Despite social pressures and the diet industry’s insistence on refraining from eating sugar, the love of sweets is innate in humans. According to one study, sugar is the energy source “preferred by most or all herbivores and omnivores.” Besides that, sweetness has become associated with positive feelings, just look at all the sugary terms of endearment from honey to sweetie pie, baby cakes to muffin.
All that’s to say, it’s perfectly natural to get excited about perusing the final section of the menu. And, a quick aside that, as it so happens, desserts were not always held off until the last course. In Ottoman Turkey and renaissance Italy, dessert was interspersed between courses. The earliest mentions of dessert as the last course in France was in the 14th century, but it wasn’t until the 17th century that dessert became the name of the last course, being derived from the French word desservir, which means to “clear the table.”
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Another plot twist: the dessert course wasn’t always characterized by a sweet finish, the definition at one time was simply that it had to be cold and “the most visually exciting part of the meal.”
By mid to late 19th century, dessert became synonymous with sweet, and that’s the definition I take here.
The following are sweet treats that are so good, they don’t need to be relegated to the end of a meal, they deserve to be sought out on their own.
From luxurious soft serve to unusual macarons, these are the must-try desserts to order when in Scottsdale.
Weft & Warp: Literally any dessert
This restaurant, located inside the Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows, warrants a dessert tasting. Go hungry and order one of each of chef Morgan Malzahn’s creations. She’s a wizard when it comes to balancing tastes and textures and the menu focuses on Arizona ingredients and changes seasonally. So, if you see a dessert that looks interesting, don’t put off trying it.
A regular menu item you really need to try is the Little r&r, which stands for little rhubarb and raspberry. Over a brown butter sable Breton, Malzahn layers cremeux, raspberry rhubarb consommé and thyme-infused rhubarb with ruby vinegar mirror. It’s a juxtaposition of sweet from the blond chocolate and the tart of rhubarb with a pop of herby brightness. The texture is also magnificent as the crunch of the sable crust balances the creamy top.
Details: 6114 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale. 480-214-4622, andazscottsdale.com/dining.
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Call Her Martina: cheesecake chimichanga
Crunchy, creamy and sweet summarize this fabulous dessert — a deep-fried tortilla with a cheesecake filling and sprinkles of cinnamon and sugar. It arrives at the table cut in half, leaning against two scoops of creamy vanilla ice cream. The whole plate is drizzled with Argentinian dulce de leche. Though fried, this treat isn’t heavy and it’s easy to keep going back for another bite and then another before the whole thing is gone.
Details: 7135 E. Camelback Road, #165, Scottsdale. 480-687-8592, callhermartina.com.
JL Patisserie: Earl Grey macaron
Pastry chef Jenna Leurquin’s macarons are perfect in texture and flavor, so you could pick any one of them and be happy, but the Earl Grey is special. The color of the macaron is a cross between purple and gray. As you bite into it, the shell resists slightly before giving in and letting its chewy texture meld with the Earl Grey ganache inside. The famous British black tea is flavored with oil of bergamot orange, a yellow-green pear-shaped citrus fruit, and that subtle flavor comes through. Buy extra macarons and freeze them. They last for a few months.
Details: 7342 E. Shea Blvd, Suite 108, Scottsdale. 480-859-4459, jlpatisserie.com. Also at 4700 N. Central Ave., Suite 121, Phoenix.
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BEG Bakery & Creamery: Soft serve ice cream
BEG stands for butter, egg and gluten-free. The treats are all vegan with several gluten-free options. You might be skeptical. But the ice cream and baked goods are some of the best anywhere. If it’s your first visit to the family-owned bakery, snag a free sample of the chocolate or vanilla ice cream. If you are more of a variety is the spice of life person, try a swirl of the two. You might plan to just have a taste and throw the rest away. But you’ll soon find that you need a second bite to confirm that it was that creamy and yet another because you want more of the sweet, rich, decadence. After you wolf down the sample, you’ll want to go for a full -cone or cup. Add-ons are available, too, from sauces to marshmallows, brownies to gummy bears. The bakery also offers cupcakes, muffins, cookies, brownies and cinnamon rolls.
Details: 3030 N. 68th St., Scottsdale. 480-590-0021, begbakery.com.
Aloha Cakes AZ: Guava cupcake
Aloha bakery came into being when owner and baker Nenita Linton, who is originally from Hilo, Hawaii, asked one too many favors from her mother and sister. She had made a habit of asking them to carry her favorite cake back from Hawaii anytime they’d visit. Tired of carrying cake on long flights, one day they refused. Linton made it her mission to learn how to make cakes that reminded her of home and Aloha Cakes AZ was born.
Be sure to share her guava cupcake with someone. You’ll want to share the pleasure and surprise of the first bite. The ethereally light chiffon cake is filled with guava, topped with guava frosting and drizzled with a guava glaze, the sweet and tartness of which tiptoe gently across the taste buds. The combination transports you to the tropics.
During the summer, the bakery only takes orders online. Check the website for the fall farmers’ market schedule.
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