Sweet temptation has always been there. People have enjoyed fruits, nuts and honey since ancient times. Today, those ingredients are still among the basic elements used to craft tantalizing treats, yet celebrated chefs and global inspiration have happily pushed flavor boundaries beyond standard cookies and cakes. From classic cravings to artisan accents, here is a local look at Flagstaff’s sweetest things.
Truffles and Macaroons Forest Highlands Canyon Club spreads its confectionary perfection throughout downtown shops like Vino Loco and New Frontiers, making access easy. The Euro-flair is evident. The truffles are crafted from fine, tempered Swiss chocolate and filled with seasonal or inspiring ingredients like pale ale blonde buttercream or raspberry with dark and white chocolate. As for the macaroons, they are lighter and larger than their French counterparts. The chubby meringue sandwiches are smeared with matching buttercreams, which are whipped with heated syrup and eggs for a smooth center, and then, flavored with fruit, coffee or coconut.
Crème Brulée Cheesecake Pasto Cucina Italiana “employs Old World flavors with a modern flourish.” Their crème brulée cheesecake showcases this boast. Head chef Michael Long erects a sculpture of sugar icicles atop the velvety rich slice, which is strewn with coarse, sweetened graham crumbles. In this divine dessert, French classic custard meets Italian classic marscapone to produce pizazz on a plate. Sit in a window seat and tease passers-by with each decadent bite.
Tres Leches Cake Mexican cuisine can be a belly buster, but skip the chips and leave room for the tres leches cake at Café Ole. This traditional favorite is made with three milks as the name implies, suffusing the whole for one creamy concoction. Sweet and moist, the cake sponge sits among ripe, quartered strawberries and floats in clouds of cinnamon-dusted, whipped cream. Inspired by the folksy décor of the café, the tres leches cake transports guests South of the Border.
Mel i Mato Mediterranean touches and the cozy space at Madrid Tapas y Sangria encourage strangers to chat and become friends. It also feeds an adventurous Spanish spirit. After a few rounds of savory small plates, the mel i mato begs for its sweet turn. The soft puck of fresh goat cheese is surrounded by roasted, quartered figs and scattered with slivered almonds plus a drizzle of wildflower honey. The smooth cheese combines with the crunch of nuts and floral honey for dessert drama of the tastiest kind. Then, finish like the Spanish do with a shot of espresso. Fueled for another round on the town.
Flourless Mexican Chocolate Torte Josephine’s Modern American Bistro sits just above downtown in a historic home. There, Chef Tony Consentino serves up a fabulous finisher—the flourless Mexican chocolate torte. The dense slab of chocolate is roofed with ground almonds and slivered berries and nestled on a patterned palette of cream and raspberry puree. Ask Tony to pair a glass of something red with your dessert and linger, savoring the sensual fulfillment of one’s deepest, darkest chocolate dreams.
Dolce Calzone It’s not just about pizza and pasta at Fat Olives. The wood-fired oven stands like a bulwark in the kitchen, producing dough for piquant sauce and mozzarella or calzones, but one comes with an unexpected filling. The Dolce Calzone folds dough over chocolate hazelnut spread. It is served up as two massive slices, drizzled with fudgy sauce and candied walnuts plus a lava flow of sweet, whipped cream. It will curl the toes in delight.
Ancho Chocolate Flan With its strategic setting on Heritage Square, Cuvee 928 garners some serious foot traffic. Its arching glass windows invite patrons to watch the action on the square, but Chef James Hoffman’s evolving menu demands serious attention as well, even the sweet treats. Indulge, yet still keep it Latin light for dessert with the ancho chocolate flan. This silky egg custard is typically vanilla-flavored with caramel sauce. But this chocolate version floats in a puddle of caramel that takes a shot of tequila lime, bolstered with bruleéd strawberries plus a sprinkle of cocoa. The unusual pairing is a sweet heat surprise.
NAMLM Gail G. Collins