When dinner ends, a fork in the road is reached by restaurant patrons. Do I pay the check and escape with my dignity intact, or do I order a gooey, sinful dessert?
Some manage to avoid the latter option, citing the maxim "a minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips." But for many others, the siren call of chocolate mousse, cheesecake or tiramisu is simply too bewitching to ignore.
Restaurants tend to focus on entrées, and can be somewhat limited in their range of desserts as a result. This leaves an opening for small businesses to specialize in sweets, and many currently offer unique and innovative takes on after-dinner indulgences.
What follows is a list of 10 small businesses which offer something a little more adventurous than a scoop of ice cream. Some are more successful than others, and some are more creative than others, but what they all have in common is sinfully delicious, delectable offerings for those times when willpower abandons you.
Read ahead to see 10 small businesses offering outrageous and delectable desserts.
By Daniel Bukszpan
Posted 14 June 2013
Once, long ago, the idea of raw cookie dough as an ice cream ingredient elicited arched eyebrows and groans of disgust from American consumers. But today, it's mainstream, and the New York City business Je and Jo has made it the primary attraction of its ice cream.
The company has as many varieties of cookie dough as ice cream, including ginger lime shortbread, hazelnut shortbread, snickerdoodle and spicy chocolate. All items are handmade from scratch, using only locally sourced ingredients.
Angel Food is a small boutique bakery and coffee shop in Minneapolis. Located at street level above the basement restaurant Hell's Kitchen, it makes all of its concoctions from scratch, right before the eyes of the seven customers lucky enough to get a seat at the pastry finishing table.
Those who don't get to watch the action must simply console themselves with the bakery's goods. These include a wide assortment of cupcakes, donuts, cakes, croissants, scones, Danishes and coffee from local roasters.
The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop began in 2009 as the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck. The truck still patrols Manhattan, dispensing ice cream with such unusual toppings as wasabi pea dust, olive oil and sea salt, but in 2011 it became successful enough to open two brick-and-mortar shops.
Serving such concoctions as "Salty Pimp," "Mexican Affo'gay'to" and "Bea Arthur," the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop has been cited in New York Magazine, "Zagat Food Lover's Guide" and The Village Voice. And although you don't have to have a same-sex partner to eat its ice cream, you will be gay for the taste of it.
Kristy Greenwood was a baker at the Denver Bread Company when she was diagnosed with cancer in 2006. She's in remission now, but the diagnosis gave her the wake-up call to start the cookie business that she runs to this day, Victory, Love and Cookies.
Based in Denver, the company offers dozens of unique takes on the cookie. These include Booty Bar, which is made with dulce de leche, Rice Krispies and Nutella; Diablo, which is made with bittersweet chocolate, cayenne pepper and cinnamon; and Strawberry Margarita, which includes strawberries, lime zest, tequila and triple sec.
Brigadeiro is a traditional Brazilian dessert made from chocolate, butter and condensed milk. In 2011, native Brazilians Paula Barbosa and Christina Bhan brought this sinful treat to the Northern Hemisphere when they founded My Sweet Brigadeiro in New York City.
All items are handmade to order, and use only organic ingredients. Flavors include peanut honey, pumpkin pie and cinnamon pecan, and according to the company's website, its products have been ravenously consumed by such celebrities as Al Pacino, Diane Von Furstenberg, Halle Berry and Sofia Vergara.
The Confectional in Seattle is a boutique bakery focusing on three things—cheesecake, cheesecake truffles and more cheesecake. It uses Maria biscuits for crust and eggs from cage-free hens because, as the company website says, "happy hens make delightful cheesecake." Duly noted.
Items are available in such flavors as caramel, peanut butter and chocolate and the intimidating-sounding quadruple chocolate. But the most attention-getting item is the cheesecake truffle, only available at the store. "We take our cheesecake batter, bake it up, cool it down, roll it into balls and enrobe it in rich Guittard dark chocolate," the website says.
Ample Hills Creamery is an ice cream shop in Brooklyn, N.Y., founded by writer Brian Smith. Before getting sold out of a full-fledged storefront, the ice cream was sold out of a cart in Prospect Park during outdoor summer concerts, by none other than Smith himself.
Dispensing unusual flavors like Maple Bacon, Salted Crack Caramel and Stout 'n' Pretzels, the product became popular enough to justify a permanent piece of real estate. Now neighborhood residents and visitors alike can walk in and order such flavors as cotton candy, "Ooey Gooey Butter Cake" and even such classics as vanilla bean.
Bang Candy Company is located in Nashville, Tenn., and serves as both an eat-in café and a mail-order service. The café serves Paninis, salads and what the website refers to as "other goodies," but the mail-order shop is all about sweets.
The focus is on marshmallows made in unexpected flavors, such as blackcurrant absinthe, orange ginger cinnamon and toasted coconut, but during the summer these goodies can't survive the shipping process without melting, and are suspended until September. That leaves salted caramels and boozy caramels, which are made with Belle Meade Bourbon or Whisper Creek Tennessee Sipping Cream.
New York City's Spot Dessert Bar bills itself as "home to a whole new world of taste" on its website. It boasts a chocolate green tea lava cake that it contends is the best in all the Big Apple.
Spot uses Asian ingredients that infuse its desserts with "innovative flavors and unexpected benefits in every bite." These include green tea, the Japanese pumpkin kabocha and the East Asian citrus fruit yuzu.
The Pie Hole is a family run café in Los Angeles. According to its website, it serves "pie by the slice, individual savory pies and delicious coffee," all handmade from scratch and using locally sourced ingredients.
It features such classics as double-crust apple pie and banana cream pie by the slice, and also sells whole rhubarb and lemon meringue pies. It even offers such savory specialties as chicken and cornbread pot pie and a macaroni and cheese pie.
When Marcus Lemonis isn't running his multibillion-dollar company, Camping World, he goes on the hunt for struggling businesses that are desperate for cash and ripe for a deal. In the past 10 years, he's successfully turned around more than 100 companies. Now he's bringing those skills to CNBC and doing something no one has ever done on TV before … he's putting over $2 million of his own money on the line. In each episode, Lemonis makes an offer that's impossible to refuse; his cash for a piece of the business and a percentage of the profits. And once inside these companies, he'll do almost anything to save the business and make himself a profit; even if it means firing the president, promoting the secretary or doing the work himself.