What would December be without a generous helping of peppermint and chocolate? There's no bad time of year for desserts, but the winter season is when bakers pull out all the stops, creating sweets so decadent it's the stuff traditions are made of -- quite literally in the case of gingerbread houses. Here are five desserts you won't want to miss on your holiday table.
Canelés Bordelais Tracy Dempsey Originals
This holiday season, Tracy Dempsey is operating pop-up shops to make it even more convenient to pick up her wow-worthy treats. You can find her at 1323 W. University Drive in Tempe on Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm. Look for bacon pecan brittle, from-scratch marshmallows, and a variety of cookies. But if you want a knock-your-socks-off pastry, pick up Tracy's French canelés ($2 each), which have a caramelized cakey shell and unforgettable custard filling. Can't make it to the pop-up? Call 602-376-9021.
Duck Fat Toffee Super Chunk Sweets & Treats
Dessert lovers in the Phoenix area will be benefiting from a Christmas miracle this year: the opening of Super Chunk's storefront in Old Town Scottsdale. Husband-and-wife team Sergio & Country Velador are busy as bees getting ready to launch, but they're still cranking out unique treats in the kitchen to pick up for your holiday gathering. The store opens on Tuesday, December 17, and will also stock other goodies like mesquite chocolate chip cookies and classic honeycomb candy.
Peppermint Cheesecake in a Jar Urban Cookies Bakeshop
This is our go-to spot for insanely delicious desserts year-round, and this holiday season they have so many tasty things to choose from it will be a challenge to try them all. If you can only have one, snag a single-serving cheesecake topped with chocolate ganache and crushed peppermint candy canes ($7.99 each). Of course they also have Christmassy cupcakes: egg nog, chocolate peppermint, lemon raspberry pistachio, and hot chocolate with marshmallow topping ($2.95 each). To order, call 602-451-4335, or simply stop by the shop.
Traditional Bûche de Noël The Bakery Café at el Pedregal
When it comes to Christmas dessert, there's no better cake to order than a Bûche de Noël, or Yule Log. The Bakery Café at The Boulders resort is once again baking an indulgent version with chocoholics in mind. The dark chocolate cake is filled with chocolate mousse and finished with chocolate buttercream. To top it all off, candied cranberries add a festive look and flavor. The cake will serve 8 to 10 people and is priced at $18. Call 480-488-4100 to order.
Gingerbread Cookies Barb's Bakery
A couple Christmases ago Chow Bella pitted two of the top bakeries in town against one another to find out which one serves up the best traditional gingerbread. The edible man from Barb's Bakery, complete with bow tie and buttons, took the crown thanks to a soft texture and mild ginger spice that all ages will enjoy. Get your gingerbread men -- and gingerbread women! -- from this central Phoenix bakery. And while you're there, pick up some of their famous iced sugar cookies. For more information or to place a large order, call 602-957-4422.