Don't let the ginormous Cotton Candy Milkshake at Dylan's Candy Bar intimidate you. Photo by Janet Bloom
Don't let the ginormous Cotton Candy Milkshake at Dylan's Candy Bar intimidate you. Photo by Janet Bloom

The 18 Most Insane, Must-Try NYC Desserts

It's no secret that NYC is loaded with great food. Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook seem to be overflowing with incredible-looking eats, but are they just eye candy?

We headed out with a gaggle of kids to test the best, most amazingly outrageous, over-the-top desserts around New York City, and to discover which were as good as they looked and sounded. We picked the most insanely awesome treats in NYC. These delicious desserts are all perfect for a special outing with kids, or just some bonding time. So get ready to wow your kids with the most awesome sweets in NYC.

Indulge in the over-the-top milkshakes at Black Tap. Photo courtesy of the shop

Black TapMidtown, Soho  

529 Broome Street
This burger and beer eatery serves classic milkshakes, like their Nutella shake. But why get a classic milkshake when you can order one of their CrazyShakes? The Brooklyn Blackout Chocolate Shake is served with a frosted chocolate rim and mini chocolate chips and topped with two chocolate brownies, whipped cream, and a chocolate drizzle. And that's just one of their 8 expertly crafted milkshake masterpieces. New to the menu is the Vegan Black ’N White CakeShake -- a plant-based nod to the city’s famed black and white cookie. Black Tap’s culinary team crafted the shake using vegan alternatives like applesauce for a moist cake foundation, and a non-dairy whipped cream. The chocolate shake features housemade vanilla frosting and chocolate chips on the rim, and is topped with a slice of black and white cake, whipped cream and chocolate drizzle. It is priced at $18.

Chococlate Room – Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

269 Court Street
This dessert parlor is dedicated to all things chocolate - cookies, cakes, breads, candies, and drinks. Some of the most popular menu items include sundaes with the Chocolate Room's special hot fudge sauce and its three varieties of hot cocoa.  You can also customaize a party platter with an assortment of baked goods to bring to a party. 

Dylan's Candy BarMidtown East, Union Square  

33 Union Square W
Of course, this palace of sweets serves epic desserts, but nothing beats the "I Bet You Can’t", which includes 10 scoops of ice cream and 10 not-your-ordinary-toppings. At the cafe, you can also get dessert pizzas, sundaes, and S'mores. 

RELATED: Birthday Freebies for NYC Kids

Frozen s'more at Dominique Ansel Bakery? We'll take two! Photo courtesy of the shop

Dominique Ansel Bakery — Soho

189 Spring Street
I’ve never gotten up at dawn to wait on line for a cronut. I prefer to stroll over to the now famous bakery in the afternoon for a frozen s’more, which is a nugget of frozen custard encased in a marshmallow cream that’s torched to gooey, toasty perfection and served on a stick. It’s the closest you’ll get to a summer campfire in Manhattan.

Dough — Flatiron and Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn

14 West 19th Street
There are a lot of great donut places in NYC, but Dough may take the, er, cake. How can you pick between chocolate glazed dulce de leche, Nutella-filled, or mocha almond crunch? Or how about the insane double chocolate brownie doughnut?

Eddie's Sweet Shop — Forest Hills, Queens

105-29 Metropolitan Ave
At this old-fashioned soda fountain, all the ingredients are made on location, just as they were when it opened in 1909. Order a sundae, and it will come on a silver dish overflowing with ice cream, homemade whipped cream and toppings, and a side of nostalgia. The place is so old-fashioned it doesn’t even have a website. Call 718-520-8514 or check Yelp for hours and more information.

RELATED: Ice Cream Shops Near Great Playgrounds

Eight Turn Crepe — Downtown Brooklyn

445 Albee Square West
Yummy crepes rolled into a cone and stuffed with sweet or savory fillings are the only thing served at this food stand in the DeKalb Market Hall. Try the Harajuku fruit cocktail crepe, which is frozen custard and five kinds of fruit.

Four & Twenty Blackbirds – Gowanus, Brooklyn

439 3rd Ave
Hands down this pie shop sells the most decadent, fresh, and delicious pies my familly's ever tasted.  All the pies are handmade with fresh and local ingredients. Some of the standouts include salted honey, bittersweet chocolate pecan, lemon cheese, and my kids' favorite, salted caramel apple. You can visit the store's store front in Gowanus or order next day delivery.  

