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America's 25 Best Desserts You Have to Try

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Why save the best for last? These desserts are so impressive, they deserve a spot at the top of the menu—and the top of your personal 'must eats' list. Savor 25 essential sweet eats from around the country.

1. EDIBLE HELIUM BALLOON, ALINEA // CHICAGO

Balloon dessert Alinea
Basheer Tome, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The fare at this three-Michelin-starred restaurant gives "light meal" a new meaning. Along with a tasting menu filled with savory works of molecular gastronomy, chef Grant Achatz serves up edible helium balloons in a variety of flavors, including grape and banana. Of course, a seat at one of these tables doesn't come easy or cheap. Reservations—which start at $175 a person—are released two months in advance and fill up quickly after the release date on the 15th of each month.

2. KOUING AMAN BREAD PUDDING, LES MADELEINES // SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH

Les Madeleines Kouign Amann
Simon Gibson, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Once featured on The Best Thing I Ever Ate, the French-inspired pastries from Les Madeleines reign supreme. The sweet-and-salty treats are flaky as well as crunchy and are finished with a salted caramel topping. According to the menu, "If you love salted caramel, this is the pastry for you."

3. SEASONAL DOUGHNUT, HOLE DOUGHNUTS // ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA

Asheville
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Asheville, North Carolina's Hole Doughnuts shop keeps it simple with one yeast doughnut recipe in four varieties: vanilla glazed, toasted almond sesame, cocoa rub, and an ever-changing seasonal flavor. But that doesn't mean the flavors aren't complex. Light and airy, the handmade treats are a must-try.

4. CHILTON COUNTRY PEACH UPSIDE DOWN CAKE, HIGHLANDS BAR AND GRILL // BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA

Highlands Bar
coast2coastmove, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Dolester Miles, an award-winning pastry chef, dreamed up this creative dessert just for the Alabama eatery. Topped with chantilly cream, the fruity dish is an unconventional twist on a classic.

5. ICE CREAM SUNDAE, ABC KITCHEN // NEW YORK CITY

ABC Kitchen Sundae
Erin McCarthy

The inside scoop on ABC Kitchen's indulgent sundae: The dessert is a balance of popcorn, salted caramel ice cream, hot fudge, candied peanuts, and whipped cream.

6. TRIPLE COCONUT CREAM PIE, DAHLIA'S BAKERY // SEATTLE

Dahlia's Bakery Seattle
javacolleen, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0  

CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This sweet eat from Dahlia's Bakery is POTUS-approved. President Obama is such a fan of the dessert that he's returned to it a number of times, according to Seattle Weekly. Sample the famous pie—a coconut crust filled with shredded coconut cream and topped with toasted coconut, fresh whipped cream, and shaved white chocolate—as a whole pie (either a "baby" 6 inch or a 9 inch), by the slice, or as an "individual bite."

7. STICKY BUN, FLOUR BAKERY + CAFE // BOSTON

Flour Bakery and Cafe Sticky Bun
Arnold Gatilao, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

It's not hard to track down a sticky bun in any city, but the gooey caramel pastry from this award-winning brand—in eight locations across Massachusetts—is a real winner. In fact, the sticky bun once defeated one of Bobby Flay's creations. (Another honorable mention: The bakery's famous meringue clouds have also earned rave reviews.)

8. BREAD PUDDING SOUFFLÉ, COMMANDER'S PALACE // NEW ORLEANS

Commander's Place Bread Pudding Soufflé
City Foodsters, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Commander's Palace is an award-winning institution in New Orleans. While you can't go wrong with any item on the menu at this restaurant, located in a Victorian-era mansion, the bread pudding soufflé—a creole bread pudding served with a warm whiskey sauce—is a standout among diners.

9. WHOOPIE PIE, LABADIE’S BAKERY // LEWISTON, MAINE

In Maine, you’re often just steps away from a fresh whoopie pie. (There's a reason the delicacy was declared "the official state treat" in 2011.) But Labadie's Bakery claims to sell "the original Maine whoopie." And their treats don't get points just for originality. The bakery sells a variety of flavors of the creamy staple. Can't decide? Spring for the sampler of a dozen.

10. CHURROS, 180 XURROS // PORTLAND, OREGON

Portland
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Vegan and dairy-free, these made-to-order churros are delicious in any form, whether they are "lightly dusted in cinnamon and sugar" or packed with Nutella. Mix things up with the bakery's dipping sauces, like lemon curd or marshmallow swirl.

