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Ask the Chefs: What's Your Favorite Holiday Dessert?

JBF Editors

December 16, 2014

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crème caramel

It’s no secret that chefs tend to have a sweet tooth. Here, some of our 2014 regional Best Chef award winners share their all-time favorite desserts, and where to get them. From Paris to Boston, we’ve got your cravings covered.

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Justin Aprahamian / Sanford, Milwaukee

One of my favorite desserts is the simplest: my grandfather always ate brick cheese and watermelon for dessert. The refreshing, sweet melon and the salty cheese is an enduring taste memory.

Dave Beran / Next, Chicago

It’s a tie. Jordan Kahn did a carrot, yogurt, and violet dessert at Red Medicine in Los Angeles that was incredible. Each bite brought more to life. And last year at Alex Stupak’s Push Project, Lauren Resler made a traditional apple pie. It was one of the most perfect pies I have ever had: flaky crust, delicious, not too sweet, and the filling had great structure. I could eat a slice of it for breakfast every day.

Jamie Bissonnette / Coppa, Boston

I love carrot cake: the cake, the frosting, the whole combination. It’s always been my favorite. At Flour Bakery + Cafe in Boston, chef Joanne Chang makes a killer carrot cake. 

April Bloomfield / The Spotted Pig, NYC

My favorite dessert is crème caramel. I like it because it’s cold, refreshing, creamy, silky, and bittersweet. We make one at the Spotted Pig that’s great—we use condensed milk which adds a special richness.  I also love the one from Racine, a great little French spot in London.

Ashley Christensen / Poole’s Downtown Diner, Raleigh, NC

I’m a sucker for coconut cream pie. When we make coconut cream pie at Poole’s, we enrich the custard with good coconut milk and we make a shortbread crust with macadamia nuts. It’s on my “last meal” list. As much as I love the Poole’s version (which we’ve adapted from my childhood memories), the original inspiration will always be that which finds its home in the old-school diners and side-of-the-highway greasy spoons.

Daniel Patterson / Coi, San Francisco

At home it’s usually fresh fruit or a piece of good chocolate. From restaurants, three memorable and delicious desserts are: tomate confite aux douze saveurs at l’Arpège (Alain Passard), plum and potato at Noma (Rosio Sanchez), and warm frais de bois with crème fraîche ice cream at Louis VX (Alain Ducasse).

Naomi Pomeroy / Beast, Portland, OR

My favorite dessert is the caramel copetta with marshmallow sauce and Spanish peanuts from Nancy Silverton’s Pizzeria Mozza. It’s like a super-delicious high-end Peanut Buster Parfait from Dairy Queen!

Ryan Prewitt / Pêche Seafood Grill, New Orleans

I am completely in love with caramel cakes. They are usually too sweet and sometimes really cheap tasting, but I still love them. Black coffee or bourbon can help balance this sweetness out. When I got married, my wife and I bought a bunch of caramel cakes from the Montgomery, Alabama, farmers’ market to use as our wedding cake. We put one on the menu at Pêche about six months ago, and it quickly became one of our best-selling desserts. I guess that means I’m not alone.

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