Good Gourd: 12 Pumpkin Desserts to Celebrate the Season

Once a humble, orange gourd best known for adorning dining room tables and decorating doorsteps, pumpkin has become a divisive element of the fall culinary landscape. Each year, pumpkin in all forms appears in coffee shops, grocery stores, and restaurants across the country, to the delight of some and exhaustion of others. We’re taking a stance, though, however controversial: we love pumpkin. Whether it be the ubiquitous pumpkin spice latte, a creamy, comforting bowl of soup, or a hot-from-the-oven bread, we’re all in. However, pumpkin desserts reign supreme in our diets. From tiramisu to fritters to the most distinctly autumn ice cream sandwich, check out how chefs from around the country do justice to our favorite fall flavors.

Ginger Snap Cookie and Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwich, CBD Provisions, Dallas, Texas
This modern-yet-inviting brasserie in the heart of downtown Dallas is open all day, but make sure to stop in for lunch or dinner for a taste of fall on a plate. Executive pastry chef Keith Cedotal combined two of the season’s best, most quintessential flavors in his Gingersnap Cookie Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwich with housemade cookies and a coating of pumpkin seeds for a little added texture. If we could dole these out to trick-or-treaters on Halloween, we’d officially be the most popular house on the block. Make a reservation at CBD Provisions.

Pumpkin Desserts

Pumpkin Spice Gelato, Alla Spina, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Among the many reasons to love chef Marc Vetri’s Italian gastropub is the extensive beer selection (including the Victory Verde, a saison made exclusively for the Vetri family restaurants,) the comforting yet impressive, pork-centric menu, and, not least, the soft serve gelato. Flavors change seasonally, but this fall enjoy a Pumpkin Spice swirl in a cup, on a cone, or, for a little pick me up, an affogato with a shot of espresso. Make a reservation at Alla Spina.

Pumpkin Desserts

Pumpkin Basque Cake, The Bristol, Chicago, Illinois
Renowned chef Grant Achatz has called the Basque cake at this beloved American restaurant in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood one of his favorite desserts in the city. A staple on the menu, pastry chef Amanda Rockman has given the cake an autumn spin, adding pumpkin marmalade — made from scratch by cooking a mixture of small diced pumpkin tossed in maple sugar and lemon zest — and a garnish of candied sage, spiced pumpkin seeds, and maple chantilly to the classic Spanish dessert. “If you can find them, the best pumpkin for marmalade that I have found is called a Long Island Cheese Squash,” asserts Chef Rockman. “Odd name, but great pumpkin.” Make a reservation at The Bristol.

Pumpkin desserts

Tiramisu’ Alla Zucca, Lago, Las Vegas, Nevada
At this stylish spot in the Bellagio, get a front row seat to the resort’s famous fountain show while enjoying plates like crudo, small pizzas, and focaccia. And for those celebrating Thanksgiving in town, don’t miss the seasonal spin on the traditional Italian dessert. Tiramusu’ Alla Zucca layers pumpkin mascarpone mousse onto espresso-soaked lady fingers in an indulgent, impressive — and appropriately Vegas — presentation. Make a reservation at Lago.

Pumpkin Desserts

Pumpkin Cake in a Box, BOA Steakhouse, Santa Monica, California
The classic steakhouse gets an L.A. twist at this perpetually buzzing Santa Monica hot spot. After treating yourself to a juicy steak — the 40-day, dry-aged New York Strip or bone-in Kansas City filet mignon are among the many menu heavy-hitters — the Cake in a Box is an apt ending. With moist, spiced pumpkin cake, vanilla cream cheese icing, anisette cream, and candied pecans, the “box” aspect of this dessert means taking it to go is just as easy as diving in on site. Make a reservation at BOA Steakhouse.

