Palette Magazine

Sweet Spots to Take Your Date

By Julie Balter

Salted Caramel Cheesecake doughnut at Mojo Donuts;
Salted Caramel Cheesecake doughnut at Mojo Donuts;

When it comes to dishes and meals, I’ll never understand why sweets get such a sour rap. “I’m shocked to see you with that doughnut,” my new boss says, in this caught-you-in-the-cookie-jar kind of way. “I thought you were a yoga teacher!” How she mistook yoga for diabetes, I still don’t quite understand.

I’m not suggesting everyone feast their way to a Buddha-size belly, but I am evangelizing that certain indulgences — say, consuming a pint of Ben & Jerry’s straight from the carton — can be highly spiritual activities. Or if you’re seeking something secular, consider this: A glass — or three — of chardonnay might loosen the lips, but spoon-feeding a sumptuous selection of gelato flavors is a much more sinfully enticing icebreaker.

Here in South Florida, our hubs of hipster worship and gardens of tropical delight have inspired the kind of to-die-for dessert venues designed to convert even the strictest of calorie counters.



Dessert, like romance, loses its appeal when you always eat the same thing. That is why last year’s artisanal cupcake, with its royal-velvet airs of aristocracy, was displaced by the everyman, salt-of-the-earth doughnut. Shops — such as Salty Donut in Wynwood, Donut Divas & Fun Food in Miami, Honeybee Doughnuts in South Miami and the food trucks and pop-ups that have offered their imaginative takes on the pastry at events like the Wynwood Life festival — are delivering the goods throughout the Magic City.

But Mojo Donuts, the holiest of doughnut cafés, hides out farther north — in unassuming Pembroke Pines. Mojo is no powder-puff. It’s a sanctuary of inventive flavor combinations, including Mango Cheese, Log Cabin Bacon Bar and Oreo Speedwagon. Owner Shaun Neifeld, a former stripper and Miami Gold DJ, is a man of the people who’s shop has established a cult following. A Miami location is rumored to open soon.

7906 Pines Blvd.

Pembroke Pines




Put down that Carvel Cookie Puss! If an ice cream dessert date sounds too vanilla, you haven’t experienced Miami’s most provocative parlor.Azucar Ice Cream Company in the heart of Little Havana crafts creamy homemade delights infused with tropical fruit and Cuban café–themed flavors. Think: Cuatro Leches, Caramel Flan and Platano Maduro, just to name a few. The shop is inspired by its owners’ abuela, who made ice cream out of every fruit she could find on her travels. The ingredients are sourced seasonally from South Florida’s Redlands’ growers, as well as Los Piñarenos — a popular neighborhood stand. Exchanging besos of dulce de leche–laced ice cream with your beloved makes for a most romantic outing.

1503 SW 8th St.





Sweet, tangy key lime filling poured into a crunchy graham-cracker crust and topped with light meringue is a Florida staple. But if you’re seeking purity — and perhaps the best pie around — a pilgrimage to Blond Giraffe in Tavernier is a rite of passage. Everyone from the Food Network to National Geographic has sung Blond Giraffe’s praises. Specializing in all manner of key lime-based creations, the shop sells everything from cookies and candies to pie on a stick — frozen and dipped in Swiss chocolate. Yum!

92220 Overseas Hwy.




If you’re conjuring a sweet seduction, you’ll want a savory gift offering tailored to your paramour’s tastes. Traditional types can keep it classy at Miami’s Buena Vista Chocolate and Wine. Sophisticated selections — lavender and saffron-laced truffles, for instance — are created from centuries-old, French family recipes. The owners will also suggest the perfect Champagne pairing and deliver the goods to your door.

4512 NE 2nd Ave.




If you are looking for the best way to butter up your sweetheart, experiment with the selection of specialty-batch popcorn available at the Original Popcorn House in Delray Beach. It is sizzled in pure coconut oil and dressed with the finest cheeses and Belgian chocolate. Pop some of the dark chocolate caramel sea-salt variety into your mouth, and brace yourself for the rapture.

10 NE 5th Ave.

Delray Beach