Apple-Cranberry Cobbler at Bouchon Bakery
You could call it a tart, but Bouchon calls it a Cobbler ($5.95). Whatever the name, it is excellent all the way from the buttery tart shell to the filling of cranberries folded into a chunky, cinnamon-spiced apple compote. There's a classic crumb topping and a quenelle of textbook proper chantilly cream. And don't forget, Bouchon also does a respectable pumpkin spice macaron this time of the year.
Pumpkin Ice Cream at Sundaes and Cones
Recommended by serious eater Alaina Browne, the pumpkin ice cream at Sundaes & Cones is a definite neighborhood go-to. Solid and satisfying, and best in a sugar cone and not the cup. It's that extra bit of crunch that completes this particular flavor, like a makeshift frozen pumpkin pie. It's nothing fancy or extravagant, but a total feel-good dessert, especially when enjoyed with a friend at one of the window seats.
Spiced Lattes and Pumpkin Cookies at Grounded
Three types of fall treats to devour at Grounded Coffee. First, these soft and cake-like pumpkin cookies, sweet with molasses and just enough icing over the top. Second, a classic Pumpkin Latte, and my favorite of the three, a Spiced Latte offered with a squeeze of honey, vanilla, a shake of cinnamon and fresh grated nutmeg over the froth. This one should take you all the way through winter.
Ginger-Pecan Tart at Sarabeth's
Head to Sarabeth's any day of the week, and you'll find at least three different fall-inspired tarts behind the bakery case. The classic pumpkin is a no brainer, but our heart lies with the Ginger-Pecan Tart ($5.50). Every element of this tart could be considered a highlight, from the heady gingerbread tart shell (more tarts needs to be made with a gingerbread base!) to a sticky pecan pie filling, rich with molasses and accented with ginger.
Pumpkin Brownies at Fat Witch Bakery
Unlike most brownies at Fat Witch, this seasonal creation features only a sliver of the bakery's signature buttery brownie under a thick layer of pumpkin cake. The sweet and soft cake is cinnamony, moist, and gently spiced. It's more akin to a pumpkin cake with only a whisper of chocolate, than it is to our general understanding of a brownie. Regardless, it's certainly a sweet that's easy to love.
Pumpkin Parfait at Three Tarts
Pumpkin Parfaits ($5.95) from Three Tarts look dainty, but the flavors are bold. At the base, crushed dark chocolate cookies topped with pumpkin pastry cream. There's a layer of nutmeg-accented pumpkin compote, and then whipped molasses cream. The cream is voluptuous and dreamy, the highlight of the parfait. Housemade pumpkin brittle goes on top, and make sure to dig your fork down to the bottom. A little of everything at once.
Pecan-Apple Topping at Shake Shack
Shake Shake has caramel apple, pumpkin, and the shackenstein on the custard menu for October. But the most memorable of their offerings has to be the seasonal Apple Pecan topping. It shines best with plain vanilla custard, either spooned over the top or better yet, swirled into a concrete (pictured). Big chunks of saucy, spiced apples are folded in with chopped and toasted pecans.
Pumpkin Custard at Soba Totto
At Soba Totto the Pumpkin Custard ($6) features pumpkin puréee beaten with just enough eggs and cream to form a custard. It's barely sweetened with brown sugar and served in chilled squares, accompanied by whipped cream and vanilla ice cream (substitute green tea ice cream if preferred). Those crispy brown bits you see on top? Toasted buckwheat!