Pumpkin Desserts

Baked Pumpkin Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts, Taste on Melrose, West Hollywood, California
Paired with a hot coffee at brunch or saved for dessert at lunch or dinnertime, the Baked Pumpkin Cinnamon Sugar Doughnut — made with a soft pumpkin brioche, drenched in butter, and covered in cinnamon and sugar — makes for a perfectly autumn indulgence at this warm little neighborhood spot. Or, opt for the spicy Pumpkin Crumb Cake, topped with an almond nutmeg crumb layer. With ample outdoor seating for L.A.’s 364 days of sunshine, enjoy either one of executive pastry chef Katie Shyne’s house-baked creations and win fall. Make a reservation at Taste on Melrose.

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Tricky Treats: 11 Classic Candy Bar Desserts

In the spirit of this spooky season, we’ve assembled a collection of high-end homages to Halloween treats. You may not be able to put them in your plastic pumpkin or repurposed pillowcase, but they taste even better than the bite-sized goodies your neighbors always hand out. Plus, you don’t need to put on an elaborate costume – or to swipe them from the little trick or treaters in your life – in order to try them. Here are 11 classic candy bar desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth this weekend.

 Abigaile, Hermosa Beach, California
You’re not you when you’re hungry. Luckily, this Snickers-y sweet really satisfies. Executive Chef Tin Vuong piles a rectangle of chocolate with layers of nougat, peanut butter crème, and marshmallow fluff before coating it with chocolate. The bar is finished off with a pool of caramel and crushed peanuts.

Candy Bar Desserts

Sugar Factory American Brasserie, Miami Beach, Florida
We firmly believe the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is one of the greatest inventions of all time – the perfect union of salty peanut butter and sweet milk chocolate. Here it has been reinvented as an over-the-top, reverse-minded ice cream sandwich featuring peanut butter cookies bookending a massive scoop of chocolate ice cream. As if that weren’t enough, there are Reese’s Pieces, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream scattered atop it.

Candy Bar Desserts

Trace, Austin, Texas
As anyone who has ever eaten at a state fair or a carnival knows, deep frying makes everything taste better. Case in point is pastry chef Angel Begaye’s dark chocolate candy bar packed with crunchy rice crisps and salted caramel. The sweet ingot is dunked in beignet mix, frizzled golden, and served with warm chocolate dipping sauce.


L’Artusi, New York City
Executive pastry chef Sarah Ewald takes inspiration from both Twix bars and Ferrero Rocher balls. Her candy bar cake features hazelnut cake and praline crunch topped with chocolate ganache, hazelnuts, sea salt, and dark chocolate. It’s completely okay to reach over and high five your dining companion while you’re scarfing it down. We understand what you’re going through and won’t judge.

Candy Bar Desserts

Osteria Morini, Washington, D.C.
Pastry chef Alex Levin is god of the goodies. He elevates the humble Almond Snickers to heavenly heights with his Pralina dessert. Almond praline chocolate cake is accompanied by espresso cream speckled with chocolate-covered almonds and torrone nougat candy gelato. Can we get a hallelujah?

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Bambara, Cambridge, Massachusetts
You’ll never want to eat a regular Snickers after you try the chef Jay Silva’s BamBar. The rich nugget is packed with milk and dark chocolate, Nutella, cashews, nougat, caramel, and peanut butter. Bam!

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Tweet of the Week: A Delightful Halloween Treat from The French Laundry

Fairytales can come true. It can happen to you — if you follow The French Laundry on Twitter. Even though it was Halloween, this was no trick. Thomas Keller’s legendary dining mecca released a full day of reservations on OpenTable, and a bunch of fortunate and fast foodies seized the opportunity. Congratulations to everyone who scored a table; you are definitely in for a treat!

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Dining Poll: How Does Halloween Affect Your Sweet Tooth?

Happy Halloween! Are you spending the day snacking on candy and spooky confections, basking in the glory of a sugar rush? Do you stick to your usual consumption of sugary, chocolate-y yummies, enjoying a bite here and there? Or, are you like me — lacking a real sweet tooth and not at all tempted by sweet treats (Halloween-inspired cocktails are another story, however!)? Weigh in on our poll.