No meal is ever truly complete unless it includes a decadently sweet ending. Luckily for us, Mzansi’s eateries are resplendent with drool-worthy dessert menus that are just too good to resist. From crazy gourmet shakes topped with candyfloss and chocolate brownies to delicately prepared mille-feuille or golden-battered fried ice cream, these puds are not for calorie counters. Here’s where to get the most insanely indulgent desserts across the country.
BBQ Workshop (Rivonia)
It’s a kind of Greek-meets-barbecue diner, serving everything from souvlaki to ribs and giro to chicken wings. The vibe is casual and carefree, but the ‘vaflaki’, their trademark mini waffles imported from Italy, are as serious as you can get in the dessert department. They can be served with any combination of outlandishly good gelato, chocolate sauces, cream and fresh strawberries. The price varies depending on just how extravagant you feel like being.
This family restaurant has been owner-managed since 1972. It was an institution in Bedfordview, and has very recently moved to Kensington. They’re best known for their succulent ribs and steaks and Tex Mex fare like nachos and fajitas, but when it comes to dessert, they’re all about the chocolate brownie. Salted-caramel chocolate is sandwiched between two layers of chocolate brownie made with Valrhona 80%-cocoa chocolate, topped with buttered popcorn, a salted caramel sauce and served with ice cream (R70).
Clico Restaurant (Rosebank)
Part of the Clico Boutique Hotel, this restaurant boasts a refined and sophisticated setting and personal service. Breakfast and lunch are casual, but dinner is another affair altogether, with stunning, fresh and modern degustation and à la carte menus from which to choose. For dessert, you have to try the Pina Colada, a gorgeous combination of caramelised pineapple, slow-baked meringue, roast-lime purée, honey custard, salted-coconut jellies and a butterscotch-and-buttermilk ice cream (R70).
This is the place for craft beers, great burgers and everything freaky. It all started with freakshakes, bourgeoning with candyfloss, marshmallows, spun sugar and enough sweet treats to satiate a child at Halloween. Then came the freak hot chocolates just in time for winter, and now, just as we thought they couldn’t get any more freaky, they’ve introduced freak waffles (R95). The creation of two golden buttermilk waffles layered with soft serve, Oreos, Nutella, white-chocolate caramel and whipped cream gets our vote as the most over the top.
DW Eleven-13 (Dunkeld West)
Marthinus Ferreira continues to dominate the Joburg fine-dining scene, celebrating molecular gastronomy with classic undertones. People flock here for the superb service and exquisite attention to detail. He’s known for creating magic with the simplest of ingredients as well as being wonderfully flamboyant when it comes to all things rich, and his desserts are no exception. His pecan tart with chocolate ganache, vanilla ice cream, chocolate mousse and smoked meringue is the kind of dessert that dreams are made of (R90).
Known for great vibe, chic décor, excellent service and fabulous, contemporary Italian fare, Gemelli is so hot you’re lucky if you can get a booking. When it comes to desserts, here it’s all about fresh and modern takes on old classics. The torta limone, comprising vanilla-lemon posset, lemon cream-cheese frosting, vanilla meringue and shortbread crumble, and finished with berry gel and limoncello ice cream, is just out of this world. If you think that doesn’t sound decadent enough, it’s served with an iced limoncello cocktail (R79).
The National Eatery and Speakeasy (Randburg)
It’s swanky and sophisticated with a stunning bar, cool music and great wines by the glass. The menu focuses on all things smoked, celebrating the Americas with a hint of Asian flare and a dash of bistro comfort. Chef James Diack, whilst being emphatic about his sustainable, free range, farm-to-table ingredients, celebrates his naughty streak with a dessert so sinful it needs to be shared: The deep fried snickers bar with vanilla-bean ice cream (R70).
XO Patisserie at 27 Boxes (Melville)
27 Boxes is a hipster hangout is perfect for those who want to stroll through quirky boutique shops and feel a little bit like a tourist in their own city. XO Patisserie is a quaint patisserie that specialises in cronuts, offering baked (XOnuts) and fried cronuts with an array of fillings and toppings. They’ve recently created the ‘crazyshake’, a gelato-based milkshake and cronut all-in-one combo. You can choose any milkshake and top it with your choice of cronut for between R48-R56.
