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South Sound desserts

Where to feed your sweet tooth

Cooks’ Chocolate Barge. Photos by Dutch Randall

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There are times when our need for sweets takes over and we just need that fix. If you are like me, it takes more than a warm cookie - which I can make at home - to get me off my couch and out the door to fill that need. Fortunately, I've scoured the South Sound and found several desserts that you are not likely to find in your own kitchen.

Cooks Tavern in Tacoma adds as much creativity to its dessert menu as it does its main dishes.  The Commencement Bay Chocolate Barge is everything that is advertised in the menu as "really, really, really chocolatey."  In fact, that may be an undersell, as it is literally a generous helping of thick, rich fudge, topped with candied cherries and surrounded by creamy ancho reyes crème.  Bring a friend - this is too much richness for one person.

Cooks Tavern, 3201 N. 26th St., Tacoma, 253.327.1777,

The Back Door Bakery in Lacey is well known by locals for its creative wedding cakes, but offers so much more to the customers lucky enough to just pop in to satisfy their need for sweets.  My favorite treats here are the cutie pies, which are personal-sized pies in nearly any flavor you could possibly crave.  Offerings include apple, triple berry, chocolate, banana cream, lemon and even pecan.  Whatever your favorite is, the Back Door already has it waiting for you.

Back Door Bakery, 4444 Lacey Blvd. SE, Suite B, Lacey, 360.350.0221

Social’s Fried Pina Colada

With a view of the sail boats parked at the Thea Foss Waterway in Tacoma, the Social Bar and Grill offers several unique desserts that make the view just a bit sweeter.  The Fried Pina Colada is a dessert you are not likely to find elsewhere.  A fresh pineapple ring is battered and deep-fried, topped with coconut ice cream, caramel and toasted coconut.  This is sweet and creamy, warm and cool, soft and crunchy all at the same time.  Surely one of the best desserts you'll ever have.

Social Bar and Grill, 1715 Dock St., Tacoma, 253.301.3835,

Ice Cream Social on Tacoma's 6th Ave. offers a neighborhood and family environment for all to enjoy.  In addition, they have great ice cream that is handcrafted and made with only local products.  Though, the majority of their menu revolves around creative and seasonal flavors like French Toast or Maple with candied pecans, there are a handful of favorites such as salted caramel and Valhalla coffee that are available every day.  There are over 32 South Sound restaurants that proudly serve this local confection as well.  Stop in and get your fix straight from the source.

Ice Cream Social, 2914 6th Ave., Tacoma, 253.327.1660,

San Francisco Street Bakery’s Lemon Tart

The San Francisco Street Bakery in Olympia is popular during the warmer months because of the garden patio.  The quality of food and friendly family service, however, keep Olympians coming year-round.  You will find delicious pies, cakes and Danishes here, but my favorite is the lemon meringue mini tart.  There is an immense amount of lemon flavor packed into this single serving; add creamy toasted meringue surrounding the edge, and the bakers here have created something truly unique.

San Francisco Street Bakery, 1320 San Francisco Ave. NE, Olympia, 360.753.8553,

Roadrunner’s Bourbon Bread Pudding

As a steak-driven restaurant, one should expect the Roadrunner Bourbon and Burger House to offer top-shelf desserts as well.  The best on the menu here is the bourbon bread pudding; rich and smoky bourbon-flavored breading over vanilla ice cream and then topped with whipped cream and a caramel drizzle.  The exceptionalness comes as each bite is individually baked crispy with a soft core allowing tremendous flavor each time.

Roadrunner Bourbon and Burger House, 10312 120th St. E., Puyallup, 253.446.7016,

Bruno’s Turtle Brownie

Nearly everyone loves a good brownie, but I don't generally see people searching brownies out.  Bruno's turtle brownie is on a whole new level that may make you forget about any other you've eaten in the past.  A thick and fudgy brownie is topped with chucks of a second serving and then drizzled with sweet caramel, and finally sprinkled with pecans.  This is surely a destination dessert.

Bruno's, 10902 Bridgeport Way SW, Lakewood, 253.719.7181,

When you're yearning for something sweet, a bakery is usually a good bet, and the Corina Bakery in downtown Tacoma is no exception.  It is, however, unique to other bakeries in that it focuses on natural earthy sweet tones such as a lavender, lemon and honey cake, or cinnamon and ginger added chocolate cake.  My favorite, however, is the King's Favorite, which is a rich banana cake with a peanut butter frosting and then drenched in a chocolate ganache.  I get the sweet I'm looking for, but substantially less processed than many other options out there.

Corina Bakery, 602 Fawcett Ave., Tacoma, 253.627.5070,

The Savor Creperie in Tacoma has turned simple ingredients into amazing desserts.  As a créperie, the selections consist of crépes and more crépes, and the simplicity of each choice is what makes the trip to downtown worth the effort.  Too many times, dessert makers try too hard, but at Savor, simple ingredients offer everything your pallet needs.  Menu options include butter, cinnamon and sugar, or butter, lemon and sugar as the most basic, as well as several fruit varieties like apples and cinnamon that includes a salted caramel drizzle, or a mixed berry option that includes sweet mascarpone cheese.  I haven't found a bad choice yet ... I'll keep looking.

Savor Creperie, 1916 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.365.5534,

OK, so technically not a dessert, the Campfire Martini at the Bar Bistro in east Tacoma deserves to be treated as such.  A mixture of double chocolate vodka, salted caramel Bailey's, creamy RumChata liqueur, which is then sprinkled with graham cracker crumbs and topped with marshmallows that are set aflame at the last possible moment.  An adults-only remake of s'mores that is worthy of any dessert list.

Bar Bistro, 1718 99th St. E., Tacoma, 253.537.3655,

Whether you have a sweet tooth for chocolate, vanilla, or simply fruit prepared in a way you could only imagine; rest assured that there are plenty of options around the South Sound.  Grab your friends or family because there is no reason to let a sweet craving pass you by.

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