The Guilty Pleasure: The Ultimate Sundae
Where to Get It: Sweet Republic
What it Really Costs: Pretty much every last drop of your self-control. The phrase "just one more spoonful" is a lie you will tell yourself, over and over, as you shovel this rich, melty foodstuff into your mouth.
Metro Phoenix is blessed with many fine ice cream shops. But it's probably fair to say that Sweet Republic holds a special place in the hearts of local ice cream devotees.
Sweet Republic co-owner and head ice cream chef Helen Yung offers a distinctively creative take on ice cream and sorbet that has, over the years, caught the attention of food world luminaries like Alton Brown, and earned shout-outs from glossy national mags like Sunset and Bon Appétit.
Yung and her team make everything on the Sweet Republic menu from scratch, and offer a selection of 20 or so flavors every day that strike a nice balance between exotic (including flavors like Peaberry Espresso and Blue Cheese and Date), and refined, gourmet takes on time-honored classics (Madagascar vanilla and Belgian chocolate, for example).
You probably wouldn't describe the shop's "Ultimate Sundae" as particularly refined, though. But, sometimes, dessert does not have to be refined. It simply needs to taste good.
The Ultimate Sundae at Sweet Republic is, indeed, very good. It's a minor four-scoop masterpiece, the kind of dessert treat that's so oversized, the person behind the counter will probably shoot you a look of slight concern when you order it. "It's very big," this person might warn you. To this, you'll simply nod and bravely accept the challenge that is the Ultimate Sundae.
It helps to bring along an eating partner, preferably an elementary school-aged kid, whose naturally high metabolic rate can easily burn through the mountains of creamy sugar and fat. In any case, the Ultimate Sundae was not designed to be eaten alone.
This sundae, it should be noted, does not come artfully arranged inside a tall, frosty tulip glass. It comes in a disposable aluminum pan, which might not seem as elegant, but it certainly makes it that much easier to shovel its contents into your mouth.
The sundae is stacked like a soft, gooey pyramid. At its base is a chewy, slightly dense chocolate chip walnut oatmeal cookie — made in-house, like everything else at Sweet Republic. You can choose your ice cream flavor; the ultra-rich Salted Butter Caramel Swirl works very well here.
Whatever flavor you choose, the sundae will be piled with four big, soft scoops of ice cream. The mounds of ice cream are then drizzled with ribbons of thick hot fudge and salted caramel sauce, the two of them mingling and vibrating with sweet-salty notes. Crumbly shards of sweet, homemade almond toffee brittle are piled on too, along with airy, sweet puffs of whip cream.
Oh, and there are brownies — big, soft rich chunks that tend to dissolve like sugar cubes in your mouth. There is no cherry on top, but there is a big marshmallow, which is melted to a soft char behind the counter by someone wielding a small butane torch.
This is probably not the ice cream sundae of your childhood memories, but that's okay. It's a grown-up, richly accessorized ice cream sundae that's nicely suited for adulthood. Still, bringing along a kid with a big appetite to help you eat it all comes highly recommended.