Mediterranean restaurant Amali straddles the Upper East Side and Midtown East, and though it's not strictly vegetarian, they do offer a line of vegetable-based desserts. That led their pastry chef, Anna Markow, to a different kind of chocolate cake.
The Sticky Chocolate Beet Cake ($10) with stracciatella yogurt gelato doesn't scream its beet base. The complex dark chocolate flavor starts with Dutch processed Valrhona cocoa. Some chefs add coffee to bring more dimension to their chocolate; here beets are used to the same effect, enhancing the chocolate's dark, fruity qualities. If you're worried the beets add too much vegetal flavor to the cake, don't. Except for the faint red color, you hardly notice their presence. But for dark chocolate lovers, this is a must-order dish.
The cake is steamed in a water bath, not baked, so it's moist like a sticky toffee pudding. Crunchy bits of meringue baked with cocoa nibs add some textural variety, and the snowy white flakes look nice against the dark cake.
A not-too-sweet yogurt gelato is the perfect pairing. With just a touch of tang balanced by some stripes of chocolate, it's worth ordering all on its own.
Non-chocolate lovers may enjoy Amali's doughnut specials. They're fried to order and come with a special dipping sauce—on my visit, vanilla bean and bay leaf creme anglaise.
About the author: Native New Yorker Niko Triantafillou is the founder of DessertBuzz.com his photographs of desserts and pastry chefs have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Dessert Professional Magazine. He is an unabashed foodie nerdling. Follow him on Twitter at @DessertBuzz.