Everything in moderation. This is the secret to living a sweet life. Moms and dads, that means, it’s perfectly fine to say “yes” to a delicious dessert once in a while. Just save your family’s moments of indulgence for a treat that is truly special.
In other words, skip the convenience store candy aisle and those processed grocery store cookies. Instead, make it your family’s mission to uplevel your sugar standards and sample only the best of the best.
To help you in that pursuit, we accepted the super sweet challenge of locating the most delicious and delightful dessert spots in the Orlando area. And since kids’ tastes differ from adults, we brought along a 12-year-old kid correspondent to taste test every delectable thing we encountered to make sure we selected only the most tasty and truly family-friendly treat options.
Best Bakery: Se7en Bites
Our first stop was Se7en Bites, a sweet and savory bakeshop located in Orlando’s quaint Milk District. Offering a mesmerizing array of small-batch cookies, pies, and cakes (as well as savory brunch items), owner Trina Gregory-Probst is known for her mouth-watering modern versions of classic Little Debbie snack cakes. From homemade MoonPies to Nutty Buddies and Swiss Cakes Rolls, crowds line up out the door for a taste of Gregory-Probst’s nostalgic treats, made with better ingredients and a whole lot of love.
What makes Se7en Bites family friendly is the artful way Gregory-Probst bakes treats that customers find both comfortingly familiar and excitingly unexpected. Whether it’s a lemon bundt cake with lavender icing or a dark-chocolate-dipped MoonPie filled with bourbon marshmallow, flavor combinations at Se7en Bites will challenge your palate just a smidge without anything feeling too jarring or unfamiliar. So, visit this dessert spot soon. Oh, and if the long lines concern you, don’t worry. Se7en Bites is relocating to a larger shop (just three blocks down the road) in May 2016, ensuring plenty of room for the whole family.
Kid tip: “You’ll want to try everything! So have each person in your family pick something different and have fun sharing.”
Best Ice Cream: Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream
While ice cream is nothing new in a city known for its perpetual summer weather, Kelly and Scott Seidl, owners of Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream in the Audubon Park Garden District have taken it to another level.
Only open since July, Kelly’s has already become a favorite hangout for locals captivated by the Seidls’ irresistibly creamy ice cream, offered in 24 enticing flavors that rotate daily. The Seidls use real, high-quality ingredients, no dyes, and hand cut all of the good stuff they mix in. Though you’ll definitely find the basic flavors represented, it’s Kelly’s unique flavor combinations that keep patrons coming back for more. Crowd favorites include Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie, Blondie (with chopped Heath toffee and blonde Oreos), Maple Bourbon Bacon and Honey Vanilla.
With a lively decor (pink and cream striped walls punctuated with their signature black logo) and an abundance of board games on hand to help keep the kiddos occupied, Kelly’s is the epitome of family friendly. Plus, the price point is reasonable and the portions are generous. Sweet!
Kid tip: “They let you have samples first, so taste something you haven’t tried before. You might discover a brand new favorite flavor.”
Best Chocolate: David Ramirez Chocolates
Tucked away in Winter Garden’s charming Plant Street Market, David Ramirez Chocolates boasts a beautiful display of high-end, meticulously handcrafted, artisan chocolates. These colorful confections elevate chocolate to edible art – delicious to taste and beautiful to behold. Created by multi-award-winning Pastry Chef David Ramirez (also the executive pastry chef at Rosen Shingle Creek), this elegant line of chocolates truly offers something for everyone.
Little ones will likely gravitate to white or milk chocolate paired with familiar flavors like Cookies ‘n Cream, Key Lime, Strawberry Cheesecake and others. Adults, however, have a wealth of dark chocolate and sophisticated flavors to choose from, including Cinnamon Habanero, Peanut Butter Bacon and Jack Daniel’s Ganache. While you’re there, be sure to sample a few of Ramirez’s sublime homemade macarons. One sure to please every member of the family is his signature Peanut Butter & Jelly. Delicious!
Chef Ramirez, who you just might see hanging around the shop, clearly loves what he does and never stops inventing and playing with flavors and textures. So, stop by often; he adds new pieces to his collection regularly.
Kid tip: “Don’t just pick the bright-colored, pretty chocolates. Make sure you know what’s inside them first and that you actually like those flavors.”
Best Dessert at a Theme Park: Butterbeer at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
At Universal Studios’ The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, pausing for a sweet treat becomes a moment that’s downright magical.
The treat du jour at this theme park, of course, is butterbeer: that fantastic, up-until-now fictional, frothy beverage Harry Potter and friends eagerly consume while visiting the town of Hogsmeade. Now, thanks to the flavor-blending skills of Chef Steven Jayson, (vice president and corporate executive chef for Universal Parks & Resorts) and the official taste-testing approval of series author J.K. Rowling, Muggles like us can now indulge in this decadent and delicious drink.
Butterbeer’s flavor is like a blend of butterscotch and cream soda, although the exact recipe is classified. You can try this famous treat served chilled (the original version), frozen, hot, or as ice cream. Stop by Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour in Diagon Alley for the latter. Fans of the Harry Potter series can also sample a wealth of other notable treats while at the park, including Pumpkin Juice, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavoured Beans, Chocolate Frogs and more. Honeydukes Candy Shop (in Hogsmeade) and the newly opened Sugar Plum’s Sweet Shop (in Diagon Alley) have every book-related sweet you can imagine.
Kid tip: “Pace yourself! It all tastes so good, but don’t try every single thing at once before going on a fast ride. Bad idea.”