You can't go wrong with a classic, like this split from Realeza Michoacana.EXPAND
You can't go wrong with a classic, like this split from Realeza Michoacana.
Jacob Tyler Dunn

4 Great Places for Desserts in Metro Phoenix

With the end of the heaviest days of summer finally in sight, you may want to double down on your intake of sweets, to revisit favorite pies and ice creams before fall comes. What could be better than a boozy hand pie with some barbecue, or a horchata paleta to cool the heat of a few incendiary barbacoa tacos? Here, we give you four great places for sweets in metro Phoenix.

Paleta quintet
Paleta quintet
Chris Malloy

Realeza Michoacana
2520 North 16th Street
Summer is paleta season in metro Phoenix. Paletas are Mexican ice pops. They can have a base of fruit juice or milk, are shaped in molds, and contain, when done to their potential, chunks of fruit and minimal sugar. A great place for these frozen treats is the neveria and palateria Realeza Michoacana on 16th Street. Flavors include tamarind, guava, cantaloupe, rice, and pistachio. Of the dozens, tamarind is one of the best. Once you've gotten close to the stick, you can see how the brown pop's long fingers of frost crystals project like stalactites to the frozen edges. The cream-based flavors don't bring that same ahhhhhhhhhhh, but the rice paleta is stellar — big on the lush, fragrant flavors latent in the rice, and light on sweetness.

The pastry case on a recent afternoon
The pastry case on a recent afternoon
Chris Malloy

sweetDee’s Bakeshop
7350 East Stetson Drive, Suite C101, Scottsdale

SweetDee’s, a new bake shop in Old Town Scottsdale, is churning out some of the more innovative pastries in metro Phoenix. You might be surprised by a long-risen creme brulee doughnut, a peanut butter and jelly doughnut coated with a fuchsia dusting of freeze-dried raspberries, or a bourbon-plum-chai-latte-orange-blossom "cruffin" — a croissant-muffin hybrid. Owner Danielle O’Day, a self-taught baker, "always" has cream puffs, macarons, croissants, doughnuts, cookies, and various small cakes in her front display. Some of these sweets keep things more classic; some veer more into the new. “It’s heavily French-inspired,” she says of her style. “We wanted to do heavily French with a modern twist.” Roughly 50 percent are gluten-free, including almond flour doughnuts, and some sweets are vegan.

A highly photogenic neon wall greets customers at Unbaked in Old Town Scottsdale.
A highly photogenic neon wall greets customers at Unbaked in Old Town Scottsdale.
Meagan Mastriani

3712 North Scottsdale Road, Building A, #101, Scottsdale

Metro Phoenix’s first brick-and-mortar shop selling edible cookie dough has landed. Specialties at Unbaked include classic chocolate chip (and a vegan version), sugar cookie, gluten-free peanut butter, brownie batter, and four more varieties, as well as seasonal rotations. Unbaked uses heat-treated flour to avoid the bacteria that normally makes raw cookie dough unsafe to eat. Most flavors don’t have eggs in them. Since eggs function as a binding agent in traditional dough recipes, the chefs at Unbaked achieve a similar result by partially melting butter and whipping it with sugar. Unbaked's chefs are experimenting with new recipes that have pasteurized eggs, still okay to eat raw but with the extra benefit of being bakeable. The idea is for guests to get a pint to go, take it home, and eat some dough while their cookies are in the oven.

Closeup of tiny pies.
Closeup of tiny pies.
Allison Trebacz

Hugo’s Hand Pies AZ
@HugosPiesAZ. hugoshandpies@gmail.com

Hugo’s Hand Pies AZ creates pies of many sizes, most of them small, and many powered by booze. The bakery doesn’t have a physical bakery yet. For now, you can order Melissa Tu’anaki’s creations online or find them at select Valley farmers markets. These are pies for grownups, with complex flavors that have a tendency to use alcohol to reach an extra dimension. Tu’anaki has an apple pie with a bourbon bite and a margarita pie with notes of tequila. She has been experimenting with savory pies, both boozy and non-boozy, including a steak and stout pie as well as a potato, curry, and cauliflower pie. She has featured more traditional pies, like sweet potato pie. She also bakes more inventive pies, like Mexican chocolate with dulce de leche with whipped cream. Tu’anaki can do just about any kind of pie – just don’t expect it to be boring.

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