Friday, November 6, 2009 at 4:15 p.m.
Even though Keegan Gerhard and his wife, Lisa Bailey, opened D Bar Desserts
, 1475 East 17th Avenue, just under two years ago, it took about two minutes for the sugar house to emerge as one of the city's premiere dessert spots.
The restaurant serves lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, but the full spread of plated desserts is only offered after 6 p.m. Everything else in the pastry case, however, is available throughout the day, along with a few specials. Whether it's the lovely pairing of a miniature milkshake with a generous slab of deep chocolate cake, or the giddy excitement you get from being allowed to order two desserts that double as one, the cake and shake duo is a winning combination.
The shake,which can also be ordered as a malt, is mixed with scratch-made ice cream and comes with either chocolate cake or, if you're feeling adventurous, an off-menu vanilla cake made with raspberry buttercream and filled with Grand Marnier. We went with the classic chocolate cake and vanilla shake so we could explore what makes this combo so enticing. Our shake was a bit on the thin side, though perfectly sweet and sipable. D Bar tops all of its shakes with crunchy chocolate pearls made by Valrhona, an embellishment that Gerhard and Bailey specifically wanted to bring to their confectionery. "They're special because most chocolate decorations are made with coating, but these are covered with real chocolate."
The only downside to the topping is that the straw served with the milkshake isn't wide enough to accommodate the spheres, so you're reduced to fishing them out with a spoon (not a terrible fate).
The three-layer cake is a dense and fudgy creation, moist and packed with a satisfyingly deep chocolate flavor. "We use every old school rule in the book to keep it moist," Gerhard says, adding that the process normally involves using cottonseed oil, buttermilk, sour cream, and real chocolate in place of butter and cocoa powder. On the challenge of baking at a high altitude, Gerhard insists only a few simple alterations are necessary. "People tend to overcompensate for the altitude," he warns. His tricks? His oven is 25-degrees hotter than an oven at sea-level, he uses larger eggs and fills the pans and cupcake tins only two-thirds full instead of three-quarters full.
The frosting, made with Manjari chocolate, offers a lighter, more floral contrast to the cake. And while eating it would usually necessitate a glass of milk, the frosty shake steps into this role quite well. Okay, you'll probably need some water, too.
If you're ordering this after a meal, it's definitely shareable, though we wouldn't blame you if you wanted it all to yourself.
Cake and shake: $9