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Desserts for a Dessert Skeptic

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I don't have much of a sweet tooth, so the fact that two of the most transfixing things I've tasted in the past few weeks happen to be desserts (let alone meringue desserts) is a little disorienting. Normally I'd much rather eat cheese after dinner (or frankly, something else salty or even meaty—albeit not entree-sized). But when a dessert is as luscious as these two—and original, complex and unpredictable without being fussy—I'll happily make the switch:

Ispahan pastry at Pierre Hermé, Tokyo and Paris:
The Ispahan—named after the historical, much-mythologized, rosebush-laden city in Iran—looks like a terrifyingly dainty pink raspberry sandwich. But Hermé is a genius: Somehow his two pink, rosewater-tinged almond macaroons, layered with rose-petal cream, fresh raspberries and lychee, are a masterful balancing act of sweet, sour, crunchy, creamy and fragrant—without being cloying. 1F-2F-5-51-8 Jingumae, Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo; 72 rue Bonaparte, Paris (and other locations in both cities).

Pastel de Regaliz at Suba, New York City
Chef de cuisine Paul Bentley's invention brilliantly contrasts rich, bitingly intense licorice ice cream with sweet chantilly cream and crunchy meringue tuiles—and is much more beguling than it sounds. But unless you don't mind licorice overkill, don't pair this with the cocktail menu's absinthe mojito—which Suba touchingly limits to one order per guest. 109 Ludlow St., New York City; 212-982-5714.

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

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