by Mabel Suen
Welcome to Sugar High, a series devoted solely to spotlighting the best ways to sate a sweet tooth in St. Louis. We'll sample the best the city has to offer at restaurants, bakeries and holes-in-the-wall, and provide some insight on how these confections are made along the way.
Adventurers willing to take the drive to check out new Alton, Illinois, businesses, including the Old Bakery Beer Company and Spoon Baking Company, can find even more excuses to explore the area with this worthwhile destination dessert: LuciAnna's Pastries' (212 State Street, Alton, Illinois; 618-433-9395) decadent chocolate-mousse cheesecake.
The downtown Alton bakery opened in 2012, and is named after pastry chef Alexandra Mattea's two daughters, Lucia and Anna. Mattea hails from Pennsylvania and moved to her husband's hometown of Collinsville before testing out her rustic, European-inspired pastries at the Alton Farmers' Market. Her delicate desserts come from years of experience, including training at the French Culinary School in Vancouver, British Columbia and working in several kitchens from the Renaissance Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee to Panera Bread.
Her chocolate-mousse cheesecake -- a staple at her main-street bakeshop -- begins with a crunchy Oreo cookie-crumb base topped with a basic cheesecake made up of cream cheese, egg, sugar and vanilla. The cake then gets topped with smooth chocolate mousse and enrobed in chocolate ganache with a white-chocolate drizzle. The combination sounds intense, but it strikes a balance that brings just the right amount of sweetness.
The elegant yet approachable dessert is best enjoyed cold, its creamy layers melting away in the mouth. Grab a slice for $4.25, or a whole cake on special order for $42. If that's not enough to convince you to add Alton to the ol' bucket list, consider some other options available at LuciAnna's: almond horns, chocolate-chunk spice cookies, salted-caramel chocolate pecan pie, cannoli, baklava, brownies. The list goes on.
Previously on Sugar High: - Spoon Baking Company's Spoon Cookie - Insomnia Cookies' S'mores Deluxe Cookie - Living Room's Peanut-Butter Chocolate-Chip Cookie - Stimulus Baking Company's Pad-Thai Cupcake - La Bonne Bouchée's Strawberry-Mousseline Cake - Pie Oh My's Pumpkin-Maple Pecan Pie - Annie Moons' Banana-Split Muffins - Cyrano's Carrot Cake - Whitebox Eatery's Cheese Pastry - Comet Coffee's Mousse Cakes - Whisk's Apple-Cinnamon "Pop Tartlets" - The London Tea Room's Blueberry-Lemon Cake - Corner 17's Fluffy Ice - The Fountain on Locust's "Banana Bourbon" Sundae - Vinnie's Pinwheel Baklava - Red Fox Baking & Catering's Lemon Tart - Sugarfire Smokehouse's Crack Pie - Russell on Macklind's Coconut Cake - The Kitchen Sink's Sweet Potato Fries - Giovanni's Kitchen's Panna Cotta Trio - Crepes Etc.'s Crepe Cake - Cafe Ventana's Beignets - Frida's Raspberry-Chocolate Avocado Mousse - India Palace's Gulab Jamun - Melt's "Violet Beauregarde" Waffle - Brevan's Patisserie's "Brendan" - Winslow's Home's Chocolate Cake with Espresso Meringue - La Patisserie Chouquette's Eclair - Black Bear Bakery's Raspberry Oat Bar - Gelateria's London Fog Gelato - 4 Seasons Bakery's German Cheesecake - Libertine's "Candy Bar" - Cleveland-Heath's Old Fashioned Cherry Pie - Schlafly Tap Room and Bottleworks' Sticky Toffee Pudding
We're always looking for some sweet ideas. E-mail the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.