Best of NH 2011 Bakeries, Ice Cream Stands and Dessert Spots

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but we're pretty sure it's dessert — especially with all these great treats to choose from.

*Editor's Picks
Readers' Poll Winners

Brownies: Popovers on the Square in Portsmouth is a casual café with a sophisticated ambiance offering very “pop”ular homemade brownies and other baked goods.

Cakes: A 10-Year Best of NH winner, Frederick’s Pastries of Amherst and Bedford is famous for fantastic cakes that taste as wonderful as they look.

Chocolatier: Van Otis Chocolates in Manchester makes so many great chocolates and confections that they offer tours of their factory to show where the magic happens.

*Cider Donuts: White Mountain Cider Co. in Glen presses cider in the fall but all year long they make their famous cider donuts right before your eyes in the store. One site is their upscale restaurant where you can order the donuts for dessert instead of carrying home a bag with dark stains that indicate freshness.

*Gourmet Movie Snack: J. Drizzle Gourmet Popcorn Co.'s Island Coconut popcorn somehow manages to stay crunchy even though it's slathered in layers of chocolate and coconut shavings. Not a coconut lover? J. Dizzle has 70 flavors that range from sweet to spicy.

Cookies: Black Forest Café & Bakery in Amherst is a 10-year winner for their cookies so they must be doing something very right.

Cupcakes: White Mountain Cupcakery of North Conway spreads the gospel of cupcakes to the North Country with a delightful variety of flavors.

Dessert: Café Along with great desserts and coffee, Popovers on the Square in Portsmouth offers fine wines and cordials and a seasonal outdoor café.

*Gelato: With a gelateria on every corner, Florence, Italy, is the gelato capital. Hanover is now a close runner-up. The reason is Chef Morgan Morano at Morano Gelato in Hanover. Morgan learned her craft from one of Florence’s great Gelato Masters. Up at dawn, she churns out a fresh rainbow of flavors every day. Amaretto? Chocolate? Mango? It’s tough to choose. Thank goodness it’s best to mix and match. Look for fresh fruit versions this summer, all dense and creamy.

*Locally Sourced S’mores: Three New Hampshire companies have joined together to create a kit to make s’mores that are to die for. They’ve combined the tasty homemade marshmallows from Planet Marshmallow in Milford, chocolate from Granite State Candy Shoppe in Concord and graham crackers from Jake’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream in Amherst — all the finest ingredients. Good luck trying to have just one.,,

*Macaroon Brownie: Some desserts are a treat, others become an obsession. Bellows House macaroon brownies combine chewy coconut and rich brownie, two of th most addictive materials in the dessert arsenal, and bake them to the perfect state so that in a single bite you are hooked. Don’t believe us? We dare you to try them. (Warning: They can be ordered by the freshly baked tray.)

Pies: From their fluffy cream pies to the candy bar density of triple chocolate chunk, The Pie Guy of Salem specializes in pies in a variety of sizes.

Pastries: A 10-Year Best of NH winner, Frederick’s Pastries of Amherst and Bedford is an award-winning, pastry-making institution in the state.

*Rock ’n’ Roll Ice Cream Parlor: At The Hop in Bath is a replica of a ’50s ice cream shop, complete with checkerboard floor and jukebox. Its walls are covered with far more memorabilia of Rock ’n Roll and later greats than the most devout fan could have collected at the time — about 1,300 pieces. It’s a museum with music and ice cream. (800) 964-2074

*Schnecken: German John’s in Hillsboro is a great place to find Deutsch specialty breads and sweets like Bauernbrot, brötchen and strudel. But, along with a soft pretzel, don’t leave the shop without a few schencken made from their semi-sweet bread dough, rolled like a Danish and topped with Kase and a freshly made fruit topping.

*Sweet and Salty Combo: Concord’s A. Little Confection has combined two of the most craved foods — chocolate and bacon — into one salty sweet snack. Yes, we’re talking about chocolate-dipped bacon and, no, it’s not as weird as you’re thinking. In fact, it’s delicious and dangerously addictive.

Readers Regional Ice Cream Picks

Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee: Arctic Dreams in New London pleases students, shoppers and choosy locals, serving great Annabelle’s Ice Cream with a personal touch. (603) 526-9477

Great North Woods: Moose Alley Cones in Pittsburg may be the sweetest spot in Moose Alley, and don’t settle for a banana split — order a banana bucket.

Concord Area: Concord’s Arnie’s Place is a kind of Happy Days social center for the Capital Region serving homemade ice cream and much more.

Concord Area (Regional Chain): Johnson’s Seafood & Steak in Northwood (and New Durham) is a regional chain with a hometown feel that keeps people coming back.

Lakes Region: The state’s oldest candy makers, Kellerhaus in Laconia is rightly famous for their ice cream sundae smorgasbord.

Manchester Area: The Puritan Backroom in Manchester is a family-friendly local icon that has been serving ice cream to the people since 1917.

Nashua Area: Hayward’s Ice Cream Stand in Nashua sells homemade premium ice cream in their freshly baked waffle cones. Look for four new flavors for 2011.

Monadnock (Regional Chain): Jaffrey’s Kimball Farms is famous in the state and offers a Monadnock Region hub for family fun and great ice cream.

Monadnock: The ever-popular Hayward’s Ice Cream Stand in Milford is sited on the original Hayward’s farm where they once raised dairy cows.

Seacoast: Seacoast favorite Annabelle’s Natural Ice Cream in Portsmouth puts the emphasis on using high-quality natural ingredients.

Salem Area: The popular Moo’s Place Homemade Ice Cream in Derry makes and bakes many of their own fillings with secret recipes.

White Mountains: The name of North Conway’s Trails End Ice Cream Shoppe invites you to recover a few delicious calories lost on the hike. (603) 356-0470

Categories: Best of NH Winners