Vegas desserts: Standard sweets, redefined

By Nikki Neu

Boring hot fudge sundaes, tired tiramisu and unexciting cupcakes — not exactly what you want out of your dessert, but sometimes, that’s what you’re left with at the end of your meal. Even some fine-dining restaurants don’t offer more than a simple chocolate cake or the typical scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert.

“Dessert is the most important part of my meal,” says Damon Watkins, a Las Vegas visitor from Atlanta. “If dessert’s no good, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth for the whole meal!”

In Vegas, we aim to please. Standard desserts are reinvented in exciting new ways that you probably won’t find at home. Sure you’ve had s’mores, but have you ever tried a s’mores brioche donut? We thought not.

From creative to downright quirky, these unique desserts will leave you savoring them down to the last bite.

S’mores brioche donuts

at Botero in Encore Las Vegas

We often think of s’mores as a traditional campfire treat where a marshmallow is speared with a stick, held over an open fire and spun until crispy brown on the outside and gooey on the inside. The marshmallow is then placed atop a graham cracker, topped with a piece of chocolate and sandwiched with another graham cracker.

While variations of this method have taken flight around the world, none is quite like the s’mores brioche donut at Botero. These donuts are filled with marshmallow and coated in cinnamon graham cracker crumbs. Served with a rich chocolate ganache and vanilla anglaise, these tasty morsels aren’t served by a campfire, but you’ll never miss the roaring flames.

A very tall tiramisu at Verandah.

A very tall tiramisu at Verandah.


at Verandah in Four Seasons

Tiramisu is a popular Italian dessert. When made properly, lady fingers soaked in coffee and Marsala wine are layered between a creamy mascarpone mixture and sprinkled with cocoa powder or grated chocolate.

Italian for “pick me up,” this light dessert is said to get you closer to heaven. The original version is served at every Italian and sometimes non-Italian restaurant in America. The presentation at Verandah is unique.

“We wanted to make something that tastes good but also has the visual appeal,” says Executive Pastry Chef of the Four Seasons, Jean-Luc Daul.

Served in a tall hand-blown glass dish, this dessert only begins with traditional tiramisu. Add candied cherries, a waffle bowl filled with an assortment of gelato, decorative flowers and a tall cotton candy hat and you can be sure, few have dined on this very non-traditional treat.

White truffle ice cream

at BarMasa in Aria Las Vegas

Ice cream: a sweet treat in which heavy cream, sugar, eggs and vanilla are mixed together and frozen to create a creamy dessert.

White truffle: A fungus foraged for at certain times of the year in the Piedmont region of Italy. Pigs or dogs seek them out 3 to 12 inches underground. White truffles are a coveted delicacy, known for a pungent earthy, mushroom-like aroma and flavor.

One’s sweet, one’s savory. One’s ordinary, one’s extraordinary. Rarely shall the two meet – until now.
The white truffle ice cream at BarMasa is a must try. It’s a little sweet, a little savory and certain to excite your tongue. If that doesn’t do it for you, the small dish of ice cream is topped with 24-karat gold leaf. Just in case the $450-per-ounce white truffle isn’t opulent enough.

Cheese at Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro in Palazzo Las Vegas
Not your traditional dessert in the United States, true. But cheese is gaining popularity in Vegas as an after dinner treat. At Morel’s French Steakhouse & Bistro, you can choose from more than 30 artisanal cheeses from the fromagerie. Epoisse, French brie and Humbolt Fog are just some of the gourmet cheese choices you have to choose from.

Enjoy your cheese on the patio, at the bar or in the main dining room, which is filled with sophisticated paintings and Murano glass chandeliers.

Sliders and fries are for dessert at Holstein's.

Sliders and fries are for dessert at Holstein's.

Sliders and fries

at Holstein’s in the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

A burger for dessert hardly seems like a good idea, especially if you’ve already had a juicy hamburger like Holstein’s dry-aged Gold Standard for dinner. But at Holstein’s, you’ll definitely want to order the sliders and fries.

As a creative side dish, the “fries” are actually thin churros and served with strawberry “ketchup.” The churro fries even come in a mini fry basket — so you’ll definitely want fries with that.

There are three types of sliders, including a tropical version with coconut macaroon serving as the bun and passion fruit cream with guava jelly as the filling, or burger meat. There’s also a triple chocolate version with chocolate macaroon, chocolate mousse, chocolate pudding and a cocoa nib nougatine — clearly for chocolate lovers only.

Banana Split

at The Pub in Monte Carlo

The Banana split at the Pub at Monte Carlo is more complicated then you might think. The float-like split has a few unexpected items like Banana Bread Beer and Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. The float is finished with scoops of vanilla ice cream.

The Pub at Monte Carlo has an eight-page beer list, with an assortment of artisanal brews and ales on tap and in bottle. Needless to say, the beer-based banana split fits in perfectly.

Rick’s tasting game

at Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood in Mandalay Bay

Your mother always told you not to play with your food. But you, a wise child, always knew that playing “toss the spaghetti on the wall” would catch on. Well, it didn’t. But RM Seafood gives you a chance to play with your food as an adult with the Rick’s ice cream tasting game.

Rick's tasting game at Rick Moonen's RM Seafood.

Rick's tasting game at Rick Moonen's RM Seafood.

You start with 16 flavors of ice cream on the plate. Taste each scoop and determine the flavor. If you guess all 16 flavors of ice cream, the whole dessert is on the house. But fair warning, your palate will be tested with exotic flavors like foie gras and cardamom.

Milk and cookies soufflé

at Tableau in Wynn Las Vegas

The milk and cookies soufflé is the only dessert on the menu at Tableau, but with those key words in the title (milk, cookie, soufflé), there’s no need for anything else. The dessert has the simplicity of milk and cookies from your childhood, but has the elegance of an adult dessert – perfect for a power lunch.

It tastes like a fluffy chocolate chip cookie, drizzled with rich chocolate sauce served and served with vanilla bean ice cream to make it the ultimate comfort food.

Lemon meringue cupcake

at Central Michel Richard in Caesars Palace

Though the average cupcake, while perfect for children’s birthday parties, isn’t overly exciting, the one at Central Michel Richard is. In fact, you can go there just for the jumbo lemon meringue cupcake.

“It’s been very popular. Lemon is light and refreshing. A lot of people like that versus the chocolate so at least it gives another option. We do have quite a bit of praline and chocolate on the menu, so that’s a nice alternative,” says Renee Eder, pastry chef at Central Michel Richard.

The cupcake starts with moist vanilla cake. Fresh lemon curd fills the middle and the cake is topped with a fluffy marshmallow meringue. The cupcake is served with a scoop of mixed berry sorbet and is a gourmet treat.

This one is worth the calories.