11 Must-Try Fall Desserts Around DC

By Rina Rapuano  |  October 25, 2016
Credit: Courtesy of Equinox

As Halloween fast approaches and the #PSL dominates your morning routine, it’s time to admit summer is definitely over. (Adios, glorious berries. Sayonara, you perfect peaches.) Don’t fret, though — local pastry chefs have plenty of tricks up their sleeves to keep your sweet tooth satisfied through the colder months. Here are 11 autumnal desserts you should try right now:

Sweet potato semifreddo at Equinox
Cynthia Ruane, who recently came on board as pastry chef, channels fall with a vegan sweet potato semifreddo made with cashew cream, almond milk and autumnal spices. The mixture is chilled and plated with roasted hazelnuts, cranberry coulis and a concord grape sorbet.

818 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202-331-8118

Turinois at Kinship
Pastry chef Anne Specker employs chocolate and chestnuts — a dessert combination referred to as turinois — to evoke fall flavors. The cooked chestnuts are puréed with sugar and whipped with butter before melted chocolate is folded in and the mixture is chilled. It’s served with pomegranate, compressed pear and ginger ice cream.

1015 Seventh St. NW; 202-737-7700

Courtesy of DBGB

Butternut squash cake at DBGB DC
Newly installed pastry chef Erin Reed recently added this fairly fancy interpretation of cake to the menu. She accents it with apples roasted with vadouvan spice, pomegranate foam and seeds, coconut sorbet and a whipped ganache flavored with Dulcey (a 32% Valrhona chocolate characterized by its velvety texture and golden color).

931 H St. NW; 202-695-7660

Courtesy of Osteria Morini

Mele at Osteria Morini
​It doesn't get much more autumnal than this apple dessert from pastry chef Alex Levin, who puts a modern spin on the classic flavors. This plate incorporates tubes of maple-pecan bavarian dipped in apple cider, honeycrisp apples in various shapes, a pecan financier, candied pecans, maple powder and brown-butter gelato made with toasted milk powder to bump up the flavor.

301 Water St. SE; 202-484-0660

Maple s’mores at Bonfire
We have executive pastry chef Ellen Diekemper to thank for one of our favorite s’mores flavor combos — the peanut butter-banana version we tried over the summer. She just added one that channels fall with housemade graham crackers, Nutella and a salted maple marshmallow.

1132 19th St. NW; 202-833-1860

Courtesy of Bastille

Valrhona chocolate pavé at Bastille
Co-owner and executive pastry chef Michelle Poteaux deepens and brightens her gluten-free chocolate dessert with the addition of candied kalamata olives and orange peel. She adds caramelized oranges, olive oil ice cream and a pistachio crunch to the rich, fudgey star of the plate.

606 N. Fayette St., Alexandria; 703-519-3776

Courtesy of Plume

Speculoos triangle cake at Plume
It’s tough to resist the spiced-cookie flavor of speculoos — Europe’s spreadable answer to cookie dough. Here, it’s added to a cake and made into a sandwich with berry jelly, all served with a winter-spiced poached pear and Tahitian vanilla ice cream. This is a special-occasion (or high-roller) dessert, though, since it comes in at $30 per order.

1200 16th St. NW; 202-448-2300

Courtesy of Ris

Fig cheesecake at Ris
Pastry chef Jonni Scott starts this dessert with a crunchy walnut crust that’s filled with dried golden figs and goat cheese topped with more goat cheese blended with cream cheese. It’s baked and served with a balsamic glaze on the plate, brûléed black mission figs, walnuts and thyme for a sweet-savory meal ender.

2275 L St. NW; 202-730-2500

Courtesy of Bourbon Steak

Apple “honeycrisp” at Bourbon Steak
This dining room plans to highlight Calvados in many ways this season, including with pastry chef Derkje Steenblik’s dessert that incorporates roasted local apples, Calvados toffee, oat crumble and ginger ice cream. Pair it with the sommelier-approved ice wine or with a cocktail of Calvados, Kronan Swedish Punsch (an aged Swedish spirit made with sugar cane), lemon, pear and spiced syrup.

2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202-944-2026

Pumpkin sundae at Garrison
The pumpkin ice cream here incorporates kabocha squash purée and Wild Turkey for bite. It’s served with croutons made from chocolate cake, a pumpkin crisp garnish made with dehydrated heirloom squash slices brushed with vanilla syrup. The accompanying warm, spiced caramel sauce poured tableside is spiked with flavors of cinnamon, orange zest, star anise and cardamom.

524 Eighth St. SE; 202-506-2445

Courtesy of Co Co. Sala

Azélia amour at Co Co. Sala  
Of course Co Co. Sala gravitates toward fall flavors that pair well with chocolate. For this sweet ender, chef Santosh Tiptur​ uses Valrhona Azélia — a hazelnut milk chocolate — to make a mousse with a crème fraîche cheesecake center and a crispy chocolate feuilletine base. Also gracing the plate are a salted caramel ice cream, hazelnut crumble, hazelnut sponge cake and bourbon caramel.

929 F St. NW; 202-347-4265