Best Cookies 2010 | Sid's Viciously Good Cookies | Food & Drink | Phoenix
The name alone makes Sid's Viciously Good Cookies worthy of one of our annual awards, though the Sid in question is actually a former corporate executive named Sidney Miller who turned her back on the rat race in favor of the cookie press when she became a mom. We discovered Sid's cookies at a local AJ's Fine Foods and were wowed by the soft, gooey circles. The best way to get them hot and fresh is by calling Miller directly and placing an order. Currently, she offers four flavors that focus on classic ingredients. Our favorite is the Peanut Buttah: rich, doughy circles with chunks of peanut butter in the batter. It reminds us of licking spoonfuls of peanut butter at summer camp. Not that we'll pass up the double chocolate cookies or the white chocolate and almond "With Love . . . Annie V" variety. At the risk of sounding cliché, all of Sid's Viciously Good Cookies really rock.
We loved her for years as pastry chef at Cowboy Ciao, and since she's been on her own, we've only gotten sweeter on Tracy Dempsey, whose confections seem to pop up everywhere. We're fans of her homemade marshmallows, which you'll find at the Scottsdale Old Town Farmers Market in rotating flavors that include hot chocolate, vanilla bean, and rosebud. Who needs a campfire? Just give us a bag of Tracy's pillowy, perfectly sweet marshmallows and we'll melt. Visit her website for other locations where marshmallows and her other treats are sold. We also love Tracy for her marshmallow heart. In October, she's co-sponsoring Cupcake Love-In, a fundraiser benefiting Singleton Moms, a local nonprofit assisting single mothers battling cancer, and Safe Haven, a no-kill animal shelter. (More details at
Remember Adam Ant's catchy lyrics, "don't drink, don't smoke, what do you do?" Apparently, make toffee good enough to replace a morning quickie. Mother-daughter team Donna Gabrilson and Stacey Barnes of Scottsdale's Goody Twos Toffee Company wield a double-edge sword of deliciousness. Their handmade confections come in traditional flavors, including peanut brittle, chocolate peppermint, and the crunchy Double-Crossed (almonds and milk, dark, and white chocolates). Daughter Stacey corrupted us with the Nutty-Twist, an out-of-this-world blend of nuts, lime, Cruz Tequila, and chocolate. Considering that liquor lowers inhibitions and chocolate causes the same physical reaction in the brain as sex, we're guessing that Stacey is not the goody two-shoes in this pairing.
When eaten, chocolate causes the brain to amp up endorphin secretions similar to those released when you have sex. That's the fancy, scientific way of saying it makes you tingle all over. Engineer turned chocolatier Sam Filicetti, a.k.a. Sam the Chocolate Guy, definitely makes us tingle with his ib2 chocolates, featuring sensual spices in the tradition of the ancient Mayans. Filicetti has an almost spiritual connection with his newfound career, describing in detail to anyone who'll listen about the painstaking process of getting melted chocolate to do his bidding. His confections include relaxing lavender-infused chocolates and an espresso variety made with Lux coffee beans, but our favorite is an anti-depressant variety that combines rich, 54 percent cocoa solids with spicy chiles that also raise endorphin levels. Serve that to your partner, along with wine in one of ib2's chocolate cups, and you'll be in for one sweet night.
When your name is Pie Snob (right down to your personalized license plate), you'd better deliver. Not a problem for Traci Wilbur. At the urging of her pie-lovin' pals, Wilbur started Pie Snob a year ago in a small building behind her Arcadia home. With her recipes and a motto ("Life's too short to eat bad pie!") Wilbur whips up more than 20 kinds of handcrafted pastry art, including apple (her best-seller), nutty-good pecan, decadent chocolate cream, and Wilbur's seasonal favorite, lemonade nectarine. Pie addicts with patience can order direct from the website or get a taste pronto at D'licious Dishes or Bertha's Café.
We don't know whether candy storeowner Louis Auster, the inventor of the chocolate egg cream, ever visited the Valley. But if he did — that is, if he also lived in the early 21st century, rather than the late 19th century — it's likely he'd head straight for Scott's Generations to find out what this ultra-Bronx deli has done with his little brainchild.What he'd find is that this local eatery has made a masterpiece of this delicious mix of chocolate syrup, milk, and seltzer. The chocolate egg cream at Scott's Generations is so perfect that it screams "Brooklyn!"
Courtesy of Chicago Hamburger Co.
The long-neck spoon? Yeah, you're gonna need that. Featuring creamy scoopfuls of vanilla ice cream, milk, and chunks of fresh banana (most barely making the journey through the straw), the banana shake at the Chicago Hamburger Company is a tackle-worthy treat. Hungry dessert monkeys can order it with extra bananas or they can go combo, mixing homemade banana bliss with chocolate or strawberry, a staff favorite. A small will run you around $4 and a large one is $5. Both require the accompanying spoon to capture every last banana-licious bite.
Over the past year, self-serve frozen yogurt has eclipsed gelato as the cold treat of choice here in Phoenix. We love the tart varieties. We adore the abundance of toppings. But there's one yogurt in town that's like crack to our heat-addled brains, and that's Yogurtology's oatmeal cookie flavor. Sure, the cheesecake and red velvet varieties are tasty, but the Oatmeal Cookie makes every other flavor taste vanilla in comparison. Made with real oatmeal cookies and a host of other secret ingredients the owner won't reveal, it's rich and creamy with an earthy, sweet flavor that tastes exactly like the fresh-baked cookies Grandma made in our childhood. Forget the gummy bears and Oreos. This flavor doesn't need any dressing up to taste like a million bucks.
Courtesy of Sweet Republic
If you still have not tasted Sweet Republic ice cream, we instruct you to put this issue of "Best of Phoenix" down and proceed immediately to 91st Street and Shea in Scottsdale, or to a Whole Foods, and shove some of this stuff down your gullet. Your butt might grow, but you will thank us, because — screw our Valley boundaries — this is the best ice cream we've ever tasted, anywhere. The salted butter caramel is insanely rich, the perfect sweet/salty fix, and we've never tasted anything quite like the mint chip. If you're looking for hip, funky flavors, like blue cheese, they've got those, too. Really, you can't go wrong. As long as you go.
Jackie Mercandetti
Why didn't we think of this? Ice cream and alcohol, together at last — and served out of a super-sweet Neopolitan-hued little shop on Stetson Drive in what's become the heart of good eating in Scottsdale. The friendly woman who waited on us said the late-night crowd at Lee's is kickin', which isn't surprising, but she cautioned that you can't really get drunk from a scoop or two of this ice cream. Which is good, because we scarfed our vanilla almond — spiked with tequila — and hopped behind the wheel, high on sugar, if nothing else, and ready to spread the word about our favorite new treat.

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