Dessert Wars contest ends on a sweet note

Madelyn Paquette // Contributing Photographer

They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but that’s an alarmingly sexist saying for the twenty-first century world. If the crowd at Sunday’s “Dessert Wars” competition at the BankUnited Center was any indication, women love to stuff their faces just as much as their male counterparts. Who could resist when presented with such a delectable display of desserts?

Upon arrival, attendees were presented with an ample supply of tickets to exchange for samples and a ballot to rank all the vendors on a scale of one to three. At the end of the afternoon, the votes were tallied and the competitor with the highest total claimed the title of Miami’s best dessert.

The eventual winner was Casa Gioia, whose chef, Mari Angeles Rubio, describes her creations as “classical desserts made with a fusion of international flavors and a touch of home.” The catering service brought an eclectic assortment of baked goods, ranging from guava bites to zucchini bread to sea salt caramel brownies.

Runner-up Donut Divas cooked up their own spin on a carnival staple with deep-fried red velvet Oreos. Red velvet was one of the most popular flavors of the day; fourth place finisher A Little R&R Bakery wooed the crowd with red velvet surprise cupcakes, topped with an adorable heart design and stuffed with a Hershey kiss.

Rounding out the top five was second runner up Jessi Bakes, who found the perfect yin-yang balance of sweets with light tropical cake and decadent chocolate peppermint truffles. The fifth place finisher, unReal Food, might be considered an unlikely commendee in such a field, as the business specializes in gluten-free, organic baked goods, but one taste of their s’mores or green tea-lemon cupcakes banished any fears of cardboard health food.

Outside of the winner’s circle were many delicious entrants whose confections enticed many attendees back for seconds (or thirds.) Among these crave-worthy castoffs were hazelnut baklava from Baklava Coffee, donut sundaes with cinnamon toast crunch ice cream from Liquid Ice Cream, Chocolate Chip Oreo Brownie Bites from Pattycakes, and maple bacon Rice Krispie treats from Krispie Creations.

Another highlight of the afternoon was the pie-eating contest, in which six volunteers attempted to eat a whole vanilla cream pie, provided by the Good Pie Company, as fast as they could without using their hands. After an hour and a half of sample after sample after sample, watching the contestants literally dive in face first and pig out was the perfect cathartic experience.

For two hours on Sunday, the BankUnited Center was home to the highest concentration of sugar in all of Miami. Indulgence was the name of the game in this real-life version of Candy Land. After all, in the words of the afternoon’s announcer: your diet starts tomorrow.