It’s that time of year where, once again, we begin to see the flavors of fall infiltrating Little Rock restaurants’ menus, spicing up cakes and pies, and warming hearts like almost nothing else can. The scent and savor of apple, cinnamon, nutmeg, pear, and pumpkin bring with them cooler weather, changing leaves, the approaching holidays, and plenty of good eating with those we love. Little Rock pastry chefs are stepping up to the proverbial plate this year and delivering some fabulous treats to help make this season one of the greatest this city has ever seen. Here’s a smattering of what’s going on:
Cupcakes on Kavanagh: When the cupcake craving hits, I usually find myself jonesing for Cupcakes on Kavanaugh. The cupcake sensation may be slowing just a bit, but that by no means implies that COK is any less delicious. This fall they’ve got a very unique “pecan pie” cupcake with a crunchy pecan top with a soft buttery cake, caramel apple, a spectacular pumpkin cupcake with cream cheese frosting, and a candy corn cupcake.
Mylo Coffee Co.: Simply hearing the name “Mylo” is like a sweet symphony playing in my soul. And while my wife has not yet allowed me to legally change my first born child’s name to “Mylo,” at least Junior seems to enjoy the nickname. I digress. This fall, Stephanos has an entirely appetizing lineup of seasonal goods for the weekend market goers. This includes his housemade graham crackers (and as Stephanos puts it, “These ain’t Honey Maid”), ginger crème brûlée tartlet, apple pie kouign amann (oh be still my heart!), savory sweet potato hand pies, and Flyway Brown Ale chocolate cake. I did, in fact, snag up one of those apple pie kouign amann last weekend and it was stunningly good. Flaky, gooey, buttery, with a sweet ribbon of apple. Simply delightful.
Natchez: The recently anointed house pastry chef, Zara Abbasi Wilkerson, has been helping keep the house full at Natchez for a few months now. Desserts have never been more popular at the classy, upscale Southern bistro. To quote a friend who frequents Natchez for lunch, “I’ve never seen more dessert orders going out at lunch.” Zara tells me that she’s often putting in extra hours to keep up with the demand as many days she completely sells out of dessert before the dinner hour.
This fall, she’s got a long list of brilliant dessert offerings. These include a pumpkin pecan cake with maple brown sugar buttercream, a pear ginger tart, caramel apple pie, and a triple chocolate torte with roasted walnut caramel. Her French macarons are becomingly increasingly popular; fall’s flavors include a cinnamon and candied pecan, pumpkin, and maple. Did I mention she’s making her own ice cream? Yeah, well she’s using it to create housemade ice cream sandwiches: gingerbread with pear ice cream, or chocolate with port cherry ice cream.
Loblolly Creamery: This small batch creamery has pioneered seasonal, locally sourced sweets in Little Rock. This fall is no exception. They’ll have fall-themed ice cream flavors, such as sweet potato pie, pumpkin, apple, muscadine, butternut, pecan, brown bread, ginger, cinnamon, maple, and others. They’ll be serving their house-made hot spiced chai, drinking chocolate, cider, wrapped caramels, bagged house-made marshmallows, and in November they’ll have gluten-free cornbread ice cream sandwiches. None of these spectacular items should be missed, but make certain you sample that drinking chocolate this season.
Little Rock Pie Cycle: Hannah Moore’s quirky but curiously addictive pie cycle has been peddling its way into our hearts for the past few months now. She can usually be found at the Hillcrest Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning peddling her wares to the hungry public. There’s no season like fall for a few good pies; this season the Pie Cycle is offering up apple, pumpkin, and sweet potato hand pies, as well as a few by the slice including a lovely shoo fly pie (a thickened, sweet molasses concoction), and nutty pecan pie.
Sweet Love: Kelli Marks has always got a bagful of bakery tricks at her popular Sweet Love on Cantrell. This fall she’ll be selling salted caramels in a variety of flavors—traditional vanilla, coffee, chocolate, honey & almond. They’re also bringing back their pumpkin spice cookie. For cake/cupcake flavors, they’re offering bananas foster, caramel apple, pumpkin latte, pumpkin pie, dulce de leche, and spiced rum. They’ll have a selection of pies, including their “award winning” sweet potato pie, as well as caramel apple, pumpkin, chocolate silk and coconut cream.
The sweet potato pie mentioned above is a smooth and creamy mixture with an oatmeal/pecan crust, topped with bourbon glazed pecans. There’s also a cranberry pecan bundt cake (as soon as cranberries are in season). Lastly, French macarons will also get the pumpkin/cinnamon/caramel treatment.
Brown Sugar Bakery: This Rivermarket staple has always delivered some of the most innovative and imaginative baked goods in the city. This fall they’ll be serving up sweet potato blondies, pumpkin cappuccino cupcakes and a sweet potato candied bacon pie that’s sure to keep customers coming back for more each time it’s being served.
(For locations, hours, and contact info for these fine establishments, see the provided links above)