Austin pastry chefs are whipping up decadent, boozy desserts with creativity and skill.
An accent of alcohol has long been a pastry chef’s friend, but the range of spirits employed has never been more varied or exciting than right now. Gone are the days of mere rum cake and trifle—Austin chefs showcase all manner of spirited flavors in their work.
Says pastry chef Kendall Melton of Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop in East Austin (2406 Manor Road, Ste. B, 512-912-6628): “Many of our desserts have adult beverages as components. They’re fun to serve and to sample.” Melton’s pot de crème uses Old Crow bourbon as the highlight of a pretzel crème, mingling sweet and salty with a toasty whiskey finish. For those partial to beer, there’s a Black and Tan special combining a Guinness cupcake with an Irish Creamcream cheese frosting. Both pair well with malty beer like Left Hand’s Milk Stout after a night on Manor Road.
Alcoholic milkshakes aren’t new, but they have found a patron saint in Bill Norris, beverage director at Alamo Drafthouse (multiple locations, 512-476-1320). His menu showcases half a dozen of them to accompany your film at the beloved cinema chain. Our picks are the Maker’s Mark milk punch with nutmeg and the Reposado Chocolate with tequila, cinnamon, and whipped cream. “My favorite is the Grasshopper,” Norris says. “It’s a fun, guilty pleasure. It’s a bit sweet, but tastes like nostalgia in the best possible way.” Its mint-chocolate flavor is like something sculpted from a raid on your dad’s 1980s liquor cabinet.
While Drafthouse’s approach is whimsical, there’s a darker option at upscale Uchiko (4200 N. Lamar Blvd., 512-916-4808). There, you’ll also find a classic dessert using alcohol, but not one you’d expect. The polarizing, medicinal, and peaty Laphroaig scotch (mixed with a rich butterscotch sauce) anchors the Tobacco Cream—an homage to cigarettes and alcohol. Uchiko’s Andy Lewis explains that the dessert “combines the daring of tobacco and scotch with the familiar comforts of chocolate and candied pecan.” And this dish has evolved over time: The original used a chocolate sorbet, but the latest version has a Cohiba cigar-tobacco-infused ice cream. There are also accents of smoked blueberry jam, vanilla salt, and pecan to round out the flavors. The result feels perfectly connected to Michael Hsu’s walnut and bronze design, and seems fit for an industry titan.