By definition, any free dessert is a great dessert. But at Buttercup, the desserts are based on recipes crafted and taste-tested to perfection by Debbie Shahvar, who cofounded the five-location East Bay restaurant group with her husband David in 1988. James Beard Award-nominated cookbook author Shahvar feels that food is a form of self-expression — and that desserts are one of the most profound ways to show people you love them. She also believes that the memory of dessert is what resonates the most intensely after a meal, because it’s the last course. At all Buttercup locations, the Loyalty Club — aka the Crispy Creamy Chewy Crunchy Dessert of the Month Club — allows diners to score free desserts on every tenth visit after filling out a “loyalty card.” Each month, a different dessert is featured — from her signature upside-down apple-walnut pie to chocolate banana-bread pudding to July’s offering, a juicy and summery blueberry-streusel pie.