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9 Best Desserts in Metro Phoenix

One of Pomegranate Cafe's many delectable (and health-conscious) desserts
One of Pomegranate Cafe's many delectable (and health-conscious) desserts
Dayvid LeMmon

As author of Chow Bella's "Dessert First" column, I tasted my share of sweet in this city. (To say photographer Dayvid LeMmon and I enjoyed the research is an understatement.) What follows is the absolute best of the best.

Restaurants change their dessert menus on a regular basis -- seasonally or even weekly -- so it's nearly impossible to round up a list of current favorites guaranteed to be on the menu. If these exact dishes aren't available when you stop by, we bet you'll get your pick of exciting new offerings that our favorite sugar wizards are whipping up in the kitchen.

Pomegranate Chocolate Cake at Pomegranate Café

This Ahwatukee eatery's menu is full of fresh, locally produced ingredients, so it's always a good idea to get a salad, wrap, or daily special. What you might not expect from such a health-focused establishment is that the desserts are some of the best in the Valley -- and they're vegan, too. The raw, cheese-less cheesecakes are creamy and packed with fresh fruit flavor, and the handmade candy bars are delicious. But our fave is the signature layer cake made from spelt flour and organic cocoa. There's just enough tart pomegranate flavor without overpowering the chocolate. Stop in for a slice, or pre-order a whole cake for your special occasion.

See also: - "Dessert First" Archives - Cronut™ Battle: Herb Box vs. Karl's Quality Bakery

Mama Bianco's famous flourless chocolate cake
Mama Bianco's famous flourless chocolate cake
Dayvid LeMmon

Flourless Chocolate Cake by Francesca Bianco

Erase all previous memories of boring, flavorless flourless chocolate cakes and sink your teeth into this version by Mama Bianco. It's extremely fudgy without being too dense, and it's soft and moist, almost mousse-like but heavier. The rich and sophisticated flavor is thanks to 80 percent dark Valrhona chocolate, which pairs perfectly with the slightly tangy, mostly sweet Meyer lemon marmalade. This cake is regularly available at Pizzeria Bianco, Pane Bianco, and Trattoria Bianco.

What makes Churn's ice cream even better? Pretzel cones and cookie sandwiches!
What makes Churn's ice cream even better? Pretzel cones and cookie sandwiches!
Lauren Saria

Ice Cream at Windsor/Churn

You could think of Churn as a separate establishment run by super-restaurateurs Upward Projects (Postino, Federal Pizza). Or, you could say that the desserts at Windsor are so addictively delicious that they warrant their own storefront. Either way, if you manage to drive past this unstoppable duo without stopping for a cocktail and a bowl of ice cream, you have a monk's sense of willpower. There's not a bad flavor in this ice cream case, but the most popular is rightfully butter pecan -- so rich it's like licking melted butter off your fingers, with the added bonus of candied pecans. To really wow your palate, mix it with Vietnamese coffee ice cream and top with toffee pieces.

Butternut squash pop with tamarind-chocolate syrup
Butternut squash pop with tamarind-chocolate syrup
Pepper T. (Yelp)

Push-Pops at Bink's Midtown

Childhood-inspired desserts will always be a hit, with recent trends including Pop-Tart-like pastries and Hostess-style cakes. Kevin Binkley and the culinary team at Bink's Midtown has their own throwback on the menu: Push-Pops. The flavors are changed up pretty frequently, but the concept remains the same: ice cream layered with sweet sauces and packaged in a plastic tube, with something like granola for your dipping pleasure. Don't expect flavors like bubblegum and cherry. Instead, you'll find butternut squash with chocolate and tamarind, or chai tea with pineapple chutney and carrot cake crumble. This is one playful sweet treat that grownups will enjoy just as much as the little munchkins. 

Pastry chef Shelley Au makes a mean buttermilk pie.
Pastry chef Shelley Au makes a mean buttermilk pie.
Dayvid LeMmon

Sweet Buttermilk Pie at Phoenix City Grille

What's so impressive about this sweet buttermilk pie? Balance. The slice sits on top of a generous amount of no-nonsense caramel sauce, neither thick nor thin, and the buttery filling is rich without being as heavy as crème brûlée. The flavors may appear plain, but this pie is far from boring and fits into any holiday: Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, Tuesday. Luckily, this pie can also be ordered directly from Shelley's Specialty Desserts in Old Towne Glendale, where pastry chef Shelley Au also bakes treats like Kentucky bourbon cheesecake, mocha fudge cake, and pumpkin bars.

