Mochi — the traditional Japanese dessert wherein small, toothsome spheres of sticky rice surround a dollop of ice cream — gets the upscale treatment at New York hotspot Morimoto. Here, the namesake Food Network celebrity and pastry chef Michelle Kogan, join forces to make a version stuffed with yogurt gelato and rich, black-sesame toffee.
Morimoto, 88 10th Avenue, New York, NY, 212-989-8883.
Just try to escape a Sicilian bakery without gazing upon colorful cassata, the marzipan-lacquered sponge cake layered with ricotta and cannoli cream. At beloved Italian restaurant Bacco, in suburban Detroit, pastry chef Ben Robison reimagines the regional specialty as an almond gelato accentuated by cocoa nibs, candied orange, and marzipan.
Bacco Ristorante,29410 Northwestern Highway, Southfield, MI; 248-356-6600.
After the Massaman curry beef ribs at Uncle Boons in New York, cool off with chefs Ann Redding and Matt Danzer’s Thai twist on a sundae. They pile palm sugar, whipped cream, toasted coconut, candied peanuts, and a coconut butter cookie high atop a mound of refreshing coconut ice cream. Not for the coconut-averse.
Uncle Boons, 7 Spring Street, New York, NY; 646-370-6650.
Diane Kochilas tucks ice cream into a bird’s nest of shredded-wheat phyllo dough, Greek cookies, and cream. The collaborating chef at Molyvos, a favorite among New York's Carnegie Hall-goers, enlivens vanilla ice cream with a swirl of Macedonian-style, tahini-based halva chunks.
Molyvos, 871 7th Avenue, New York, NY; 212-582-7500.
Sean O’Toole, chef/proprietor of TORC, in Napa, is always dreaming up new ice cream flavors at his contemporary American restaurant in the midst of wine country. He infuses one of his latest creations with Indian Telicherry pepper and garnishes with a mignonette of large, cracked peppercorns. For a true cultural mash-up, the spicy ice cream is served alongside a German style, dark-chocolate Black Forest cake with Brooks cherries and kirsch cream.
TORC, 1140 Main Street, Napa, CA; 707-252-3293.
Meals may begin with sips of smooth, elegant mezcal at the Black Ant, in New York, yet surely they end with the La Feria sundae. At this modern Mexican restaurant, pastry chef Cesar Moreno combines fried plantains with condensed-milk ice cream, strawberry granita, brown-sugar like piloncillo sauce, and a garnish of fresh strawberries and crème fraîche. Creamy and crunchy, it’s redolent with notes of sweet fruit and bitter caramel.
Black Ant, 60 Second Avenue, New York, NY; 212-598-0300.