Ask any great dessert philosopher or hungry child and they will tell you the same thing: There’s nothing that can’t be solved or at least assuaged by a sweet treat. Have a bad day? Eat truffles. Have a good day? Eat ice cream. Have a boring day? Eat macarons. For the infinite number of events that require a little something sweet, there are an equally endless number of options. So we have helped ourselves to the taste testing and created this guide to impressive, on-trend treats that are worth the splurge—whether they’re meant for someone else or just for you.
The Stuff of Childhood Dreams
If you long for the ice cream experience of your youth, then Uncle Louie G’s is your dessert destination. This hidden gem is a chic twist on the traditional ice cream parlor. Uncle Louie G’s serves up truly original flavors such as apple pie and pumpkin. The apple pie ice cream is complete with real chunks of the pastry swirled into creamy vanilla ice cream. Equally delicious, the pumpkin ice cream combines vanilla ice cream, pumpkin purée, cinnamon and nutmeg. The result is a surprisingly subtle flavor that’s lick-the-bowl good. One scoop is approximately 200 calories, and it’s worth every one.
Berkshire Commons shopping center, 7385 Radio Road, Naples; 239-455-0664, unclelouiegee.com
Take Two, They’re Small
The newly opened Sweet Tooth Fairy gourmet bake shop is a welcome addition to the area sweet scene. They’ve sold us with their signature item, the cake bite, each topped with frosting and dipped in either white or dark chocolate. As you may have guessed, it can be devoured in a single mouthful (making it dangerously even more portable than the cupcake). The menu includes 12 flavors that are always available, as well as a gluten-free option that changes monthly. A favorite birthday treat among customers is the Fairyfetti cake bite, which begins with a vanilla-based cake batter mixed with sprinkles. It’s then topped with cream cheese frosting, dipped in white chocolate and festively finished off with more sprinkles. It’s the perfect-sized present for any time of day.
The Galleria Shoppes at Vanderbilt, 2355 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Suite 120, Naples; 239-513-2253, thesweettoothfairy.com/naples
The Studded Standard
This next treat is definitely not dairy- or gluten-free, and the calories are too high to mention. However, nothing in our book beats a fresh, fabulous chocolate chip cookie. One of the best of the best can be purchased at the 5th Avenue Café Coffee Co., a family- owned business that originated on—you guessed it—Fifth Avenue South. But move quickly, because this hulking-yet-soft baked goodie sells out early.
599 Fifth Ave. S., Naples; 239-261-5727
740 North Collier Blvd., Suite 112, Marco Island; 239-970-0054, 5thavncoffeeco.com
Take Your Pick (or Don’t)
Grace and Shelly’s cupcakes are well-known among local dessert connoisseurs simply because they are so gosh darn delicious. With so many on the menu it’s a challenge to choose, but two flavors deserve particular attention: the Maple Bacon and the Raspberry Lemonade. It may sound like a breakfast item, but we believe the Maple Bacon cupcake can be eaten any time of day. The concoction caters to lovers of the sweet-and-salty combo, with real bacon mixed into traditional vanilla cake. After it’s baked, the cupcake is slathered with maple syrup-cream cheese frosting and crowned with homemade caramel, more bacon pieces and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Its only real competition comes from the Raspberry Lemonade cupcake, which bears another tried-and-true pairing, the sweet and sour: The base of this dessert is lemon cake piped full of fresh raspberry coulis, and it’s all capped with sweet lemon frosting and, lastly, an artful raspberry drizzle. Rather than choose one, it’s probably easier just to eat both (and then go for a very long walk).
537 Fifth Ave. S., Naples; 239-263-9990
Bell Tower Shops, 13499 S. Cleveland Ave., Suite 101, Fort Myers; 239-415-0300
Mercato, 9100 Strada Place, Unit 2111, Naples; 596-5300,
Mikkelsen’s Pastry Shop is a dessert institution in Southwest Florida for a good reason. And while the talented bakers pump out fabulous treat after fabulous treat, with specialty cakes often getting all the attention, it’s the tarts that have us talking. The Kentucky Butterscotch tart is simply a taste bud party (isn’t anything that has “butter” in its name?). Its rival, the silky White Chocolate Banana Cream tart, is also available as a mini pastry if you’re not up for sharing. Both versions are made with fresh bananas and pastry cream. The two flavors are gobbled up quickly, so it’s best to call ahead to confirm your preference is available.
1068 Business Lane, Naples; 239-596-5996, mikkelsenspastryshop.com
Crisp and Classy
The macaron is a difficult confection to master, but, to those of us not attempting the mastering, it’s worth the challenge. Le Macaron French Pastries at Mercato offers the crisp, colorful cookie sandwiches directly from Paris. Best of all, these smooth ganache-, cream- or jam-filled desserts are dairy- and gluten-free and each less than 80 calories. As opposed to the coconut-based American macaroon, these beauts are made from almond flour and egg whites. Of the many kinds available, the Lavender White Chocolate macaron (or Lavende Chocolat Blanc, if you want to impress your friends) offers a delicate flavor to match the delicate texture and a floral aroma to lure you in. All flavors are beautifully packaged, to boot, making them the perfect gift for a lucky someone.
Mercato, 9100 Strada Place, Suite 2115, Naples; 239-260-7066, lemacaron-us.com
Not Your Average Bonbon
On the Gulfshore, the word “choc-olate” is synonymous with world-renowned pastry chef Norman Love. Love is a pioneer in cacao confections, creating singular, identifiable flavors tailored for the American taste buds.
All three Norman Love Chocolate Salons are home to the standout Sea Salt Caramel Truffle—pure flavor harmony. The truffle is made from dark chocolate, filled with perfectly luscious sweet golden caramel, and topped with red and pink sea salt. It’s one of 11 new hand-crafted truffles making their debut as part of the Norman Love Signature collection, which is presented in a handsome black box that looks almost as appealing as the chocolate. Almost.
Fort Myers Chocolate Salon, 11380 Lindbergh Blvd., Fort Myers; 239-561-7215
Miromar Outlet Salon, 10801 Corkscrew Road, Suite S-516, Estero; 239-672-8787
Naples Chocolate Salon, 3747 Tamiami Trail, Naples; 239-687-7215
The word “fresh” is redefined at Sub Zero, where ice cream, yogurt and custard are made-to-order. Liquid nitrogen is used to flash-freeze the cream mixture, making a frozen dessert customized with myriad mix-ins in less than 30 seconds. The Cinnamon Roll Reaction custard in particular brings the wow factor, combining cinnamon, cake batter flavor, cookie dough and pecans. What’s not to like? Subzero also earns points by offering lactose-free, gluten-free and sugar-free alternatives.
2359 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Suite 408, Naples; 260-5716, subzeroicecream.com