Dessert First

The 11 Best Desserts in Metro Phoenix

The Valley makes some mean sweets.
The Valley makes some mean sweets. Allison Young
Editor's note: This story was originally published on January 31, 2018.

Everyone loves desserts, but not everyone saves room. To hell with that. We say table your dinner forks early so you can enjoy all of the great desserts we have in the desert. Phoenix boasts a surprising array of sweet, sinful finishes, the sweet options including everything from pimped churros to Thai bread and custard. Most can be shared, but if you want one of these all to yourself, have at it.

click to enlarge A slice of Fig & Pecan Pie from Beckett’s Table. - ALLISON YOUNG
A slice of Fig & Pecan Pie from Beckett’s Table.
Allison Young

Fig & Pecan Pie

Beckett’s Table
3717 East Indian School Road

Plain old pecan pie and ice cream have some stiff competition with this elevated version that invites some unlikely, and much needed, players to the party. In the pie portion at Beckett’s Table, figs add structure and sweetness to the pecans for a slice that somehow bakes up with a densely nutty top and liquefied bottom glistening in sugary delight. The ice cream, made of cream cheese and citrus, adds a zingy punch to a personality you thought you knew, but now know and like infinitely better. And don’t think the crust is some ordinary character — ground pecans and extra butter make it next level.

click to enlarge The Ultimate Sweet R Sundae from Sweet Republic. - ALLISON YOUNG
The Ultimate Sweet R Sundae from Sweet Republic.
Allison Young

The Ultimate Sweet R Sundae

Sweet Republic
6054 North 16th Street and 9160 East Shea Boulevard, Scottsdale

This isn’t just a dessert, it’s a journey — and it starts with a difficult decision: which of the sweet scoops do you choose? You get to pick four at Sweet Republic, but given the roster — real mint chip, banana foster, Mayan chocolate, salted butter caramel (all of which are handmade with local dairy) — narrowing can be harrowing. Watching the behemoth being made is next. First goes a hefty quarter-pound walnut oatmeal cookie, then the quad of ice cream followed by decadent drizzles of hot fudge and salted caramel sauce, deliberately placed brownies, and flourishes of almond toffee brittle. Just when you think it can’t get any bigger, it’s topped with whipped cream and a hefty marshmallow. Then the whole thing is set on fire, unleashing the scent of burnt marshmallow. Oh, and don’t even think about ordering this one solo. It’s a two or three-man job.

click to enlarge The Zinc Valrhona Chocolate Souffle at Zinc Bistro. - ALLISON YOUNG
The Zinc Valrhona Chocolate Souffle at Zinc Bistro.
Allison Young

Zinc Valrhona Chocolate Souffle

Zinc Bistro
15034 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale

They say a soufflé is all science. If that's true, this chocolate bomb from Zinc Bistro has the Einstein stuff down. Air is whipped into eggs, then expertly folded into the flour mixture before going into the oven and puffing up to perfection, turning the chocolate insides into a custardy collision of otherworldly proportions. Forget science, this is pure magic — and so worth the 30-minute wait it takes to prepare. Pour over the chocolate, mint, or Grand Marnier sauce, and it turns somehow more drool-worthy. The Kierland Commons hub serves up killer ricotta beignets, too, but the soufflé rises above.

click to enlarge The John & Yoko from New Wave Market. - ALLISON YOUNG
The John & Yoko from New Wave Market.
Allison Young

John & Yoko

New Wave Market
7120 East Sixth Avenue, #20, Scottsdale

At New Wave Market, time lags as your fork cuts through the layers, past the craggy honeycomb candy topper, down the dense yet fluffy honey cake smartly soaked in cinnamon tres leches — as evidenced by the glistening sides. Then it travels through the mascarpone whipped cream that will make all other whipped creams bland in comparison, and down the final stratum of syrup-soaked cake. The milk and honey flavors swirl and explode, a whirlwind of creamy and crunchy and spongy. No way could The Beatles bemoan this one.

click to enlarge The Churro Ice Cream Sandwich from The Dressing Room. - ALLISON YOUNG
The Churro Ice Cream Sandwich from The Dressing Room.
Allison Young

Churro Ice Cream Sandwich

The Dressing Room
214 East Roosevelt Street

Cold gelato between hot dough — yes, please. The only dessert on the menu at this hip Roosevelt hangout, the churros are fried up right before serving and then in goes locally made Tahitian vanilla bean gelato so vanilla-y, you can see flecks of the beans. The Dressing Room creates a brilliant balance between refined and rustic, the gourmet in you will note the play of textures, how the divinely flaky, sugar-dusted churro complements the melty, luscious mouthfeel of the gelato.

click to enlarge The Carrot Cake from Liberty Market. - ALLISON YOUNG
The Carrot Cake from Liberty Market.
Allison Young

