How Sweet It Is: Decadent Detroit Bakeries and Desserts

February 13, 2018  |   Story by Michelle Fusco   |   Photos by Bon Bon Bon

Trying desserts that are specialties of a region can be a delicious proposition when visiting a new city. For sweet treats, The D doesn’t disappoint.

Indulge for a Good Cause

Detroit Water Ice Factory, near Campus Martius, features 17 flavors of D-ICE water ice — with clever, Detroit-themed names. The tasty treat contains no preservatives, low sugar and natural fruit. It’s also non-dairy and fat free. Best of all, 100 percent of the store’s profits go to Detroit’s needy through S.A.Y. Detroit, a local charity founded by bestselling author and Detroit Free Press journalist Mitch Albom. How very sweet!

Detroit Water Ice Factory cups of ice cream and frozen treats

Gotta Get Greek Goodies

It’s difficult to choose the best dessert on the Pegasus Taverna menu, but bougasta, a flaky filo pastry with custard, served warm, is heaven sent. And just in case you get hungry later, get a carryout order of baklava for the road.

Paczki Please

If you happen to be visiting Detroit in the days surrounding Fat Tuesday in February (the day before Lent) you can experience a tradition that came over on the boat with Detroit’s Polish immigrants and has been celebrated ever since — Paczki Day (pronounced  POONCH-kee). Paczki are calorie- and fat-laden pastries made with yeasty, fried balls of dough and filled with jam or custard. For the most authentic paczki, head to the bakeries in Hamtramck and expect to wait in line. If you miss Fat Tuesday, you can savor the dessert crepes at Polonia Polish Restaurant year-round — try the ones with sour cherries and cream cheese.

Detroit Cooler, aka Vernors Float

Vernors ginger ale was created in Detroit, as was the Detroit Cooler. Find it on the menu at Leo’s or Kirby’s Coney Islands. Or make your own by mixing a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream with one ice cold can of Vernors. Bonus points if you make it using Stroh’s ice cream (which also originated in Detroit.) Both brands are sold at most major grocery stores in the area.

Bumpy Cake and Beyond

Most everyone in metro Detroit is a fan of Sanders Bumpy Cake — devil’s food cake topped with “bumps” of buttercream frosting and covered in chocolate ganache. Fred Sanders Schmidt created the dessert at the sweets shop he opened on Detroit’s Woodward Avenue in 1875. Equally beloved is the Sanders Hot Fudge Cream Puff. The best place to find both is at the Sanders – Morley Chocolate Factory in Clinton Township, where you can take a self-guided tour of the factory and visit the recently renovated sweets shop.  Don’t miss the real chocolate waterfall. Family-owned Mootown Ice Cream & Dessert Shop in Detroit’s Eastern Market also has both desserts on the menu. Open seasonally; reopening in March.

Only in The D

A few other places that are a must on your of list of dessert destination in The D: Dilla’s Delights, a specialty doughnut shop named in honor of deceased Detroit hip-hop producer J. Dilla; Treat Dreams for creative ice cream flavors we guarantee you haven’t tried before and award-winning Bon Bon Bon, where artisan confiseurs use classic French technique and local ingredients to create flavors that range from classic to bizarre (Hot Cheetos?). A box of these bons makes a perfect gift or souvenir of your visit.

Dilla's Delights

Discover more Detroit restaurants and bakeries.

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Mentioned Attractions And Venues
  1. Detroit Water Ice Factory
    1014 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48226313-888-9106Highlight on map | More Details
  2. Pegasus Taverna
    24935 Jefferson Ave., St. Clair Shores, MI 48080586-772-3200Highlight on map | More Details
  3. Polonia Polish Restaurant
    2934 Yemans St., Hamtramck, MI 48212313-873-8432Highlight on map | More Details
  4. Mootown Ice Cream & Dessert Shoppe
    2461 Russell St., Detroit, MI 48207313-262-6594Highlight on map | More Details
  5. Dilla's Delights
    242 John R St., Detroit, MI 48226313-346-3771Highlight on map | More Details
  6. Treat Dreams
    4160 Cass Ave., Detroit, MI 48202313-818-0084Highlight on map | More Details
  7. Bon Bon Bon
    719 Griswold St., Ste. 100, Detroit, MI 48226313-316-1430Highlight on map | More Details