Dessert in Washington, DC
Think all proper pie makers are blue-haired grannies? You haven't met Rodney Henry, owner of Baltimore import Dangerously Delicious Pies. Henry got his start as the frontman of a rock band, selling pies at his shows and even trading them for lodging on one particularly low-budget tour. Eventually pies became his main trade, but Dangerously Delicious Pies retains some hipster-rocker edge. And the pies? The Baltimore Bomb was “Ace of Cakes” Duff Goldman's pick for The Best Thing I Ever Ate on The Food Network – when a master baker praises your pie on a show called The Best Thing I Ever Ate, you can be sure that's some pretty good pie. Offers quiche if you need a bit of protein before the sugar rush. Open until 3:30 am on weekends, or until the last pie is sold.
If you think vegan baking has to be dry, crumbly, or somehow “healthy tasting,” then clearly you've never visited Sticky Fingers Bakery. The cupcakes from this small Columbia Heights restaurant are so good, many diners prefer them to the eggs-and-butter competition. And judges agree – owner Doron Petersan is a two-time winner of The Food Network's Cupcake Wars. If you need more than cupcakes, there are vegan lunches and brunches and very good coffee. The décor is 1950s diner, with modern conveniences like wall outlets and wifi for the laptop crowd. If you're one of the many who just can't get enough of the Sticky Fingers goodness, look for Doron Petersan's cookbook in early 2012.
Sometimes dessert is about the whole experience as much as the actual sweets. Buzz Bakery, a cute coffeehouse tucked on an Alexandria side street near Potomac Yards, understands the importance of setting. Buzz offers excellent coffee or wine and beer to accompany its array of sweets, plus comfortable couches, a dog-friendly outdoor patio, wifi for the wired set, and morning play space for the littlest visitors. The sweet offerings can be hit-or-miss, but the hits are spectacular and finding your favorites is a good excuse to order more sweets. (If you like chocolate and want to skip the trial-and-error, go straight for the 9:30 cupcake or the marbled cupcake topped with black-and-white chocolate balls.) Buzz is open until midnight every night for an after-dinner or after-movie snack. There's also a larger second location in Clarendon, and rumors of a third shop near Nationals Stadium in 2012.
Paul is the real deal of French bakeries – the original location has been operating in France since 1889. Their pastries, macarons, and other desserts are very French, very buttery, and very tasty. Also available are a variety of breads (made using the same generations-old recipe as the original French shops), sandwiches and other light savories, and European and American coffee drinks. They are working on a liquor license, for those who prefer wine with their baguette. The Penn Quarter location is the first of a planned expansion all over the East Coast, with a Georgetown location soon to follow.
If your one complaint about ice cream is that it's just not rich enough, frozen custard is for you! Frozen custard contains extra egg yolks and is processed with less air, making it richer, denser and creamier than ice cream. The Dairy Godmother makes superb frozen custard, with vanilla and chocolate and a rotation of special flavors like Mexican Chocolate, Tollhouse Cookie or Banana Pudding. If frozen custard isn't your thing, there's also sorbet, ice pops in exotic flavors like Papaya-Ginger and Cherry-Hibiscus, cookies and homemade marshmellows, and even baked or frozen dog treats. The Wisconsin-themed décor and occasional brat nights are an added bonus for displaced Badgers. A downside are the lines, which grew far worse after the Obamas dropped by in 2009. Visit on a nice evening, and soak up the Del Ray atmosphere while you're waiting. Closed Tuesdays.