By Emma Fingleton
Dessert Goals is a festival that gathers some of the most well-known and up-and-coming bakeries, ice cream shops and candy-makers under one roof. What would be a diabetic’s worst night was a dream come true for me.
Created by two friends who decided NYC needed a Smorgasburg-like festival devoted to desserts, this March’s festival was its second event after its inception last fall. I attended the two-day pop-up event in Brooklyn on March 25 and probably consumed more sugar in an hour than many people consume in a month: worth it.
Almost two dozen vendors served dessert with roots from all over the globe, from the Japanese-style ice cream in fish waffle cones at Taiyaki to churro s’mores from the Spanish restaurant Boqueria to Belgian chocolate mousse from Brooklyn-based Johan.
My inner glutton was excited to try desserts from every stand, and I started with a matcha cone from Taiyaki. I already wrote about them in a previous column, and I could not resist its creamy soft serve and warm (and photogenic) fish waffles. Van Leeuwen’s ice cream bon bons, made exclusively for the event, were fantastic. Their ice cream always has very clean, pure flavors. The bon bon, a salted caramel enrobed in dark chocolate, was a gourmet version of a Klondike bar. (Note: I noticed few vegan options overall, but Van Leeuwen offered a vegan flavor as well as vegan brownies. I have had the vegan ice cream several times before, and it is the best I have tried out of vegan ice creams in the city.)
Silk Cakes’ offerings were arguably the most beautiful of the whole event. Delicate “Sakura blossom” mousse cakes and pastel almond layer cookies arranged on tea stands created a crowd of people elbowing each other for a picture. The almond cookies, essentially more elegant versions of Italian-American rainbow cookies, were perfectly layered with jam and chocolate.
Around the corner, Underwest Donuts was offering many of its popular cake donut flavors. I snagged a delicious quarter of the special Dessert Goals donut, a funfetti donut with salted caramel, cotton candy and a chocolate glaze. Another highlight was realizing there were more vendors on the rooftop, including delicious twists on peanut butter cups from Jessie’s Nutty Cups and exquisitely decorated cake pops from Rebecca’s Cake Pops.
Brigadeiros, Brazilian truffles made with sweetened condensed milk, were my favorite new item I sampled; they were rich, chocolatey and so cute when rolled in sprinkles. However, the mochi ice cream from Mochidoki did not work texturally; the chewy outside did not have a strong matcha flavor, and the ice cream interior was too cold considering you had to bite into it.
Guests pay a nominal fee to enter Dessert Goals, which includes access to the Dylan’s Candy Bar sponsored candy bar, the scenic rooftop area and the garden. Obviously the organizers know their audience, as everyone there was under thirty and had their phones in one hand, desserts poised in the other. Not only were the dessert vendors curated, but the space itself was very well-designed, with inflatable donuts and Instagram-worthy balloons spelling out “Dessert Goals” welcoming the crowds, gummy bear chairs on the rooftop and a clever “Salt Bar” full of pretzels and other snacks to cleanse the palate. The atmosphere was very exuberant and youthful; after all, it is an event devoted to overindulgence.
Each vendor was so friendly and willing to answer questions about the desserts, which was great because many of the vendors offered sweets I had never tried before, like ice cream-filled mochi and dragon fruit bowls. My only regret was not sneaking in a container to smuggle some dessert home. Even I have my limits when it comes to sugar, and unfortunately I could not try everything, such as the macarons from Stache of Goods and the ring dings from Ring Ding Bar. However, I definitely am looking forward to attending the event when it comes back to NYC and seeing which vendors are chosen next.
If you didn’t get a chance to check it out this year, do not worry, the team behind the festival just announced Dessert Goals is hitting LA this June, and it will be back again, probably by next fall. Remember, dessert is always a good idea.