Top 5 decadent dessert destinations
Some travellers are guided by their curiosity, eager to expand their cultural awareness, learn new languages and live by the “different postcode; different rules” motto. Others are spurred on by a sense of adventure, scaling to the greatest natural heights and most likely base-jumping off them. Yet others are lead by hunger. Not in the metaphorical sense, I mean a growling, gnawing give-me-a-cupcake-or-I-will-take-you-down kind of hunger.
If you have an insatiable appetite for travel and/or delicious edible things, sink your sweet tooth into these destinations renowned for their after-dinner awesomeness. These sucrose-soaked locales are listed in no particular order, just one giant sugary web like the inside of a cotton-candy machine. I would like to live in there.
The city that brought us cream-heavy cheesecake, dedicated peanut butter cafes and red velvet cupcakes worth lining up around the block for has recently added a bouncing bundle of baked wonder to its name: the cronut. This doughnut/croissant lovechild is the latest sensation to rock the already sugar-saturated dessert scene in NYC, which I believe stands for Notoriously Yummy Cake-capital. Wander through the burroughs and you will inevitably come across a kosher Jewish bakery or twelve, stocked with tongue-twisting tempters like rugelach, halvah and, the solution to world peace, the black and white cookie. Always look to the cookie.
I say Belgian, you say waffle. BELGIAN! (waffle!) BELGIAN! (waffle!). That was fun. Snuggled between the French and the Dutch and rubbing up against the Germans, Belgium has an interesting dessert repertoire. The “Belgian waffle” is really just an overarching term: Brussels does its own rectangular thang, while Liege prefers to add some crunch with caramelised sugar chunks. Authentic “gaufres” (waffles) are sprinkled with psychedelic Belgium fairy dust confectioner’s sugar, but toppings in the touristy zones can include sour cherries, balloons of whipped cream and slathers of syrup. Also, Belgian chocolate. #CleanEating
Parisians generally start the day off with pain au chocolat, brioche or a croissant. That’s how they START the day, so the bar is set pretty high from the get-go. After you’ve awakened your palate with pastry, move up the ranks to crepes, soufflé, profiteroles (choux a la crème), citron tarts – take a breather, go for a walk, buy some “Thanksgiving pants” – madeleines, petit fours, cakes as impressive as Marie Antoinette’s hair and, of course, macarons. If you’re saying “I tried macarons at McCafe once”, then NO. Just no. Go to Laduree and don’t come back until you’ve tasted the rainbow: rose petal, orange blossom, yuzu ginger and strawberry marshmallow included.
Some may say Austria is the more ‘country-bumpkin version of Germany’, but those people should eat their words and then a giant slab of apple strudel before making such wild accusations. We don’t hear enough about Germany’s southern sister, in my opinion. But back to apple strudel (or “apfelstrudel” to use correct terminology), you can’t go wrong with flaky layers of thin pastry embracing the warmth of apples. The Viennese are also partial to a bit of “mess” or Kaiserschmarrn, which is kind of like a deconstructed pancake where shredded batter is mixed with the likes of almonds and jam. Must be served with a view of the Alps in the background and the faint sound of yodelling.
How could I not mention the residence of His Royal Highness, the Dark Lord of Patisserie, Adriano Zumbo; a man who defies gravity with his catastrophic croquembouche? Sydney’s CBD and surrounding pockets are dotted with dedicated dessert bars and multicultural bakeries, so you can develop global cavities in just one city! Peter Gilmore’s notorious Snow Egg never fails to impress at Quay, but for a sweet treat easier on the hip pocket (but not the waistline) D’ough at Newtown serves up a combusting delight called the Nutella Bomb. The name says it all. Also, regardless of what the kiwis say, we all know that Pavlova is an Aussie institution, not to mention lamingtons and Tim Tams. You’re welcome, world.
Honourable mention goes to:
Barcelona for churros, flan and the winning chilli-chocolate combo; Rome for gelato, cannolis and slightly intoxicating tiramisu; and Tokyo for green-tea flavoured, custard-filled everything. Compiling this catalogue may be the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. I feel your pain, dramatic cupcake dog.
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