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The 20 Best Desserts in Chicago

From humble to haute, these sweets deliver pure pleasure.

Key Lime Pie

Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits

Sweet-tart Key lime custard nestled in a crust of made-from-scratch graham crackers: If there was ever a pie worth waiting in line for, this is it. $5. 2051 N. California Ave. and 4947 N. Damen Ave.

Chocolate Cream Pie

Bavette’s

The filling’s like the most intense chocolate pudding imaginable, the crumbly crust is a chocolate cookie’s role model, and the orb of whipped cream puts the whole thing over the top. What better way to cap a steak dinner? $12. 218 W. Kinzie St.

Chocolate Profiteroles

Bistronomic

It’s a brilliant balancing act: tender pâte à choux with slightly smoky butterscotch sauce, velvety ice cream, plenty of unctuous chocolate sauce, and crunchy roasted almond slices. $8. 840 N. Wabash Ave.

Flan

Casa Yari

There’s a rotating cast of flan flavors—all of them excellent—at this mom-and-pop storefront specializing in Latin American cuisine. Make a beeline for the mango con chile if it’s on the menu—the barely trembling custard lets both the sweetness and the pepper heat pop. $4.75. 3268 W. Fullerton Ave.

Coconut Rocher

De Quay

“Rocher” is a fancy Dutch word for a macaroon, and this is one jazzed-up macaroon. Bursting with fresh fruit—inside and out—this chewy coconut bomb comes with a mound of Belgian chocolate mousse and sits on a slick of stunning curried banana crème anglaise. $8. 2470 N. Lincoln Ave.

Pavlova

Dos Urban Cantina

Jennifer Jones Enyart’s cloud of meringue—soft and gooey inside and crunchy outside—defies gravity. Raspberry mousse and lightly macerated raspberries are piped in through a hole in the bottom, and delicate bits of Mexican chocolate peek through the top. $7. 2829 W. Armitage Ave.

Chocolate Beignet

The Duck Inn

As if fried chocolate dough filled with chocolate ganache weren’t decadent enough, Kevin Hickey’s masterpiece rests between a bed of banana crème anglaise and a scoop of salted peanut butter gelato. The beignet is warm and the gelato is cold, so get right to it. $9. 2701 S. Eleanor St.

New Wave Soufflé

Everest

Topped with apple coulis and accompanied by crème anglaise and caramel-maple ice cream, this four-star homage to a caramel apple is a rich but ethereal pastry magic trick. Available as part of a tasting menu. 440 S. LaSalle St.

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Passion Fruit Tart

Floriole

Passion fruit shouts at the top of its lungs in the creamy custard, which rests in a crumbly sablé base and gets dressed with a meringue squiggle and often a cascade of nasturtium leaves and flower petals. $5.75. 1220 W. Webster Ave.

Chocolate Cake

Formento’s

When this Italian spot in the West Loop recently revamped its menu, the crew made one promise: The cake, studded with crunchy nibs of hazelnut praline, wouldn’t be going anywhere. Few desserts can pack so much chocolate flavor into a single bite. $10. 925 W. Randolph St.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Frontera Grill

This pie requires a full complement of silverware to properly control the flaky crust, the jiggly filling of dark chocolate and toasted pecans, and the Kahlúa whipped cream on top. $8.50. 445 N. Clark St.

Sweet Potato Cheesecake

Jimmy Jamm Sweet Potato Pies

Like pumpkin pie, but creamier and mellower. And also better. $30. 1844 W. 95th St.

Choco Taco Sundae

Little Goat Diner

Match tangy sour cream gelato with shards of chocolate-dipped tortilla chips, goat’s milk caramel, and candied pepitas and you’ve got a creation far more compelling than the ice-cream-truck staple it was named for. $8. 820 W. Randolph St.

Lemongrass Sundae

The Loyalist

Herbal, aromatic lemongrass ice cream meets inky, salty licorice sauce. There’s no reason this pairing should work. Except it really, really does. $10. 177 N. Ada St.

Caramel Corn

Lula Cafe

Kettle corn is merely the finishing touch on this flaxen mound of brown sugar ice cream, crushed cookies, and—in a nod to eternal summer—sweet corn custard. $10. 2537 N. Kedzie Blvd.

Basque Cake

MFK

As MFK’s only dessert, this cake has to be good. And is it ever. From its buttery sablé base to its rum-spiked pastry cream filling to its crackly almond-flavored crust, it stands alone. $9. 432 W. Diversey Pkwy.

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Baked Plums

Qulinarnia

There’s nothing like a dunk in a boozy bath of Cabernet Sauvignon and Johnnie Walker to meld the sweetness of plums and caramelized sugar. Vanilla ice cream here, fresh whipped cream there, and the case for simplicity is closed. $8. 1730 W. Golf Rd., Mount Prospect

Coffee Custard

RPM Steak

In Hsing Chen’s hands, Kilgus Farmstead cream, Madagascar vanilla beans, and La Colombe coffee form a most perfect union: a dreamy pudding studded with salted caramel pearls. May it never perish from the earth. $10. 66 W. Kinzie St.

Thai Tea Milk Shake

Spinning J

Though it may sound sophisticated, vanilla ice cream, simple syrup, whole milk, and black tea (plus a bit of orange food coloring) get whirred together to create this whimsical superthick frozen treat topped with a pillow of vanilla whipped cream. $6. 1000 N. California Ave.

Green Tea Ice Cream

Yoshi’s Café

In this classic dessert—on the menu since Yoshi’s opened in 1982— the earthy flavor of matcha comes through boldly and smoothly, punctuated by the snap, crackle, and pop of candied ginger. $6. 3257 N. Halsted St.

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