Brasserie de Paris (Waterkloof)
When you pay a visit to Brasserie de Paris, make doubly sure that you save room for dessert. While the menu changes often, guests can look forward to the likes of chocolate fondant made with French Valrhona chocolate and served with a banana tuille, crunchy caramel popcorn and vanilla ice cream; passionfruit-and-coconut eclairs with pineapple sorbet and pineapple crisp; and chocolate-and-coffee mille feuille with mint ice cream and almond brittle.
DK Burger (Waterkloof Ridge)
After a burger feast at this meat lover’s favourite, indulge in the tempting dessert selection of classics with a twist. Think malva pudding with butterscotch ice cream, dark chocolate and orange spring rolls, and even creamy green-tea-and-vanilla cheesecake.
Protea Hotel Fire & Ice (Menlyn)
The Fire & Ice hotels are known for decadent grown-up milkshakes such as Carnival Time, Hot Ice, Life is just Peachy and Pumpkin Marshmallow. Anyone is bound to find a favourite among the 26 non-alcoholic and 10 boozy shakes. Try the salted-caramel popcorn version, or the milkshake flavoured with carrot cake and rooibos called Oupa and Ouma. The Black and White is made with Oreos, and the Choc Rock Climber with Ferrero Rocher. There’s also the Russian Roulette, made with caramel vodka, Elephant’s Trunk with Amarula cream and Nuts About It with Frangelico.
Lucky Bread Company (Brooklyn)
The Jacaranda City’s favourite bread bar also offers tasty filled doughnuts. These beauties come in chocolate mousse, custard or strawberry jam flavours and are dusted with a generous amount of caster sugar. Incredibly addictive stuff. The chocolate ganache tart sprinkled with pistachio dust is another indulgent winner and goes perfectly with a coffee.
If deep-fried ice cream is your weakness, O’Galito’s dark chocolate ice cream, wrapped in phyllo, quickly fried, and served with coconut and sesame seeds, will not disappoint. Alternatively, try the Pudim Galito, a frozen homemade dessert consisting of Marie Biscuits and condensed milk topped off with Peppermint Crisp and served with cookies-and-cream liqueur.
Boiler Room Café (Morningside)
This trendy eatery has become known for its decadent shakes served in glass jars with a straw. The creative flavours change constantly, but diners can expect choices such as peanut butter and banana, red velvet, lemon meringue, popcorn and salted caramel, or the cheekily named Boris Becker shake, made with a base of crumbled German ginger cake, house-made vanilla-bean ice cream blended together with crushed tennis biscuits, and an orange Italian meringue on top.
Flavour Café (Pietermaritzburg)
This leafy café doesn’t serve up gourmet burgers and café-style eats only. The team has created quite a following with its Instagram-worthy crazy dessert shakes in an array of insane flavours. Owner Lee Hankey serves chocolate brownie shakes with vanilla-seed chocolate-swirl ice cream; caramel shakes with doughnuts, speckled eggs, chocolate cigars, peanut butter and condensed milk cheesecake; salted-caramel shakes with popcorn, peanut butter, condensed milk cheesecake and candy floss; and a pretzel-and-butterscotch shake.
Fourteen on Chartwell (Umhlanga Rocks)
The gourmet pub grub at this popular Umhlanga Village spot is anything but boring. The desserts selection includes boozy milkshakes like the S’mores with marshmallows, vanilla ice cream and a splash of vodka, and the Salty Bean with salted caramel and Kahlua. There is also the cult favourite, the Bar One spring rolls. Crisp, golden and warm, the spring rolls are filled with chunks of melted Bar One chocolate, and come served with a dollop of vanilla bean ice cream.
Old Town Italy (Umhlanga Ridge)
If you’ve already tried the glorious cronuts at this Italian market-style eatery, you’ll know that these guys don’t mess around when it comes to decadent pastries. Their latest decadent creation, the conut, is a golden homemade doughnut cone dipped in chocolate that serves as a vessel for your choice of creamy, pastel-coloured gelato.