11. SEASONAL PIES, SISTER PIE // DETROIT

Sister Pie Detroit
City of Detroit, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

At this bakery, patrons can choose from a rotating menu of pies (Think Coffee Chess Pie and Apple, Sage, Gouda Pie), all made from natural, local ingredients. The Salted Maple is a favorite among fans of the so-called "piebrary." Feeling generous? Customers are encouraged to "Pie it forward" and purchase a slice for a future customer.

12. TRIPLE BERRY CAKE, SWEET LADY JANE'S // LOS ANGELES

Sweet Lady Jane's Los Angeles
kara brugman, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

There's a reason Sweet Lady Jane's popular treat has inspired dozens of copycat recipes and earned a spot on Oprah's favorite things. Three layers of fresh blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries are heaped onto this whipped cream-frosted yellow butter cake. Can't make it to La La Land to snag a piece in person? The bakery also ships the cake frozen.

13. LEMON ICEBOX PIE, THE SILVER SKILLET // ATLANTA

The ultimate southern comfort when you're in the Peach State: homemade pie from a neighborhood mainstay. And The Silver Skillet in Atlanta delivers with the popular lemon icebox pie. Featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, the restaurant is known for the dessert, a lemon-based mixture on top of a graham cracker and vanilla wafer crust.

14. STATE FAIR FRY, YARDBIRD SOUTHERN TABLE AND BAR // MIAMI

Batter up: Fried twinkies, fried freshly-baked oreos, and vanilla ice cream come together to make up this decadent dish. "Who doesn’t love our deep fried Oreos?" the restaurant asked followers in 2016. The answer: not many. The restaurant even earned a shout-out from The Food Network.

15. CHOCOLATE BOMBE, PISTACIA VERA // COLUMBUS, OHIO

PISTACIA VERA chocolate bombe
Not for the faint of heart, this rich dessert features chocolate in three different textures: "thin layers of chocolate buttermilk cake, marsala chocolate mousse & semi-sweet chocolate ganache," according to the menu. And if cake isn't your thing, go for the also-popular Parisan macarons, available in a dozen flavors.

16. PB&J ICE CREAM PIE, TARTINE COOKIES AND CREAM // SAN FRANCISCO

Tartine Cookies and Cream San Francisco
Yuichi Sakuraba, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

A modern take on a childhood favorite, the PB&J ice cream pie from Tartine Cookies and Cream is a blend of sorbet, soft-serve, and fresh fruit on a cookie crust and garnished with candied peanuts—and Bon Appetit's best dessert of 2017.

17. FRUIT TARTS, PASTICHE // PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND

PASTICHE fruit tart
David Z., Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Locals take pride in the freshly baked fruit tarts from this small café. Cozy up to the warm fireplace in the winter and pair your pastry with Pastiche's teas or hot chocolates.

18. THE ULTIMATE COCONUT CAKE, PENINSULA GRILL // CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA

Get your sugar high from Peninsula Grill's towering 12-layer delicacy of fresh coconut, cream cheese frosting, and vanilla cake. Since its debut in 1997, the famous treat has earned praises from Bobby Flay and The New York Times, among others—and continues to top itself, literally. Today, each coconut cake stands at five inches.

19. BOURBON AFFECIONADO, 610 MAGNOLIA // LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY

610 Magnolia
Mike Lutz, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

This dessert from 610 Magnolia has a lot of spirit. Namely, bourbon. As executive chef Kevin Ashworth told The Whiskey Reviewer, the dish involves "bourbon soaked banana cake, there's bourbon in the butterscotch, the maple syrup is aged in Pappy Van Winkle barrels, we use bourbon staves for the smoke. If we can put bourbon in it, we put bourbon in it."

20. FRIED MILK, UCHIKO // TEXAS

fried milk uchi

This Sushi spot—with locations throughout Texas and an upcoming restaurant in Denver—offers up a famous take on dairy: fried milk. Conceptualized by Top Chef winner and pastry chef Paul Qui, the dish is a combination of ice milk sherbet, toasted milk, cornflake crumble, and chocolate powder.

21. APPLE PIE, BLUE DUCK TAVERN // WASHINGTON, D.C.

Blue Tavern
albedo20, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Climbing up the ranks of D.C.'s hottest restaurants was as easy as pie for this establishment. Applesauce and filling are combined to form the middle of this famous pie, all baked in a thick, buttery crust. Add a scoop of the restaurant's homemade ice cream to really complete the dish.

22. BROWNIE ROYALE, BAILEYS' CHOCOLATE BAR // SAINT LOUIS, MISSOURI

Bailey's Chocolate Bar
Lee Davenpost, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Chocolate lovers won't know what to sample first at this Missouri restaurant, which boasts a variety of chocolate creations. One popular choice: the Brownie Royal, a fudgy brownie with hot fudge, bananas, and a cherry.

