Desserts I Dream About
I've always had a sweet tooth. Chocolate, caramel, cake, pastries, fruit. Dessert is my favorite meal, and sugar is my love language. I don't tend to eat sweets very often because they aren't so good for you in large and frequent doses, but when I do indulge it can be a transcendental experience. I can trace my life through memorable desserts, whether it's going to New Seasons late at night with my mom to split a slice of Bavarian Cream Banana Cake or the cold strawberry soup I had on a cruise ship 12 years ago. Like how many people associate smells with memories, these desserts remind of me of where I was when I had them and of how I felt at the time. Each one has a story, and the decadence of the dessert along with the nostalgia of the story makes these sweet treats special.
This might not be the best dessert to start with since I don't have a particular story behind it. It's just a really dang good dessert. That's all.
When I first went to Cacao with my mom I was expecting regular hot chocolate, which is perfectly fine as long as there's whipped cream thank you very much. While the cacao drinking chocolate doesn't come with whipped cream it is absolutely nothing like hot chocolate. It's like how monkeys and humans share ninety-whatever percent of their DNA: they are so similar and yet one invented computers while the other throws poop. The only bad part about the drinking chocolate is that you can never drink hot chocolate again without being a little disappointed.
I remember the day I had this: it was August 26th of 2017. We had spent the day at the Oregon State Fair for my mom's birthday, an annual family tradition, and were hosting my parent's friend Bill from out of town. We decided to go to a nice place for dinner to celebrate, and after much research found ourselves at the Ringside Fish House in downtown Portland.
My mom and I both ordered the 'Theater 3-course Special' (highly recommend), because despite a pot de creme not being the dessert we would choose the rest of the meal was just what we wanted, and at a great price (I had my eye on the Spice Almond Orange Cake for dessert, but a pot de creme would do). The meal was excellent, but we didn't have high expectations for the desserts we had settled for. When the Milk Chocolate Pot de Creme (the current menu states it's a Malted Vanilla, but I know ours were Milk Chocolate) arrived, we dug in. And then we died and went to heaven. This Pot de Creme was silky, rich, the perfect texture and flavor. Perhaps it was because we weren't expecting it, or perhaps it's because Ringside uses actual unicorn hair in their desserts. But it was unquestionably the best dessert I've ever had. And lucky for me, if there's anyone who appreciates a great dessert like I do, it's my mom. We reveled in the experience, passing our bowls around for others to try, and bringing the conversation to a jolting halt for the rest of the meal.
I haven't been back since, and cannot vouch for the Vanilla Malt flavor (yet). But if you're looking for something otherworldly, this is your place.
I'm fuzzy on when this memory is from, but I remember as a teenager driving to the New Seasons in Sellwood late at night with my mom just to share this Bavarian Cream Banana Cake. I'll admit I'm usually more of a chocolate-dessert person than a fruit-dessert person (as you can tell by this list), but this cake is divine. It's light and fluffy, spongy, and overwhelmed with thick whipped cream. This cake reminds me that there are days that are really rough, that you get to the end of and don't want but need something to turn it around. It's a reminder that it's ok to indulge late at night, to want something sweet and cloud-like, to call ahead and make sure they still have some. Though not "decadent" this cake represents indulgence to me, and being kind to yourself.
Considering this is the only thing on the dessert menu at Sky High Brewing, you wouldn't expect it to be that great. A dessert to satiate your wailing toddler, or keep you awake later in the night. But this brownie is out of this world. It's huge, warm, and deeply chocolatey. It's fudgy and thick, the kind that sticks to the roof of your mouth, and is just as salty as it is sweet. For when you want -- no, need -- something deeply chocolate to cure what ails.
I shared this with a friend the day after a particularly bad day. I don't remember what had gone wrong, but I'm assuming it had something to do with a boy or a particularly stressful test. Whatever it was, I was in tears and my friend said "Let's talk about it over a brownie". While the talking obviously helped more than the brownie, this brownie was exactly what I needed at that moment: something filling and rich, thick and full of life. I'll always remember the kindness my friend showed me that day, and know where to take someone when they've had a bad day.
Interzone Honey Cardamom Latte
We met freshman year in the Honors College Dorm, hanging out in the same common-area studying for classes. Liz was also a lady in engineering, and we quickly discovered we had common interests and common friends. After moving out of the dorms it became harder and harder to make time to hang out, though, so we started scheduling coffee dates at the local coffee shop Interzone to discuss books, jobs, hikes, and just catch up. I definitely remember the creamy, sweet, spicy drink, but more than that remember lovely conversations with my sweet and spicy friend.
The one at The Grove, obviously. Sprinkles Cupcakes are oversized but perfectly proportioned combinations of thick, sweet icing and moist, soft cake (though the mini sized ones are perfect). I first heard of Sprinkles watching the legendary show Cupcake Wars, where Sprinkles founder Candice Nelson (I didn't even need to google her name) was a judge. I was skeptical that any cupcake could really be so special -- typically they were too sweet even for my taste, and had either too much or not enough icing. When we first visited Sprinkles on a trip to LA I realized how wrong I was. It was a revelation. I remember my mom and I sitting by the dancing fountain, closing our eyes and savoring the delicious cakes. I felt almost like a movie star, watching all the fashionable people of LA walk by while eating food I had only ever seen on TV. It was magically, and going back always reminds me of the show and that first bite of an amazing cupcake.