Remo’s Villagio (Umhlanga)
Remo’s has become the cronut superstar of the east coast city. The deep-fried treats come in numerous flavours, although there are usually only two options available daily. Think Bar One, Amaretto, white-chocolate ganache and toasted almonds, peanut-butter mascarpone and chocolate drizzle, rocky road, marshmallow, and strawberry cheesecake. They sell out fast, so arrive early or pre-order.
Republik (Durban North)
While Republik’s burgers are the main event, the desserts deserve special attention too. The menu reads ‘for owners of the second stomach’ and means it. Choose from triple-chocolate brownies, deep-fried Bar One bites with ice cream, Diddle Daddle sundae, Peppermint Crisp tart and chocolate-mousse ice cream. They also offer decadent milkshakes in flavours like coffee and condensed milk, avocado and vanilla, milk tart, or the Sowetan plumber, made with Nutella, Oreos and coffee.
Surf Riders Food Shack (Addington Beach)
If you’re looking for something cheeky after an afternoon surf or a stroll on the promenade, this beachside café offers everything from piped doughnuts and chocolate mud pie to sticky toffee pudd, Eton mess, and vintage ice creams. There’s also a pretty spectacular rocky road treat with a thick caramel centre, layers of vanilla and chocolate ice cream, candied nuts and honeycomb. Alternatively, try the deluxe milkshake bar’s over-the-top options such as salted caramel and honeycomb, Oreo with chocolate ganache and marshmallow, wild berry with hot-flamed rum meringue, and the popular peanut butter and banana.
Arnold’s Restaurant (Gardens)
While this adored Kloof Street haunt is renowned for excellent fry-ups, the small dessert menu is known to keep sweet teeth satisfied with the deep-fried Bar One. Wrapped in crisp pastry and deep-fried to perfection, the dessert resembles a spring roll and arrives with a scoop of ice cream and a splash of organic liquid chocolate.
ASH Restaurant (City Bowl)
In addition to dishing up some edgy smoked dishes, the ASH team keeps things sweet with the doughnut dessert with a velvety cheesecake batter for dunking, and lemon meringue with a coconut base, very citrusy curd and beehive of just-torched Italian meringue.
Beluga (Green Point)
Here the dessert winners take the form of deep-fried white chocolate beignets: Three Lindt white-chocolate balls battered in a light dough, flash fried and served with vanilla-bean ice cream and a rich butterscotch sauce (R60).
Burger & Lobster (City Bowl)
If you have room for afters at this new burger-and-lobster haven, the recommended sweet treats include the Nutella-Oreo cheesecake, which comes with a dreamy caramel-chocolate ganache on top. There’s also a Mississippi mud pie complete with marshmallow topping, and a sweet crème brûlée made with silky white Lindt chocolate.
The Eatery Wood Fired Grill (Claremont)
This new steakhouse and grill is fast becoming a hotspot for more than just red meat. The impressive gourmet milkshake menu ranges from the classics to the more adventurous Harlem Shake with creamy peanut butter, homemade vanilla ice cream and peanut praline sweets, and the nostalgic flavours of the Wilson Toffee shake made with vanilla ice cream blended with blackstrap molasses.
The Creamery team is responsible for scooping delicious ice cream cones of classics like sea-salt caramel and coffee but it’s their flavours like tiramisu, carrot cake (with pieces of real cake), naartjie choc chip, ginger candied kumquat and even butternut and toasted marshmallow that keep epicureans happy. Try your scoop on top of a golden waffle with chocolate sauce and toasted marshmallow, or head to the Mouille Point branch for a helping of their hot cookies topped with a scoop of your choice.
Crumbs & Cream (Sea Point)
This popular sweet treat spot offers locals a range of ice cream sandwiches, assembled to order with Italian gelato and magnificently chewy homemade cookies. The gelato flavours are constantly changing, but at any given time there could be classics like chocolate, vanilla and a vegan sorbet. There’s also a range of sprinkles to take these cookie sandwiches to the next level. Mix and match to create the dessert of your dreams.
