By Alison Bailin Batz
Do you miss going trick-or-treating now that you’re a grown-up? Well, miss it no more, as some local restaurants offer sweet treats, each with a deliciously tricky twist. Whether the tricks are played on the eyes, nose or taste buds, you can expect the unexpected when ordering dessert at the following 10 restaurants.
The Treat: Warm Peanut Butter Cup, $7
The Trick: Here’s a melty, gooey Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup – with a twist! This sinfully tricky treat starts with a rich peanut butter mousse and is topped with a scoop of homemade chocolate ice cream in the center, giving the effect of an actual Reese’s cup, with the appearance of being inside out. A bonus: The chef makes his own peanut butter cookies to go with each “cup,” so the dessert also acts like a sweet dip for the cookies. 2 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix; 602.324.8502; www.foxrc.com.
The Treat: Churros Rellenos de Cajeta de Cabra, $10
The Trick: Everyone loves churros – traditionally deep fried and portable. But these are a little different, in the best possible way. Rather than simply coating them with cinnamon and handing them to guests, Barrio fills them with cajeta – or caramelized goat milk – and tops them with two heaping scoops of vanilla ice cream and candied pecans. 2814 N. 16th St., Phoenix; 602.636.0240; www.barriocafe.com.
The Treat: S’mores, $10
The Trick: Sure, several Valley hot spots serve “elevated s’more” dishes, but not many give you the chance to fire them up yourself in a personal tableside cauldron. The marshmallows and graham crackers boast a little surprise as well – each are handcrafted daily by an on-site pastry chef. 6107 N. 7th St., Phoenix; 480.750.0506; www.campsocial.com.
The Treat: Chocolate Mousse Tower, $10
The Trick: The granddaddy of tricky desserts, this iconic tower of tastiness has been shocking and aweing guests for over a decade. This half-foot tall dessert, a literal tower of sweet and creamy goodness, not only defies gravity, but hides three different kinds of chocolate within. 2502 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix; 602.522.2344; www.christophersaz.com.
The Treat: Carrot Custard, $9
The Trick: It’s carrot cake – or is it? This deconstructed and playful twist on its more traditional cousin is a dessert tailor-made for fall, featuring chilled layers of homemade carrot custard, coconut creme and candied walnuts, each reminiscent of flavors found in carrot cake. But the chef also adds layers of waffle crisps for crunch and Thai tea gelée, which results in an added level of complexity and texture. At Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 N. Galvin Pkwy., Phoenix; 480.719.8600; www.gertrudesrestaurant.net.
The Treat: Strawberry Tacos
The Trick: It might look like you’re about to enjoy a traditional taco Tuesday when you see this plate, but this dish is actually a dreamy strawberry lime cheesecake topped with strawberry lime salsa and nestled into a white chocolate-dipped (and fried) tortilla. Oh, and the kick at the end is the hint of Patron XO the chef sneaks onto the plate as an added surprise. At Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, 7575 E. Princess Drive, Scottsdale; 480.585.4848; www.scottsdaleprincess.com.
The Treat: Ice Cream Macaron, $3.75 each
The Trick: Usually, macarons are filled with a luscious cream or jelly, but these have a supercool surprise inside – rich, delicious ice cream. Thicker and frostier than traditional macaroons, they come in five flavors including traditional vanilla or strawberry as well as the more exotic options of mango, coffee and green tea. 15323 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale; 480.948.1099; www.lemacaron-us.com.
The Treat: Ancho Chile Torte, $8
The Trick: This gluten-free treat (a trick itself) has an unexpected element in each delicious bite – locally sourced, and very potent, ancho chili powder. The powder not only adds unexpected spice to the dessert, but it exponentially enhances the dark chocolate torte’s flavor. And that’s before it is topped with amaretto, cinnamon-infused whipped cream and fresh berries. 4800 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale; 480.947.0795; www.roaringfork.com.
The Treat: Bananas Foster Beignets, $7
The Trick: Everyone’s favorite Big Easy dessert has a secret center at Salty Sow: bananas! Topped with cane syrup, honey and nutmeg ice cream to enhance the sweetness of the banana, at first glance these may look like the traditional New Orleans favorite, but they have a taste all their own. 4801 E. Cactus Road, Phoenix; 602.795.9463; www.saltysow.com.
The Treat: Snowy Forest, $10
The Trick: This dish includes cocoa “soil” (powdered cocoa), arugula pearls, broken meringue, wild berry sorbet, flowers, and blood orange “snow” – they use a special process to make orange gelée look like snow – all arranged to look like an actual snowy forest, even smelling a bit floral. It tricks and tantalizes each of the senses from the time it arrives at the table to the time you finish the last bite. 4925 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale; 480.424.6095; www.thescottresort.com.