Pumpkin Love at Betty's Fine Food & Spirits

630 N. High St., Short North


It's no accident this dessert's last name is Love. Therefore I don't even mind that it's a homely and unshapely dark mass covered up in aerosol-canned whipped cream (which I rapidly 86).

Because one bite into this not-too-spicy pumpkin-pie-like "custard" brings oohs and ahhs from my dumbly grinning mouth. After two bites, Pumpkin Love's ($5) soft, warm and buttery hugs completely chase away all my cold weather blahs and make me want to snuggle in its sweet and deep embraces the whole night long.

Pastel de Tres Leches at Si Senor

6 E. Long St., Downtown


Often the comfort we receive from food is due to a flavor, a texture, a gentle nibble back into the simpler times of childhood. Si Senor's great Pastel de Tres Leches ($3.50) is like that, and any kid who ever loved dunking cookies, cakes and doughnuts into milk will know what I mean.

A charmingly homey and lovely yellow cake with a slightly singe-y exterior, it flaunts flavors of coconut and vanilla, gets lightly iced in marshmallowy stuff, and is sprinkled lightly with cinnamon.

Yet what makes this dreamy piece of cake truly exceptional is an artful, thorough drenching in cream plus evaporated and condensed milks (the "tres leches"). See, because Si Senor's terrific confection is made precisely right, the delightfully dense slice never ever goes soft, soggy or sloppy.

Almost poetically, though, oozing through its transporting magic, bite after sublime bite, will have diners going loose and limp with nostalgic happiness.