Honest Chocolate (City Bowl)
Cape Town’s own dedicated chocolate bar has a menu ranging from milkshakes, bon bons and macarons to brownies, tarts and dark chocolate cake. Those looking for something a little different can get their spoons ready for the banana bread ‘bunny chow’ filled with smooth chocolate spread, ice cream and a side of spiced nuts.
Burgers may be the star of the show at this hip eatery, but you’ll have major regrets if you don’t leave room for the deep-fried Oreos. Fried in a tasty batter and served with a sprinkling of icing sugar, the Oreo cookies arrive in generous portions of four. Alternatively, there are always gourmet shakes to hit the spot.
Inside & You’re Out (City Bowl)
For an indulgent treat after your meal, order one of IYO’s ice cream ‘burgers’. Start by selecting a combination of a cookie and an ice cream flavour of the day. The cookie options are marshmallow, 70% dark chocolate chip, and one filled with hundreds and thousands. The ice cream is homemade and flavours include peanut, chocolate, chocolate chilli and cream cheese.
Jason on Bree (City Bowl)
If you’re willing to pull yourself out of bed very early on a Saturday morning, you can treat yourself to one of the limited batch of Jason Bakery’s extremely popular OTT doughssant creations. Past flavours include cannoli, with pistachio and ricotta; caramel-nougat swirl; the mimosa, with orange and champagne mousse; and banana split, with chantilly cream. There are also croissant cups filled with everything from peanut butter or pecan-nut fudge to toffee apple and custard, and chocolate mousse mille feuille.
My Sugar (Sea Point)
Sea Point’s very own chocolatier offers more than just beautiful take-home chocolates. You could sip on the super chocolate milkshake topped with whipped cream, a chocolate brownie and chocolate shavings. Alternatively, the drool-worthy cake jars include a chocolate option with moist chocolate cake topped with brownie bits, pretzel bark, marshmallow fluff and a drizzling of salted caramel and chocolate ganache. But arguably the most Instagrammable treats are the gourmet doughnuts drenched in chocolate and filled with the likes of crème brûlée, chocolate mousse and peanut butter.
Pajamas and Jam Eatery (Strand)
This eatery’s Instagram feed will leave you drooling. While sweet creations change on a daily or weekly basis, you can expect to see delights such as oozing ruby-red berry tartlets, granadilla milkshakes, broken chocolate meringues, toppling chocolate ganache cakes, caramel-nougat layered chocolate cheesecake and much more.
The Pot Luck Club (Woodstock)
While you’re never be disappointed with any of the desserts at this silo-top eatery, the current offering of malted chocolate fondant is out of this world. Soufflé-like in texture, it’s served with pecan-nut brittle ice cream and comes straight out of your cocoa-covered dreams. There is also a decadent s’more dessert with roasted frozen marshmallow and cacao-nib biscuit.
Bertus Basson at Spice Route (Paarl)
If you’re not diving face first into the appeltert at this Spice Route restaurant, be sure to head over to Bertus’s Pannekoek Hoek. The topping and flavour combinations often change, but you can look forward to versions like strawberry pancakes with frozen yoghurt and almonds, or the simple cinnamon option.
Dutch East Restaurant (Franschhoek)
Here hedonists can indulge in a traditional South African dessert with a delectable deep-fried twist. Dutch East’s creamy milk tart is fried in crispy pastry and served with Maltabella fudge purée, rooibos Turkish delight, lavender ice cream and vanilla milk jam.
Schoon de Companje (Stellenbosch)
This iconic bakery whips up the ever-popular cronut in miniature size and comes filled with flavours like vanilla-pastry cream, rich chocolate, or lemon curd. There is also the hard-to-resist Fanny Chanel ice cream or milkshakes, which could serve as perfect sides to your golden cronuts or as an after lunch treat. Flavours change constantly but options include the likes of double chocolate, coffee and caramel, lemon meringue (with homemade meringue topping), and honey malt with toasted marshmallow.
While we take care to ensure the accuracy of our information, please note that some details may change without our knowledge. We can only hope those potential changes are even more insane that the treats listed here.
Tell us about your favourite insane dessert in the comments section below.