Rochester Magazine readers selected these seven delectable desserts as the city's favorites. Enjoy a bite (or a slice) of heaven with these original and mouth-watering creations!
Banana Cream Pie (pictured above) - Chester's Kitchen & Bar
It’s not wedge-shaped? No. It’s not. This Banana Cream Pie is no ordinary pie—and that begins with its shape. “People expect a triangle,” says Scott Foster, managing partner and executive chef with Nova Restaurant Group. What you get is all the elements of banana cream pie, deconstructed: toasted almonds, walnuts and graham cracker crust; bananas, both fresh and caramelized; custard; and whipped cream.
It all starts with the custard. This pie seems simple and effortless—inspired. But Foster says there was no clear path—he just didn’t want mushy bananas. When he created the custard, the rest fell into place—including those fresh bananas. “You make mistakes and sometimes they turn out to be fun,” he says.
An old family recipe? Um, no. The custard recipe was a happy accident. Foster measured wrong and, in the process, created something that tasted oh-so-right. When he realized he had a hit on his hands, he had to remember how to do it “wrong” again. The rest is history.
Bunnie’s Coconut Cake - Canadian Honker
Who’d guess employees sign confidentiality agreements? Those simple white squares topped with a single Maraschino cherry look like a Pinterest recipe. But then you take the first bite. And you understand why this popular cake has sold more than one million pieces in the cake’s 34-year history, and why the recipe is a well-guarded secret.
Good call, Joe’s dad. “It almost didn’t make the menu,” says Samantha Wilschek, operational manager. “[Owner] Joe Powers’ dad made him do it.”
You need to get it right here. Bunnie’s Coconut Cakes used to be shipped around the world. However, for quality reasons, the only way to get a slice now is to come to Rochester, Wilschek says.
Bunnie's Coconut Cake at Canadian Honker | Rochester Magazine
Death by Chocolate - Prescott’s Grill
You don’t need gluten for this. Whenever customers with concerns about gluten come in, Jenna Rohe proudly points them to Prescotts’ gluten-free Death by Chocolate. “We’re very diligent,” says Jenna Rohe, the co-owner, certified sommelier, and wife to executive chef Christopher Rohe.
But what is it, really? Death by Chocolate is a rich, creamy, flourless torte—mostly Swiss dark chocolate, cream, eggs, and sugar.
Farm to fork? Oh, yeah. The Rohes take that concept seriously. They even grow the herbs and produce for their farm-to-fork restaurant. They tend 2,000 tomato plants and 700 pepper plants, in addition to carrots, beets, and okra.
Death by Chocolate at Prescott's Grill | Rochester Magazine
Tiramisu - Victoria’s Ristorante & Wine Bar
Soak your fingers. The process begins by soaking the ladyfingers—sweet sponge biscuits shaped like, well, a finger—in a batch of espresso, says co-owner Natalie Victoria. This isn’t just any espresso, it’s a whole-bean expresso. So it delivers a strong punch.
“Done correctly, a classic tiramisù can be transcendent.” That’s according to the New York Times, which notes “traditional” tiramisu contains a short list of ingredients: ladyfingers, egg yolks, sugar, coffee, mascarpone cheese, and cocoa powder. While Natalie won’t give up the recipe, she will tell us it’s a very traditional tiramisu with high-quality ingredients—the focus is on taste, consistency, and quality. “The old classic seems to work best,” she says.
Tiramisu at Victoria's | Rochester Magazine
Cannoli - Pasquale’s Neighborhood Pizzeria
Am I in New York? Italy? When you close your eyes and bite into one of Pasquale Presa’s cannolis, he wants you to think of New York and Italy. “We are bringing a part of our culture back that people have forgotten,” Presa says.
Prepared, simply. These creamy, silky, cheesy desserts are deceptively simple. Presa offers small and large pastries, some chocolate-dipped. Presa prefers simplicity in his cannolis, though he says they can be creatively stuffed with goodies ranging from pistachios to raisins. “The perfect cannoli should not taste too sweet,” he says.
The perfect pairing? “You savor the ricotta flavor, the orange flavor, and you have it with a great espresso,” says Presa.
Cannoli at Pasquale's | Rochester Magazine
Tiramisu - Terza Ristorante
Tell your tablemates to get their own. Terza’s tiramisu was designed to be a dessert for one. That’s why it’s made in small batches. People expect tiramisu to be made in a big pan, says Scott Foster, managing partner and executive chef with Nova Restaurant Group, but these require a personal touch.
So you can see the layering. The votive glass was chosen just for this tiramisu. The restaurant’s pastry chef at that time had a vision and searched for the right container to showcase the delicate tiramisu’s look and flavors, Foster says.
Secret ingredient? Terza’s tiramisu recipe includes mascarpone cream, vanilla, and ladyfingers soaked in a secret, but non-traditional Italian liquor. And, no, Foster wouldn’t tell us what it is.
Tiramisu at Terza | Rochester Magazine
Carrot Cake - Daube's Cakes and Bakery
The cake stands alone. You don't need anything to go with the carrot cake at Daube's (pronounced dow-beez). "It stands alone," says executive baker Ann Jensen, when asked for the perfect pairing with the bakery's well-known carrot cake. "Hands-down, it stands alone."
So, what's in a slice? Well--secrets. But some of what we could get out of Jensen was that the sweet cream cheese frosting has a little bit of vanilla. We weren't surprised to learn that there are no pineapple chunks or raisins in the batter--this isn't anyone's grandma's cake. There's cinnamon and nutmeg. One of the secrets is a jumbo carrot--that big carrot is the reason for that lovely, moist cake.
Seriously big carrots. Bigger equals moister, explains Jensen. "In our carrot cake, there's a lot more carrot than you'd actually think," she says, but not enough to count as a vegetable serving. "We grind ours down and make a paste out of it."
Carrot Cake at Daube's | Rochester Magazine
Discover more of the city's finest food at some of Rochester, MN's best restaurants. Get the juicy details on our city's favorite appetizers, top sandwiches, and best outdoor dining locations. Bon appetit!