- The Cheesecake Factory is known for its titular treat, but it also offers non-cheesecake desserts.
- I tried all of the lesser-known specialty and ice-cream sweets and ranked them from worst to best.
- The $8 bowl of strawberries was lackluster, but the limoncello-flavored torte took me by surprise.
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The Cheesecake Factory is famous for its namesake dessert, but there are plenty of other tasty treats on the menu.
I've always felt compelled to order one of its signature cheesecakes at the end of a meal, but these lesser-known sweets have always piqued my interest. To appease my curiosity, I tried all of the specialty and ice-cream desserts at my local Cheesecake Factory in Canada and ranked them.
Read on to find out which dessert I thought was the best of the bunch.
Note: The warm apple crisp wasn't available at the writer's Cheesecake Factory location.
The bowl of fresh strawberries was unsurprisingly boring
I understand that the simplistic nature of this dish allows you to enjoy the beauty of fresh fruit, but my order had a very bland, watery taste — likely because the strawberries weren't in season.
It was also $7.95, which seemed a little steep for what you got.
If you're keen on ordering this lighter option at the end of your meal, I would encourage you to wait until the summer months when strawberries might be more naturally sweet.
I would also consider getting this to accompany the other rich desserts on the menu. While taste-testing all these sweets, the strawberries ended up being a helpful palate cleanser.
There was nothing wrong with the bowl of ice cream, but it was a pretty dull dessert
According to Chris Radovan, executive pastry chef at The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated, most of the chain's US locations serve Edy's of Dreyer's ice cream. But my location in Toronto, Canada, stocks Mario's Gelati brand.
This dish came with two and a half baseball-sized scoops and a tower of whipped cream. Upon closer inspection, I could tell this was a quality ice cream because I could see real flecks of vanilla bean throughout.
Taste- and texture-wise, there's nothing inherently wrong with this dessert, but it was pretty dull in comparison to everything else. Vanilla is also the only flavor available, so chocolate ice-cream fans are out of luck.
My ideal dessert game plan would be to order this with a bowl of fresh strawberries or as an accompaniment to one of the richer cake slices.
It's hard to mess up a hot-fudge sundae
A hot-fudge sundae is an iconic ice-cream parlor dessert, and when this arrived at the table with its whipped cream, chocolate, slivered almonds, and cherry, my eyes popped out of their sockets. I immediately began to salivate.
The hot fudge was definitely the star of the show. It offered a depth of flavor, and I appreciated that it wasn't tooth-achingly sweet. It was thick, but not so much that you couldn't drape it over the cold ice cream.
This was a simple yet effective dessert.
I enjoyed all the flavors and textures of the fresh strawberry shortcake
According to Radovan, this dessert pays homage to the classic shortcakes found in the US South with its savory biscuit base.
The large pearl sugars on top offered a toothsome crunch, and the biscuits were fluffy and tender. The base was sliced in half and stuffed with vanilla ice cream and macerated strawberries, and the whole thing was topped with whipped cream.
This is a perfect summertime dessert, and the strawberries were noticeably better than the fresh ones because they were marinated in a sweet liquid.
Individually, the components were simple, but they came together for a rather enjoyable bite.
The tiramisu wasn't too sweet, which I liked
I've always appreciated the generous portion sizes of The Cheesecake Factory's desserts and this dish was no exception. One forkful and I was immediately transported back to Venice, Italy, where I first tried tiramisu as a child.
Radovan said the restaurant uses full-fat mascarpone, which results in a silky finish, and soaks the ladyfingers in a traditional Italian coffee mixture.
This was a pleasure to eat. It was like biting into soft whipped clouds.
I would classify this as more of an adult dessert because the coffee flavor was quite pronounced. It also wasn't too sweet and had a creamy, voluminous texture that would make the perfect accompaniment to a steamy cappuccino or espresso.
Linda's fudge cake is apparently the most popular non-cheesecake dessert, but it didn't top my list
I thought this cake would be at the top of my list because it's been on the menu since 1978 and is apparently the chain's most popular non-cheesecake dessert. But it didn't blow me away.
I thought it had a one-note flavor, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. After all, who doesn't like fudgy frosting sandwiched between chocolate cake and speckled with chocolate chips?
It reminded me of the childhood birthday cakes I used to get, which to me means that it probably appeals to the masses.
It wasn't the most sophisticated in terms of textures and flavors, but it received gold stars for indulgence. All that was missing was a cold glass of milk.
The Godiva chocolate brownie sundae brought out my inner child
This is essentially the hot-fudge sundae dessert but with brownies.
It's a simple dessert when you break it down into its individual components, but together it tastes like magic in your mouth.
The dish is a showstopper. Three thick brownie wedges are nestled between scoops of ice cream and topped with whipped cream, fudge sauce, and milk-chocolate Godiva squares.
The brownies were dense, chewy, and laced with chocolate chunks — all of which contrasted perfectly against the cool, creamy ice cream.
I've always had a soft spot for brownie sundaes and tucking into this with reckless abandon really appealed to my inner child.
I loved all the textures in the carrot cake
As someone who increasingly appreciates textures over sweetness in desserts, I thought this cake was delicious.
According to Radovan, this veteran creation has also been on the menu since 1978. But the recipe has been revamped over the years to make the layers even more tender and moist.
Ingredients like brown sugar, pineapple, coconut, cinnamon, chopped walnuts, and cream-cheese frosting really make it a multifaceted treat.
Overall, I enjoyed eating this. It was a bit of a textural adventure, with some bites offering fruit and others offering nuts.
The Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake had a sophisticated flavor profile
This is kind of like the sophisticated sister of the regular fudge cake.
It's definitely a mature dessert that those with acquired tastes would appreciate. The chocolate cake was slightly more delicate, and it was filled with alternating layers of airy chocolate mousse and creamy dark-chocolate truffle cream.
When this cake arrived at the table, it was so beautiful to behold. My senses were immediately struck with an indulgent chocolate aroma.
Size-wise, the slice took up the entirety of the plate, which makes it perfect for sharing, and was simply adorned with whipped cream. I appreciated how the silky cake layers were contrasted with crunchy chocolate chunks.
Taste-wise, this is the kind of cake I could return to time and again. I didn't find it overwhelming on my palate, and it didn't leave a sugary film on my tongue.
The chain's Lemoncello Cream Torte was surprisingly amazing
If I wasn't trying all the desserts, I don't think I would've been drawn to this one. But now I don't know how I could've overlooked it
The plush lemon cake layers were given a bright boost thanks to the fresh zest in the batter, and the lemon curd gave it even more of a tangy hit. The layers were sandwiched with mascarpone-limoncello mousse and interwoven with ladyfinger bites.
The cake was also topped with buttery streusel, sliced strawberries, and plenty of whipped cream.
When I took a bite, my only note was, "Wow."
I didn't expect so much thoughtful layering. The buttery sweet streusel was tempered with zingy lemon notes and overlaid with that creamy mascarpone mousse.
When all of these elements blended on my fork, it resulted in an explosion of flavors in my mouth.
I would order most of these again, but the winner was clear
There are only a few things I wouldn't order again off of the non-cheesecake dessert menus. The tasty sweets had nice textural components and rich flavors.
But the limoncello-flavored tortewas on another level compared to the rest.
It was the most quietly confident and divine dessert of the bunch, and I'd order it again in a heartbeat.