Delicious Denver DessertsDenver's restaurants have flawlessly executed classic desserts, infusing originality and topping them with artistic flare. The last course may very well be the first thing on your mind.
Cake and Shake at D Bar Desserts
494 E. 19th Ave.
D-Bar's walls slightly resemble Tiffany & Co.'s robin's egg hue. But forget diamonds. These desserts are any girl's (and guy's best friend). Food Network personality Keegan Gerhard and his wife Lisa Bailey opened D Bar with such offerings as "cake and shake" and "cookies and milk." The vanilla malt is so carefully prepared it slowly morphs into a delicacy and the chocolate cake with manjari frosting is quite possibly the richest, creamiest slice ever. Plus, watch the owners prepare desserts behind a modern bar until midnight on weekends. Everything from the presentation (the vanilla malt, peppered with chocolate-covered rice balls, balances on a mound of sugar in the slotted plate) to the ambiance and the case of lemon and peanut butter and jelly cupcakes is a reminder that regardless of age, dessert never goes out of style.
Crème Brulee at Cruise Room
1600 17th St.
Crème brulee: the obligatory dessert order. You know you can't DIY without serious bodily injury or an emotionally destructive temper tantrum (a dessert requiring a blow torch, really?) and someone else at your table is probably craving it. All you can do is take one for the team, then sit back knowingly when you find that it is truly brulee (burnt!!) or the crème curdled. At the Cruise Room, Denver's oldest bar located in the historic Oxford Hotel, there is no proof of malfunctioning kitchen appliances. The top was as perfectly bronzed as a beach babe. The custard remained chilled and consistent all the way through. The smoky, red shaded jazz bar is conducive to enjoying this French dessert while sipping a vanilla bean or white chocolate after dinner martini.
Sopapillas and (fried) ice cream at Las Delicias/Rio Grande
1525 Blake St.
Fried ice cream" seems more counterintuitive than, say, fried dough. But the crunchiness of Las Delicias' (419 E. 19th Ave.) ice cream, covered in corn flakes then deep fried, perfectly complements the airy, powdered-sugar dusted sopapillas. Drizzle with honey and you've got the hottest/coldest combo in Denver. If you're not ready for a double dose of deep fry, try the sopapillas with classic vanilla bean ice cream at the Rio Grande (1525 Blake St.).
Baklava at Jerusalem Restaurant
1890 E. Evans Ave.
It's no wonder baklava's origins are foggy. It seems that every known ethnicity would want to claim this delicious, age-old dessert. While I've tried it at various Greek and Middle Eastern restaurants, my favorite is the Jerusalem Café's. Each layer of the baklava's crunchy phyllo dough fully absorbs the simple sauce of butter, water, sugar, vanilla, honey and cinnamon to boast unceasing flavor. Chopped nuts, also the product of hours basking in the sweet sauce, add a muted crunch. So it's also no wonder that, located near the University of Denver, the restaurant has become a go-to for ravenous co-eds. The baklava glistens in a puddle of the watery syrup as it arrives at your table. But after eating a well-seasoned lamb kabob or falafel, soon you'll be the one soaking it all up.
Fudge at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
500 16th St., Ste. 118
Ah fudge, one of the few desserts that you can eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner without facing social ridicule, particularly if you're a tourist visiting one of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory's original Colorado locations. Or, if you're pretending to be a tourist visiting one of its original Colorado locations. Sure, the franchise is everywhere now. But we all know that it was once a little treasure we called our own. So, if only for nostalgia's sake, go on. Get yourself a big hunk of fudge (plain-none of that gooey, crunchy nonsense) and a box of truffles for dessert.
Ice Cream at Bonnie Brae Ice Cream
799 S. University Blvd.
Every city needs a retro style ice cream parlor where a vintage sign hangs above perpetually chipper patrons, the line almost always stretches outside and if someone lets the door slam in your face it's only because there are entirely too many options cluttering the board behind the counter. Denver's is Bonnie Brae Ice Cream. All 50 plus flavors are made right there on University Blvd. and one scoop is the size of a typical two.
Molten Chocolate Cake at Corridor 44
1433 Larimer St.
Crossing any cultural, historical, intellectual barriers is the molten chocolate lava volcano tower delight found all over the state. A moist chocolate cake exterior with a gooey molten center, complete with powdered sugar, thinly sliced almonds or a mound of fresh fruit, it's everything the quintessential chocolate dessert should be. Whatever the name, wherever the restaurant, each provides an original take on the mouthwatering modern classic. Celebrate the success of the coco indulgence with Corridor 44's version, topped with whipped cream and berries.
Nutella Pizza and Pizza Dolce at Marco's Coal-Fired Pizza
2129 Larimer St.
Pizza for dessert? You bet! Marco's Nutella Pizza, a delicious treat to share with your date, is made with Nutella baked in the middle of the crust. We also recommend the Pizza Dolce, with sweetened ricotta, honey drizzles and toasted almonds.
Jessica Rubino is a Colorado-based freelance writer who covers lifestyle and wellness.