Carrot Cake

Liberty Market
230 North Gilbert Road, Gilbert

If you judged a cake by its cover, this lovely lady would score a perfect 10. The Liberty Market carrot cake stands tall and proud in the dessert case, armored with cream cheese frosting and topped with flourishes of toasted coconut and edible flowers — a beaut. Inside are six alternating layers that bounce between cake so carroty that pops of orange veg sing through notes of nutmeg, and frosting so frosty it doesn’t cave under the weight of the dense slabs. It's so big it’s served on its side, and each bite gets just the right ratio of cake to frosting.

click to enlarge The Kanom Custard from Glai Baan. - ALLISON YOUNG
The Kanom Custard from Glai Baan.
Allison Young

Kanom Custard

Glai Baan
1333 East Osborn Road

It starts when the steamer basket’s lid is removed to reveal a billow of steam and a bready, heady smell. Breathe it in. Considered street food in Thailand, this combo at Glai Baan seems simple enough — bread and custard — but the layered aroma tells a different story. The steamed coconut custard has a caramel-hued tinge and taste to match — and that’s a hint of pandan leaf hitting your nose, southeast Asia’s version of vanilla that smells beguiling and a little like bubble gum. Even the bread seems cake-like; steaming imbues it with a spongy softness, perfect for sopping up the dip — and you won’t waste a crumb.

click to enlarge The Pizza Cookie from Oregano’s. - ALLISON YOUNG
The Pizza Cookie from Oregano’s.
Allison Young

Pizza Cookie

Multiple Locations

This is the Pringles of desserts. It may seem simple enough — it's just a cookie topped with ice cream, after all — but once you pop it in your mouth, you’ll see it’s so much more. The skillet cookie at Oregano’s, still molten and melty in the middle with a crunchy exterior, makes each bite a journey to the center of the universe, where three hefty scoops of ice cream fight to stay frozen over the still gooey lava below. They’d melt if you didn’t eat it so fast, but trust us: one bite and you can’t stop.

click to enlarge Blackberry Cobbler from The Farmhouse Restaurant. - ALLISON YOUNG
Blackberry Cobbler from The Farmhouse Restaurant.
Allison Young

Blackberry Cobbler

The Farmhouse Restaurant
228 North Gilbert Road, Gilbert

A lot of butter. That’s the secret to this cobbler’s crackled, golden crust, a tappable top that gives way to shortbread-like underlayers. At the Farmhouse Restaurant, dive your spoon below the rich surface and you’ll dig up blackberries, and lots of them — whole, plump, and bursting with flavor. The sour of the berries plays off the sweetness up top, while adding ice cream to the already delicious mix makes it a real party. The whole thing is served straight from the oven, still steaming and screaming to be eaten. This is your grandma’s cobbler, and so much more.

click to enlarge The Churros Rellenos De Cajeta from Barrio Café. - ALLISON YOUNG
The Churros Rellenos De Cajeta from Barrio Café.
Allison Young

Churros Rellenos De Cajeta

Barrio Cafe and Barrio Cafe Gran Reserva
2814 North 16th Street and 1301 West Grand Avenue

Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza’s churro at Barrio Cafe and Barrio Cafe Gran Reserva is a weapon of mass destruction. Two elongated vessels of deep-fried perfection, all crispy and cinnamon encrusted, are filled with cajeta — densely sweetened caramelized goat’s milk that turns the airy inside into well-used space. These go on the plate like crossbones; a hefty scoop of vanilla bean ice cream takes the place of the skull. Candied pecans and blasts of nutty, caramel sauce go on top. We dare you not to lick the plate.

click to enlarge The s'mores cookie dough at Scoopwell's Dough Bar. - COURTESY OF SCOOPWELL'S DOUGH BAR
The s'mores cookie dough at Scoopwell's Dough Bar.
Courtesy of Scoopwell's Dough Bar

Cookie Dough

Scoopwell's Dough Bar
100 East Camelback Road

Gone are the days of sneaking cookie dough out of the bowl. At Scoopwell's, the dough is the main attraction. Create your mountain of cookie dough from almost a dozen flavors, ranging from cake batter to s'mores. But don't worry, they still have plenty of the classic, semisweet chocolate chip cookie dough to go around. Once you've selected your dough, finish off your masterpiece with some of the many dessert toppings, like toasted marshmallow or sprinkles. Then you're free to eat it in public.
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Megan Marples
Allison Young has written about food, nutrition, and travel for Sunset, Women’s Health, Oxygen, Clean Eating, Mindbodygreen, and Prevention. Her local jam is food writing, where she happily eats her way across the Valley to discover the best hidden gems, hole-in-the-walls, pizza joints, and the latest Phoenix food trends. She also loves to pick Valley chef’s brains for their favorite food finds. On her website,, she posts one thing she’s looking forward to each day, from food to books and podcasts.
Contact: Allison Young