Maine is a state that takes its desserts very seriously. There’s a battle waging in Augusta on whether our official state dessert should be the whoopie pie or blueberry pie. And those are just two of our many favorites. But our sweet tooth is getting even bigger. Today there are fabulous chocolate makers and ice-cream stands and cake bakers across the state that often are inspired by old-fashioned Maine dessert recipes.
We are known for our pies of every variety—it’s what you bring to a picnic if you’re in doubt. And with an abundance of blueberries—there’s never a shortage of fresh fruit to fit any dessert recipe! The glacial fields and barrens of Maine provide an ideal combination of soil and climate in which the blueberries can thrive. As Maine’s official fruit, the so-called “wild” blueberry is prized for its intense color and taste, with crops maintained by farmers who have been doing so for generations. Visit in August for the Machias Wild Blueberry Festivalor find pick-your-own fields throughout the state.
For the perfect pie crust, there’s Maine Grains, which uses traditional stone milling techniques and locally-grown grains to produce a range of nutritional, whole-grain flours. You can find Maine Grains products in stores throughout New England, or visit them at Somerset Grist Mill in Skowhegan, Maine.
Although less famous than whoopie pie, another of Maine’s home-grown sweets is the chocolate needham. It’s a chocolate-dipped confection made of sugar, coconut—and mashed potatoes. Try one, you’ll like it. Still skeptical? Try the version from Dean’s Sweets in Portland, which substitutes Cold River Vodka for the potato.
Black Dinah Chocolates makes gourmet truffles on the remote Isle au Haut using chocolate from Venesula and Peru and fresh, locally produced cream, butter, herbs, fruits and flowers. And in Kittery, Byrne & Carlson's make chocolate bars almost too gorgeous eat. Like Violet Bar, dark chocolate embedded with crystalized violet petals and mint leaves.
Maine is also home to several iconic (and adventurous) ice cream shops. With over 50 different flavors, Shain’s of Maine has been leading the charge in innovative ice cream flavors for over 30 years. Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream has been raking in the accolades with brilliant flavors like “Bay of Figs” and “Atlantic Brewing Stout with fudge,” while Portland favorite Willard Scoops serves up a strawberry and habanero combination they call “Sunburn.”
It’s hard to beat the state’s roadside stands for fresh, homemade, small batch ice cream. Try the blueberry flavor at Abner Butterfield Ice Cream Company in scenic Dover-Foxcroft for a true taste of Maine goodness. Further south along the Kennebec River, there’s Deb’s Ice Cream & Mini Golf in Randolph.