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Arizona's Best Sweets: Phoenix

Paletas Betty-red
Fresa, or strawberry, paleta / Credit: Paletas Betty
Paletas Betty-yellow
Piña, or pineapple, paleta / Credit: Paletas Betty

From gooey, chewy cookies to fruit-packed paletas, Arizona has plenty of reasons to eat dessert first. Here, we round up some of the best sweets in the Phoenix metro area. Also be sure to check out our stories about the Best Sweets in Flagstaff and the Best Sweets in Tucson.

Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcake at 21 Cakes

This cupcake delicately balances the sweet of caramel frosting with the tang of sea salt, a flavor combination enhanced by just the right amount of perfectly moist chocolate cake.

In her youth, 21 Cakes owner Kathy Marx debated between art school and culinary school, and the display case at her shop in Scottsdale benefits accordingly.

Chocolate-dipped moon pie at The Bakery Phx

Using only real butter, sugar and cream, owner Lisa Levinson creates treats in her Phoenix shop that are elegant (cakes enveloped by rosettes of frosting), fun (think Hostess cupcake lookalikes) and just plain delicious (key lime pie and sugar cookies, anyone?).

But the menu item that is truly out of this world is the chocolate-dipped moon pie, which consists of two chocolate chip cookies that hug a center of homemade marshmallow fluff.

French Mints at Cerreta Candy Company

Like Willy Wonka, Cerreta Candy Company offers a mouthwatering dose of nostalgia at its Glendale store. Go for the Arizona-inspired candies and stay for a complimentary tour of the factory. Family-owned and operated for more than 40 years, Cerreta Candy Company hits all the sweet notes with chocolate, toffee, fudge, caramel corn and more.

The candy that put Cerreta's on the map? Simple, elegant French Mints – rectangular blocks of cool mint chocolate encased in rich milk chocolate. The French might reserve them for après dinner bites, but Arizonans are apt to munch them anytime.

 

Raspberry Cream Cheese Pie at Mamma Toledo's

"It's so good, I can eat an entire 10-inch pie by myself," Mamma Toledo's owner Tonya Saidi says of this sweet, tart pastry. "And I have done that a few times."

For Saidi, pie is more than dessert. It's a way to bring people together, from her daughters who work with her to customers who have sponsored new flavors. Look for the shop's food truck around town, or drop by the brick-and-mortar store in north Phoenix for daily offerings of pie slices, mini-pies and cheesecake.

Coco Paleta at Paletas Betty

Chandler's answer to Arizona's legendary warm temperatures is Paletas Betty, where cooling off is as delicious as biting into one of the ice pops known as paletas. Made with fresh fruit and occasionally cream, coffee, chocolate and other delicacies, the pops come in a variety of flavors. "Nuez or coco is incredible,” says co-owner Alvin Hong. "They are labor-intensive and require two days to press out the nut milk."

Looking for something to sip instead? Go for agua vita, a healthy answer to agua fresca with an antioxidant-rich base of white tea muddled with fresh ingredients.

Mesquite Chocolate Chip Cookie at Super Chunk Sweets & Treats

Super Chunk has been making waves in the confectionary world since husband-and-wife team Country and Sergio Velador opened the shop in Scottsdale four years ago. The John & Yoko (cinnamon tres leches cake topped with honey and mascarpone) has been featured on HGTV and the Travel Channel.

But it's the Mesquite Chocolate Chip Cookie that earns the biggest raves thanks to its uniquely Sonoran Desert ingredients. The cookie, made with Arizona mesquite flour, has been called out by Mental Floss magazine as the state's finest.

Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream at Sweet Republic

As one of the Phoenix area's first artisan ice cream shops, Sweet Republic has been winning over palates since 2008. Its secret to success? Combining creative genius with a small-batch, from-scratch, all-natural approach to ice cream.

Ice cream flavors change with the seasons, but the Salted Butter Caramel has been a bestseller since Sweet Republic opened. Pair your scoop with one of the cookies, toffees, marshmallows or sea-salt caramels also on offer.

Elizabeth Exline

About the Author: Elizabeth Exline

Elizabeth Exline is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in local and national publications.

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