10 Hot Desserts for a Warm Sugar Buzz

By Danya Henninger  |  December 9, 2013
Credit: Danya Henninger

It’s simple science: our bodies need sugar to stay warm. While that may not exactly translate directly into an excuse for winter dessert, we’ll take it as an opportunity for a bit of extra indulgence during the chilly days at hand. These 10 warm sweets bring the heat in more ways than one, and make a hot finish to a cold evening out.

  • Butter Cake at Brauhaus Schmitz

    Pastry chef Jessica Nolen takes the traditional Pennsylvania-German dessert and updates it with extra decadence at this South Street bier hall. A "butter-sugar schmear" sprinkled with hazelnuts oozes out over a brown-sugar center and raisin-studded bottom as it’s served warm from the oven with a swirl of crème fraîche ($6; 267-909-8814).

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Half-Baked Toll House Cookie at Twenty Manning Grill

    Get the best part of making chocolate chip cookies at home - the batter - without the mess at Audrey Claire Taichman’s cozy Rittenhouse bar. A huge cookie emerges from the oven only partially baked, and the ensuing spoonfuls of the gooey interior will take you back to your best childhood memories ($7; 215-731-0900).

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Donut Bread Pudding at Alla Spina

    Chef Pat Szoke and co. have figured out how to make a donut even better. Sweet cake pieces are mixed with raisins and turned into bread pudding, then turned out of the mold and served warm with a bubbling vanilla glaze ($8; 215-600-0017).

  • Chocolate Bread Pudding at Rex 1516

    Brian DeMuro isn’t pulling any punches at his new position as dessert master at the South Street West dining room. Diners will be begging for sugar mercy after finishing off a plate of his take on bread pudding, served with warm peanut butter sauce, chocolate crème anglaise and chocolate whipped cream ($8; 267-319-1366).

  • Grilled PB & Pretzel Sandwich at American Sardine Bar

    Chef Scott Schroeder is extremely proud of his newest dessert creation at this Point Breeze bar. Peanut butter, pears and chocolate-covered pretzels are sandwiched between country white bread and then grilled in a buttered skillet to create a masterpiece of melting sweetness ($7; 215-334-2337).

  • PB&J Donuts at Undrgrnd Donuts

    It’s great to be able to get donuts from a food truck, but even cooler is the fact that they’re all served hot and fresh from the fryer. Though any of dozens of options will warm you up after a cold lunch run, this one hits a particularly nostalgic sweet spot.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Beignets at The Twisted Tail

    Hot from the fryer, the eminently pop-able Southern donut bites Leo Forneas puts out at this Headhouse Square blues bar are even more enjoyable when dunked in the warm bourbon-butter dipping sauce on the side. They’re as shareable as dessert gets, but it won’t be easy to give any up ($7; 215-558-2471).

  • Fried Gingerbread Rosette at Le Virtu

    Pastry chef Angela Ranalli just introduced a series of new desserts at this East Passyunk Abruzzese favorite. One of the prettiest is this snowflake-shaped rosette, which features layers of warm fried gingerbread interspersed with espresso whipped ricotta ($10; 215-271-5626).

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Chocolate Pot De Crème at Pennsylvania 6

    A scoop of rich dark chocolate custard hides in waiting at the bottom of this bowl at the Wash West American bistro, covered by the warm caramelized bananas, crunchy roasted macadamias and a scoop of white chocolate gelato that melts over the top ($8; 267-639-5606).

  • Nutella Pie at Pizzeria Vetri

    The pizza dough at Marc Vetri’s new Callowhill parlor is good enough that even after devouring several savory pies, you’ll be ready to go back for more at dessert. Ask for this treat, created by separating a crust into top and bottom layers, and spreading Nutella and marshmallow fluff in between ($12; 215-600-2629).