Holey Cream — Midtown West

791 9th Avenue
If plain-Jane doughnuts aren't enough to move you, how about a doughnut ice cream sandwich? Start with an over-the-top, topping-laden donut sliced open and filled with not one, but three scoops of ice cream. It’s an ice cream sandwich you actually might want to share. They also deliver, if you can believe that!

Max Brenner — Union Square

841 Broadway 
Want to make a kid over-the-moon happy? Just walking into Max Brenner’s downtown restaurant is a treat. The chocolate tubes that run throughout the old-fashioned, soda-fountain-style restaurant and the smell signal its awesomeness. Of course, it’s the desserts that take it over the top. There's a whole menu of chocolate-centric meals, including a chocolate pizza and, my kids’ fave, the chocolate shot—a large squirter that injects chocolate right into your mouth. Happy kid achievement unlocked.

Minus Celsius – Chinatown

302 Grand Street
This rolled ice cream joint is all about creating your dream dessert.  You customize your dessert by choosing the flavor, sauce and then toppings. Or select from the menu, which has offerings like Strawberry Fields, Summer Lovin', or Matcha Madness. 

It turns out that a warm brioche bun is the perfect vessel for gelato. Photo by the author

M’O Il Gelato Panino — Little Italy

178 Mulberry Street
This little shop in Little Italy offers many flavors of delicious gelato. But order the warm gelato panino and you get to pick any one of those flavors and have it stuffed into a warm brioche roll. It’s an unlikely but awesome combo.

Pies 'n' Thighs — Williamsburg

166 South 4th Street
There’s been a resurgence of donut places around the city recently, but the ones at Pies 'n' Thighs are so gooey, cakey, and flavorful they top my list for the most indulgently awesome.

Cereal + Milk at Popbar.  Photo courtesy of the shop

Popbar— Midtown East

15 West 38th Street
Bigger isn't always better when it comes to desserts—especially with small children in tow. Pop Bar offers gelato, sorbet, or yogurt on a stick, in a popwich, in mini pops, or pop bites. You can choose from 15 dippings and toppings and over 40 delicious flavors.

Serendity3 – Upper East Side

225 East 60th
We can't talk about over-the-top desserts without mentioned Serendity3.  This New York fixture is famous for its Frrrrozen drinks and also its $1,000 Golden Opulence Sundae. That's right - $1,000. It's made with three scoops of rich Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream infused with Madagascar vanilla and covered in 23k edible gold leaf. It's been listed in the Guinness World Records as the most expensive sundae. It needs to be ordered in advance. 

Sprinkles Cupcakes — Upper East Side, Financial District

780 Lexington Ave
Sprinkles takes cupcakes to the next level with multilayered desserts, including the lemon meringue, which starts with a graham cracker crust, then lemon cake, filled with gooey lemon curd and topped with torch-toasted marshmallow cream. It’s a party in your mouth.

Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies — Red Hook, Brooklyn

185 Van Dyke Street
The Swingle is an entire mini key lime pie, crust and all, coated in a thick layer of dark chocolate and frozen on a stick. It’s a unique dessert you’ll only find in this off-the-beaten-track spot.

Yes, the one in the middle is a bacon cheeseburger milkshake. Photo courtesy of Sugar Factory

Sugar Factory American Brasserie — Multiple locations

If you have been awed by the epic Black Tap milk shakes all over Instagram, let me direct you to Sugar Factory, where the "Insane Milkshakes" are just as outrageous and insta-worthy and don’t require a two-hour wait in line.

A version of this story was published in 2016; it has been updated. Suzanne Cort contributed additional reporting.

Seaport Cinema
South Street Seaport Pier 17 - 8:00 PM Pick
NYC Restaurant Week - Eat-In or To-Go!
Citywide - various times Pick
The Art of Words Art-Based Summer Camp
The Art of Words Community School - 8:00 AM
Summer Comedy Camp
Broadway Comedy Club - 9:00 AM
Scratch Junior Coding Camp for 4 to 7 Years
Young Gates-KIds Online Personalized Classes - 10:15 AM
Neighborhood Guides
Activity Guides