Best of 2011 Eats & Treats: Dessert Edition

It's finally here! Our Best of 2011 issue hit kiosks today. It's chock-full of great things to eat and drink. Wondering what the city's best Liberian and Hawaiian restaurants are? We've got you covered. New York's best uses for Velveeta and kimchi? Yep, we've got that, too. Space limited what could appear in the print edition, so throughout the week, we'll be dishing up some online exclusives and highlighting the runners-up that came close but just missed the mark. Up first? The Best of 2011: Dessert Edition, written by the lovely Rebecca Marx. She (and her sugar tooth) might be gone, but her favorite desserts will not be forgotten.

Rebecca Marx
Coolhaus: messy and cool. And damn tasty.

Best Mess: New York was laid siege by ice cream sandwiches this past summer, each more winsome and pedigreed than the last. But none were more memorable than the exuberantly sloppy behemoths from Coolhaus, the ice cream truck that came to us from L.A. bearing creations as flavorful as they are outsize. Eating one under the mid-afternoon sun necessitates both numerous napkins and a willingness to use your tongue in ways that are illegal in Kansas and Utah. What's lost in dignity is more than made up for in caloric bliss, which is to us an eminently fair trade.

Best Reason to Worship Satan: There is chocolate cake, and then there is chocolate cake that would make a priest put his fist through a stained-glass window. The devil's food cake that Kierin Baldwin makes at the Dutch falls squarely into the latter category. Baldwin's genius lies not so much in the cake's impeccably moist and fudgy crumb, but in twists like the addition of crunchy cocoa nibs to the cake layers and black pepper to its boiled icing. The latter is equal parts divinity and dark mischief, and utterly worth the sale of your soul. 131 Sullivan Street, 212-677-6200,

Best Semi-Obscure Regional Specialty: Born in the early '40s, St. Louis's Gooey Butter Cake was all but unknown in these parts until Shuna Lydon thoughtfully added it to her menu at Peels. She tweaked the cake's name (to "St. Louis Sticky Gooey Cake") but not its most glorious attribute, the delirium-inducing morass of sweet, buttery custard that sits quivering beneath a crackly, fissured crust. Pooled quicksand-like atop a foundation of yeasty brioche, it is every bit as sticky and gooey as its name promises and, as such, an occasion to rejoice. 325 Bowery, 646-602-7015,

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