Chef Nobuo Fukuda's desserts prove that he is a culinary master in every respect.
Chef Nobuo Fukuda's desserts prove that he is a culinary master in every respect.
Dayvid LeMmon

Almond Fritters with Azuki Bean Syrup at Nobuo Teeter House

James Beard Award winner Nobuo Fukuda is a master of flavors, technique, and presentation, and his expertise isn't limited to savory fare. Diners usually flock to this downtown Phoenix restaurant for pork buns, but the desserts are just as crave-worthy. It's a safe bet that nothing on the menu at Nobuo Teeter House will disappoint, but if you see almond fritters with azuki bean syrup, definitely order two. The soft, doughnut-like fritters are served warm and have a hint of orange blossom. Then they're drizzled with red bean syrup, which adds a similar note as maple syrup, and served with a palate-cleansing jasmine tea ice cream. It bears repeating: Order two (if not three).

The super Southwestern (and surprisingly addictive) Pink Diablo Pie
The super Southwestern (and surprisingly addictive) Pink Diablo Pie
Lauren Saria

Pink Diablo Pie at Urban Beans / Tertio Wine Bar

There was a lot to enjoy about last year's Pie Social, but the most memorable of the bunch is definitely the Pink Diablo Pie from Virginia Senior, available at her cafe-slash-wine-bar. This wildly inventive creation starts with a savory walnut crust and is topped with lime curd, meringue, mint, and agave habanero sauce. But the real star is the filling, a just-sweet-enough prickly pear cheesecake. Desserts do not get more Southwestern than this -- and they don't get much more delicious either. The crazy flavor combo isn't for everyone, but if you have an adventurous sweet tooth, this is an absolute must-taste. 

You haven't tasted the true beauty of ice cream without a bite of Country Velador's duck fat masterpiece.
You haven't tasted the true beauty of ice cream without a bite of Country Velador's duck fat masterpiece.
Dayvid LeMmon

Cobbler on Quack at Cowboy Ciao

Enough good things cannot be said about this dessert, created by the ever-inspired pastry chef Country Velador (Super Chunk Sweets & Treats). The cobbler itself is rather traditional, with plenty of spice and a brown sugar streusel. But then tradition is thrown out the window by replacing simple vanilla ice cream with luscious duck fat. And while that might make diners a little wary, there's no carnivorous cause for alarm. Duck is known for its gamey flavor, but that doesn't translate at all to this dish. The ice cream is incredibly rich, buttery, and has a soft nuttiness akin to the savory goat milk flavor in cajeta. Apple cobbler is usually a fall favorite, but thankfully this unique spin on the all-American classic is available at Cowboy Ciao year-round.

No fads, no hype. This is just one wicked good, timeless dessert.
No fads, no hype. This is just one wicked good, timeless dessert.
Dayvid LeMmon

Gâteau Marjolaine at Christopher's Restaurant & Crush Lounge

This dessert hits all of the right notes: velvety smooth ganache, rich mousse, plenty of chocolate. It's insanely luxurious and decadent, but it also manages to be comforting and familiar, like the best possible gourmet version of Sara Lee's frozen chocolate mousse cake. Not only is this dish delicious enough to remember for life, but it also features a flavor profile that's easy to love. Three types of mousse -- hazelnut, praline, and coffee - are layered evenly, separated by a wafer-thin almond meringue. It has everything you love about Nutella and so much more.

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Use Current Location

Related Locations

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Pomegranate Cafe

4025 E. Chandler Blvd.
Ahwatukee, AZ 85048

480-706-7472

www.pomegranatecafe.com

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Churn

5223 N. Central Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85012

602-279-8024

www.churnaz.com

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Windsor

5223 N. Central Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85012

602-279-1111

www.windsoraz.com

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Pane Bianco

4404 N. Central Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85012

602-234-2100

www.pizzeriabianco.com/pane

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Pizzeria Bianco

623 E. Adams St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004

602-258-8300

www.pizzeriabianco.com

miles
Pizzeria Bianco

4743 N. 20th St.
Phoenix, AZ 85016

602-368-3273

www.pizzeriabianco.com

miles
Bink's Midtown

2320 E. Osborn Road
Phoenix, AZ 85016

602-388-4874

www.binksmidtown.com

miles
Nobuo at Teeter House

622 E. Adams St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004

602-254-0600

www.nobuofukuda.com

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Cowboy Ciao Wine Bar & Grill

7133 E. Stetson Drive
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

480-946-3111

www.cowboyciao.com

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Urban Beans

3508 N. 7th St.
Phoenix, AZ 85014

602-595-2244

www.urbanbeans.com

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Christopher's Restaurant and Crush Lounge

2502 E. Camelback Road
Phoenix, AZ 85016

602-522-2344

www.christophersaz.com


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