[Photographs and original illustrations: Cakespy]

Tree House Pastry Shop and Café is not easy to find. It's in an unlikely spot—inside of a mall, across from an insurance agency. But it's worth seeking out, particularly for their inimitable Chocolate Tart.

The tart is both vegan and gluten-free, but don't be scared off when I say that, because there is nothing virtuous at all about the taste of this devilishly decadent tart. Does the secret lie in the crust, made of crushed candied walnuts? Or is it the dense, lusciously luxuriant slab of chocolate topping, which is so thick that it will coat your teeth? Or is it the secret addition of raspberries which add a little tart burst to all that chocolatiness? Either way, after a few bites, you don't care so much about the ingredients as you do that it keeps on finding its way to your mouth.

Tree House Pastry Shop and Café
163 Paseo de Peralta (inside of the DeVargas Center), Santa Fe, NM 87501 (map) (505) 474-5543; treehousepastry.com

About the author: Jessie Oleson is a writer, illustrator, gallery owner, and cake anthropologist who runs Cakespy, an award-winning dessert website. Her first book came out in October 2011; her second book, The Secret Lives of Baked Goods, was released in May 2013.

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