Top Summertime Desserts In Connecticut

July 10, 2013 8:00 AM

Photo Credit: Andrew Dominick

Summertime means cool and light desserts that refresh the diner as much as they complete the meal. With so many wonderful fresh summer fruits, ice creams and sorbets to choose from, dessert chefs compete with one another and even themselves to present something that will complement the meal and tempt the palate without over stuffing their customers. As many people often prefer dessert as dinner in the summer, these chefs have to work all the harder to come up with combinations that will satisfy as well as cool off those suffering in the summer swelter.

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The Ivory Restaurant
1 Kirtland St.
Deep River, CT 06417
(860) 526-2528

Whether it is “Mondays for Two,” “Beer and Burger” Tuesdays or “Fajita nite” Thursdays, no visit to the Ivory Restaurant in Deep River is complete without dessert. Hernan and Freddy Yumbla may run a fairly traditional-looking New England pub, but they have brought a touch and taste of their native Ecuador to the place and to the menu, especially on the dessert menu.

The Yumblas’ Peach Whiskey Cake is the flagship of their fleet of summer desserts. Made with imported Dalwhinnie Single-Malt Scotch and fresh local peaches and then topped with a light meringue, it is a favorite of regulars, and the restaurant runs out of it almost every night as the hostess reports. Fear not, however, for there is always at least one fruity crème brulee (the lemon being another summer favorite) and the key lime cheesecake. The Yumblas have put a “twist” onto the traditional cheesecake by infusing it with key lime and then serving it with a raspberry sorbet.

There are a few heavier selections on the “Summer Dessert Menu,” notably the chocolate lava divine and apple cinnamon dumpling, but there are always daily and seasonal specials, many of which, as chef Hernan explains in writing on the menu, “combine local berries and citrus to produce a light and sweet finish to your meal.”

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Rooftop 120
Eric Town Square
120 Hebron Ave.
Glastonbury, CT 06033
(860) 430-9989

“It’s good to be on top” is the motto of this Glastonbury favorite. Although only three stories above the ground, Rooftop 120 is technically a rooftop restaurant, and that comes with the “stunning views” and “romantic atmosphere” the owners promise. In between “rooftop happenings” (which normally means live music) and happy hours, there is fine casual dining to be had – and there are desserts aplenty to choose from to finish that meal, whether it be the signature banana chocolate chip bread pudding or the double-stuffed fried Oreos.

In the summer especially, however, a meal can be made of dessert here, as Rooftop offers a unique Chef Tasting for Two for only $14.75.  There is berry dacquoise, lemon cream shortbread and a crème brulee tartlette on the tray, but these light summer treats are but the supporting cast for the main event of the summer at Rooftop 120: the opera diamond cake, a light diamond-shaped sponge cake inspired by the traditional French dessert. For those who want something between the heavier desserts noted above or the tasting menu, there are Meyer lemon bars with a creamy raspberry mouse topped with powdered sugar.

The Black Sheep
247 Main St.
Niantic, CT 06357
(860) 739-2041

With summer “the palette of ingredients at our disposal becomes infinitely more vast and sumptuous than in the colder drearier months,” proclaims chef John of The Black Sheep, an “upscale” Irish pub in Niantic. He has even taken on an extra chef for the summer, Donny Highland, who will be moving on at season’s end to the Brazen Hen in Rhode Island.

The Black Sheep is famed for hearty pub food, and that includes its pumpkin spice cheesecake and apple cornbread pudding which, like all of the desserts, are made in house (and to which can be added Bucks premium ice cream and sorbets). For the summer, chefs John and Donny have already added three special seasonal desserts, including a raspberry swirl cheesecake, a bittersweet chocolate mouse with raspberry sauce and their piece de summer resistance, the silk stout parfait. This unique creation utilizes stout-flavored ice cream, interspersed between layers of Rice Krispy Treats, almond brittle and caramel sauce. After all, who doesn’t like an ice cream dessert in the summer – and in an Irish pub, it is only fitting that the ice cream matches the beer.

Restaurant Bricco
78 LaSalle Road
West Hartford, CT 06107
(860) 233-0220

Bricco’s lemon sampler is as light and tart a summer dessert as any diner could want to end a meal on a warm night. A lemon tart, a slice of lemon cheesecake and a “house-made” lemon curd ice cream makes for a lovely light trifecta on a summer evening. For something even lighter and cooler than this or one of the offer concoctions cooked up by pastry chefs Fran Marino and Todd Laurito, there are gelatos and sorbets (including a grapefruit campari) and “Affogato,” which is a “house-made” vanilla ice cream topped with a shot of espresso and served with a biscotti. The fallen soufflé cake, also called the “valrhona,” is a bit heavier (as the soufflé is allowed to fall) but is lightened by the addition of what the chefs note is “our” pistachio gelato.

Yolande’s Bistro and Creperie
99 Orange St.
New Haven, CT 06510
(203) 787-7885

Yolande, for whom the bistro and creperie on Orange Street in New Haven is named, is the daughter of the famous French chef Noel Lacan.  He taught his daughter well, and her crepes are renowned for their lightness and the freshness of her ingredients – which in the summer especially means lots and lots of fruits. “The Innkeeper’s Daughter,” as she calls herself on her blog of the same name, serves up complete meals at her bistro, but it is her distinctly French desserts (for she has dual citizenship) that bring people back, particularly the crepe confiture made with fresh homemade jam. Crepe chantilly comes in three varieties (strawberry, mandarin or banana) as does the crepe Nutella and fruit. Not everything on the menu comes wrapped in a crepe, however, as the mouse au chocolat and tarte tartin attest.

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Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at

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