I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream . . . or so the saying goes. Frankly, there are many things to scream about—things far more scream-inducing than flavored frozen milk. And I plan to scream about them all eventually.
As you have probably guessed, this week’s atrocity is one that occurs at the end of a meal dined out at certain establishments. This week, we discuss those massively overpriced restaurant desserts designed to attract those who are looking for opportunities to spend their excess funds on demonstrations of their excess funds, those who, upon reflection, think to themselves, “You know, I’m so extraordinarily special that I should be among the few to experience a dessert so elite that its price could keep others from starving to death. Yes, that’s who I am.”
It was for just such people that the Kitchen Sink sundae, served exclusively at Bunny’s on New York City’s High Line, was designed. It cost $100 American and was constructed of sixteen scoops of ice cream covered with peanuts, pecans, pretzels, cookie crumbs, four kinds of syrup—chocolate, caramel, raspberry, and cherry, then topped with whipped cream, sprinkles, cherries, and yes, an American flag. It sounds like a bit of a disaster to me, but nevertheless, people plunked down the money to ooh and ah at its vulgar grandeur, and just so they could say they'd had a hundred-dollar dessert . . . even if it cost about four dollars to make.
The monstrosity once held the Guinness record for the world's most expensive dessert. (Apparently there wasn't a contest for the most disgusting.) But you may have noticed that I’ve referred to it in the past tense. The Kitchen Sink is no longer listed on Bunny’s menu nor in the Guinness Book of World Records, perhaps because yes, believe it or not, the eyebrow-raising cost of the Kitchen Sink was eventually surpassed by the $750 Decadence D’Or Cupcake at Sweet Surrender in Las Vegas.
Made from Palmira Single Estate Chocolate derived from the rare and fragile Porcelana Criollo bean at the Valrhona plantation in Venezuela, along with edible gold flakes, Tahitian Gold Vanilla Caviar, and one-hundred-year-old Cognac, this fanciful creation for the way-too-wealthy was encased in blown sugar. And it’s old news.
Because the Guinness record was overtaken by Serendipity 3’s Golden Opulence Sundae. For a mere $1000, fat cats can get even fatter on this concoction made from the finest Tahitian Vanilla ice cream infused with Madagascar vanilla (to intensify the flavor, of course) and enveloped in edible gold leaf. The Golden Opulence is then drizzled with the world's most expensive chocolate, Amedei Porcelana, and topped with chunks of rare Venezuelan Chuao chocolate, candied fruit from Paris, almonds coated in gold, and a glass ramekin of sweet Grand Passion caviar infused with passionfruit, orange, and Armagnac. The sundae is crowned with a gilded sugar flower that takes eight hours to create, as well as chocolate truffles and marzipan cherries. It’s served in a $300 Baccarat Harcourt crystal goblet, which the glutton—pardon me—customer gets to keep. On your next visit to New York, I’m sure you’ll all want to stop by, as long as you’re not too put off by the fact that this thousand-dollar creation is no longer the world’s most expensive dessert.
No indeed. For just $500 more, you can hop on over to New York’s Hotel Baccarat to experience their Bear Extraordinaire sundae. Its white chocolate shell is hand-painted with colored cocoa butter, and the artsy orb is then perched atop a black truffle crumble containing elitist Manjari dark chocolate and Valrhona Gold cocoa nibs. I know what you’re thinking: It’s too plain. Worry not. The whole thing is then set in a hibiscus champagne sauce with citrus meringue, decorated with silver and gold leaf and fondant butterflies sitting on angel hair sugar strands. And does this one have a souvenir? It certainly does: You get to keep the crystal Baccarat bowl in the shape of a bear. I can never get enough of those.
But if funds are thin and you’re tightening your belt, the Baccarat can still offer you a sensibly priced Louis XIII baba for just 240 bucks. I’m sure it’s worth at least one hundredth of the cost.
Then there’s Krispy Kreme’s Luxe Doughnut, priced at a devil-may-care 1682 smackers. It involves Dom Perignon 2002 champagne jelly (the 2001 champagne jelly is substandard and the 2003, trash), edible diamonds, white chocolate flowers dusted with gold, and a cocktail on the side.
Do you still have too much left over in your dessert budget? Who hasn’t had that problem? The Fortress Resort & Spa in Sri Lanka comes to the rescue with its Stilt Fisherman’s Indulgence. This one is $14,500 (tip not included), and comes with an eighty-carat aquamarine stone. Apparently, the one-percenters enjoy combining dessert with jewelry and crystal shopping. It’s a real time saver.
If you’re anything like me (and I very much like to imagine that you are), you’re appalled both by the effrontery on the part of the restaurants and by the disgusting self-indulgence and entitlement on the part of the patrons. Call me a filthy socialist if you must, but I don’t believe anyone should be spending this kind of money on dessert when there are people living on the streets just outside the restaurant. And even if one is going to throw around huge chunks of money, I question the choice of target. Splurge on a car and you can drive it for years. Splurge on a house and you can live in it for decades. Splurge on an entertainment and you can carry the memory with you forever. But dessert? Well . . . the Curmudgeon is too much of a gentleman to graphically describe the brevity of the experience, but I believe one could aptly say these people are flushing money down the toilet. No matter how exquisite the taste, ultimately, they’re just desserts. And they all end up in the same place.
But now, with a sigh, I must reveal to you that we’ve yet to reach the top of the mountain. In my research, I was positively flattened to discover that there is an even more expensive ice cream sundae. The Three Twins Ice Cream company has assembled a $60,000 sundae which it has excessively named The World's More Expensive Most Expensive Ice Cream Sundae. It comes with first-class flights to Tanzania and five-star accommodations upon arrival. While there, you’ll take a guided climb up Mount Kilimanjaro, on which—get this—Three Twins’s founder will hand-churn a batch of ice cream with glacial ice from the mountain’s summit. The price includes a souvenir tee shirt made from organic cotton and as much ice cream as you can eat.
You may be shocked when I tell you that—if one has sixty thousand to spare—this could be the most justifiable overpriced dessert on our list. With Kilimanjaro’s beautiful glaciers predicted to disappear within the next ten to fifteen years, Three Twins is using this package to raise awareness of global warming, and a hefty part of the fee is donated to an African environmental nonprofit organization. And also, it’s a hell of an experience that might jostle a member of the idle rich out of his or her doldrums. It must be hard having all that money. This could help.
As for me, I’ll content myself with the baklava at my local Greek diner. It doesn’t come with any jewelry and there is a glaring absence of gold leaf, but it suits me just fine. This delectable construct of honey, nuts, and phyllo pastry sets me back around eight bucks. I don’t think there’s anything a dessert can do for me that’s worth much more than that.