Last week, Laura Hahnefeld highlighted three restaurants in "How the Valley's Legendary Restaurants Keep Up With the Times," which covers everything from Phoenix's culinary history to what it takes to keep a restaurant in business for over half a century. One small mention and tantalizing photo deserved a little closer investigation: Nostalgia of Baseball from Pink Pony.
Laura writes, "As artfully composed as it is scrumptious, this chocolate and peanut butter tower sits next to a stenciled-in-chocolate image of baseball legend Ted Williams and his famous swing. As Williams did so often during his Hall of Fame career, the dessert hits the sweet spot."
With the Cactus League's final spring training game merely five days away (and the last game at Scottsdale Stadium being played tomorrow), there's no better time to pony up to a plate of this baseball-themed dish. Luckily, we found reason to enjoy this Baby Ruth-inspired dessert any time of year.
Our plate didn't have a stenciled Ted Williams, instead featuring a chocolate version of the restaurant's signature pony, but regardless, Nostalgia of Baseball scores points on looks alone. It's always a thrill to spot a well-presented plate of food on its way to your table, lovingly carried by a practiced server, and that feeling is guaranteed with this dessert.
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The charm doesn't stop there. "Nostalgia" is a fitting name for a dessert that's a dressed up version of a Baby Ruth. The taste is a spot-on replica of the classic candy bar -- which was named for President Cleveland's daughter in 1921, but is now commonly associated with baseball player Babe -- except that this version doesn't have that sickeningly sweet taste of high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oil. Anyone who's trying to cut cheap filler candy out of their diet (namely, me) has to do themselves a favor and visit Pink Pony to kill those childhood-memory-induced, standing-in-line-at-the-grocery-store cravings.
So, how exactly does this scrumptious stack break down the peanut, caramel, nougat, and chocolaty goodness of the candy bar? The base layer is a peanut candy crunch (think Butterfinger) that's pressed into a chocolate disc. This same crunchy candy dusts the bottom of the plate. On top of the base are two distinct layers of mousse: nougat and peanut butter. The top is a soft, fresh marshmallow, which isn't really in a Baby Ruth, but who cares? It gives you something to sink your teeth into. The most impressive part is the thin, crisp peanut brittle sticking out of the top. The texture is nearly as light as a caramel rice biscuit (found in Asian grocery stores). Somehow there's much more air incorporated into it than traditional brittle, but it offers the same rich buttery flavor.
Speaking of rich, don't let this small size fool you; Nostalgia of Baseball is not for the dainty eater. This one should definitely be shared, and even between two of us, it was a struggle to finish the last bite. To quote our server, "Yeah, [our pastry chef's] not afraid of sugar." But it wouldn't be a (dare I say) deconstructed candy bar without a wallop of sugar, and it's absolutely worth the necessary nap and the round of batting practice it'll take to work off the calories.