America's Best Regional Desserts

By Food & Wine

You can get molten chocolate cake anywhere in the U.S., from Washington state to Maine, but good luck finding a fried peach pie in New York or kuchen in Key West. Despite the widespread availability of many foods across America, some dessert traditions remain hyper-regional. Here, Food & Wine names America's Best Regional Desserts.

Shave Ice Shave Ice
A specialty of Hawaii, shave ice is shaved from blocks of ice and topped with Day Glo syrups and Asian toppings, like sweet red adzuki beans and chewy mochi balls made from rice flour. In Lahaina, Ululani's shave ice is so fine that it recalls a sorbet; toppings range from fresh fruit to tapioca pearls in coconut milk.

Photo © Nina Kuna.

Coca-Cola Cake Coca-Cola Cake
From the soft drink's hometown of Atlanta comes this unique dessert-a layer cake that gets its extra-light texture (and caramel color) from the effervescent soda added to the batter. At the popular all-day spot West Egg Café, Coca-Cola cupcakes and cakes are served with Coke-flavored frosting and topped with bottle-shaped gummies.

Photo © Ben Johnson.

Black-and-White Cookies Black-and-White Cookies
Whether prepackaged at a bodega or freshly baked, the cakey, oversize cookie-covered with white fondant on one half and chocolate on the other-is sold throughout NYC. The origins have been linked to glazed Amerikaner cookies in Germany and Halfmoon cookies topped with chocolate frosting and vanilla buttercream at Hemstrought's Bakery in Utica, NY (available only by phone order).
Photo courtesy of William Greenberg Jr. Desserts.

Frozen Custard Frozen Custard
Frozen custard is available in pockets throughout the country, but Milwaukee joints like Kopp's made the egg-enriched soft-serve ice cream famous. In addition to classic vanilla and chocolate, the sleek fast food spot's bow-tied staff pump specialty flavors like chocolate chip cookie dough and peach melba, and they also make indulgent sundaes, such as a tiramisu version with espresso custard, hot fudge and bits of ladyfingers.
Photo courtesy of Kopp's.

Boston Cream Pie Boston Cream Pie
Massachusetts's official state dessert isn't a pie at all. It traditionally features layers of sponge cake and vanilla custard, all covered in chocolate ganache. At Flour Bakery in Boston's South End, star pastry chef Joanne Chang updates the classic by brushing each cake layer with robust coffee syrup before adding an ethereal pastry cream.

Photo courtesy of Flour Bakery.

Orange Crunch Cake Orange Crunch Cake
Created on Florida's Captiva Island at a kitschy, memorabilia-packed restaurant called the Bubble Room, Orange Crunch Cake features local citrus in orange-zest-flecked buttercream and layers of orange-flavored cake baked with graham-cracker-and-almond crusts. It's assembled so that the crunchy sides meet in the center. While Bubble Room still makes the cake, the recipe has now been adopted by home bakers.
Photo courtesy of The Bubble Room.

Paczki Pączki
Fluffy pączki doughnuts are made with a rich yeast dough and contain more eggs, butter, and sugar than American doughnuts. They're found in Polish neighborhoods like the Detroit suburb of Hamtramck, which hosts a pre-Lent Pączki Day each year. The celebrations result in lines at pączki-makers like New Martha Washington Bakery, where the doughnuts are filled with custard or fruit jams like raspberry and apricot.
Photo courtesy of Mayor Karen Majewski.

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