Rachel King's Guide to San Diego Sweets

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Lemon poppy cake with lemon mousse, berry jam, and toasted meringue from Herringbone [Photograph: Chantrelle Photography]

In five short years, Rachel King has become a household name among San Diegans with a discerning sweet tooth. After graduating from the San Diego Culinary Institute in 2008, she crafted pastries for Mr. A's and Hexagone (among others), but it was accepting the position of Executive Pastry Chef at Searsucker in 2010 that really rocketed her to acclaim.

Now, Rachel oversees all the sweets for the Enlightened Hospitality Group's portfolio of restaurants, including Burlap, Gabardine, and two brands the company is hoping to roll out in major cities, nationwide: Herringbone, which is set to expand into Los Angeles at the end of the year, and Searsucker, which has a second location in Scottsdale, and a third planned for Austin (opening at the end of May).

So which San Diego sweets does the 2013 nominee for Food & Wine's The People's Best New Pastry Chef award and BaKING Co. owner have at the top of her list? Find out below.


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Rachel's picks

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Bon bons from Chuao [Photograph: Erin Jackson]

Bon bons at Chuao: My favorites are the Strawberry Seduction, Rosemary Salt Caramel, and Bananas Foster.

Jack Fisher Confections also makes beautiful chocolates. He sells his products at various venues in San Diego, including Venissimo and Eno at the Hotel del Coronado. The tamarind chipotle bon bons are great and his chocolate bars are the best around.

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Banana Butterscotch Bread from Prepkitchen [courtesy photograph]

Banana Butterscotch Bread at Whisknladle and Prepkitchen: At brunch, there's a rotating display of pastries, but this bread is the standout.

Gelato at Pappalecco: I love gelato and this place is my favorite. It is hard to go wrong with any of their gelato flavors or sorbettos. They are all so fresh and have an amazing texture. I also love the Thai Tea Snow Bubble from Tapioca Express. There is a locataion near my house and I love getting one on a hot summer day.

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Mojito Cookie from Azucar [Photograph: Erin Jackson]

Mojito Cookie at Azucar: It's no secret that Azucar is my favorite bakery in San Diego, so it would be hard to choose only one of their items when they have so many of my favorites. Vivian knows her way around a cookie and every flavor is solid, but the very best is their signature Mojito-Lime Cookie. It is basically a chewy sugar cookie with mint and lime. I also love Azucar's Guava Cheese Pastry. Just mentioning it makes me want one right now. Flaky dough encases tart cream cheese filling and a fragrant guava paste.

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La Bete Noir cake from Extraordinary Desserts [courtesy photograph]

La Bete Noir at Extraordinary Desserts: This is my favorite slice of cake in San Diego. It is no lightweight dessert; it is as rich and dense as they come. I eat it about three times a year and it is so worth it. There are layers of vanilla-soaked chocolate cake, a layer of dark chocolate mousse, and a layer of vanilla crème brulee. The whole cake is iced with a dark chocolate ganache.

For whole cakes, I would recommend Cake. I have seen and tasted a lot of birthday cakes that people bring into our restaurants and sometimes a pretty cake does not mean it's a delicious one. The cakes from Cake always look gorgeous and come through on taste and texture.

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Butterscotch Pot de Crème at Carnitas' Snack Shack [Photograph: baconhound.com]

Butterscotch Pot de Crème at Carnitas' Snack Shack: My fiancé and I love Carnitas' Snack Shack. We go there about once a week. Obviously pig is the star there, but I also have a weak spot for their Butterscotch Pot De Crème. It is very simple and usually just has a little bacon brittle as a garnish. The custard is super smooth, not too sweet and the perfect size.

About the author: Erin Jackson is a food writer and photographer who is obsessed with discovering the best eats in San Diego. You can find all of her discoveries on her San Diego food blog EJeats.com. On Twitter, she's @ErinJax

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