Despite social pressures and the insistence of the food industry to refrain from eating sugar, the love of sweets is innate in humans. According to one study, sugar is the energy source “preferred by most or all herbivores and omnivores”. On top of that, sweetness has become associated with positive feelings, just look at all the sweet terms of endearment, from honey to candy pie, from baby cakes to muffins.
All this to say that it is perfectly natural to be excited to browse the last section of the menu. And, a small aside, it turns out that the desserts were not always retained until the last course. In Ottoman Turkey and Renaissance Italy, dessert was interspersed with dishes. The first mentions of dessert as a last course in France date back to the 14th century, but it wasn’t until the 17th century that dessert became the name of the last course, derived from the French word serviser, which means “to clean the table.”
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Another plot twist: the dessert course was not always characterized by a sweet finish, the definition at one point was simply that it had to be cold and “the most visually exciting part of the meal”.
In the mid to late 19th century, dessert became synonymous with sweet, and that’s the definition I’m adopting here.
Here are sweets so good they don’t need to be relegated to the end of a meal, they’re worth seeking out for themselves.
From luxurious fluffy desserts to unusual macaroons, these are the must-try desserts to order in Scottsdale.
Weft and warp: Literally any dessert
This restaurant, located inside the Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows, deserves a dessert tasting. Go hungry and order one of each of Chef Morgan Malzahn’s creations. She’s a magician when it comes to balancing tastes and textures and the menu focuses on Arizona ingredients and changes seasonally. So, if you see a dessert that looks interesting, don’t delay in trying it.
A regular menu item you really have to try is the Little r&r, which stands for little rhubarb and raspberry. On a Breton shortbread hazelnut butter, Malzahn layers a creamy, a raspberry rhubarb consommé and a mirror of rhubarb infused with thyme with a mirror of ruby vinegar. It’s a sweet juxtaposition of blond chocolate and rhubarb tart with a hint of herbal sparkle. The texture is also gorgeous as the crunch of the sable crust balances out the creamy top.
Details: 6114 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale. 480-214-4622, andazscottsdale.com/dining.
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Call Her Martina: Chimichanga Cheesecake
Crispy, creamy and sweet sum up this fabulous dessert – a fried tortilla with a cheesecake filling and sprinkles of cinnamon and sugar. He arrives at the table cut in half, backed by two scoops of vanilla ice cream. The whole plate is drizzled with Argentinian dulce de leche. Although fried, this treat isn’t heavy and it’s easy to come back for another bite and then another before it’s all gone.
Details: 7135 E. Camelback Road, #165, Scottsdale. 480-687-8592, callhermartina.com.
JL Pâtisserie: Earl Gray Macaroon
Pastry chef Jenna Leurquin’s macarons have the perfect texture and flavor, so you can pick one and be happy, but the Earl Gray is special. The color of the macaroon is a cross between purple and gray. As you bite into it, the shell resists slightly before giving in and letting its chewy texture mingle with the Earl Gray ganache inside. The famous British black tea is flavored with oil of bergamot, a pear-shaped yellow-green citrus fruit, and that subtle flavor emanates. Buy extra macaroons and freeze them. They last a few months.
Details: 7342 E. Shea Blvd, Suite 108, Scottsdale. 480-859-4459, jlpatisserie.com. Also at 4700 N. Central Ave., Suite 121, Phoenix.
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BEG Bakery & Creamery: Soft Serve Ice Cream
BEG stands for butter-free, egg-free and gluten-free. The treats are all vegan with several gluten-free options. You might be skeptical. But the ice cream and baked goods are some of the best in the world. If this is your first visit to the family bakery, grab a free sample of chocolate or vanilla ice cream. If you’re more of a variety, that’s the spice of life, try a swirl of both. You might consider just tasting and discarding the rest. But you’ll soon find that you need a second bite to confirm that he has been this creamy and yet another because you want more sweet, rich decadence. After wolfing down the sample, you’ll want to opt for a full cone or cup. Add-ons are also available, from marshmallow sauces, brownies to gummy bears. The bakery also offers cupcakes, muffins, cookies, brownies and cinnamon rolls.
Details: 3030 N. 68th St., Scottsdale. 480-590-0021, begbakery.com.
Aloha Cakes AZ: Guava Cupcake
Aloha Bakery started when owner and baker Nenita Linton, originally from Hilo, Hawaii, asked too many favors from her mother and sister. She used to ask them to bring her favorite cake from Hawaii whenever they came. Tired of carrying cake on long flights, one day they refused. Linton made it his mission to learn how to bake cakes that reminded him of home and Aloha Cakes AZ was born.
Be sure to share her guava cupcake with someone. You will want to share the pleasure and the surprise of the first bite. The ethereal light chiffon cake is filled with guava, covered with a guava glaze and drizzled with a guava glaze, the sweetness and tartness of which gently cut through the taste buds. The wetsuit transports you to the tropics.
During the summer, the bakery only takes online orders. Check the website for the Fall Farmers’ Market schedule.
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