July 2017

Sweet, Sweet Hospitality: Eat Dessert First

Author: Kitty Bartell

Modern day chocolatier, Jacques Torres is credited with saying, “Life is short, eat dessert first.” Not a bad little piece of advice, particularly when surrounded by restaurants, bakeries, sweet shops, and ice cream parlors filled with cake, pie, cookies, bars, doughnuts, fudge, truffles, tarts, pastries, ice cream, gelato…the vessels on which the stuff of sugar-spun fantasies are built. Playing home and host to thousands of potential sweet-tooths, the Lowcountry is burgeoning with destinations to answer the call of the dessert.

With apologies to Monsieur Torres and his appealing entreaty, historically, desserts follow a meal. Never wanting to offend by sending a guest away hungry, seventeenth century Europeans offered sweets at the end of an evening, and the practice was imported to America soon after. Notoriously high in sugars, fats, and carbohydrates, desserts filled guests up. Of course, it helped that by the time the horse-drawn carriages pulled away, the subsequent sugar crash provided for a satisfying nap on the way home, creating fond recollections of having had a rather decent outing, thanks in no small part to the dessert.

Whether an early morning visit to the bakery for coffee and croissants, a mid-day scoop of ice cream, a frozen drink between sandcastle building and bike riding, or a decadent slice of something sweet to finish the meal, visiting the sweet shops and restaurants located across Hilton Head Island and throughout Bluffton, guests are assured a rather decent outing. “I think ice cream takes you back to when you were a little kid, when you had no worries, and you didn’t think about Mondays coming up or calories being counted,” said Kate Knisely Delay, owner of Hilton Head Ice Cream. “I think when you’re on this island and you have an ice cream, all your worries melt away.”

Having purchased the 35-year-old business from its original owner about five years ago, Delay made him a promise. “He [the shop’s founder] and I had the same dream for Hilton Head Ice Cream. I promised I would never change the ideal of Hilton Head Ice Cream or the recipes of Hilton Head Ice Cream.” A bit of an ice cream-whisperer, Delay said, “I love it when a customer asks, ‘What do you recommend?’ I honestly say, what are you in the mood for? I’ve got one for acid indigestion, I’ve got one for when you’re feeling sad, I’ve got one for when you need a little caffeine pick-me-up.” They also serve ice cream and homemade cookies from their refurbished 1961 news truck that is found popping up at events and parties around the Lowcountry. Featured on many local restaurant menus, Hilton Head Ice Cream’s inventive flavors come in combinations limited only by their customer’s imagination—including their latest creation, alcohol-based ice cream sold at Hilton Head Distillery.

Like Delay, purveyors of sweets and treats across the Lowcountry take the job of satisfying sweet tooths seriously. Over the years, standing in line at Rita’s, or buying candy-coated chocolate seashells at The Chocolate Canopy may have become a part of a family vacation tradition.

Bluffton bakery owner Stephanie Pisano said baked goods provide meaning when they become a part of family lore. “Nostalgia is a big part of this place. Not many people bake like they used to. As soon as they see that case they smile, because we do a lot of old-fashioned, traditional things. It reminds them of their childhood.” Her partner at their Twisted European Bakery, head baker Chris Veneris, brings Greek traditions to their bakery, with sweets like baklava, and savories like spanakopita, along with Linzer tortes, gingerbread people, pies, truffles, biscotti, and Savannah’s Leopold’s ice cream…to name just a few of their goodies.

Oh, to eat dessert first, and fill-in the empty spaces with the veggies, the fish, the quinoa—one can dream. Even with the health warnings associated with the consumption of, well, nearly every ingredient found in dessert, local, up-and-coming baker, Jennifer Gleitsmann, has found demand is high for her sweet and savory goods. “This is my creative outlet,” Gleitsmann said of Marmalade Homemade Baking, her cottage company, where she bakes sweet and savory pies, and cakes and cookies in the commercial kitchen located in her home. Growing Marmalade alongside working another full-time job, and raising a family, it’s nothing short of passion that keeps her baking through the night to be able to deliver to her customers. “It’s nice to create something that people appreciate,” she said. “My customers appreciate something locally made and a little different. They appreciate the care that goes into it.”

Whether visiting for a few days or making the Lowcountry home, there are no shortages of delicious desserts in the restaurants, bakeries, sweet shops, and ice cream parlors here. Every once in a-while, eat dessert first. You can thank Jacque Torres later.

Following this is a list of inviting places where sugar is the star. Once you’ve licked, and sliced, and yummed your way through this line-up, there are restaurants and pastry chefs just waiting for your order. Dessert first—actually, not a bad idea.

Ben & Jerry’s
6 Promenade Street, #1003
(843) 837-5555

Corner Perk
1297 May River Road
(843) 816-5674

The Cottage
38 Calhoun Street
(843) 757-0508

Midnight Baker
14 Promenade Street
(843) 815-5355

Ronnie’s Bakery & Cakes by Lou
1308 Fording Island Road, Suite C
(843) 836-2253

Twisted European Bakery
1253 May River Road, Unit A
(843) 757-0033


The Chocolate Canopy
55 New Orleans Road
(843) 842-4567

The French Bakery
28 Shelter Cove Lane, #120
Shelter Cove Towne Centre
(843) 342-5420

Hilton Head Ice Cream
55 New Orleans Road, #114
(843) 842-6333

Hilton Head Social Bakery
17 Harbourside Lane, 1G
(843) 715-3349

The Island Fudge Shoppe
1 North Forest Beach Drive
Coligny Plaza
(843) 842-4280

28 Shelter Cove Lane, #112-B
Shelter Cove Towne Centre
(843) 785-2727

Marché de Macaron
The Village Exchange
32 Palmetto Bay Rd., Suite 3-A
(843) 785-4466

Marmalade Homemade Baking
On Facebook @marmaladehomemadebaking
(843) 301-5920

Orange Leaf
38 Shelter Cove Lane, #127
Shelter Cove Towne Centre
(843) 689-5323

Signe’s Heaven Bound
Bakery & Café
93 Arrow Road
(843) 785-9118

Sno Cones by Chris
114 Helmsman Way
Palmetto Bay Marina
(843) 683-0592

Sweet Carolina Cupcakes
1 North Forest Beach Drive
Coligny Plaza
(843) 342-2611

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