Cookies, pan dulce, and a latte.
Cookies, pan dulce, and a latte.
Chris Malloy

3 Places Making Decadent Sweets in Metro Phoenix

This town can be a great place to live if you have a sweet tooth. The heat and local creativity have given us, over the years, a highly developed ice cream culture. But today we're going to step away from the frozen stuff. Today we're going to look to doughy, starchy, unfrozen sweets, to desserts with puff and crunch, to three great places to get a sugar fix. Each of the three have roots in the Southwest or Mexico. Each brings subtlety, more than a mere blast of sugar. If you have a sweet tooth, you'll want to try all of them.

Pan dulce
Pan dulce
Chris Malloy

Gallo Blanco
928 East Pierce Street

Bet you weren't expecting to see Gallo Blanco on this list. The Garfield gem has added to its menu of Mexican specialties, assembling a thoughtful roster of coffees, cookies, and pan dulce. It all starts with the pan dulce, a Mexican sweet bread that owner Dough Robson says is eaten all the time for breakfast in Mexico. On a recent trip to Mexico City, his hometown, Robson downed pan dulce for breakfast just about every day. In Mexico, the classic bread varies from town to town. Cookies include standbys like chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and double chocolate. Robson developed his pan dulce, cookie, and latte recipes with Gallo Blanco's chef, Carlos Eizada. To go with the sweets (or not), Gallo now serves a line of coffee drinks made with beans from Presta Coffee Roasters in Tucson.

Tapia uses a unique family recipe to make biscochos, the New Mexico state cookie.
Tapia uses a unique family recipe to make biscochos, the New Mexico state cookie.
Gilbert Tapia

Cookie Brokers
1325 Grand Avenue, #1

Cookie Brokers, a new bakery on Grand Avenue, makes some unique versions of its namesake sweet. Take the Biscocho, the state cookie of New Mexico. Owner Gilbert Tapia uses a dash of Amaretto in the dough for depth of flavor, all part of his old family recipe. The dough is then molded to look like flowers. Later, cookies are tossed in cinnamon and sugar. Biscochos aren't the only unique family recipe at Cookie Brokers. A lemon cookie is made using a light-and-fluffy base with lemon icing on top. For those who prefer more conventional cookies, the bakery also offers peanut butter, M&M, oatmeal raisin, and chocolate chip. Tapia also makes bars using a cookie base. Creations such as Magic Bars are made with a graham-cracker-cookie crust, coconut, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and walnuts. A s'mores bar consists of marshmallow cream, graham crackers, and chocolate.

Churros come filled, dipped, drizzled, sprinkled, and more at Dulce Churro Cafe in Gilbert.
Churros come filled, dipped, drizzled, sprinkled, and more at Dulce Churro Cafe in Gilbert.
Meagan Mastriani

Dulce Churro Cafe
674 North Higley Road, #107, Gilbert

At Gilbert’s new Dulce Churro Cafe, churros are made in-house and to-order. Jared Naumann, who owns Dulce with his wife, Annie, always envisioned churro-making to be the shop's focus. Visitors are encouraged to watch as staff squeeze out the cylinders and loops of dough and drop them into frying oil. Another unique aspect of Dulce is the variety of customized options. Guests can choose from several shapes – such as the tube called the “grande,” loops, and bite-size pieces – as well as fillings, dips, and toppings. The range of possible creations includes a Nutella-stuffed churro dipped in chocolate and covered in Fruity Pebbles or a loop glazed with icing and coated in marshmallows. In addition to Spanish hot chocolate, Dulce also serves Cartel coffee and cold drinks, including horchata, lemonade with Caribbean vanilla, and a yerba mate infusion called terere, among others. Espresso drinks pair well with the sweets.

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