The Good Batch
Classic Stroopwafels. Two very thin spiced waffle cookies with a lush caramel filling in the middle. The caramel is on the buttery side, and the whole cookie is best consumed after a brief sit atop a mug of hot tea—when the caramel gets all warm and gooey, the cookie itself softens a touch, and the whole thing becomes wickedly melty.
A layer of marshmallow, melty and gooey, is tucked between a crackly chocolate shell and honey cake from Bee Desserts. The cakes omit all sugar, and use honey as the key sweetener. Four flavors: original, marshmallow, honey, and Cognac. Marshmallow is the best, no question.
Honeycomb candies by Liddabit Sweets are magical confections of delicate appearance and quick-changing texture. The small batches are made with Tremblay Apiaries honey, and bear a golden, light interior. Bite into the whimsical candies and marvel as a crisp initial nibble morphs to a chewy sweet before it gently melts on your tongue.
Lake George-based Adirondack Creamery's Kulfi-Pistachio Cardamom Ice Cream gives you the best of both worlds, at the crossroads of ice cream and kulfi, the classic Indian frozen sweet. Cardamom is employed liberally, and there are plenty of chopped pistachios studded throughout every creamy, rich mouthful.
Anarchy in a Jar
The name does it justice: Apple Sass. A mix of heirloom apples from upstate New York, cinnamon, cloves, and just enough sparkling apple cider to sweeten. Some people many call it apple butter or apple jam—but break down all the fancy names, and it's the best kind of smushed apples you can imagine.
At Balthazar, a Coconut Cake slice boasts a tender and loose crumb, three layers bound with a classic pastry cream. It's a dense and elegant cake, one with a smooth finish of buttercream and coconut. The coconut flakes that cover the exterior are not tiny, sweetened pre-packaged flakes, but large shards, meaty and toasted the lightest shade of brown.
With creative cupcake flavors that change frequently, husband and wife team Matt and Allison Robicelli walk the fine line between creativity and overkill when it comes to their cupcakes, but they always get it right. Christmas cupcakes include (among many flavors) Kumquat, Chocolate Candy Cane, and Hot Buttered Rum.
Stumptown at the Ace Hotel
This French toast starts with thick slices cut from a filone loaf, with each part of the exterior finely caramelized and golden. It crunches at first bite, caramel bits shattering in your mouth. Near the center, the toast doesn't turn soft; though more tender, it's got more chew than an everyday French toast.
Francois Payard Bakery
The entire surface of Payard's Hazelnut Roll is brushed with cream and rolled in crushed toasted nuts. The cake itself is nutty and dense, and those who are suckers for salty-sweet desserts will love this, as each bite is tinged with a kiss of salt.
Ruby et Violette
Ruby et Violette features five types of Cookie Dough ice cream daily, made with their signature cookie dough batter mixed into a rainbow of flavors, whether they be Cinnamon Apple Pie or Maple Walnut. The cookie dough-to-ice cream ratio is high—close to 40:60. Don't miss the Black Forest, a cherry ice cream base with chunks of Black Forest cookie dough, dried cherries, and white and dark chocolate chips.