Sometimes, the stars align in your favor. Other times… they just don’t, and life throws terrible stuff your way. It sucks. It could be a broken heart, an empty bank account, an unexpected job loss, a parking ticket, or a fight with your mom.
Whatever it is, you’re having a shitty day. Shitty days are the hardest to dig yourself out of, and it sucks. I’ve had my share of those days over the last two years. My go-to help may seem too simple, but it’s dessert. Dessert is what helped me manage to get through some really, really shitty days and come out the other side.
You should take dessert seriously; not just any random dessert will do.
It’s important that you pick the right dessert to fit your mood. Philadelphia has a never-ending list of things desserts-for-your-mood to indulge in when you’re sad.
1. Goldie’s Tehina Milkshake
As a Middle Eastern, I have a huge love of ‘tehina’: It is one bridge to home. When I was a kid, I used to eat a slice (or two, or three) of ‘halvah,’ a traditional flaky, dense, tahini-based treat. I’m not sure where my parents were when I was doing this. Anytime halvah was offered, I’m first in line. It’s really hard to describe halvah to those who have never had it, but tehina is the closest thing to it. And now that I’m older, my love for halvah is even stronger. I usually have one jar of tehina next to the peanut butter jar in my pantry.
First time I tried Goldie’s tehina milkshake ($5), I immediately fall in love with it. Missing home perhaps?! You see, just when I thought thick, pareve, ice cold, essentially just melty ice cream, sweet, rich, and creamy tehina milkshake couldn’t get any better, something magical happened. I may be biased by my longtime love for halvah and tehina but the modern twist on the Middle Eastern traditional treat is ridiculously amazing. Trust me — this might be the world’s greatest milkshake.
I am trying to stop myself from running to Goldie to get Turkish coffee tehina milkshake right this second. Just the idea of it brings a smile to my face. My advice: no matter where you live, add this must-have tehina milkshake on your food/drink bucket list when you visit Philly.
2. Insomnia Cookies
Don’t worry; it’s going to be okay. Cookies to the rescue! Yep, you can still indulge in cookies. They are classic. The fancy cookies from Insomnia ($1.70- 3.40) are almost a meal unto themselves. Have a cookie… or a few. No one will judge you. I know I wouldn’t. Good news: there are a TON of flavors: a chocolate chip cookie, M&M cookie, S’Mores, or even oatmeal raisin. Whichever you choose, you are guaranteed to have a moment of happiness to grasp onto in a time of hopelessness. Even if you’re not having a bad day, an ice cream cookie sandwich will (aka cookiewich,) will help you celebrate life even more. It’s positively drool-worthy
3. Max Brenner’s Chocolate Pizza
First off, chocolate pizza. It’s a thing, and it tastes waaaaaay too good. Chocolate pizza from Max Brenner takes pizza to a whole new level of sweet-goodness.
Everyone craves chocolate, and like any rational human being, I love chocolate. If you don’t, then there’s probably something wrong, and you should probably see someone about it. It tastes heavenly. It smells heavenly. It feels heavenly when it melts on my tongue. In fact, some might even say I might be a chocoholic. I also love pizza as much as chocolate. I’ve said it before: There are very few problems (if any) that chocolate (or pizza) can’t solve.
Think about dessert pizza swimming in chocolate. Max Brenner has you covered. Homemade crust covered in melted milk and white chocolate and chocolate chunks. This is a chocolate and pizza lover’s dream come true. The best part about this dessert pizza is that you can play around with extra toppings. I’m talking to you peanut butter lovers. Toasted marshmallow you hear me? How about crunchy hazelnut bits or just banana? Anything and everything on this pizza is delightful and irresistible. Just the concept of combining pizza and chocolate is an over-the-top festival.
Sinful I tell ya! The Works chocolate pizza with all toppings is definitely not for the faint of heart. But then again what chocolate is? One tiny advice though: Forget love – I’d rather fall in chocolate. Trust me when I say that you have not lived until you have Max Brenner chocolate pizza ($9.75 – $19.50.) How can a dessert with the word pizza not magically make your day better? You’ll forget whatever it is that you’re sad after just one bite.
4. Barbuzzo’s Budino
Please feel free to lick the screen if you must. I won’t blame you one little bit. This budino from Barbuzzo is the ultimate cure of your bad day blues. You’ll be licking your spoon clean.
