IMAGE: Matt D’Annunzio
It’s been a pretty excellent year for Portland’s sugar fiends: Cacao chocolate boutique and Staccato Gelato both opened second locations, while farmers-market favorite Two Tarts will open a retail bakery at 2309 NW Kearney St. on Oct, 17; cool, dry weather made for one of the longest strawberry seasons in recent memory; and phenomenal new pastry chefs are turning out delicious architectural creations at Sel Gris, Lucier and Paley’s Place, among others.
But in the search for our favorite dessert, we found ourselves returning to the classics. Our favorite by far is a flourless chocolate cake with sage ice cream and whiskey-caramel sauce that recently debuted on the menu at Ten 01. The cake, a variation on the chocolate whiskey cake that pastry chef Jeff McCarthy has been serving since he started at the restaurant in January, is a hockey puck-sized round of dense, bittersweet indulgence. It would be overwhelming without the bright green scoop of surprisingly potent, grassy ice cream, tempered by the boozy sweetness of the sauce. We think it’s heaven on a plate, and Ten 01’s customers seem to agree: When it debuted, the dessert broke the restaurant’s record for units sold in a single night. Said McCarthy (who also writes a fascinating blog at mrjeffmccarthy.com), “Look out, crème brûlée!”
It’s been on the menu for years, but the pain d’epice with honey and goat cheese hasn’t received nearly the recognition it deserves. A dense slab of dark, mysteriously spiced bread is grilled, smeared with fatty chèvre and drizzled with honey. Pair it with a glass of muscat or sweet port.
There’s a lot to love among the updated classic American desserts at this new Pearl District diner. We like the Faux Hos, citrus and chiffon cake, and lemon-meringue bread pudding, but the best of the bunch is the Blushing Betty, a shallow dish of roasted rhubarb with toffee oat crumble, topped with an enormous scoop of strawberry ice cream of such intense flavor it feels effervescent in your mouth. We hear the secret is sour cream.
The Sugar Cube
We’re infatuated with the intoxicating Amy Winehouse cupcake from Kirsten Jensen’s all-sweets cart: a liquor-soaked yellow cake with a hint of orange zest, dipped in a thick chocolate ganache. It’s a fruity, woozy chocolate knockout. 901 SW Alder St., 890-2825.