5 best desserts 2014

Everyone knows I’m not big on desserts. In fact, I never leave room for it and am usually happy to skip it all together. Having said that, there are a few sweet treats I am never able to pass up. Ice cream is the number one culprit I can’t resist, then, there is panna cotta, followed by sabayon (or zabaglione). Therefore, it is no surprise that all of my five picks of the year are panna cottas. I apologize if some of these items are no longer on the restaurants’ current menu.

Under normal circumstances, this would not be a dessert which appealed to me, however, Butterscotch Panna Cotta had the operative words “panna cotta” in it and therefore, despite the butterscotch, I was eager to try. After several visits, I’ll have to admit, it is one of my favorites at Boathouse Collective. The butterscotch is not overly sweet and the panna cotta is simply sublime. If you eat only one thing at Boathouse Collective, make it this sweet ending.


It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Anepalco’s in Orange. Chef Daniel Godinez never fails to impress me with his vivid imagination and creativity. Often, when I hear the ingredients on his dishes I give him a skeptical look, but once I take a bite, it is always perfection. By now, I should know better than to have any doubts! Right now, Coconut Beet Panna Cotta is a featured dessert at the restaurant and it blew me away the very first time I ate it.


Earlier this year, I finished my meal at The North Left with Strawberries, a dessert which is not as simple as it sounds. Pastry Chef Andrea Guzman’s incredible concoction of exceptionally smooth panna cotta possesses perfect consistency. Add to that some strawberry granita and a sprinkling of cereal, and the bowl becomes a wondrous amalgamation of textures and flavors.


Top Chef winner Shirley Chung recently opened Twenty Eight in Irvine. Her Tofu Panna Cotta holds a special place in my heart because it is her take on “豆腐花” or soymilk pudding, which I grew up eating. Add to that some house-made red bean ice cream, ginger espuma and roasted salty peanut crumble and you have a combination of my favorite childhood desserts all rolled into one.

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Shoo-Fly Panna Cotta is my absolute favorite at The Ranch Restaurant & Saloon. Executive Pastry Chef David Rossi tops it off with crispy streusel, rich dark chocolate balls, while the creamy panna cotta is like heaven on the tongue with hints of molasses finishing off on the palate.


Who will come up with even better panna cottas in 2015? If you find some great ones, please let me know!