That’s right, National Dessert Day is October 14. So kick that sugar craving into high gear, prep that toothbrush, and let’s get to it. I love all things sweet and dessert, so this article made me feel like a kid in a candy store. There is always room for dessert in my view, but I know not everyone is the same. However, this article is for them, too; not everything here is super sweet so as to suit all kinds of palates.
I visited five places around C-U for you to preview in anticipation of National Dessert Day.
Hunny Bunny Bakes
Not everyone might be familiar with Hunny Bunny, as it’s relatively new and adjoins the CU Flower House (in the plaza across from Harvest Market). It’s a smaller storefront, and they specialize in meticulously decorated, custom desserts, but you can also stop in during open hours for an individual treat. They sell all kinds of cute and clever items from cinnamon rolls to punny and cleverly named cake jars (“There’s Always $$ in the Banana Stand” and a lemon cake called “Your Face Will Stick Like That”).
The “That One Night in College” brownies caught my eye ($6). Their name comes from a riff on the “slutty” brownies that are incredibly decadent, but as the ladies behind the counter let me know, there’s no slut-shaming in desserts. This loaded brownie has a chocolate chip cookie base, followed by a layer of Oreos, then the brownie, topped with a thick chocolate ganache, and topped off with sprinkles. Oh, yeah. When I ordered my brownie, I was informed the ones in the case were display only, so they grabbed my slice from the kitchen behind the curtain. Little did I expect that I was about to be asked the most thoughtful question to my dessert-loving heart: “Are you a middle piece or a corner gal?” Swoon! Turns out that they were freshly cutting a tray of brownies and were thoughtful enough to ask my preference. For those wondering, I’m a corner gal through and through. This was definitely the richest option of this article. I love rich, decadent desserts, so it was no problem for me. Although, with layers of basically four different sweets, it can’t come as a surprise that it was super rich. “That One Night in College” brownies are definitely for when you need to indulge in something particularly sweet. Full of delicious textures, it puts the treat in “treat yourself.”
Hunny Bunny Bakes
2006 S Neil St
T-Sa 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Moment is a Campustown bakery, located off West Green Street. It’s a little shop that offers options from a case as well as custom cake orders. I went in and grabbed something from the case: a slice of tiramisu ($7). The tiramisu came with an adorable little powdered sugar coffee cup dusted on top and had the traditional layers of mascarpone mousse, coffee-soaked lady fingers, and cocoa powder on top. It was a pretty big piece, and if you were a little less selfish than I, you could share it. As I was told upon ordering, the dessert had “alcohol in it.” Yeah, sold.
It was indeed boozy, but in a good way. You could tell they used a coffee liqueur of sorts in their soak for the lady fingers, and it really accentuated and complimented the soft flavors of the custardy mousse with a scrumptious complexity.. The lady fingers were soft but not mushy, and it was a perfect pair to a hot cup of coffee on the first chillier day of the season. Due to the size of the tiramisu, I ended up stashing it in the fridge and saving it for later to enjoy again the next day. I have to say it was probably one of my favorite tiramisus I’ve had!
202 E Green St
T-Sa 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Rick’s Bakery is located in Downtown Urbana and stocks a plethora of savory and sweet options. It’s a great lunchtime spot or a place for a sweet pick-me-up. At Rick’s, they have a full dessert for a special occasion or just an individual slice. After quite a bit of deliberation, I went with a slice of chocolate mousse cake ($4). The cake was sweetly decorated with white chocolate piping over chocolate ganache. The creamy mousse was super soft and practically melted in my mouth. The ganache was the perfect thickness — it wasn’t overpowering but the right amount of solid texture to balance the softness of the mousse. The cake layers were also really soft, and it wasn’t too rich or sweet like I’d expect a chocolate mousse cake to necessarily be. Although, that is coming from me, who basically never thinks anything is too rich except maybe for corporations. Anyway, I digress!
It was such a cute little piece of cake and their pastry case was full of other wonderful desserts. Make a whole meal out of it when visiting by grabbing one of the many yummy savory options (corn quiche? Yes, please!) and finishing with a piece of something sweet. Rick’s also has a coffee menu, and honorable mention to their horchata! It was so delicious, too.
124 W Main St
T-Sa 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Suzu’s is a Japanese bakery located in Downtown Champaign. There are a lot of beautiful desserts to choose from in their case, but for this specific visit I went with a Japanese cheesecake ($7.25) and a matcha shu cream puff ($4). The Japanese cheesecake also comes in a larger, shareable size as well; you can order it chilled or warm. It was so light and bouncy as are the traditional characteristics of this dessert, which is soufflé style. Dusted with powdered sugar, it had subtle but noticeable notes of lemon. It was dense in the way cheesecake should be but not claggy. It’s a great “plain” option, a dessert without lots of bells and whistles.
The matcha shu cream puff was another simply flavored option but with a bit more nuance. The pastry was deliciously soft but not soggy, and the matcha cream was not too sweet nor did it have so much matcha that it tasted overwhelming. In fact, for those that like but don’t love matcha or are still on the fence with its polarizing flavor, I recommend this. It was topped with fluffy whipped cream and both desserts were chilled and really tasty hot day treats. Their case is always full of lovely desserts, and they have a coffee bar as well.
114 N Walnut St
W-Th 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
F+Sa 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Su 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
I’ll start off by saying that if you’re not familiar with Tasty Tart, you really heckin’ should be. It’s a little bakery located off Neil Street and serves up coffee, cloud drinks, and gorgeous handmade tarts. I’ve been a fan of theirs since I first tried it, so I knew it had to be included in this review. I covered a classic strawberry tart ($4.99) and the seasonal maple cheesecake ($4.49) for good measure. These aforementioned tarts were all that was left when I visited on a Saturday at noon. They bake their tarts fresh daily and sell until sold out, and that doesn’t take very long. When I went, the shop’s case had only a handful of tarts in it, and when I left, there were literally three remaining. I was second in line and rather devastated when the person ahead of me ordered the rest of the tarts in the case aside from a cheese tart. What was I going to do now? I was up against a tight deadline of my own volition, and I couldn’t review a cheese tart for a dessert article! The employee behind the counter quickly saved the day, however: more tarts were being baked and were on their way out. A hero!
The tarts’ crusts were crunchy (but not hard), thick, and utterly delectable. You can eat them by hand without worrying about spilling crumbs everywhere. Mary Berry would be so impressed by their total lack of soggy bottoms. I’m pretty picky about my desserts’ crusts, but Tasty’s is one of my favorites. The strawberry tart had a yummy cream cheese center and was topped with adorable heart-shaped berries. That’s all, and that’s all it needs to be — so simple and so delicious. The seasonal flavor maple cheesecake had a lovely creamy center. While there wasn’t a lot of maple flavor to be detected, it was rather nice as it didn’t taste artificial, like biting into a fall candle which is a potential hazard of desserts of this season. You really can’t go wrong with any option from Tasty Tart, but if you’re looking for several options, make sure you are ready when they open at 10 a.m. or plan to special order.
405 S Neil St
T-Su 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (or until sold out)