In search of ... sweet treats

If it’s the season to be jolly, then I’m going to make the most of my merriment with something sweet. Or lusciously gooey. Perhaps perfectly crisped and caramelized. Maybe even smooth and velvety. Face it; you can’t say those things about braised short ribs, no matter how good they are.

These restaurants offer Atlanta the best way to blow a carb and calorie load in one course. Trust me, these desserts are worth the extra time you’ll have to spend in the gym.

Aria

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490 E. Paces Ferry Road N.E., Atlanta, 404-233-7673, www.aria-atl.com

If there is a pastry chef in Atlanta who has earned the title “Queen,” it’s Kathryn King. When it comes to dishes that employ sugar, spice and everything nice, King has been consistently delivering the (sweet) goods at this Buckhead favorite for years. Her style is timeless, blending desserts that speak of the season with an air for flair. Favorites: Her panna cotta tends to change its fruit wardrobe depending on the season, but the cooked cream is always a silky mouthful of bliss. And the warm chocolate cheesecake, with its luscious swirl of chocolate in its center, has become city legend.

Cakes & Ale

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54 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. 404-377-7994, www.cakesandalerestaurant.com .

Pastry chef Cynthia Wong offers a whimsical taste of desserts, and her phatty cakes sit pristinely under a glass cake stand on the Cakes & Ale bar, perfectly stacked into a pretty pyramid. These ginger-laced cookie cakes, soft and pillowy, are filled with a dreamily fluffy and tangy buttercream and will conjure your childhood memories of Moon Pies, but you’ll be so much more satisfied with their moist texture and spiced flavor.

JCT Kitchen

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1198 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta. 404-355-2252, www.jctkitchen.com

Desserts at JCT set the bar high for other offerings. I find myself longing to drop in just to indulge in milky, sugar-and-rum sopped tres leches topped with coconut, or soft, dense gingerbread pudding cake with tart Meyer lemon curd, a menu favorite. Fried apple pies are just plain fun with scoops of cinnamon ice cream and caramel sauce.

Bocado

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887 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta, 404-815-1399, www.bocadoatlanta.com

Pastry chef Jennifer von Schlichten is one of the dining scene’s greatest finds of the year — she manages to update homespun desserts and give them a modern flair without losing any of their homey goodness. Her best is silky chocolate pudding, light and airy, yet dense with intense chocolate flavor. Her most sophisticated effort is in lemon curd mousse.

Kyma

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3085 Piedmont Road N.E., Atlanta. 404-262-0702, www.buckheadrestaurants.com

The flagship of the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, Kyma specializes in fresh fish and fine Greek cooking. But never miss dessert at this spot that specializes in special occasions. Galaktoboureko, a mesmerizing mix of semolina custard wrapped in phyllo, may be the best course of all, but Greek yogurt drizzled with Greek honey and nuts comes in as a close second.