'Tis the season for sweet tooths everywhere to indulge! Boxes of chocolate and sweethearts are always nice, but maybe you're looking for something a little more substantial. Whether you're craving cookies, cake, ice cream, or nearly any other dessert you can imagine, the following spots provide delectable delicacies to die for.
Mark and Julie's Homemade Ice Cream
Mark and Julie's is an Essex County institution, run by a local husband and wife team who truly get to know the shop's regulars and will always make them feel like home. If you're looking for unique and great-tasting homemade ice cream, head there now. We dare you to find a better chocolate cherry cordial ice cream, but if that flavor's not your thing, there are 50+ others to choose from. 476 Pleasant Valley Way, West Orange
The Pie Store
Guess what this place sells? Sure, it serves up delicious pies—but so much more is on offer. Find a vast selection of British treats such as pasties and traditional British candies—Terry's Chocolate Orange, anyone? From fruity to savory, indulge in some of the best baked goods this side of the pond! Pro-tip: stop in on a Saturday or Sunday for the Banoffee (banana/toffee) pie. 100 Watchung Avenue, Montclair
Le Petit Parisien
For traditional French fare and the best macaron in the area, stroll into Le Petit Parisien. From its location on the quaint Church Street promenade to its perfectly prepared crepes and colorful treats, you might just forget you're in New Jersey and feel transported to Paris. The café's blinking Eiffel Tower decoration is a nice touch as well. Très magnifique! 10 Church Street, Montclair
Remember old school frozen yogurt, before it was served out of machines on the walls of dime-a-dozen "fro-yo" chains? The kind of frozen yogurt that people line up for and drive from several towns over to get? That's the kind of frozen yogurt you'll find at Magic Fountain. Recapture your youth at one of three locations in Union, Summit, or Elizabeth. Your taste buds will thank you. 1081 Stuyvesant Avenue, Union; 478 Morris Avenue, Summit; 300 Williamson Street, Elizabeth
Van Gogh's Ear
If you're looking for a nice variety of desserts and a comfortable atmosphere, Van Gogh's Ear is the place to go. Enjoy a giant pot of loose leaf tea along with classic pies, cakes, and tarts, (our favorite is the Tollhouse Cookie Tart... yum!) all while listening to the eclectic live music offered several times a week. This laid-back hangout is also open late—midnight on weeknights and 1 am on weekends—making it the go-to hotspot for your midnight snacking needs. 1017 Stuyvesant Avenue, Union
The Fine Grind
Nestled in a strip mall not too far from the Willowbrook Mall is The Fine Grind, a hidden gem that's worth the visit. There are so many hot and cold drink concoctions that it's nearly impossible to choose just one, but we strongly recommend the classic Frozen Hot Chocolate (dubbed a"Fro-Ho"). Pair that with a sweet treat—some are even gluten-free—as you admire the art from local artists on the wall or relax on one of this not-your-average coffee bar's irresistibly comfortable couches. 101 Newark Pompton Turnpike, Little Falls
This Italian restaurant offers a selection of authentic Italian gourmet desserts. Pastries made from authentic Sicilian and Napolitano recipes as well as flavorful cannoli keep the clientele coming back for more. Palazzone 1960 has nearly flawless reviews for a reason. 190 Route 23 North, Wayne
Milk Sugar Love Creamery & Bakeshop
This local favorite boasts homemade desserts made from organic milk and local ingredients in its state of the art kitchens. A quick way to sample their baked goods and ice cream: try an artisan ice cream sandwich. We like the Fruity Pebble Mac Daddy—Fruity Pebble macarons with Fruity Pebble ice cream. The Star-Ledger rated its Chocolate Peppermint ice cream as the best dish in New Jersey for 2013. That's the best dish... yes, it topped even traditional dinner foods on the list. Funny thing is, that's not even the best selling ice cream flavor at Milk Sugar Love—it's Sour Cream Blueberry.
Both fantastic though, if you ask us. 19 McWilliams Place, Jersey City
The Dessert Plate
Let them eat (beautiful, custom-designed) cake. Check out the bakery's online gallery to see samples of what this spot is capable of. Perhaps the most eye-catching and fun is a hauntingly romantic zombie wedding cake, baked and decorated on premises, of course. The Dessert Plate also serves up an extensive collection of cookies, cupcakes, and tarts. At the end of each week, all of the excess desserts are donated to the Somerset Home for Temporarily Displaced Children in Bridgewater—the bakery is sweet inside and out!
34 East Main Street #1, Somerville
Mara's Cafe and Bakery
For generous portions of a variety of desserts, stop by Mara's Cafe and Bakery. This cute café has a popular flagship eatery in Morristown as well as three other locations. The gelato is awesome and the strong coffee provides a nice complement to the tiramisu that's so big you can definitely share it. 281 Speedwell Avenue, Morristown; 25 East Main Street, Denville; 250 South Avenue, Fanwood; 250 Springfield Avenue, Berkeley Heights
A French patisserie brought to us by a Korean pastry chef, Keum-Sook Park, who studied under Francois Payard. Need we say more? The pastries are works of art. Sook also owns Sook Chocolates in Clifton. We recommend you mesmerize yourself with a video of their process. 24 S. Broad St. Ridgewood —Danielle Berman
Natale's Summit Bakery
Family-owned since 1938, this Italian bakery never ceases to impress patrons with their beautiful and delicious selections. Don't leave without the Philly Fluff—the bakery's signature cake—which can be described as something between an Angel Food cake and pound cake, dusted with powdered sugar. 185 Broad St., Summit —Danielle Berman