Spring and summer are sweet seasons. Rays of sunshine and blossoming flowers make for happy eyes and noses. Why not let your tongue join in too with a sugary treat? And these desserts are sweet deals too: all 12 of these delights cost less than $5.
Start the morning off sugar-rich right with a ring of wonder from Dynamo Doughnuts. Every light, airy doughnut at the streetside outpost is delicious, from the simple vanilla bean to the complex seasonal flavor combinations like huckleberry with Meyer lemon frosting. But the gooey caramel that tops the caramel del sol is to die for.
2760 24th St., SF. (415) 920-1978; www.dynamosf.com
Mochas at Bittersweet are great. This is a fact. But here’s a secret: they also make their own marshmallows, which are incredible when eaten alone. This confectionary delight will send a dusting of powdered sugar all over you as the air-light marshmallow melts in your mouth. Never again will Jet-Puff suffice.
2123 Fillmore, SF. (415) 346-8715; 5427 College, Oakland, (510) 654-7159; www.bittersweetcafe.com
Never mind the cones and cups, at famous ice creamery Mitchell’s, the sandwiches will give double the sweet delight. After sampling a few flavors like toasted almond Mexican chocolate, and green tea pick a favorite and have it shmooshed it between two Otis Spunkmeyer chocolate chip cookies.
688 San Jose, SF. (415) 648-2300; www.mitchellsicecream.com
For a truly life changing experience, get a shot of the drinking chocolate at the Tcho pier outpost. If you don’t have a keen eye, the little retail space, adjacent to the factory where the delicate fair-traded chocolate is made, is easy to miss. But the powerful, decadent drinking chocolate is so buoyant with flavor notes of citrus and nut that it’s impossible to forget. In fact, I almost couldn’t stand to swallow it. I wanted that silky chocolate in my mouth forever.
Pier 17, SF. (415) 981-0189, www.tcho.com
If I had an Italian grandmother, I imagine that her kitchen would be something like Mara’s, where the windows overflow with cookies and croissants and fading posters of the motherland covered the walls. Her cannoli would be the perfect mix of decadent, but not overly sweet, ricotta filling with the occasional chocolate chip and crisp sand-colored crust. Good thing I can slide up to North Beach to enjoy Mara’s cannoli as a grandma substitute.
503 Columbus, SF. (415) 397-9435
JUST FOR YOU CAFE
When I need a sweet finger-lickin, stomach-filling something, I settle down on a stool at Southern food joint Just for You Cafe and order a plate of beignets. Not quite as satisfying as the puffs at New Orleans’ Café du Nord, but still deep-fried powdered sugar drowned squares of down-home goodness.
732 22nd St., SF. (415) 647-3033, www.justforyoucafe.com
While we’re all a little bored of the Carrie Bradshaw cupcakers, sometimes a little cake with frosting is simply necessary. Pretty pink Marina cupcake boutique Kara’s Cupcakes has a delicious selection. The rich espresso-buttercream-frosted java cupcake is delightful.
3249 Scott, SF. (415) 536-2253, www.karascucpakes.com
THE CANDY STORE
A big smile (and maybe a wink) will get you a sample from one of the glass jars filled with goodies that line the walls of the Candy Store in Russian Hill. Bubble-gum balls, gummy bears, licorice, malted milk balls, snowcaps, whatever your candy craving may be, the Candy Store has. Just be careful this is a child’s dream world and snatching a cantaloupe-sized rainbow lollipop out of the hands of a wide-eyed tyke won’t go over so well with the shop girl.
1507 Vallejo, SF. (415) 921-8000, www.thecandystoresf.com
1507 VALLEJO, SF. (415) 921-8000, WWW.THECANDYSTORESF.COM
The long glass case that runs the length of Schubert’s Bakery in the Richmond District displays the most delectable selection of cakes I’ve ever seen. The bakery has been a city institution for almost a century, and I have no doubt it’s because life is incomplete without their currant mousse and classic cheesecake.
521 Clement, SF. (415) 752-1580, www.schuberts-bakery.com
For French treats in an English garden-inspired atmosphere, the madeleines at Miette can’t be beat. The tiny fluffy, moist, shell-shaped cakes are delightful when paired with cappuccinos or tea, and may induce a Proustian awakening after a long, tiring day.
2109 Chestnut, SF. (415) 359-0628, www.miette.com
Truffles are a standard luxury, one not often married to sleek and slightly cheeky design. Haight Street chocolate shop CocoLuxe dusts the top of each of their ganache truffles with a little picture that tells the flavor from teapots and angels to gingerbread men and oranges. Best enjoyed while kicking back in one of the white retro chairs in the mod space.
1673 Haight, SF. (415) 367-4012, www.coco-luxe.com
When willing to go further afield both in culinary palate and location the cream-filled, egg-shaped waffles at Eggettes are worth the adventure. Hong Kongers eat eggettes, a popular street food served in paper bags punched with holes, for breakfast. I can’t handle the pastel-drowned Easter-egg interior of the Sunset District shop before 10 a.m., but certainly enjoy the warm puffs as an afternoon snack.
3136 Noriega, SF. (415) 681-8818, www.sfeggettes.com