By definition, dessert should be special and worthy of indulgence. All too often, however, the after-dinner course falls flat, either from lack of ingenuity or dearth of technique. Not so at Dio Mio, the month-old pasta eatery opened by chefs Alex Figura and Spencer White, both of the late Lower48 Kitchen.

The counter service spot lists two desserts on the menu: Nutella semifreddo and olive oil cake trifle. The latter should land at the very top of your must-try list. Order it and discover a glass layered with dense olive oil cake, rosemary cream, pickled quince or persimmon (depending on the season), and salted pistachios. Ever so slightly savory, the trifle never veers into the too-sweet category. And paired with a tumbler of Le Colture Prosecco, the dessert becomes a real treat.

3264 Larimer St., 303-562-1965


Olive Oil Cake

1 cup sugar, divided

2 egg yolks

2 tablespoons lemon juice

zest of 1 lemon

2 vanilla beans, split and seeds scraped

½ cup cake flour

¾ cup olive oil

4 egg whites

1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, whisk a ½ cup of the sugar into the egg yolks, lemon juice, zest, and vanilla until incorporated. Add flour and whisk, then add olive oil. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites with the remaining ½ cup of sugar. In three stages, gently fold the egg whites into the lemon-vanilla mixture.

Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and coat with nonstick spray. Fill pan with the batter. Bake at 325° until set, about 20 minutes. (If using a convection oven, the cake will take about 15 minutes and be lighter in color.) Cool completely. Tip: This cake freezes great and will not dry out.

Rosemary Pastry Cream

1 ¾ cup milk

½ cup cream

1 vanilla bean

fresh rosemary to taste

5/8 cup cornstarch

11 egg yolks

1 cup sugar

3 ½ tablespoons butter

In a medium saucepan, bring milk, cream, and vanilla bean to a simmer. Steep with a spring of rosemary. One sprig will go a long way but if you prefer a stronger flavor add 1 or 2 more sprigs.

In a separate saucepan, whip cornstarch, egg yolks, and sugar together. Carefully add a ladle of the hot milk mixture to the egg yolk mixture, being careful not to scramble the eggs. Slowly add the rest of the milk mixture to the yolks. Place the combined mixture onto the stove, whisking constantly until it gets thick. This will happen very quickly. Strain through a fine sieve, then with a hander mixer add butter.

Pour into a container and top with a piece of plastic wrap pressed directly upon the surface. (This will prevent a skin from forming on the pastry cream.)

Pickled Quince (or Persimmon)

2 pounds quince or persimmon, cored, peeled, and cut into ¼-inch dice.

1 ½ cups sugar

½ cup corn syrup

¾ cup red wine vinegar

Toss quince in sugar and let sit overnight. (This will pull some of the liquid out.) The next day, mix the sugar, quince liquid, corn syrup, and red wine vinegar in a saucepan. Cook on high heat until syrupy. Add quince and cook until the fruit turns red and is soft when you bite into it. Store in the liquid in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Dessert Assembly

Tear pieces of olive oil cake and place in a shallow layer in a glass. Cover with dots of rosemary pastry cream, quince, and some of the liquid. Keep on repeating until the glass is full. Place in the refrigerator and allow to sit overnight. Top with salted and roasted pistachios and fresh rosemary.

Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.