Westchester's Best Desserts

Admit it: your eyes often go to the dessert menu before you’ve scanned the appetizers. And why not? Though the mom in me advocates finishing some greens before diving into a sweet treat, I do believe in saving room for dessert, especially because there are so many Westchester chefs who spend as much time perfecting their sweet endings as they do their other courses.

The warm caramel seals the deal at Cafe Mirage (531 N Main St, Port Chester, 914-937-3497; cafemirageny.com), where the bread-and- butter pudding ($8) tastes like something Grandma would make. The pure, honest flavors of vanilla custard and raisins meld with the caramel, making for a fluffy, homespun concoction that is sinfully scrumptious.

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There’s warmth that emanates from Chiboust Bistro & Bakery’s (14 Main St, Tarrytown 914-703-6550; chiboust.com) kitchen, accompanied by the heady aroma of baked goods. That’s because Chef Jill Rose has desserts at her heart and soul. And, though the lineup of sweets can change on any given day, you can usually find two customer favorites in the dining room: the banana dulce de leche crumble, a layered dessert of baked ripe bananas, dulce de leche caramel, and crunchy cinnamon-y streusel topped with whipped crème fraîche and caramelized bananas; and the three-layer carrot cake with a crème brûlée filling, cream-cheese frosting, and white chocolate curls (each $7).

You may think you know it all when it comes to chocolate pudding, but, believe me, the Valrhona chocolate pudding ($5.95) at City Limits Diner (200 Central Ave, White Plains 914-686-9000; citylimitsdiner.com) takes the cake. The humble dessert is elevated here (though served in a coffee cup) with house-made whipped cream and tiny white, milk, and dark chocolate pebbles, that, when eaten together are the pinnacle of chocolate goodness.

It’s hard to choose among the options at The Cookery (39 Chestnut St, Dobbs Ferry 914-305-2336; thecookeryrestaurant.com)—is there anything this restaurant doesn’t do well? Non-chocoholics will enjoy the Stickabutta Pie with pecan crust or the sticky tortina (warm date cake with vanilla gelato), but the real must is the warm chocolate polenta with pretzels, Slovenian fleur de sel, and caramel ($8), a faultless blend of sweet and salty.

Some would argue that you can only have donuts for breakfast. Not so at Emma’s Ale House (68 Gedney Way, White Plains 914-683-3662, emmasalehouse.com), where an ultra-decadent Krispy Kreme Donut bread pudding is served warm with Longford’s Own vanilla ice cream ($10). The glazed donut is actually chopped up, then cooked and served warm with caramel sauce and ice cream, offering the ultimate sugar rush.

If you like pistachio, you’ll love the pistachio crème brûlée ($9) with house-made biscotti at Harvest on Hudson (1 River St, Hastings 914-478-2800; harvest2000.com). With its creamy custard consistency, toasted fresh pistachios, and brûlée crunch, it’s immaculately soothing and worth every calorie. For a tangier, lighter option, try the passion-fruit semifreddo, a white chocolate mousse with a pistachio crunch ($9).

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It’s no secret that cheese makes everything better—including dessert. Which is why Mulino’s of Westchester’s (99 Court St, White Plains 914-761-1818; mulinosny.com) Italian cheesecake ($9), made with fresh ricotta, is the perfect complement to any meal. It’s a classic—so light and airy with just the right amount of sweetness. Equally delish: Great-Grandmother’s Italian country zeppole, a delicate, traditional pastry served with raspberry and chocolate sauce.

Is there anything better than a warm chocolate-chip cookie, soft and gooey on the inside and slightly crisp and cakey on the outside, served with vanilla ice cream? At Restaurant North (386 Main St, Armonk 914-273-8686; restaurantnorth.com), you’ll be transported back to the days when Mom let you lick from the bowl. The good news: you can do it again. Each chocolate-chip cookie skillet ($9) is served in its own pan and brought directly from the kitchen to your table—potholder included. The dessert is big enough to share, though you may not want to.

Most people generally don’t expect great desserts from an Indian restaurant, but at Rangoli Indian Cuisine (615 Main St, New Rochelle 914-235-1306; rangoliindiancuisine.com), your taste buds are in for a cool treat. Order one of three scoops of Rangoli’s terrific ice cream served in a Champagne flute ($5); try the coconut ice cream, flecked with coconut shavings, and the rose ice cream, made with rose petals and rose water, a 2011 Best of Westchester winner—the perfect antidote to a spicy meal.

There’s a lovely, moist texture to the tres leches cake ($7) at Sofrito (175 Main St, White Plains 914-428-5500; sofritonew york.com), where Executive Chef Frank Maldonado marries the airy lightness of this classic Puerto Rican dessert with the sinful joys of brandy and cinnamon. The oversized slice takes a bit like a Coquito, the island’s signature Christmas drink. And yes, it’s equally addictive.

t’s hard to find great fruit pies in Westchester. Perhaps you can score decent ones at certain farm stands and bakeries, but restaurants? Not so much. So kudos to The Tavern at Croton Landing (41 N Riverside Ave, Croton-on-Hudson 914-271-8020; thetavernat croton.com) for giving refuge to those of us who crave a good ’ole American slice of pie and a cup of Joe. Flavors change seasonally but you can usually find apple bourbon or sour cream apple with a streusel top ($7 per slice), baked by Croton resident Dave Tuttle, known locally as “The Pie Guy.”

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For a true Mediterranean delight, indulge in the sticky goodness of the baklava ($4.95) at Turkish Meze (409 Mount Pleasant Ave, Mamaroneck 914-777-3042; turkishmeze.com.) This homemade flaky phyllo dough is layered with pistachios and sugar syrup, and served with a scoop of ice cream. Overly sweet? Surprisingly, no.

At Village Social (251 E Main St, Mount Kisco 914-241-6260; villagesocialkb.com) standard pizza dough is stretched and then baked three quarters of the way with a house-made sweet ricotta sauce. It’s then pulled out of the oven, topped with sliced bananas, marshmallows, and Nutella and baked again until it reaches a golden brown. The end result: pizza like nothing you’ve ever tasted. Consider this Nutella-banana-marshmallow creation ($11), which is large enough to share, a festival of addictive comfort-food ingredients you’ll soon be ordering again.

Dessert is a must at X2O Xaviars on the Hudson (71 Water Grant St, Yonkers 914-965-1111; xaviars.com/yonkers) where everything is done with perfection. Try the butterscotch pudding ($9.50) served with ladyfingers, a custardy, decadent delight amped up with a wee bit of Irish whiskey.

Owner and Chef Vicky Zeph, the mastermind behind Zephs’ (638 Central Ave, Peekskill 914-736-2159; zephsrestaurant.com), is modest about her desserts, but on any given day— the menu changes seasonally—you can find a mango upside-down cake, a Carvel-inspired ice-cream saucer (a Best of Westchester winner), or the Bear Mountain cake—a fine génoise delight constructed of thin layers of cake filled with coffee buttercream and chocolate whipped cream. Come March (in honor of St. Patrick’s Day), expect an authentically constructed trifle—layers of light sponge cake, jam, fresh fruit, thick sherry scented custard, and whipped cream.

City Limits Diner’s Valrhona chocolate pudding—a simple delight made sophisticated

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