New Year’s diet resolutions be damned — 2023 is the year of daring desserts.
From Heber to Holladay, Utah’s restaurants are getting creative when it comes to the sweetest course of the meal — dessert.
Whether it’s chefs using exotic ingredients in unexpected ways or taking age-old traditions and modernizing their presentation, these treats come with a side of discovery and adventure. These sweets demand attention. So, kick those wintertime blues by indulging in desserts that entice with the promise they’ll be worth the calories.
Churro ice cream sandwiches
After enjoying some of Utah’s sugary snow at Park City Mountain Resort, slide into Dos Olas Cantina located in Canyons Village for après ski, Mexican style. Executive Chef Carlos Segura’s menu takes its inspiration from Mexico City, where even the desserts nod to traditional Mexican favorites.
Here, deep-fried churros get the star treatment when they’re sandwiched together with creamy vanilla ice cream and drizzled with warm Mexican chocolate sauce. The churro ice cream sandwiches ($14) come three to a plate, so sharing these crispy cool chocolate-drenched treats is essential après etiquette.
Dos Olas is located in the Pendry Plaza, Suite 19, at 2417 W. High Mountain Road. Complimentary self-parking is available after 3 p.m. in the Pendry Public Parking Garage. 435-513-7198. Open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Ube with macaron
Mint Tapas and Sushi owner and chef Batsaikhan “Soy” Ariunbold has always been known for his inventive presentation and artful flavors when it comes to raw and cooked seafood. His attention to detail doesn’t stop short at dessert.
Ariunbold lets the natural boldness of ube — a purple yam from the Philippines — delight the eyes with its striking purple hue long before the creamy ice cream ($8), with a flavor reminiscent of vanilla and pistachio, takes hold.
The precise knifework of Mint’s sushi chefs is still on display at dessert, thanks to paper-thin fans of apple slices and strawberries that add different textures and more pops of color to the final dish of the meal. The frosty showstopper is finished with a color-coordinated French-style macaron.
Mint Tapas and Sushi has three locations in the Salt Lake Valley: 3158 E. 6200 South, Holladay; 8391 S. 700 East, Sandy; and 4640 S. Holladay Village Plaza, Holladay.
Blueberry Pine Pie
Take a drive on Highway 189 along the Provo River to find a dining experience unlike any other in Utah. Breathtaking views of Deer Creek Reservoir greet guests who are welcomed to experience locally focused cuisine at The Lakehouse at Deer Creek.
“The Blueberry Pine Pie is something that reminded me of winters I experienced growing up in the mountains of Mammoth, Utah,” said Tamara Stanger, The Lakehouse’s chef. “I had a bucket of pine needles that was cured in sugar for over a year. The flavor of the sugar at the end was intensely fragrant — just like a fresh pine tree. I knew that the flavor would complement the berries without disguising either flavor, and my hope was that when guests ate a bite, it would remind them of winter in the mountains, just as I intended.”
Stanger has a magical gift for crusts. “The most important part of pie is the crust,” she said, pointing out her simple, butter-based recipe, which she’s been using for more than 20 years. “The secret is the quality of the ingredients and the method of making the dough. I make my crusts by hand because I feel like it’s important to work the cold panes of butter into the flour with warm hands in order to incorporate it properly without ending up with big slabs or overmixing the dough.”
Stanger’s crusts envelope both savory and sweet creations all across the menu — from the daily Pioneer Dinner Pie ($32) selection to a slice of pie ($10) to close the meal.
“Once I make a specific flavor of pie, I rarely make the same one again,” she said, much to the chagrin of regular customers. “Sometimes I will make a variation of a pie, but it’s never an exact replica. To me, pie is art, and I want each visit to the Lakehouse to be a unique experience with a different, new, exciting flavor every time.”
The Lakehouse is located at 5317 S. Highway 189, outside of Heber. Winter dinner hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 5-9 p.m. 435-210-7474; thelakehousedeercreek.com.
Cream puffs, donuts and hand pies
Whether your tastes lean toward savoring the world’s best customizable cream puff from Beard Papa’s in Sugar House; witnessing the mesmerizing flaming donut tree as it’s carried through the dining room at Aqua Terra Steak and Sushi, or grabbing a raspberry eggnog hand pie from the walk-up window at Pie Fight, there’s a mountain of sugary goodness to enjoy in Utah.
Heather L. King owns www.slclunches.com and can be found on social media @slclunches.