Close your eyes and imagine the best dishes you’ve ever eaten. If you’re anything like us, flashes of cakes, cookies, pies, and sundaes are swirling in your mind. The world of vegan desserts has never been more mouthwateringly diverse—from the ultra-comforting and familiar to the cutting-edge and innovative—and as hard as we may try, there never seems to be enough time to try them all. So VegNews editors scoured the globe for the best of the best and put together the ultimate bucket list of our dreams. Get ready for a world tour of sticky, syrupy, chocolaty scrumptiousness—and don’t be afraid to order dessert first.
1 Coconut Frozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity
New York, NY
When visiting the food-art-and-culture metropolis that is New York, there’s much to see and even more to eat. But if there’s one hallmark place to start, make it Serendipity3. Open since 1954 and boasting a steady stream of A-list patrons from Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly to Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian, this two-story Upper East Side joint offers more than just a much-buzzed-about menu of Guinness World Record-holding diner fare. Ornate Tiffany lamps and disco balls hang high above minty green table tops that stand ready for the restaurant’s world-famous line of Frrrozen Hot Chocolates, including a newly minted, dairy-free version that’s truly worth the trip. A secret mix of 14 cocoa powders, powdered sugar, and coconut cream are blended into a frosty, chocoholic concoction, poured into a massive glass goblet, topped with a mountain of coconut whipped cream, and showered with toasted coconut flakes. It’s a classically sweet-and-kitschy soda fountain experience, modernized for today’s dairy-free sensibilities, that feels—and tastes—totally timeless.
Find it here
2Gelato at Float Dreamery
When the pandemic forced Chef Jacob Livingston to relocate from Brooklyn to Philadelphia—bringing his burgeoning, year-old vegan gelato concept in tow—the City of Brotherly Love had no idea of the treasure that was about to befall it. The food obsessive had tinkered with his super-dense, rich gelato base and flavor combinations for four years, aiming to not only perfect something his plant-based community would love, but that would turn anyone into a vegan dessert convert. Fast-forward to today, and Livingston, along with partner Erica Knauss, has delved full-time into Float Dreamery, whipping up small-batch pints in mind-melting flavors that have garnered an instant cult following. One week, Philadelphians are treated to lemon-poppyseed gelato with swirls of lemon frosting, fried pecans, toasted coconut, and Golden Oreos. The next, they can experience peppermint gelato with pistachio swirls, marshmallow fluff, and chili chocolate cookie crumble. The creativity at this modern, walk-up window gelateria knows no bounds, and luckily, neither do our appetites.
Find it here
Create With Gusto
Homemade conchas at Split Bakery
La Mesa, CA
Just 10 miles northeast of San Diego’s glistening coastline, tucked away in a bustling outdoor mall, a pink-hued, bakery walk-up window is revolutionizing the world of vegan desserts. At SPLIT Bakehouse, buttery French madeleines dipped in chocolate hazelnut spread, flaky cruffins drizzled in strawberry-lemonade icing, and caramel pecan croissant bread pudding lure sweet-toothed San Diegans and tourists alike. But it’s their Mexican conchas, in flavors the likes of which only Willy Wonka could dream up, that shouldn’t be missed. The newly all-vegan bakery revamps the fluffy, yeast-risen pan dulce with vanilla bean, Oreos, purple ube, and funfetti spins on the classic cookie-like craquelin topping. They’re the perfect expression of co-founder Vanessa Corrales’ Mexican roots and creative spirit. For Corrales, who solidified her cool kid status growing up with trips to her grandmother’s local panaderia, the pan dulce will always have a special place at SPLIT. And the bakehouse, named the best bakery in San Diego (vegan or otherwise) by San Diego Magazine, has already catapulted its way to our bucket list.
Find it here
4White Chocolate Tiramisu at Mildreds
It’s 1988, and beige soy milk, sprout sandwiches, and tofu rudimentarily fried by oil—and not air—are about the most exciting things vegans have to eat. That is, until, Mildreds stepped onto the scene. Founders Jane Muir and Diane Thomas opened the tiny, pioneering café so that vegetarian eaters could indulge in the international cuisine that the worldly city of London is known for. Thirty-four years later, Mildreds has evolved into a vegan empire with five London locations. After tucking into a dinner of Chinese gyoza, Turkish kofte, and Sri Lankan coconut curried sweet potatoes, head to Italy for dessert. Mildreds’ White Chocolate Tiramisu is a tall, flawless slice of simple satisfaction: almond sponge cake is soaked in dark, fair-trade coffee and layered with thick white chocolate mousse before being blanketed in cocoa powder—sweet and bitter notes balanced perfectly with a luxuriously creamy texture.
Find it here
5Deconstructed Halo Halo at Alibi
There are countless things beckoning us to Australia: beautiful weather, incredible wildlife, stunning architectural marvels. But at the top of our list? This fine-dining take on halo halo at the chic cocktail bar-slash-restaurant Alibi in Sydney. Inspired by his Filipino heritage, Executive Pastry Chef and Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree Michael Llamanzares-Aspiras untangles and distills the ingredient list of the popular shaved ice dessert down to a final course that’s über-refined, yet still packs a punch of fun and whimsy. On the plate, you’ll find a semicircle of frozen, lilac-hued ube custard, tangy-sweet pickled jackfruit, coconut-lime granita that instantly melts on the tongue, dollops of amber-hued mango sauce, chewy mochi, and cubes of coconut gel—culminating in an artistic, deconstructed wonderland of shapes, colors, temperatures, and textures that evoke Australia’s famed coral reefs.
find it here
6Milk and (Stuffed) Cookies at Floozie Cookie
Born in 2020 when veteran pastry chef Kimberly Lin found herself mesmerized by the stuffed cookie craze dominating social media, Floozie Cookie began as a single London vegan bakery churning out Lin’s take on the addictive, soft-and-chewy cookies. An instant hit, Floozie Cookie soon opened a second location plus a pop-up (and soon-to-be brick and mortar) in Dubai, allowing sweet-toothed city dwellers across two continents to choose from options like Speculoos-stuffed, cinnamon cereal-topped cookies; pecan-studded butterscotch cookies filled with sticky date caramel; and pinkish-red vanilla cookies complete with rainbow sprinkles and a gooey, raspberry jam center. And a cookie is nothing without a glass of milk, so the dessert shop’s interpretation—a dreamy line called Floozie Cremes—includes velvety oat milk poured over ice and swirled with syrups and sauces (think strawberry, hazelnut white chocolate, and mango-banana-passion fruit) before being topped with a tall spiral of whipped cream.
Find it here
7High-Design Cake Bars at Sharp Sharp
A trip to Amsterdam may be vegan paradise for intrepid travelers, but staying strictly within the city limits of the Netherlands’ capital would be a mistake. Just one hour north in Rotterdam lies Sharp Sharp, a unique, plant-based bakery giving as much attention to eye-popping visuals as it is to tempting flavors. Both longtime designers before joining the food industry, owners Renate de Klein and Frank Hanssen were drawn to projects in the sustainability sector, but longed to make even more of an impact for the planet. So they combined their love of aesthetics and veganism with their baking hobby, and soon, Sharp Sharp was born. Bold, clean layers of everything from chocolaty ganache to fruity curds to cheesecake filling sit atop bases like shortbread, fudgy brownies, and date-and-cookie crusts in nearly 40 sweet, visually striking cake bar confections. Hanssen and de Klein are so dedicated to aesthetics, in fact, that they’ll begin with a digital rendering of a dessert idea before even touching a stand mixer. After all, the eyes eat first.
find it here