It was time to undo my belt and beg forgiveness from my dentist. For the second year running, Sydney's Shangri La hotel hosted Sweet Street, a four-hour extravaganza of sugar-coated, dusted, glazed, frosted dessert tastings. Some of Australia's finest pastry chefs, confectioners and chocolatiers flew into town this month to put their most popular and kookiest creations on display.
Guardian Australia took a trip into this Willy Wonka-esque sugar kingdom to discover the best, most innovative desserts available in Australia right now.
Unmissable: Black Star's Strawberry watermelon cake with rose-scented cream
About five years ago, Christopher ThÃ© from Sydney's Black Star Pastry came up with a novel idea for a wedding cake: layers of almond cake, whipped cream, a strip of fresh watermelon, pistachios, more cream, strawberries and dusted with edible rose petals. Despite the flamboyance of the ingredients, the cake was light, fresh and delicious and quickly became the cafe's signature dish. Delicious! There was a long line to sample the classic cake.
Weird but it works: Andy Bowdy's Nutella and cherry pie
The foodie world is abuzz with the news that the pastry chef at the Sydney hipster eatery Hartsyard, Andy Bowdy, has gone out on his own with Andy Bowdy Pastry, an online bespoke cake service that will ship around Australia. Promised offerings include chocolate fudge cake with Milo mousse and salted caramel with Snickers wedding cakes.
I tried the deep-fried Nutella and cherry pies which were yummier than they sound. The warm golden pastry pillows, dusted with cinnamon sugar, split open to reveal oozing Nutella and rich, ripe, dark cherries. Wonderful to eat - but could be a nightmare to ship.
The latest trend: eclectic eclairs from Cacao
According to chef Tim Clark, eclairs are the new macarons, and his Melbourne patisserie Cacoa has an eclair-only store to demonstrate just how much fun can be had by mixing up the flavour, texture and composition of the classic chocolate pastry.
For Sweet Street, Clark displayed six bizarre types that I had never encountered. There was an eclair with miso caramel custard, an eclair with raspberry creme and a chocolate "Astro boy"decal, a cereal eclair with cornflake cereal custard, an eclair with passionfruit and a milk chocolate Pokemon decal, and a bacon and egg eclair with egg custard and a strip of crispy maple bacon. I opt for the eclair with biscuit crackers and dark chocolate creme topped with a layer of charred marshmallow, toasted to order. In one bite, textures combine: it's crunchy and creamy and sticky and chewy all at once. Confusing but somehow delicious.
Too cute to eat: LuxBite Kuma
Melbourne's LuxBite specialises in desserts that combine Asian influences with French dessert techniques. There are two stores: the original LuxBite, which does macarons and cakes, and T by LuxBite, which specialises in tarts.
Bernard Chu and Yen Yee brought their four most popular desserts to the Sweet Street event. There was the blue Calpis, which is a white chocolate sponge with blueberry jelly and cream made from Japanese soft drink Calpis; the oversized raspberry endless love macaron, with lychee ganache and rose cream and a dark chocolate slice with a hazelnut crust and salted caramel dubbed epic chocolate cravings. My pick? The very kawaii-looking kuma, a teddybear-faced cookie cake with layers of strawberry, banana and chocolate milkshake mousse topped with caramel. Again, for all its decadence, it was surprisingly light, creamy and even a little citrusy.
Over the top: Adriano Zumbo's Cereal Killer Zumbaron
Australia's dessert king ever since he introduced the nation to the croquembouche (an eclair tower), Adriano Zumbo now has seven stores across Australia and an ever-changing menu of wacky "zumbarons" with flavours such as Vegemite and salted butter caramel on toast.
His palate-bewildering offerings include a salted butter popcorn choc top chouxmaca and a lime and cheese twisties zumbaron. Feeling positively Mr Creosote-esque (or Augustus Gloop) at this point, I opted for the cereal killer zumbarons - a pinky mauve macaron "coated in cornflakes, frootloops, Nutri-Grain and rice bubbles". I felt like I was going to burst but I pushed on. With this many flavours at play, my palate could register only a wave of sickly sweetness and the realisation that it was time to lick my spoon one last time and bow out for the night.
To make your own delicious desserts, follow our series.