The Beehive State has a sweet tooth. Utahns love, love, love their desserts. Of course, that’s true of Americans in general. But Utah is special. I mean, you can’t swing a cat by its tail without hitting a soda shop like Swig, Twisted Sugar or FiiZ. Walk into the BYU bookstore and the first thing to catch your eye isn’t textbooks, it’s the enormous Sweet Stop candy and dessert counter.
But hey, I’m no sugar hater. I love a decadent dessert as much as the next person. Here are a few of my favorite sugary sins.
There are few things I love more than a made-from-scratch pie like grandma’s. For that, I turn to Left Fork Grill in Murray. Jeff Masten’s pies (order whole ones in advance) are second to none, made with fresh ingredients by hand. The crusts are perfect (the secret is lard) and the fillings are divine.
My favorite is Jeff’s banana cream pie, which I would eat daily if I lived closer to Murray. And if you happen to be down in Washington County, drop into Veyo Pies for pies like the Veyo Volcano with graham cracker crust, sweet cream cheese, butterscotch, and chocolate with whipped cream on top.
Or, how about a pizza pie for dessert. Pizza for dessert??? Yup! MidiCi at The Gateway is one of my favorite restaurants, and I can’t get enough of their outstanding Neapolitan-style pizza. But another of my favorite menu items is the decadent Nutella Calzone dessert. It is sooooo yummy and looks like a million bucks. It’s a dessert calzone made from pizza dough, baked to crisp perfection and topped with fresh fruits (blackberries, strawberries and blueberries), then drizzled with a sweet and tart balsamic reduction and, finally, Nutella, before getting a dusting of powdered sugar. Now that is decadent!
Many restaurants treat dessert as an afterthought. Then again, there are those that put heart and soul into their dessert creations. At Log Haven, Pastry Chef Steve Takahashi is the wizard behind delicious desserts such as house-made panna cotta with berry coulis; his delish chocolate ganache tart with vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce, and sea salt; and my favorite: the amazing frozen coconut-banana souffle with roasted pineapple sauce and candied macadamia nuts.
Another great restaurant dessert is the decidedly decadent Torpedo Waffle at Bruges Belgian Bistro. This is a Liège-style waffle stuffed with Belgian dark chocolate bars and topped with silky creme fraiche. And you might not expect Utah’s best sushi restaurant to have world-class desserts, but Takashi does.
One of the more surprising desserts I’ve ever had is Takashi’s Candy Cap Panna Cotta. This silky Italian-inspired panna cotta is actually made with candy cap mushrooms that taste naturally like maple syrup. Maple syrup-tasting mushrooms? Who knew?
One of the finest bakeries in the West ― not just Utah ― is Romina Rasmussen’s Les Madeleines, one of the first bakeries in Utah to offer gourmet cupcakes, French macarons, and heavenly kouign amann.
Romina told me that she flavors the shells of her macarons, which is not typical. Romina’s been making macarons since way before they were trendy, initially calling them “buttons” since nobody knew what macarons were. She uses fruit powders and extracts to flavor the shells and only utilizes natural food colorings. All the macarons are piped by hand, with fillings ranging from buttercreams to caramels to ganaches, using Weiss bean-to-bar chocolate from Saint Etienne, France.
Popular macaron flavors include Bali (coconut-almond shell and passion fruit buttercream) and the Coquelicot, flavored with poppy blossom. Bonus: Romina recently added chocolate bonbons to the menu ― just another great excuse to visit Les Madeleines.
If it’s variety you’re looking for, look no further than the opulent brunch buffets at Stein Eriksen Lodge in Deer Valley or at Grand America’s Laurel restaurant in downtown SLC. Both offer a staggering selection of sweet things for every palate.
At Laurel, for example, the Sunday all-you-can-eat brunch dessert options include mini brownies, assorted French macarons, sacher torte, Verrines chocolate pot de creme, passion fruit mousse bars, mini chocolate tarts, mini blondies, mini caramel tarts, Verrines vanilla pot de creme, and more.
Ain’t life sweet?
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