Realeza Michoacana2520 North 16th Street
Summer is paleta season in metro Phoenix. Paletas, or Mexican ice pops, have a base of fruit juice or milk, are shaped in molds, and contain — when made to their full 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. 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.
Sweet Dee’s Bakeshop7350 East Stetson Drive, Suite C101, Scottsdale
Sweet Dee’s 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, keeps the cream puffs, macarons, croissants, doughnuts, cookies, and various small cakes in her front display. Roughly 50 percent are gluten-free, including almond flour doughnuts, and some sweets are vegan.
Unbaked3712 North Scottsdale Road, Building A, #101, Scottsdale
Unbaked uses heat-treated flour to avoid the bacteria that normally makes raw cookie dough unsafe to eat. Most flavors don’t include eggs, since they function as a binding agent in traditional dough recipes, so the chefs at Unbaked achieve a similar result by partially melting butter and whipping it with sugar. The delicious specialties here include classic chocolate chip (and a vegan version), sugar cookie, gluten-free peanut butter, brownie batter, and seasonal rotations.
Editor's note: This story was originally published on August 13, 2018. It was updated on September 3, 2020. Find more dessert shops in our Phoenix Restaurant Directory.