11. Pono Burger House Made Milk Shake ($6)
Hawaii native Makani Gerardi has created a unique Quonset hut destination in Santa Monica. Her fantastic shakes feature organic Straus Family Creamery vanilla soft serve ice cream and whole milk, which contributes to a rich, creamy result. My favorite combination features vanilla ice cream, salted caramel sauce and smoky Niman Ranch bacon bits.
12. Republique Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake ($12)
People were familiar with Walter Manzke’s seasonal, globally influenced, French-rooted cooking before Republique. Now diners are learning that pastry chef Margarita Manzke is also a force in the kitchen. She and her team fill the front pastry case each morning, and while some offerings stray from tradition, her salted caramel chocolate cake is classic comfort. Each rich slab features crisp edges on the frosting from getting put in the freezer right before serving. Each cake comes served with milk eau de vie, cool milk spiked with warming pear brandy.
13. SusieCakes Caramel Apple Cake ($7)
“Eat Cake” appears on the wall of Susan Sarich’s nouveau retro bakery, and who am I to argue with wall wisdom? Caramel Apple Cake, the cake of the month for October, is designed to mirror a caramel apple, with apple sauce and apple juice in the moist cake and salted caramel buttercream on top and decorative red sprinkles at the base. The results aren’t especially savory, but this is good cake, regardless.
14. The Sycamore Kitchen Salted Caramel Pecan Babka Roll ($3.50)
At The Sycamore Kitchen, the industrial chic café from Karen & Quinn Hatfield, this sticky dome, coated with salted caramel and planted with pecans, is particularly glorious.
15. Valerie Confections Salted Caramel Croissant ($3.50)
Valerie Gordon is especially adept at accenting pastries with savory flourishes. Her Durango cookie, finished with Durango hickory smoked sea saltm is a leading example of sweet and savory balancing act. Her flaky, layered, boat shaped pastry with buttery caramel and sprinkling of fleur de sel, is another winner.