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For an aunt’s Christmas gift, food writer Allyson Reedy wanted to find a cookbook of the world’s best desserts. There was only one problem: It didn’t exist.
“So I decided, ‘Well, OK, I’ll write this book,’” says Reedy, who is also a regular 5280 contributor. “‘I’ll try to get all these great, amazing bakers to give me their best recipes—so we get the best cookie, we get the best brownie, the best lemon bar, the best cheesecake, all in one place from all these different bakers who specialize in these different things.’”
The result, 50 Things to Bake Before You Die, is a compilation of all the greatest desserts from makers here in Denver to across the world in Dubai. The cookbook, which hits shelves (and kitchens) April 5, has recipes for everything from peach cobbler to crème brûlée—but Reedy says you don’t have to be a pro with sugar and flour to indulge.
“I want [readers] to just try everything, even if they’re like me and they’re not a super-talented baker,” Reedy says. “My cakes look like a second-grader made them. They’re not beautiful, but if you have a great recipe, it’s going to taste great; and I would hope that people would just try things that maybe they haven’t tried before. I felt like a superhero when I got my chocolate soufflé to rise here at altitude. I want people to have that sense of accomplishment and be like, ‘Hey, I made this. This is incredible.’”
50 Things features recipes from five Colorado bakers—including the Long I Pie Shop and Ruby Jean Patisserie—but Reedy’s love of local desserts can’t be counted on one hand. Here are 10 of her go-to Denver sweets.
1. Spring Fling Cake
Where to get it: Lala’s Bakery, 5604 Kendall Ct.
Why she loves it: “The three ladies behind Lala’s met while working at the Market in Larimer Square. When the Market closed, we all freaked out about where we’d get our Spring Fling cakes—the zucchini and sour cream-y cake topped with cream cheese frosting and gorgeous fresh fruit. Lala’s saved the day. Even though we all miss the Market, at least we can still get our beloved Spring Fling cakes.”
2. Cookies and Cream Ice Cream
Where to get it: Right Cream, 3047 Larimer St., #101
Why she loves it: “It’s the best ice cream in the world. That’s it. End of story. I’m obsessed.”
3. Rice Krispie Treat
Where to get it: Pig and Tiger, 1401 Pearl St., Boulder
Why she loves it: “I’ve made a lot of treats, but I have never made a Rice Krispie treat, and I never will. They’re too delicious, and too perfect, and I prefer to think of them as magical little squares made of magical things like pixie dust and unicorn marrow. I just love them, and I especially love Pig and Tiger’s version with fortune cookie bits mixed in.”
4. Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcake
Where to get it: Happy Bakeshop, 3621 W. 32nd Ave.
Why she loves it: “Back when [cupcakes] were everywhere, I did a taste test of eight or so cupcake bakeries, and Happy was the clear winner.”
Where to get it: The Long I Pie Shop, treats available at pop-ups and via special order (contact the owner here)
Why she loves it: “Shauna [Lott] bakes her pies in a cast iron skillet. How brilliant is that? It makes for a super flakey, buttery crust, so of course I had to steal one of her recipes for my cookbook. I think she only does occasional pop-ups these days, so if you see one, run to it for amazing pie!”
Where to get it: The Greenwich, 3258 Larimer St.
Why she loves it: “Any list of my favorite desserts has to include cheesecake, and the one at the Greenwich is so special. I only had it for the first time a couple of weeks ago, but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since! It’s lighter than normal cheesecake, but still perfectly rich and creamy. It’s drizzled with olive oil and sea salt, and then flambéed. You have to try it.”
7. Foxy Brown Ice Cream
Where to get it: Smith & Canon, 2260 E. Colfax Ave., #102
Why she loves it: “Besides baked goods, ice cream is my favorite dessert, so I have to get my second-favorite local spot on the list. Curt Peterson taught himself how to make ice cream just a few years before opening his Colfax shop, which is nuts because you’d think he’d been making it his whole life. The man is some sort of ice cream prodigy—the best sort of prodigy, really—and you’ll see that in flavors like the cinnamon roll-cheesecake hybrid, Foxy Brown.”
Where to get it: Ruby Jean Patisserie, order online for delivery or pick-up
Why she loves it: “They’re known for cakes, but really everything you get from baker Jen Essex is wonderful—macarons, cupcakes, whoopie pies … if I’m ordering a cake, I’m definitely ordering from Ruby Jean.”
9. Chocolate Chip Cookies
Where to get it: Miette et Chocolat, 2501 Dallas St., Suite #176, Aurora, and 9905 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora
Why she loves it: “A chocolate chip cookie is just the perfect dessert; it’s so simple and it has everything. And theirs has these dark chocolate chunks and sea salt, and it’s probably the best cookie in town.”
Where to get it: Devil’s Food Bakery, 1004 S. Gaylord St.
Why she loves it: “While all of their baked goods are solid, I definitely wouldn’t kick one of their brownies out of bed right about now.”