the Seattle pioneers in the field.  Operating on the west slope of Capitol Hill for more than 30 years, open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner or later, the B&O is an institution.  The shabby-chic décor is comforting in its own right.  The selection of cakes and other desserts includes something to please anyone, but do not forget to try the beverages.  One of our favorites is the yogi chai milkshake.

Ubiquitous and Easy

There are a couple of chains with a large selection of baked desserts that will make it easy for you to appear to be a hero at your next meeting.  At office meetings, the person who orders or, even better, brings the cookies is the star.  At Specialty’s, 1023 Third Ave, Seattle, 206-264-0882 (with other locations throughout the region), there is a good selection of hearty cookies that are so fresh they may be warm.

If peanut-butter cookies are your weakness, you may want to avoid the temptation.  The selection includes both milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate, as well as chocolate with peanut butter.  Longstanding favorites – snickerdoodle and ginger molasses – also are great treats.  Additionally, you can sign up for email alerts for when a new batch of cookies leaves the oven.

For the best cupcakes, we like Organic To Go.  The vanilla and chocolate cupcakes are rich and creamy and tempting to those who claim not to like cupcakes.  Check out their website or reach them at 800-304-4550.  For those with a traditional love for the cupped cake, Trophy Cupcakes, 1815 N 45th St, Ste. 209, Seattle, 206-632-7020 (with other locations throughout the region), cannot be beat.  The pineapple-upside-down cupcakes are remarkable.  With a vanilla butter cake and a layer of caramelized pineapple at the bottom, these cupcakes are topped with brown-sugar butter cream and garnished with a cherry.

No one can forget Cupcake Royale, 2052 NW Market St, Seattle, 206-782-9557 (with other locations throughout the region), especially at this time of the year.  From now until November 26, Cupcake Royale is having its Fifth Annual Cupcake Harvest Festival, where specialty cupcakes are made with fresh ingredients from local farms.  Pick up unique cupcakes like the caramel-apple cupcake, which is made with honey crisp apples from Tiny’s Organic Farm and apple butter from Woodring Farm, and topped with caramel frosting.  No November would be complete without grabbing a pumpkin-maple cupcake made with organic pumpkin from Stahlbush Island Farm, or a classic carrot-walnut cupcake made with Ralph’s Organics carrots and delightful cream-cheese topping.  Order online for cupcake pickup or delivery.

And For a Nightcap…

For those who enjoy chocolate with a tinge of double-vision, check out Dilettante Mocha Martini Bar on Broadway, 528 Broadway Ave., Seattle, 206-329-6463 (with other locations throughout the region).  The Broadway location delivers with a full menu of beautifully artistic desserts (each presented whole in the display case with nary a slice missing), as well as chocolate martinis.  Three of us caravanned to Broadway from the office on a Saturday night – yes, we spend too much time together – and were delighted with what we found.

In addition to appreciating the aesthetics of dark-chocolate painted walls and baroque chandeliers in the bar, the signature Ephemere martini was unexpectedly delicious: perfectly shaken, arriving with small shards of floating ice, tasting like a grown-up milkshake, substituting vodka for ice cream.  Who knew the taste of dark chocolate would only be enhanced with the addition of vodka?  Served with a cocoa-dusted rim, these martinis are dangerous – and unexpectedly refreshing – in every way.  Finishing the first, one dreams of a second.  Runner-up goes to the sea salt caramel martini, sure to make your mouth water.  From now on, we are true believers in drinking our calories.

Contact Virginia Nicholson with comments or for more information at vnicholson@schwabe.com.

Originally published in the November 2009 issue of the King County Bar Bulletin. Reprinted with permission of the King County Bar Association.

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