The Set-Up: Karl's quaint patisserie has everything from maple bars and frosted donuts to petits fours and cookies galore. Included in their impressive list of pastries are several types of gingerbread, including chocolate-dipped, gingerbread folks of all sizes, and tons of holiday offerings to stuff any stocking. We opted for the individually wrapped pretty pink gingerbread maid with golden locks and a couple choco-dipped gingerbread cookies on the side for good measure.
The Pros: Karl's gingerbread lives up to its namesake. The ginger flavor was dominant, and plenty of aromatic winter spices like clove and cinnamon were noticeable after the first spicy bite. An ideal balance between sugar and spice and everything nice.
The Cons: Our poor little gingerbread lass was so hard we needed a side of milk (or maybe an Irish coffee) to dunk before devouring. The icing was also rock hard, crumbling upon impact instead of adding a bit of extra sweetness. Luckily, the choco-dipped gingerbread sticks were much softer, the perfect balance between texture and flavor. Too bad they're not dukin' it out in the ring.
2929 N 24th St, Phoenix
The Set-Up: Barb's has some darned fancy desserts on display, ranging from cheesecakes and cannolis to pretty iced Christmas trees and snowmen. (About as close to snow as you're likely to get here in the Valley.) Our red and green gingerbread men were fresh out of the oven looking cute as a button.
The Pros: Our gingerbread man had the perfect texture, soft and easy to nibble. The flavor was heavy on the molasses, smooth but not too sweet. Plus, look at that little gingerbread smile and bow tie. Who doesn't love a dapper gingerbread lad?
The Cons: More molasses than warm ginger spice, Barb's gingerbread men could easily have been mistaken for a straight molasses cookie rather than a spicy gingerbread man. Good thing there was a pretty little bow tie there to let us know the difference.
In Battle Gingerbread, the soft texture, cutesy decorations, and mild ginger spice of Barb's Bakery
wins the day. Although the sharp ginger bite and warm winter spice of Karl's gingerbread lass exemplified the holidays, the poor gingerbread lass was much too hard to to nibble sans milk. (Opt for Karl's much softer choco-dipped gingerbread instead, and you've got a gingerbread win-win!)