Picking the best dessert in New York City is kind of like choosing a favorite slice of 99 cent pizza. Almost impossible. Pointless to even try, really. But I’ve got an intense sweet tooth, I’ve lived here for six years, and I waste most of my money on food. So if anyone’s qualified to definitively decide the best dessert in New York, it’s me. I’ve narrowed it down to ten for now, but may have to do another dessert post in the future. Some classics and some hidden gems—here are the ten best desserts in New York City.
Cereal Milk Ice Cream from Milk Bar: Probably my single favorite NYC dessert if I absolutely had to pick. It’s exactly what it sounds like—ice cream that tastes like the milk left behind in a bowl of cereal. It’s amazing. Creamy, sweet and just a little savory. Get it with cornflakes on top.
Banana Pudding from Magnolia Bakery: This is a famous one. The bakery will probably be mobbed when you go, but the crowd is usually smallest and least annoying at the one the West Village. Avoid the Rockefeller Center one if you can, it’s full of confused tourists getting in the way. Anyway, the banana pudding is what Magnolia Bakery is known for (in addition to the cupcakes). I dislike bananas and am normally ambivalent on pudding. But the first time I had this stuff I ordered a second cup. It’s super light, basically homemade banana whipped cream filled with chunks of poundcake. Sometimes I buy a little bag of Nilla Wafers from a nearby grocery shop to dip in the pudding. Super sweet but not too rich or heavy.
Macarons from Laduree: One of the first desserts I tried when I moved to New York, on Madison Avenue then eaten on the steps of the Met with my very stylish roommates. A little out of my element, but this was beginning of a long running love for macs. Laduree is pretty famous, with locations in a few cities. They’re perfect—chewy on the inside and paper-thin crispy on the outside. Filling is creamy and delicious. They also keep for a long time and come in beautiful boxes, so they make a good gift.
Rose Petal Gelato from Amorino: My favorite gelato in the City. So many flavors. The cones are super photogenic and shaped to resemble a rose. It’s pretty impressive—I would absolutely not be able to master the art of scooping this gelato, but I have absolutely mastered the art of eating it (lol I know, I am not funny).
Key Lime Cupcake from Two Little Red Hens: My best friend and former roommate works here, and she used to bring home key lime cupcakes left over at the end of the day. They’re so fucking good…the perfect amount of perfect frosting on a sizable, dense, but fluffy cupcake. They’re known for their cakes, which you can get custom made or with a message of your choosing. If you’re an annoying old rich lady prone to wearing fur and yelling at customer service people, you’re their prime clientele. Every time I pop into the bakery some Park Ave grandma is there being rude, but other than that everything about this place is amazing. Super fresh. Note they are currently closed for renovations but should be back soon.
Popbar Popsicles: Something of a unique concept. A popsicle bar amongst ice cream parlors, this tiny pop shop on Bleecker Street has a ton of flavors, all beautifully lined up beneath the glass case. They also have great hot chocolate (on a stick…you stir it into hot milk). They have vegan options too.
Mochidoki Mochi: Like Popbar, novel in that they serve a cold treat that isn’t ice cream or frozen yogurt. Mochi do include ice cream, but it’s inside a little floury, gooey bun. Tons of flavors, both sweet and fruity. My favorite is lychee. They’re pretty cheap—four for $10, which is enough for two people.
Fish Cone Ice Cream from Taiyaki: Ice cream on a thick, fluffy fish shaped cone with sweet red bean paste inside. It’s hard to describe the taste of red bean paste, but it’s mild, sweet, and unobjectionable. They have a handful of ice cream flavors, and the ice cream is quite good. But the best part is the cone…and I’m someone who usually throws away the cone.
Chocolate Chip Cookies from Levain: Big sexy squishy cookies. They’re chewy, dense but so thick they’re almost cakelike. They’re the perfect balance of sweet with a tiny bit of salty, and have the ideal texture for a chocolate chip cookie.
Ice Cream Sandwich from Stuffed: I happened upon the place fairly recently, and have dropped in for a sandwich a few times in the past couple weeks. It’s a perfect pairing—ice cream stuffed inside a glazed donut. Flavors are unique and tasty (my favorite is lavender) and the donut tastes just like Krispy Kreme, which BTW just opened a big flagship store near Times Square.
Nutella Churros from Boqueria: They have a few types of churros, and the food at this neighborhood Mexican cafe is good in general. But the Nutella Churros are my favorite thing on the menu. Churros are basically skinny Mexican donuts, covered in sugar and in this case filled with warm Nutella. As you can imagine, it’s incredibly delicious. And it just feels like a fall food. Perfect as outdoor dining gets a little more brisk.