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Dessert: comforting, decadent, and completely guilt-free...

My life has been sucked into the vortex of an MCAT prep class. Because I work during the day and go straight to the class, dinner becomes an optional or late-night thing. Between the irregular eating, the endless heap of practice problems, and the fact that I'm home only long enough to sleep, I could use something ridiculously delicious and sweet for the purposes of self-medication (other forms impede my ability to study effectively :P).

Here's the survey-esque question to y'all... high-stress, high-workload, low-relaxation time in your life... what San Diego dessert would you choose? Location isn't really an issue.

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  1. Went through the exact same phase last year (though for a different exam) and picked out 2 dessert winners - The Jalebi at Surati Farsan Mart and the Chocolate Pot de Creme at Kensington Grill. Jalebi is an old favorite for me, and I made it a point to check when it was going to be fresh - its most fun when its hot and straight out the fryer, warm, crisp and dripping with the saffron-sugar syrup.
    As for the pot de creme, i happened to be at Kensington Grill for dinner after a particularly rough day during the exam phase and it hit the sweet spot...
    Neither fits the 'guilt-free' part of your post title though! These are NOT good for you!

    1. Geeky, no matter where you are in the county find a way to get to Elizabethan Desserts in Encinitas. It's not that far off the I-5 and definitely worth the drive.

      Most of her desserts are ridiculously good, plus they hold well for a few days. So, if you're like me and don't live close, pick up several cupcakes, and a cherry tart or 2 (or 3). That way you can have a treat every day while studying. And while you're in Encinitas stop by Chuao and pick up a 9-count of chocolates you pick out. You can make these last too :-).

      Azucar in OB has some deadly chocolate desserts. Have one with a Cubano coffee and you'll be wired for an all nighter. Cupcakes Squared in that never-never land between Point Loma and OB (same shopping center as Stumps Market) has some pretty decent cupcakes these days. Icing is real buttercream, not hydrogenated shortening frosting.

      If you really want to splurge, get down to the bakery department at Northgate on 43rd. Buy the entire oblong torte with all the fruit decorations. Should be chocolate cake inside, whipped cream and fruit. It's rich, delicious and probably has a gazillion fat grams (but not calories <gg>)

      2 Replies
      1. re: DiningDiva

        DD, agree with your suggestion of Elizabethan Desserts! Just recently I rewarded myself on my B-day with two treats from her shop, the cherry mini-lattice pie ( http://tinyurl.com/yzkpv4q ) and her triple chocolate fudge brownie ( http://tinyurl.com/yjsf4k6 ).

        Since this was a spur-of-the-moment buy I skipped my usual custom request of making it as "unsweet" as possible, which is my preference. I still enjoyed it tremendously, but if you prefer your desserts less sweet like I do I'd highly recommend ordering in advance for a special request...


        And for a really refined (and imported) treat, though the season may already be over, one must try the incredible imported butter cookies from Tokyo's famous "Yoku Moku". I guarantee that you will flip over them and it will instantly be the very best butter cookie you've ever eaten. Once you have them they're absolutely addictive; you'll pay any amount just to experience them again!

        In San Diego you can only find them at Neiman Marcus before and after the Holidays. I've bought them there before well after Christmas, though I don't know how far into the year they continue to carry them. (They carry them long enough to have them both in their seasonal Christmas packaging as well as in their regular bi-annual packaging...) http://www.yokumoku.com/

        For the hard-to-shop-for Foodie that already has everything else, these cookies also makes for an incredible gift...

        1. re: cgfan

          Elizabethan Desserts' brownies freeze pretty well. I buy a couple, wrap them in foil and Ziploc freezer bags and enjoy them slowly....

          Nine-Ten has this decadent half-baked chocolate cake. Oozing dark chocolate in a spongy-like cake.

          Chuao holds in the freezer too. So do Vogues Haut Chocolat bars (avail at Whole Foods). My fave bars are the chocolate bacon and olio d'olivia.

          Cavailon had this candied mandarin tangerine with chocolate gelato and madeline that was divine!

          When I want something quick, cheap, oozy and chocolatey, Crepe World's Nutella crepe or Nutella w/ sliced almonds are very good.

          When it's hot, then Yogurt World for their plain, Asian pear or Mango yogurt.

          Don't know if this counts, but I love the Matcha green tea snow bubble at Tapioca Express.

          Good luck on MCAT's! It too, will be over. And then you'll have USMLE Step 1, 2 and 3!

      2. Not quite a go-out-for-dessert thing, but the olive oil/breadcrumb chocolates at Chuao (forgot their name) are really good.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Josh

          The modena strawberry caramel with balsamic is my favorite. Also like the Mayan chocolate gelato. The weather's been so crappy this week a cup of their abeula hot chocolate sounds good right now.