23. POI GLAZED DONUT, KAMEHAMEHA BAKERY // HONOLULU, HAWAII

KAMEHAMEHA BAKERY poi donut
Capsun Poe, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Kamehameha Bakery is known for putting a local spin on traditional desserts, like adding the tarot root poi to Portuguese malasada. The purple, glazed donuts are a favorite among locals and tourists alike. In the words of the bakery’s website, "There's nothing quite like a donut, warm, fluffy, and a little bit gooey."

24. CUPCAKES, CARYTOWN CUPCAKES // RICHMOND, VIRGINIA

CARYTOWN CUPCAKES
Giselle Leung, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The gourmet cupcake shop keeps customers guessing with rotating themed flavors, like "Polyjuice Potion" and "Butterbeer" from the "Cary Potter" menu, as well as nearly a dozen other varieties.

25. DUCK FAT DONUT & ICE CREAM, THE GREY PLUME // OMAHA, NEBRASKA

THE GREY PLUME duck fat donut
Shelby L. Bell, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Eco-friendly restaurant The Grey Plume offers up this unique treat. The name says it all: Each brioche creation is fried in duck fat before being paired with vanilla and brown butter ice cream.

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An Eco-Friendly Startup Is Converting Banana Peels Into Fabric for Clothes
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A new startup has found a unique way to tackle pollution while simultaneously supporting sustainable fashion. Circular Systems, a “clean-tech new materials company,” is transforming banana byproducts, pineapple leaves, sugarcane bark, and flax and hemp stalk into natural fabrics, according to Fast Company.

These five crops alone meet more than twice the global demand for fibers, and the conversion process provides farmers with an additional revenue stream, according to the company’s website. Fashion brands like H&M and Levi’s are already in talks with Circular Systems to incorporate some of these sustainable fibers into their clothes.

Additionally, Circular Systems recycles used clothing to make new fibers, and another technology called Orbital spins those textile scraps and crop byproducts together to create a durable type of yarn.

People eat about 100 billion bananas per year globally, resulting in 270 million tons of discarded peels. (Americans alone consume 3.2 billion pounds of bananas annually.) Although peels are biodegradable, they emit methane—a greenhouse gas—during decomposition. Crop burning, on the other hand, is even worse because it causes significant air pollution.

As Fast Company points out, using leaves and bark to create clothing may seem pretty groundbreaking, but 97 percent of the fibers used in clothes in 1960 were natural. Today, that figure is only 35 percent.

However, Circular Systems has joined a growing number of fashion brands and textile companies that are seeking out sustainable alternatives. Gucci has started incorporating a biodegradable material into some of its sunglasses, Bolt Threads invented a material made from mushroom filaments, and pineapple “leather” has been around for a couple of years now.

[h/t Fast Company]

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Apeel
New Plant-Based Coating Can Keep Your Avocados Fresh for Twice as Long
Apeel
Apeel

Thanks to a food technology startup called Apeel Sciences, eating fresh avocados will soon be a lot easier. The Bill Gates–backed company has developed a coating designed to keep avocados fresh for up to twice as long as traditional fruit, Bloomberg reports, and these long-lasting avocados will soon be available at 100 grocery stores across the Midwestern U.S. Thirty or so of the grocery stores involved in the limited rollout of the Apeel avocado will be Costcos, so feel free to buy in bulk.

Getting an avocado to a U.S. grocery store is more complicated than it sounds; the majority of avocados sold in the U.S. come from California or Mexico, making it tricky to get fruit to the Midwest or New England at just the right moment in an avocado’s life cycle.

Apeel’s coating is made of plant material—lipids and glycerolipids derived from peels, seeds, and pulp—that acts as an extra layer of protective peel on the fruit, keeping water in and oxygen out, and thus reducing spoilage. (Oxidation is the reason that your sliced avocados and apples brown after they’ve been exposed to the air for a while.) The tasteless coating comes in a powder that fruit producers mix with water and then dip their fruit into.

A side-by-side comparison of a coated and uncoated avocado after 30 days, with the uncoated avocado looking spoiled and the coated one looking fresh
Apeel

According to Apeel, coating a piece of produce in this way can keep it fresh for two to three times longer than normal without any sort of refrigeration or preservatives. This not only allows consumers a few more days to make use of their produce before it goes bad, reducing food waste, but can allow producers to ship their goods to farther-away markets without refrigeration.

Avocados are the first of Apeel's fruits to make it to market, but there are plans to debut other Apeel-coated produce varieties in the future. The company has tested its technology on apples, artichokes, mangoes, and several other fruits and vegetables.

[h/t Bloomberg]

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