Top 9 Sweet Bites of 2009*

* plus a lagniappe

Mama Roux's Signature Tabasco Cheesecake
Mama Roux's Signature Tabasco Cheesecake (Photo by John Anderson)

1) THE SIGNATURE TABASCO CHEESECAKE at Mama Roux was my favorite restaurant dessert discovery of the year – subtle and delicate with a tantalizing chile tingle that tickled the tongue.

2) KAKAWA'S CARAMELIZED CACAO NIBS The toasted sugar and dark chocolate crunch of the caramelized cacao nibs from Kakawa turned out to be the missing ingredient for a pie I've been making for more than 30 years. I liked them so much that this year I learned to caramelize my own nibs!

3) TÈO'S GELATO CAKE with layers of peppermint and chocolate hazelnut gelato dressed up nicely with a salty bourbon caramel sauce at Thanksgiving dinner.

4) ICED BLENDED MOCHAS FROM IT'S A GRIND Where have you gone? This was not a habit I wanted to break.

5) MILK AND DARK CHOCOLATE CARAMEL HEARTS from the Whole Foods candy department were my favorite local Valentine's treat this year, running neck and neck with the chocolate-covered caramel pecan patties from Wiseman House Fine Handmade Chocolates in Hico.

6) LEMON CURD CAKE BALL The folks at Austin Cake Ball developed a lemon curd cake ball this year and asked me to check it for quality control – they really knew the way to my heart.

7) KATY FRANCESCHINI'S BUTTERMILK PIE was my favorite thing at the Faraday's Holiday Baking Contest – homey, plain, and absolutely delicious.

8) A SCRUMPTIOUS CHERRY PIE made by 10-year-old novice baker Kendall Carlisle came close to being a winner at Faraday's. I can't wait to see what she enters next year.

9) DRISKILL'S CREAMSICLE The chefs from the Driskill Grill served a remarkably innovative pop-up Cream-sicle at the Film & Food gala; I wanted several more.

&) ALEX MANLEY'S CARAMEL ICE CREAM outshines anything it's paired with at Perla's. Don't ever pass it up.

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Austin food, desserts, Top 10s, Tabasco cheesecake, Mama Roux, Kakawa, Teo, It's a Grind, Wiseman House Fine Handmade Chocolates, Whole Foods, Austin Cake Ball, Faraday's Holiday Baking Contest, Katy Franceschini, Kendall Carlisle, Alex Manley

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