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Durham's decadent dessert crawl 

Guglhupf's guglhupf

Photo by Jeremy M. Lange

Guglhupf's guglhupf

Pardon my heresy, but I don't like doughnuts. OK, in some dystopic future à la The Road, before I would resort to cannibalism like our Jamestown forefathers, I would eat a doughnut. But not until.

That said, I love dessert: pie, cake, brownies, cupcakes, gelato, ice cream. (My dentist is planning his next European vacation.) I've prowled the sugar dens of Durham, mainlining mousse and toking on toffee, snorting coconut and freebasing flan. Come with me, then, on a decadent dessert crawl.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: The vegan chocolate mousse at Beyu Caffe is this eatery's secret weapon. The mystery ingredient is avocado, but you won't mistake the decadent dessert for guacamole. Smooth, sweet but not treacly, the mousse is topped with a strawberry. Ask for two spoons. One for your partner? No, one for each hand.

The flan at Dos Perros is so light it seems to hover over the pool of caramel sauce. No need to chew; just let it melt in your mouth. All that's missing is a handsome maître d' to spoonfeed you. Oh look, you're in luck. Here comes Raul.

At Scratch Baking, I eat my lunch backward: I devour the chocolate chess pie and then munch on the healthy victuals. A sturdy, rich chocolate filling is embedded in a flaky crust; it's almost too much for one sitting. Complement your choice with a cup of London Fog—Earl Grey tea, steamed milk and vanilla syrup.

Has your pancreas waved the white flag yet? No? Then we're off to The Cupcake Bar. Try the tiramisu or grasshopper (chocolate, crème de menthe buttercream and white chocolate ganache filling). If you're in the mood for a tart treat, don't miss the double lemon. Choose from a standard or mini size, the latter being gone in no more than two bites.

DaisyCakes is our next stop, where I envision lines of coconut cut neatly on mirrors. You're in luck if the coconut cupcake is on special—or the s'mores, or the chai spice, etc. etc. I draw the line at candied bacon and maple—let me know how it is. DC is closed on Mondays, but you can also find their confections at Cocoa Cinnamon.

Let's cleanse our palates with more coffee—we'll drink decaf lest we send ourselves into atrial fibrillation—and head to Hummingbird Bakery for a slice of toasted pound cake with fresh berries.

Ice cream, must have ice cream: At The Parlour, I'm torn between the orange cardamom—the exotic spice is aromatic, not overpowering—and Vietnamese coffee, which packs quite a caffeine punch. Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins I haven't tried, so accompany me to Locopops where we'll indulge in a Mexican chocolate paleta. Mexican chocolate is richer than its American counterpart. Accept no substitutes.

The blood sugar meter says I'm still under 160, so let's throw caution to the wind. At Guglhupf, a mango mousse torte awaits, layered with apricot jam and vanilla genoise sponge cake.

Now get in the car, or an ambulance, and drive to G2B for a plate of sticky toffee pudding. A dark caramel custard leans on a dollop of lemon buttermilk ice cream—much like I'm leaning against the wall right now.

This article appeared in print with the headline "A sugar high."


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