Best of NH 2018 Desserts, Ice Cream Stands, Coffee & Bakeries

Cookies, pastries, pies, oh my! Satisfy your sweet tooth with these Best of NH winners.

Donut Love in North Hampton is our readers' choice for best doughnuts. Photo by Liz Davenport

Artistic Cakes: At Autumn Nomad Cakes & Café in Jackson, owner and cake artist Jaime Melfi creates wildly inventive — and gorgeous — custom wedding cakes. Her range is impressive, from rustic to glamorous, with each style perfectly reflecting the couple and event. No need for a custom cake? The charming café has a daily selection of cakes available by the slice or whole special occasion cakes in the grab-and-go case. They also serve freshly baked pastries, muffins, scones, croissants, cookies and much more in addition to breakfast and lunch.

Ice Cream Treats: Mr. Fezziwig represented everything good in Dickens novel “A Christmas Carol.” Nostalgia for the happy parts of the past are highlighted at Fezziwig’s Food & Fountain in Portsmouth, especially with the ice cream fountain. Find classic ice cream sodas made with seltzer water, egg creams and a host of fanciful sundaes featuring birthday cake, espresso, brownies, pop rocks or crispy rice treats. Consider vanilla ice cream and caramel sandwiched between a brioche bun and grilled on a panini press for something both hot and cold.

Light Coffee Roast: Coffee beans can be roasted until they’re black, but Claudia Barrett of Flight Coffee Co. wants to extract every nuance from the bean with a lighter touch. She and her team in Bedford work to develop the wide spectrum of flavors that can be coaxed from beans with just the right time and temperature. Think watermelon, hibiscus and jackfruit — and that’s just from the Ethiopian Gidney Limu Kossa. The Bedford roasting lab offers a small tasting bar, while Flight Coffee Company in Dover is a full-service coffee shop, complete with a pour-over bar, tempting pastries and a used book store. Also find their roasts at Restoration Café and The Bookery in Manchester.

Macarons: These meringue-based confections look deceptively simple, but in fact require some serious baking know-how. At La Maison Navarre in Portsmouth, a lovely display case housing a rainbow of macarons beckons. The rose, lavender and earl grey flavors are all interesting, delicious standouts.

Macaroons: Not to be confused with macarons (which we just mentioned above), macaroons are sweet mounds made with coconut. The version at jajaBelle’s Pastry & Coffee Shop is huge and tender, with a delightful mouthful of fresh-tasting toasted coconut. This Nashua Main Street café also has a nice selection of Greek pastries along with brownies, pop tarts and scones.

Rum Cake: There’s a reason that rum cake is a popular holiday gift item. They are addictively delicious, so making them a seasonal specialty prevents you from eating them every day. Well, your resolve may fail once you discover Black Cat Rum Cake Company in Nashua. Their recipe, which dates back to southern Mississippi from the 19th century, presents a moist, rich complexity that will keep your tongue guessing as it tries to identify the source of the pleasure you are experiencing as you down one slice after another.

Shortbread: Shortbread cookies, a Scottish tradition, can be more than just buttery goodness. At New England Biscuit Company, owner/baker Laura Brown is putting seasonal twists on her delicious bites with a biscuit-of-the-month flavors series, including Earl Grey, pine needle, and coming for fall, pumpkin spice and cranberry almond. Order online or find at Stock + Spice in Portsmouth.

Readers' Poll Winners

Bakery - Overall
Harvey’s Bakery and Coffee Shop

Bakery - Overall
Multi-location Local    
Frederick’s Pastries
Amherst, Bedford and North Andover, Mass.   

Bakery - Concord Area
Bread & Chocolate
(603) 228-3330

Bakery - Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee Region
Lou’s Restaurant & Bakery

Bakery - Great North Woods Region
Polish Princess Bakery

Bakery - Lakes Region
Laconia Village Bakery    

Bakery - Manchester Area
Michelle’s Gourmet Pastries & Deli

Bakery - Monadnock Region
Kristin’s Bistro & Bakery

Bakery - Nashua Area
The Black Forest Café & Bakery

Bakery - Salem Area
Klemm’s Bakery

Bakery - Seacoast Region
Popovers on the Square
Epping and Portsmouth    

Bakery - White Mountains Region
Leavitt’s Country Bakery

Jacques Fine European Pastries

Multi-location Regional
Frederick’s Pastries
Amherst, Bedford and North Andover, Mass.

Granite State Candy Shoppe
Concord and Manchester

Coffee Roaster
A&E Coffee Roastery & Whole-leaf Tea
Manchester and Amherst

Coffee Shop - Overall
Breaking New Grounds
Portsmouth and Durham

Coffee Shop - Concord Area
True Brew Barista

Coffee Shop - Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee Region
Lucky’s Coffee Garage

Coffee Shop - Great North Woods Region
Polish Princess Bakery

Coffee Shop - Lakes Region
Wayfarer Coffee Roasters

Coffee Shop - Manchester Area
A&E Coffee Roastery and Whole-Leaf Tea
Manchester and Amherst

Coffee Shop - Monadnock Region
Prime Roast Coffee

Coffee Shop - Nashua Area
Union Coffee Company

Coffee Shop - Salem Area
The Grind Rail Trail Café

Coffee Shop - Seacoast Region
BeanTowne Coffee House
Hampstead and Cambridge, Mass.

Coffee Shop - White Mountains Region
Metropolitan Coffee House
North Conway

Queen City Cupcakes

Donut Love
North Hampton

Ice Cream Shop - Overall
Hayward’s Ice Cream

Ice Cream Shop - Concord Area
Arnie’s Place

Ice Cream Shop - Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee Region    
Sanctuary Dairy Farm Ice Cream

Ice Cream Shop - Great North Woods Region
Moose Alley Cones

Ice Cream Shop - Lakes Region
Jordan’s Ice Creamery

Ice Cream Shop - Manchester Area
Puritan Backroom Restaurant

Ice Cream Shop - Monadnock Region    
The Walpole Creamery
Walpole and Keene

Ice Cream Shop - Monadnock Region
Multi-location Regional    
Kimball Farm
Jaffrey and Mass. Locations

Ice Cream Shop - Nashua Area
The Big 1 Ice Cream Stand

Ice Cream Shop - Salem Area
Moo’s Place Homemade Ice Cream

Ice Cream Shop Seacoast Region    
Lago’s Ice Cream

Ice Cream Shop - White Mountains Region
Slick’s Ice Cream

Popovers on the Square
Epping and Portsmouth

Multi-location Regional    
Frederick’s Pastries
Amherst, Bedford and North Andover, Mass.

Black Forest Café & Bakery

Multi-location Local    
Red Arrow 24 Hr Diner
Multiple Locations


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