There are some places we go for the food, others we go to for the novelty, and others still that we go to purely for the ambiance. A truly magical sweet shop embodies all three, satisfying both sweet tooth and whimsy. These three metro Phoenix shops are full-on sugar plum, Willy Wonka, gumdrop guild approved.
Sweet Provisions means Chef Christopher Collins can have his cake and sell it, too. This sweet little ice cream shop has a case filled with baked goods in addition to its ice cream. Key lime pie, salted chocolate chip cookies, and chocolate mousse were just a few of the items on display when we visited. The mint chocolate chunk ice cream is made with real mint leaves, and the chunks really are chunks of chocolate, not those wimpy chips you find in in the store-bought stuff. With space for at least six different flavors, and a menu that promises those flavors will rotate regularly, ice cream aficionados will be bowled over. There are plenty of pre-fab options on the menu, such as the Float Your Boat (soda, ice cream, whipped cream, and a cherry for $5) or the Rise and Shine (coffee ice cream, caramel, and whipped cream for $6). Toppings are reasonably priced at 50 cents each, and classic favorites, like whipped cream, sprinkles, or a cherry are free.
The first thing you might notice about Ruže Cake House creations is the elegant and often desert-themed look of the desserts, which are clearly inspired by the owner's surroundings. “I grew up here, and I feel like we’re really lucky in the Southwest to have so much inspiration that isn’t available to many other bakers across the world,” Jessica Boutwells says. “The saguaros, all the wildlife, we really like weaving that into our design. We like our food to look like it could have grown out of the ground.” And the shop’s signature drink? The Ruze, is created with prickly pear tea, prickly pear purée, a house-made rose syrup, whole milk from Danzeisen Dairy in Laveen (or you can substitute organic almond milk), and tapioca pearls. The drink arrives as a stunning glass of hot pink liquid, which happens naturally thanks to the fresh prickly pear pulp the shop receives from Napa Valley (though they use prickly pear concentrate made in Tucson in many of the desserts).
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In addition to sweet and savory caramel corn and artisan chocolates and various other confections, the Old Town Scottsdale shop also offers a menu of pastries that includes several types of croissants, kouign amann, and canelé. The last, a small French pastry that can only be baked in a copper mold, is not to be missed. A crisp, caramelized crust surrounds an impossibly moist center that's almost like custard — and at about the size of a golf ball, it's practically a guilt-free indulgence. Next door at New Wave Market, find a whimsical collection of dinnerware, cookie jars, and cake stands mingling with flavored sea salts, high-end teas, organic jams, spicy honey, single-origin chocolates, and unusual spice blends — all in picture-perfect packaging, of course. It is a veritable wonderland for the food-obsessed, complete with customizable gift boxes packed in old wooden wine crates.