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| Sweets |

Spotlight on Desserts

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With winter comes that extra sumpthin'-sumpthin' that keeps us warm at night. It's called the dessert layer. That's right: As the temperature drops, so does our metabolism. (Thud.) And while we fall in and out of love with desserts on a regular basis, the current State of Sweet around town is too strong to ignore. Houston pastry chefs have been pushin' their trade and testing our limits. Oh, we're not talking any of those fruit-based desserts and sorbets of summer (yawn). We're talking rich, buttery offerings that we down without hesitation since, of course, we'll all seek dietary redemption come January. Heh. Here are a few of our sugarplum favorites.

Check out the dessert menu at Stella Sola the dynamite pistachio pound cake. Topped with ice cream and served with a gaggle of sour cherries, the cake is moist-delicious, and not overly sweet, but has an incredible nutty flavor that absolutely tastes like Fall. Simple and simply creative, this is a show-stopping way to end your meal.

Shade recently brought back its regularly requested cherry-and-chocolate-croissant bread pudding. The tart cherries taste like Christmas, while the chocolate croissants add just the right amount of buttery sweetness. The tender consistency is spot on, and you won't even notice how rich it is until you're half done.

The newly open Branch Water Tavern has already amassed a following, thanks to outrageous desserts like the sticky toffee pudding with pistachio ice cream and the crème fraiche cheesecake with blueberry compote. Seriously? These puppies were so excessively delicious that we wouldn't even *consider* skipping dessert here. True statement!

Don't have time for a sit-down? The Nutella-frosted cupcakes at Giacomo's are more like individual flourless chocolate cakes. Creamy and fudge-like, these things fill the FDA's wintertime chocolate allowance, and our love for Nutella has been extremely well documented.

Jody Flood of Jodycakes delivers a batch of the city's best cupcakes to Tuscany Coffee in the Greenway Plaza food court every Monday. Get there early -- these lil' guys fly off the shelves purty darn quick.

And there you have it. What are your favorite desserts around town?

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