Warm sticky toffee cake, made with fresh dates and topped with caramel sauce and bourbon butterscotch ice cream, might seem better suited to a chilly autumn afternoon, but as the summer months settle in, don't expect the dessert to disappear from the menu at TAG,1441 Larimer Street. While Troy Guard, owner and chef, likes to try news recipes and incorporate seasonal ingredients whenever possible, the cake has been on the menu since the restaurant's 2009 opening. "People would kill me if I took it off," Guard says.
The dessert is a modern spin on an old English favorite, plated elegantly with dots of raspberry coulis and bright sprigs of baby arugula. The microgreens, an unusual accompaniment, sourced locally from Verde Farms, incorporate a bitter bite to offset the sweetness. The cake itself is soft with a large crumb that melts into the caramel sauce. And the dessert is plenty sweet, but with the underlying saltiness of the toffee and the cool ice cream to mellow things out, it achieves the right balance.
Reese's on steroids
Still, we're always a sucker for the classic combination, so we couldn't resist the chocolate peanut butter tart, a newbie on the menu. What came -- an innocuous-looking disc that packs a powerfully rich punch with each bite -- rose above our expectations. Nestled into a chocolate cookie crust was a layer of something only slightly lighter than peanut butter, toasted peanuts and an extra dark chocolate ganache. A mysterious pale dust tops the tart, a substance TAG calls "peanut butter powder," a combination of peanut butter, maoldextrin, and peanut oil.
As if that weren't enough, a modest dollop of peanut butter marshmallow ice cream rests nearby on a pile of chopped nuts. The ice cream incorporates lightly torched mini marshmallows, and like a Reese's Peanut Butter cup on steroids, the tart melds flavors flawlessly and adds a bevy of textures to keep your tongue from feeling weighted down. This is not a dessert for the weak of stomach: Only the most fervent chocolate and peanut butter lovers will lick the plate clean, but everyone else will have fun trying.
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For something a little more seasonal, keep an eye out for a new dessert called strawberry shortcake rocks, a sorbet of sorts that comes with Thai basil gel and baby tatsoi.
All these seemingly disparate combinations make for an innovative and fun dessert menu, which is important to Guard's aesthetic. "I try and cook what I like to eat and what I think most people will enjoy. I try to keep it bold in flavor, use local ingredients as much as possible, while bringing new flavors to old classics," he says.
Sticky toffee cake $9 Chocolate peanut butter tart $9