Whether you are tired of boring, old, run-of-the-mill pudding? Or just looking for a change? You’ve gotta indulge the mighty salted caramel budino at Barbuzzo ($9.) It’s NOT just pudding. Luckily, I know better. I know it’s bliss. And once you try it, you will, too.
Yes, budino makes people overjoyed, but what exactly is this budino? Well, budino is a fancy Italian term for custard or pudding. It has layers of finely ground dark chocolate cookie crumble crust, rich and smooth vanilla bean caramel and sea salt (hence the name,) pudding parfait topped with fresh whipped cream. Barbuzzo’s salted caramel budino with its shocking hit, is the most delectable dessert in town — aside from me, of course! Barbuzzo’s budino is available in to-go cute mini mason jars.
There’s something about indulging in this budino that will completely lift away the sadness, reminding you that is was just one bad day. Pro tip: In the summer, it’s sold at sister property Verde in the form of frozen budino pops and budino doughnuts.
5. Zahav’s Chocolate Konafi
I’m an Arab. Arab love sweets. Through I was born and brought up in Saudi Arabia, I wasn’t really fond of Arabic sweet but it wasn’t until after I moved to the United States. Don’t worry; it’s going to be okay. Konafi to the rescue! Yes, it’s a Middle East classic and one of the greatest of all Arabic desserts. Konafi is like a Middle Eastern danish, shredded phyllo dough filled with usually with cheese and soaked in honey syrup for a melty, salty-sweet, (mostly sweet . . . ) pastry. Try a good konafi and you are guaranteed to feel better. In fact, it has some magical effect that will help with all the tears.
Zahav, THE best restaurant in America according to “the Oscars of food” James Beard Foundation 2019, offers a mouthwatering new-school take on the traditional Middle Eastern konafi($9) with ricotta and dark chocolate filling and topped with labneh ice cream. This truly exceptional dessert is supposed to be big enough for two people, but it is impossible to stop with just one bite. I always eat the whole thing myself. I mean who could resist this little bite of heaven, and I can rightly say that this is the most versatile Middle Eastern dessert I have ever tasted in the States — it’s everything you’re looking for. Trust me, with every konafi bite, you’ll remind yourself that tomorrow will be a better day.
6. Vetri’s Affogato
When you’re really sad, sometimes all you need is just a simple dessert. I mean you can’t go wrong with either ice cream or espresso, can you? What about espresso over ice cream? This wondrous concoction is called an affogato. It’s essentially fior di latte gelato drowned in a shot or two of espresso and it will, I promise you, change your life forever. I’m not an affogato afficionado, but trust me affogato from Vetri ($5) is a match made in heaven. Affogatos, the world’s simplest (yet indulgent) treat, originated in Italy and it literally translated to cold gelato to satisfy literally drowned in hot espresso for a kick of caffeine. Affogato is a simple pick-me-up and it will surely satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth.
7. RIM’s Cafe Hot Chocolate
I am a firm believer that chocolate makes everything better. How can you be upset when you’re presented with a glass of this volcano hot chocolate from RIM cafe?
If you are feeling really fancy (as you should), looking to truly indulge, or when you feel a bit lonely, head to RIM cafe — A chocolate wonderland. You’ll experience chocolate in all forms and shapes with all of your senses. White chocolate, Rum truffles, and even hummus chocolate truffles. You’ll have a rough time keeping your hand out of the chocolate heaven around you.
I highly recommend the ‘surprise me’ hot chocolate ($13.) The barista, who’s a former chemist, will make you whatever she’s in the mood for, just have faith in her, be open and adventurous, and don’t forget to inform her of any allergy of there’s anything you absolutely hate. I mean who wouldn’t enjoy a cup of hot chocolate with delightful ricotta cheese and espresso in the mix, you can’t go wrong with that. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with either. So, next time you’re feeling sad, no matter what the reason, just head over to RIM cafe, and indulge on warm delicious hot chocolate.
… And A Bounce Suraya’s Chai Latte and Cruller
No matter how you feel, the beautiful Lebanese turmeric and orchid chai latte ($5) and the pink, light-as-air, rose-petal-and-crushed-pistachio cruller ($6) from Suraya will put a smile on even the saddest day. It’s tough to find something happier than that.
See, there are a lot of pick me up treats. You don’t have to stay stressed and sad all the time — it’s not healthy! I hope you are feeling better ( and happier) by the end of this list, and always remember that when it comes to sweets, don’t deny your feelings — embrace them.
We all have our down days — It will get easier. Do you have a pick-me-up favorite? I’d love to know so please tell me in the comments!