        2. First a cheese plate with a glass of wine and then an affogato or the pot de creme at Cafe Chloe.

          6 Replies
          1. re: honkman

            Sadly, it no longer exists, but there was a restaurant in San Francisco called 42 Degrees. They served the absolute best, most luxurious, decadent, over the top chocolate Pot de Creme. Luckily, I do have the recipe, but even I have trouble trying to justify 10 egg yolks and quarts of heavy cream <sigh>

            1. re: DiningDiva

              DD - Have you had the one at Cafe Chloe? It's about as decadent as they come and I love the marinated cherries on top. Cucina Urbana also makes a wonderful pot de creme - I think they call it budino on their menu, but it's really a pot de creme.

              Cafe Chloe
              721 9th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

              1. re: DiningDiva

                As requested, I'm dutifully reporting back- seems the recipe is missing- I know you posted it.


                Just wow.

                And here's a shot of the ingredients.

                1. re: Fake Name

                  Told you so :-D. But seriously, I'm very glad you liked it. I wonder why they deleted the recipe? It was paraphrased and the restaurants been out of business for probably at least 7 or 8 years.

                  1. re: DiningDiva

                    The discussion was moved to the Home Cooking board, where recipes are discussed, and you can find it at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7599...

              2. Thai Taste at 70th Street and El Cajon Boulevard has the most wonderful Sticky Mango Rice.

                1. Freshly-fried donut holes with a side of chocolate sauce for dipping. Located at the Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Maxmdwinter

                    Interesting that you mention this dish. We like to go to the Pearl Hotel and they serve good food but we tried the donut holes twice and both time they were very disappointing - very dense and heavy and too greasy with a chcocolate sauce that had too much chili in it. (On the other side some of their entrees,e g. freshly made pasta are outstanding).

                  2. I apologize for not thanking everyone for their suggestions! It's a great list and I wish I had tried them all. MCAT's done, I don't have to retake it, and I'm now applying. Excited, yes, but I'm also scared shitless, so I'm sure I'll revisit this thread for more self-medication.

                    Two to add: tiramisu from Assenti's (expensive but awesome) and Cucina Urbana's bittersweet chocolate budino.

                    20 Replies
                    1. re: geekyfoodie

                      congrats on your MCAT's! Next, it's USMLE part 1. :-D

                      1. re: daantaat

                        Thanks!! All I have to do between the two tests is get accepted. ;) I'm *thisclose* to blackmailing admissions officers!

                        1. re: geekyfoodie

                          Get accepted and do nothing but study, eat and sleep for 2 yrs! :-D

                      2. re: geekyfoodie

                        Congrats Geeky. Celebrate with a couple of chocolate covered caramels from the Elegant Truffle in Pt Loma.

                        1. re: Island

                          Congrat's Geeky!!
                          We just had truffles from Elegant truffles in Point Loma and they were sublime.
                          Head over to the new La Playa Bistro (opening in July) and truffles for dessert to celebrate.

                          1. re: Island

                            Thanks Island and BC! Have you both tried the dark chocolate cheesecake from Elegant Truffle? It haunted my dreams for a while. SO GOOD.

                            Another dessert for the list: Peach cobbler at Gulf Coast Grill. Really perfect for tonight's perfect weather and the great post-Pride ambiance.

                            1. re: geekyfoodie

                              Yes wonderful. Husband loves it. I think I've tried everything now, but it's really the caramels that keep bringing me back. Good thing it's not right around the corner!

                              I'll have to check out that cobbler. Haven't been there.

                              1. re: Island

                                There's a butterscotch pudding with a burnt caramel topping at Banker's Hill that was amazing!

                                1. re: nessy

                                  That sounds fantastic. Love butterscotch. Thanks for the tip.
                                  How about coconut; anyone have recommendations for fabulous coconut desserts and sweet treats?

                                  1. re: Island

                                    I like World Curry in PB, which has a really refreshing coconut ice cream. A lot of the Asian markets carry coconut ice cream, too. Whole Foods' single-serving German chocolate cake is delightful. Nice and dense with lots of coconut. That got me through a couple of MCAT classes.

                                  2. re: nessy

                                    That is my husband's favorite in all of SD.

                                    1. re: nessy

                                      I loved Banker Hill's cherry pie... they served vanilla ice cream on the side and the scoop was sitting on a little pool of that burnt caramel topping. Nom nom nom.

                              2. re: geekyfoodie

                                congrats! the only thing worse than taking the MCAT is having to take it more than once...i speak from experience :)
                                best of luck with the admissions process.

                                i have gelato on the brain thanks to this heat wave we just had. so...peanut butter gelato at Bubby's in Encinitas, and La coppa gelatissimo (gelato sundae) at Trattoria Acqua in La Jolla Cove.

