Since moving from San Francisco down the Peninsula few years ago, I have made it my mission to ferret out the tastiest, choicest victuals within a reasonable distance of my mouth. In the past, I've brought you my salivations on Howie's Artisan Pizza, Evvia Estiatorio, Tootsie's, and Shokolaat (since closed), but today we take a walk on the sweeter side.
This list was not undertaken lightly, and you can rest assured that during the course of research, a lot of thought and consideration went into my belly.
Top Five Desserts in Palo Alto/Menlo Park
1. Triple Coconut Cream Cake from Palo Alto Creamery: This coconut cake -- doled out in mammoth pieces that look like plated glaciers -- has been directly responsible for getting me through one-and-a-half pregnancies, and I am still not tired of it. The coconut buttercream frosting is completely snowed-over with drifts of shredded coconut, and between the sections of moist, sugar syrup-soaked white cake, you'll unearth yellow strata of firm coconut custard. It's a piece of cake a coconut fiend would dearly love to rub all over their body.
2. Calafia Cake from Calafia Cafe: Made to look like a Hostess cupcake with white "laces" drizzled in frosting across the top, Calafia's single-serving cake has layers of moist chocolate cake encased in a pliable chocolate shell with a thick strip of cream running through the middle. It's excellent way to console oneself in the wake of the Hostess bankruptcy.
3. Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart from Mayfield Bakery: This mini tart has liquid salted caramel pooling over a layer of firm chocolate, and the crust is a buttery, flakey wonder that fulfills the pastry chef requirement of being cuttable with the side of the fork. It generally serves one (unless you happen to be the generous sort with your mate/partner/kid/friend), and it's an item I hope Mayfield keeps in their glass case for a long time to come.
4. The Occasional Macaron Shop Macarons from Tootsie's: The easiest thing about these macarons is eating them. The most difficult thing about these macarons is trying to comprehend why their creator -- a mysterious entity known only as the Occasional Macaron Shop on facebook -- doesn't open her own actual macaron shop to sell her delicate wares more widely. As it is, you can avail yourself of her lemon, pistachio, burnt caramel, and white chocolate-coconut macarons by visiting Tootsie's at the Stanford Barn. (Through Tootsie's, my husband has also placed special orders for the Occasional Macaron Shop's amazing financiers for my last three birthdays and they are worth the year-long wait.)
5. Susie's Nutty Cookie from Susie Cakes: In this final top dessert entrant, two meltingly tender peanut butter cookies are stuck together by a rich smear of peanut butter buttercream in the most colossal, delicious rendition of a homemade Nutter Butter you'll ever set lips, teeth, and tongue on. This is a cookie to make even lactose-intolerant crave a tall, frosty glass of milk for a perfect pairing.