So you’re craving something sweet but fear the calorie-worthiness risky. Good news! Living in the Valley of the Sun positions yourself comfortably in close proximity to lots of natural, nutritious, locally-grown ingredients, which are incorporated into many delicious desserts – giving you a solid reason to trust in upping your summer caloric intake. So smile, scream – whatever you do – dig in on these special sweet treats before summer ends!
1. Crêpe Bar
Chirked up by a gloriously garnished Parisian Nutella crêpe – now heralded on the menu as “First Time” – multi-award-winning Crêpe Bar was established in 2012 by local culinary arts champion and Tempe chef Jeff Kraus, and has since become a hub for some of the most impressive crêpes in the Valley. On August 9, Jeff Kraus Crêpe Bar Day became a designated holiday by the City of Tempe. Everything is house-made, including the lemon curd that tops the Buckwheat Crêpe and Honey, a favorite of Kraus’s, or the “Second Time” crepe, which is the “First Time” plus marinated strawberries. To add to his decadent desserts, Kraus has branched out into small-batch ice cream making this summer. Check out the fried chocolate crêpes chips dusted with smoked salt & sugar and complement it with a scoop of butter pecan ice cream.
7520 S. Rural Rd., Tempe, 480-247-8012, crepe-bar.com
2. Sweet Republic
Lured by a passion for the culinary arts and a desire to make people happy, former NYC investment bankers Jan Wichayanuparp and Helen Yung teamed up and presented their unique (i.e. brown bread and/or sweet corn and bleu cheese – available seasonally) ice cream flavors to the Valley in 2008. Selective about using only the finest and freshest ingredients, many sourced from Arizona’s McClendon’s Select and Green Valley Pecans, Yung’s go-to is Rocky Road for it’s “contrast of soft marshmallows against crunchy almonds in luscious chocolate ice cream with chocolate chips.” Top it off with their house-made marshmallows and toasted chopped almonds and dark couverture chocolate. Check out the Eclair ice cream with choux pastry and fudge swirls in vanilla ice cream – limited time only!
2 Valley locations, sweetrepublic.com
3. Zak’s Chocolate
College sweeties and accounting students Maureen and Jim Elitzak found chocolate to be a lusciously lucrative creative outlet for their stuffy office day jobs. Eventually looking for “something new to dive into,” the Elitzaks opened up shop, and pulling from the ultima of their surname, dubbed it Zak’s Chocolate. Both Maureen and Jim confess they will often turn to their Peanut Butter Cup (made with PB local Americano) for a tasty mid-day boost while working in the shop. Close relationships with growers secure sustainably sourced cocoa from farms such as Belize Maya Mountain Cacao and Peru Marañon, where 10 years ago, a unique cocoa bean was re-discovered that was thought to be extinct for over 100 years. Get in now for the summer truffle flavors which include mango, ginger lime and white peach, and refresh with a unique 100 percent tropical cacao juice iced spritzer.
6990 E. Shea Blvd., Scottsdale, 480-607-6581, zakschocolate.com
4. Essence Bakery
Chef Eugenia Theodosopoulos freely admits her weakness for fruit, and is reminded of when, at age 13, she would bake pies in the kitchen of her father’s restaurant each day after school. In 2007, she opened Essence Bakery where she sources fresh, local garden goodies from McClendon Farms, J&H Ranch and many other local growers. This time of year is harvest season for one of her favorites – peaches! Through the month of August, she’s cooking up everything from peach tartes, tatin, pies and jam, but her summer specialty is definitely the organic peach coffee cakes. These delights are made from a rich, Danish croissant dough which requires a two-day process of folding butter and proofing, then they are topped off with – you guessed it – fresh organic peaches, along with a sprinkling of crunchy walnut streusel.
3830 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, 602-296-4958, essencebakery.com
5. Amadio Ranch
When Christina Amadio is not in the orchard picking fruits and vegetables, she is in the kitchen making homemade pies and concocting new recipes – just like her mom and grandmother did before her back in their home state of Illinois. In 2010, she and her husband opened the shop on their farm in Laveen, quickly realizing that, between harvesting, watering, digging and repairing, they weren’t always available to answer the door for customers. So they set up a self-serve stand where customers can simply drive up and buy pies on the honor system, where, seven days a week, you can pick a pie, leave your cash payment and make change – they also accept Venmo. The best pie this August is peach, naturally.
4701 W. Dobbins Rd., Laveen, 602-791-9633, amadioranch.com