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Battle of the Flan

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Enough with the chocolate lava cakes, already! Here's a tip: When Dominos rolls out a dessert, it's time to take it off your Michelin-starred restaurant's menu.

While we're suckers for anything sweet, we much prefer the delicate flavor of flan, the creamy custard that was making its way onto colorful ceramic dessert plates long before we'd ever heard of a "pizza cookie." This week, we sampled traditional Spanish-style flan at two local Mexican restaurants in hopes of finding one that's muy delicioso.

In One Corner: Rosita's Fine Mexican Food
960 W. University Dr. in Tempe
480-966-0852

    

Valle Luna is another mainstay in Phoenix's Mexican family restaurant scene. The Chandler branch is perched on a man-made lake, making the back patio a prime spot on fair weather days. Inside, the restaurant sports Mexican-inspired Southwest decor. Look for adobe walls, Spanish tile roofs propped up by rough-hewn timber, and even a faux chiminea.

Valle Luna's known for its Sonoran-style grub, which generally means one thing: fried. We weren't sure how that could possibly translate to a creamy dessert until the flan arrived garnished with cinnamon-dusted tortilla chips. The flan was darker and even more textural in appearance than Rosita's version. (We tend to be wary of any restaurant flan that has a perfectly smooth surface, as that can mean store bought. So "textured" is a good thing.)

The flan was dense and rich. By itself, the egg-based dessert wasn't cloyingly sweet, though the addition of the silky whipped cream and caramel syrup kicked the sugar content up a notch. The interior texture was very smooth. The overall flavor was dulce de leche, with just a hint of egg in the textured outer layer of the flan. All in all, a delicious dessert.

This was one of the tougher battles because both desserts were solid and enjoyable. But the coconut flavor propelled one flan to victory. 

The Winner: Rosita's

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