Mouthwatering Michigan Desserts to Sink Your Teeth Into
Michigan is known for many things, award-winning Motown music, history-making General Motors and the Ford Motor Co. assembly line in Motor City, but we’re also home to some fantastic sweets, too. After all, weren’t we all taught that life is short, so eat dessert first? Here are some delectable desserts, perfect for any season. Some are odes to the “only in Michigan” recipes, and others are enjoyed no matter the zip code. Some pack 1,000 calories and some are gluten-free.
Astoria Pastry Shop – Detroit’s Greektown Neighborhood
If you’ve never been to this Greektown bakery, you’re in for a treat and plenty of ‘em. The bakery is like a colorful Willy Wonka Wonderland for your taste buds. Every sugary dessert you could imagine – tortes, cakes, pastries, macarons, brownies, shortcakes, cookies, cheesecakes, eclairs and as many as 100 options available daily. Try one of the Teftis family classics, the baklava, or bring on the brain freeze with Detroit-made Stroh’s ice cream. This bakery is the perfect stop along with a Sunday afternoon Tigers game with the family, or a late-night treat after some gambling at Greektown Casino. Regardless of the occasion, Astoria Pastry Shop is sure to make any day or night sweeter (they’re open til midnight and 1 a.m. on weekends). Detroit Metro Times has named Astoria the Best Bakery of 2015, and it’s also a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence winner.
car museum, an Elvis Festival and also this gem of a restaurant. While they’ve been voted for having one of the best burgers by GQ Magazine and The Oprah Winfrey Show, they also feature an iconic Southern classic post-supper treat. Sidetrack Bar & Grill’s massive-sized strawberry shortcake is large enough for the table to share. Served on a biscuit, the flaky texture pairs perfect with fresh strawberries and creamy vanilla ice cream. It’s intimidating to say the least, but tag-team this mammoth dessert with the rest of your table and you’ll be victorious in leaving no crumb left behind. They also offer up a homemade cherry bread pudding with warm caramel sauce. Delicious!
First off, with a name like that, how could we say no? This family-friendly restaurant features a full menu, but really ups their ice cream game with – wait for it…boozy milkshakes. That’s right. Spiked ice cream for those of age! Rotating flavors include chocolate martini, rum chata raisin, old fashion, jacked up carrot cake, boozy egg nog, Irish girl scout and Bermuda mule. Other non-spiked flavors for the kiddies include salty dog, bourbon pecan, grasshopper, Madagascar vanilla, cookie monster, and beater lickin’ good. They also have creative custom-order cakes which would take any birthday party and turn it up a few notches.
With a name like that, who wouldn’t at least give this downtown Lansing bakery a try? Kudos to their namesake’s play on words, and even more props for their creative flavored donuts. Sample flavors include blueberry buckle, peanut butter cup, pumpkin cheesecake, crème brulee, maple bacon, lemon meringue, java the hut and gluten-free. They’ve also got tasty apple fritters that are quickly becoming a customer favorite. Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives-approved eating spot, the quaint main street is a vibrant hub of locally-owned businesses. Plus, there are free samples. You can’t go wrong.
This casual fine dining restaurant is relatively known for its desserts thanks to MLive's foodie John Gonzalez. Fan favorites include the amaretto coconut cream pie and the sticky toffee pudding also comes highly-requested. They also feature peanut butter pie, black top cheesecake, carrot cake and cheesecake with raspberry sauce. Sources say they have had over 20 desserts on their menu, and we’d like to believe in that sweet dream.
Northern Michigan & Upper Peninsula
Grand Traverse Pie Company – Traverse City & StatewideFor a town that has an entire week-long festival dedicated to a fruit, Traverse City knows how to celebrate their most popular crop: the cherry. Grand Traverse Pie Company makes over six dozen flavors of pie; their number one seller being the classic cherry pie. Making business a more personal matter, Grand Traverse Pie Company is all about connecting those close-knit communities with a passionate love for pie and spreading positivity. Committed to using Michigan products and suppliers whenever possible, Grand Traverse Pie Company loves our mitten state, and every strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, peach and apple in it. The business began with one pie shop and six employees, and now has 16 across Michigan and Indiana, holding true to their belief that pie connects people. Their old mission cherry flavor was featured in Oprah Magazine’s “O List.” Their top-selling pie is the Grand Traverse Cherry Crumb, made with Michigan Montmorency cherries. Under the Radar Michigan, and is known for its traditional dishes including the polish kielbasa and pierogi. But you’d be amiss if you didn’t save room for dessert. In this case, Legs Inn’s carrot cake. They display the daily made-from-scratch treats in the restaurant in a glass case, practically inducing drool from onlookers. The “World’s second most delicious carrot cake” is a colossal layered slice, with carrots, walnuts and pineapple, topped with cream cheese and roasted almond icing. If this is the runner-up, we’d love to try the world’s MOST delicious carrot cake. Also, weather-permitting, Legs Inn has one of the best outdoor patio dining views of Lake Michigan, just past the iconic Michigan Tunnel of Trees, north of Petoskey. The garden setting, paired with the delicious food, serves up an aesthetically pleasing and appetizing meal. The Michigan Historical Commission described it as “one of Michigan’s most unusual architectural marvels.” Admire the wooden sculptures all the while munching on some dessert. Other favorites include the old-fashioned Polish berry szarlotka – crumble cake with apples, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries.
Chances are, if you’ve been to Mackinac Island, Mackinac City, or any other Pure Michigan “Up North” destination, you’ve had fudge. A big part of that fudge movement in Michigan is thanks to Murdick’s, which has been around since 1887. The iconic marble table is what gives the fudge its unique texture, and the family recipe using all-natural ingredients is what gives the fudge it's creamy taste. Today, there are 23 Mackinac Island fudge flavors including white chocolate candy cane, butter pecan, chocolate, double chocolate caramel sea salt, peanut butter, pumpkin spice, turtle, and more. There’s something about horse-drawn carriages, main streets with no stop lights, mom & pop shops and Mackinac Island fudge that just exudes a Pure Michigan mood.
Other Notable Michigan Desserts
The PączkiThough these are hard to find except for on Fat Tuesday, they’re one of those desserts especially loved in the Great Lakes State, even though they’re a Polish pastry. The deep fried doughnut is filled with crème, and can pack 1,000 calories. Michigan is proud of the Pączki and many bakeries and stores sell out of them pre-Lent. In Hamtramck, there’s even a Pączki Day parade. Pure Michigan equals Pure Pączki.
The Boston Cooler
Root beer floats are tasty and all, but this is Michigan, so let’s talk about Vernors. It’s the drink that can help settle a stomach as well as be an everyday refreshing beverage of choice. Some even hail it the world’s best ginger ale, as well as one of the first sodas around – since 1866, served by James Vernor in his Detroit pharmacy. The Boston Cooler is very much a Michigan-made recipe, with Vernors mixed with ice cream. Not a float, but rather, a milkshake. Happy tummies all around.
About the Author: Sarah Spohn is a writer with The Awesome Mitten. She’s a proud Michigander and Capital-City born & bred. She enjoys art, cupcakes and all things Beatlemania. It’s not out of the ordinary for her to take a weekend trip to Grand Rapids, Detroit or Mackinac on a record store tour or cupcake crawl.