Terzo Piano’s cheesecake
Here, dining critic Jeff Ruby’s favorite desserts of 2010. PLUS: Tell us in the comments below, what’s your favorite dessert in Chicago?
PUDDING PAPRIKA’S KHEER Some versions of kheer, the Indian adaptation of rice pudding, use coconut milk instead of cow’s milk. Shah Kabir’s delicate cinnamon-dusted version, which he perfected during his years at Indian Gourmet on Devon, is so perfectly creamy with whole milk that he doesn’t bother to mess with any fancy stuff. Instead he packs it with fresh, plump raisins, almonds, and pistachios—and that’s all you need. 2547 W. LAWRENCE AVE.; 773-338-4906
CHEESECAKE TERZO PIANO’S GOAT’S MILK CHEESECAKE Terzo’s Capriole Farms fresh goat’s milk cheesecake has a three-to-two proportion of cream cheese to goat cheese, a ratio that produces a silky slice of sunshine. It gets the crust it deserves, a delicate hazelnut shortbread shot through with toasted hazelnut brittle. The whole thing is so good you might forget the terrific kiwi, mango, pineapple, and persimmon salad on the side. Don’t—it’s the perfect exclamation point for this emphatic declaration. MODERN WING, ART INSTITUTE, 159 E. MONROE ST.; 312-443-8650
PASTRY THE PURPLE PIG’S SICILIAN IRIS An Italian dessert done right is a rare beauty which makes this obscurity even more of a treasure. The Purple Pig fills a puffy brioche with ricotta and chocolate chips and fries it until the interior is a melty, debauched nirvana. A dusting of powdered sugar pushes the whole thing to the brink of ecstasy. 500 N. MICHIGAN AVE.; 312-464-1744
CHOCOLATE CERES’ TABLE’S CHOCOLATE SOUFFLÉ TART Instead of sending out the same boring lava cake we’ve seen a zillion times, Leticia Zenteno fills a flaky tart shell with the smoothest, ooziest chocolate soufflé ever and surrounds it with a terrific tangerine compote and candied pecans. The whole thing pulls off a great trick: unmitigated heaven for chocoholics without over-the-top ridiculousness. 4882 N. CLARK ST.; 773-878-4882
Photograph: Anna Knott