To uncover the seven iconic desserts Seattle couldn’t survive without, our sweet-toothed sugar squad dug into scores of scrumptious samples—scouring local eateries for the very best in all that’s frosted, frozen, and chocolate-coated. Warning: their rich, gooey findings are guaranteed to make mouths water and stomachs rumble.

Chocolate Madeleines with Dark Chocolate Sauce
Johnathan Sundstrom, Lark
Lark owner and Chef Johnathan Sundstrom makes each batch of his majorly moist mini cookies to order—guests receive 30, alongside a decadent dipping sauce. Anyone who has dredged one of his deep, dark minis through the drippy ganache will agree: The cocoa-flavored cuties are the only way to end a meal at Sundstrom’s seasonally focused Cap Hill eatery.
Secret IngredientA pinch of salt in the sauce adds a note of savory to this sweet.

Bananas Foster
El Gaucho
Bananas Foster puts the “dram” in dramatic at El Gaucho, the showiest restaurant in town. Rum, then crème de banane are splashed on tableside to lick up flames around the fruit, then mellowed by butter and brown sugar. Finally, a crown of vanilla ice cream. And a sigh. 
Secret Ingredient Lemon juice.

 

Amaretto Bread Pudding
Susan Kaplan, Boat Street Café
A custardy confection is studded with golden raisins, its crags and valleys suffused with Amaretto, then dressed with rum butter cream sauce. Café founder Susan Kaplan stumbled on the formula by accident, when she didn’t have the ingredients for Amaretto mousse. 
Secret Ingredient Plain old crusty French bread. (Tasting it, you’d swear it was brioche.)

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Time to eat our feelings.

Red Velvet Cake
Laurie and Leslie Coaston, Kingfish Café
Three tiers of divine inspiration, stacked in a slice as big as a dinner plate and red as your beating heart. Kingfish Café sister-owners Laurie and Leslie Coaston memorialize their family’s history by re-creating this moist, tri-storied Southern classic—kissed with chocolate, bound with thick buttercream frosting, topped with caramel-­drizzled whipped cream, then embellished with fanned strawberries. One slice will feed four bellies—and innumerable fantasies. 
Secret Ingredient Red food coloring. (Nope, it’s not beet juice.)

 

 

 

El Diablo
Bennie Sata, Tango
Tango debuted this classic before anyone was putting cayenne in chocolate, and from the city’s first bite it swooned clean away. Thus seasoned, the bittersweet chocolate mousse takes on the qualities of a deep black mole—feisty and intense when contrasted with its nest of burnt meringue, its drizzle of caramel, and its crunchy complement of toasted almonds. 
Secret Ingredient Tequila in the caramel sauce, to subdue the sweetness.

 

 

Tom’s Famous Triple Coconut Cream Pie
Tom Douglas, The Dahlia Lounge and Dahlia Bakery
It’s not on the menu at every Tom Douglas restaurant, but—don’t tell anyone—this Dahlia stunner is available at all of them. “Everyone asks for it,” marvels Douglas. The Dahlia Bakery churns out 250 of these pies a week, not to mention the minis and bite-sized versions. 
Secret IngredientCoconut in the crust.

 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich
Toby Matasar, Eats Market Café
It’s every kid’s summertime favorite, crafted to a connoisseur’s standards. Eats co-owner and pastry chef Toby Matasar takes one dessert-plate-sized cookie, brown-sugar-chewy without any pesky crumble, packs on a good half of an inch worth of her own fathoms-deep vanilla bean ice cream, tops it with another cookie, then presents it halved on a plate with a ramekin of chocolate dipping sauce. You could share it. But you won’t.
Secret Ingredient “Love,” insists co-owner and pastry chef Toby Matasar. Well, love and Callebaut chocolate pistoles.

This article appeared in the March 2009 issue of Seattle Met Magazine.