                                Trattoria Acqua
                                1298 Prospect St., La Jolla, CA 92037

                                Bubby's Gelato
                                937 S Coast Highway 101 Ste 106, Encinitas, CA 92024

                                  1. re: DiningDiva

                                    yowza! you're right. i just checked - i didn't even hear about that one. thanks for the heads-up! editing my post now...

                                  2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                    Thanks, GHG! Have you been to Pappalecco in Little Italy or Hillcrest? Peanut butter gelato sounds so good right now.

                                    1. re: geekyfoodie

                                      i haven't...and since i'm moving back up to LA next week, i get the sense that i'm not going to make it to most of the places i was planning to check out. enjoy some PB gelato for me, and best of luck with the applications!

                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                        Awww, we'll miss you, GHG! There's always the Coolhaus truck in LA... I've been following them on Twitter, but haven't had a chance to try them out.

                                    1. re: Alice Q

                                      Jinx on the budino? :) I had it again last night... as perfect as ever.

                                  3. try san diego desserts on el cajon blvd, just west of college - best dessert bargain in town - anything is great but definitely try the chocolate bombe...

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: berliz

                                      I've heard great things about it and it's one of those places where, whenever I want to go, it's closed! I'll make it there one of these days.

                                    2. Had an amazing chocolate bread pudding at Tartine a couple months ago. It was gooey and spongey; not sure what kind of bread they used, but I'm sure it was soaked in egg and plenty of heavy cream. Good thing it didn't come with ice cream cause I might have died right there.

                                      1106 1st St, Coronado, CA 92118

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Granite

                                        But what a way to go...

                                        (If you're ever in the Central Coast, Shawn's on Main in Morro Bay has a fabulous bread pudding, too.)

                                        I keep seeing mentions of Tartine and, for a while, I was thinking of the bakery in SF. This thread has locations spanning all over the county. It's going to take a lot of gas and a lot of visits to the gym to get through it.

                                      2. Yet another one: Chocolate pistachio tarte with raspberry sorbet at Indigo Grill. Really, really fantastically done.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: geekyfoodie

                                          The bitterweet chocolate budino at Cucina Urbana rocks! Congratulations on the MCATs -may your next several dessert cravings be fueled by celebration rather than stress relief ( until surgery rotation starts anyway! ).

                                          1. re: ipsit

                                            Thanks, Ipsit! I sure hope there's lot of celebrating in the next year. I have to admit, though, peds scares me more than surgery. I'm not great with kids. ;)

                                            1. re: geekyfoodie

                                              it's not the kids you have to worry about, it's the freaked out parents!

                                        2. Admittedly I'm not a huge dessert person, so it takes something creative to really perk my taste buds. That being said, the cookies and milk panna cotta at The Linkery is that sweet. Chunks of cookie and chocolate are suspended in the gelatinous, milky panna cotta. A flavor-texture mind bender, it's like milk flecked with residual cookie chunks from dunking- in jello form. It's not on the menu all the time, but I have actually called in some nites to see if it was, it's that stoney!

                                          3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

                                          1. I remember a fabulous maple mascarpone cheesecake with maple shortbread cookies at Toronado. Yes, I know it's a beer bar. I had it around this time last year. Anyone seen it since? Every time I go, it's either beer only or they're not serving dessert.

                                            1. How about Extrodinary Desserts especially for late night, Elizabethan does not stay open past 5 or 6 and is closed Sun & Mon without anywhere to sit and order an espresso. Try Gordy's Bakery that just opened in the Smart & Final center on Encinitas Blvd where the 31 Flavors was for years. Try a "plonk"!

                                              3 Replies
                                                1. re: Island

                                                  It's usually something like a super dense scone or cookie loaded with stuff like fruit/nuts/etc.

                                                  1. re: Alice Q

                                                    Gordy's plonk is beloved by many in the north county coastal area (especially runners and other athletes) and is really great! But I like his peanut butter cookies even better and speaking of dense (which the plonks are - in a good, "healthy" yet high calorie way), try Gordy's Lunch Lady bar. It's a yummy p'nut butter and oat bar. Gordy's also has great coffee, lattes, etc.

                                                    Gordy himself is a great guy (he's also a beloved cross country running coach at a local high school), who finally realized his lifelong dream by recently opening his own bakery. He started out by baking his plonks years ago, supplying them to local restaurants and stores, but now he can serve them at his own place.

                                                    His plonks are what Alice described...dense fruit, nut, oat type bars. Honestly, since I prefer to spend my calories with chocolate and peanut butter involved, I generally skip the plonks, but others really love them. Like granola in a bar, but better.