Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream at Rocky RD Ice Cream Co.
Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream at Rocky RD Ice Cream Co.

We have a motto here at Sedona Monthly: Life is too short to skip dessert. Indulge your sweet tooth this summer with these nine northern Arizona treats. Go ahead and try them all. We won’t tell anyone.




When Ellie Shugrue was a kid, her favorite movie was The Parent Trap. In the flick, the twin girls eat Oreo cookies dipped in peanut butter, so Ellie had to try it. She quickly became obsessed with the chocolate-peanut-butter combination, so when restaurateur and mom Lisa Shugrue opened The Hudson in 2015, she wanted a dessert on the menu that reflected Ellie’s tastes. (Ellie is now 19 and a student at University of Arizona.) Executive Chef Jeff Storcz came up with Ellie’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie, and we have at least one person on our staff who orders it every time she visits the restaurant – even if she’s on a diet. The pie’s foundation is an Oreo crust. That’s topped with peanut-butter mousse, bittersweet chocolate ganache and whipped cream. Not decadent enough? There’s more chocolate ganache served on the side, this time in the form of balls coated with cookie crumbs. The entire dessert rests in a pool of dark chocolate sauce. All we can say is, thanks, Ellie. THE HUDSON, 671 AZ-179 at Hillside Sedona (928-862-4099/www.thehudsonsedona.com)


Not only can The Haunted Group’s Michelle Jurisin make one of the best pizzas in northern Arizona (witness the popularity of Pizzeria Bocce), she’s also the tiramisu queen. Her family recipe includes lady-finger biscuits soaked in coffee liqueur topped with ricotta and vanilla cheese custard. It’s dusted with cocoa powder to finish. And the surprise ingredient that makes this staff swoon? Chocolate chips. Enough said. Enjoy this decadence in the cozy and romantic European-style atmosphere at Nic’s Italian Steak & Crab House. We’re talking exposed-brick walls, cheeky European advertisements, oversized booths and low lighting. Luckily, the tiramisu is big enough to share with your date. NIC’S ITALIAN STEAK & CRAB HOUSE, 925 N. Main St. in Old Town Cottonwood (928-634-9626/www.nicsaz.com)


Shawn Murphy, sous-chef at REDS Restaurant, says he’s been making a version of his signature Erotica dessert for 20 years now. The enticingly titled treat features an oat-and-pecan crust topped with chocolate ganache studded with tart cherries. That layer is topped with a salted-macadamia-nut butter cream. The concoction is drizzled with chocolate sauce and served with a mixture of macerated fresh berries. This one is rich, folks. We share a slice of Erotica after we’ve nibbled on the bar menu at one of the community tables in REDS’ lounge. It doesn’t feel quite so indulgent to order one of these bad boys after you’ve noshed on a small plate of mushroom tacos or fish sliders. REDS RESTAURANT, 2250 W. AZ-89A at Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa in West Sedona (928-340-5321/www.sedonarouge.com)


Ever since it opened its doors on April Fool’s Day in 2016, Shift Kitchen & Bar has been focused on showcasing seasonal ingredients. This means the menu – including the dessert offerings – changes every few weeks. If you’re lucky, you’ll belly up to the chef’s bar the night that the Jalapeno Granita is being offered. Pastry chef and restaurant co-owner Dara Rodger’s icy-cold dessert showcases jalapeno and lime granita with blueberry custard, honey meringues and corn puree. We love how the dessert epitomizes the desert – and summer – with its colors, rough texture and sweet-and-spiciness. We also appreciate that it’s a visual masterpiece. “Everything we do here – whether its savory or sweet – is inspired by the Arizona growing season,” says Dara. “In the summer, it’s all about corn. I’ll try anything with corn.” SHIFT KITCHEN & BAR, 107 N. San Francisco St. in downtown Flagstaff (928-440-5135/www.shiftflg.com)


When it’s hot – and right now, it’s very hot – we gravitate toward refreshing desserts, which is why we are all about the Mango Madness at Enchantment Resort’s Tii Gavo restaurant. (Okay, we also have a serious love affair with the views, but we digress.) This stunner features lime pound cake, chilled mango soup and vanilla macerated mango. As a reminder that we’re in Arizona, it’s dusted with Tajin chili powder. The dessert comes from the creative mind of Enchantment’s new executive chef, Jose Martinez. Jose learned his love of cooking while running the kitchen at his family’s restaurant in his native Puerto Rico. Prior to moving to Sedona, Jose was the executive chef at The Roosevelt New Orleans. Tii Gavo is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and we’ve been known to splurge on this even in the middle of the day. If you’re lucky, you’ll score a seat by a window or on the deck where the views of Boynton Canyon almost rival the gorgeous cuisine. TII GAVO, 525 Boynton Canyon Road at Enchantment Resort (928-282-2900/www.enchantmentresort.com)


Sicilian-born chef and restaurant owner Salvatore Moscato started his culinary career at an early age: He worked in a pastry shop in his hometown of Vittoria when he was just 12. After cooking in Italy, New York, Puerto Rico and Sedona, Sal opened his own restaurant, Camp Verde’s Moscato Ristorante Italiano, in 2016. The dessert menu changes regularly, but the cannoli is a staple. The family recipe features a large homemade pastry shell filled with goat-cheese ricotta, sugar, cinnamon and orange zest. It’s elegant and chic, just like the restaurant. At this time of the year, we like to take a seat on Moscato’s colorful, comfortable patio and daydream about our next trip to Italy. MOSCATO RISTORANTE ITALIANO, 396 S. Main St. in Camp Verde (928-567-7417/www.moscatoitalian.com)


You’ve probably been told that you’ve never really tasted ice cream until you’ve had homemade, and the owners of Rocky RD Ice Cream Co. are doing their best to prove it. Paul and Erin Cummo, transplants from New York, opened the Village of Oak Creek shop in May 2017. Paul makes the ice cream on-site, and we’re big fans of the roasted-strawberry buttermilk flavor. Paul pan-roasts fresh strawberries to bring out their essence, and he adds buttermilk to the rest of the dairy ingredients because the tang counterbalances the sweetness of the berries. There are no artificial ingredients or colors in any of the ice cream flavors in this road-trip-themed shop. We order one (huge) scoop of ice cream in a waffle cone (baked in the shop, of course), but Rocky RD also offers bowls and cake cones. Then we grab a tall seat inside the old-fashioned parlor or sit outdoors on the colorful Adirondack chairs and let the ice cream melt away all of our cares. ROCKY RD ICE CREAM CO., 7000 AZ-179 at The Collective Sedona in the Village of Oak Creek (www.rockyrdicecream.com)


We love a good story, and this one goes something like this. In 1910, a French pastry chef named Louis Durand created a dessert for the organizer of a bicycle race between Paris and Brest (Brest is in the Brittany region). Chef Louis shaped the dessert to resemble bike wheels. And that road race? We know it as the Tour de France. When Brittany-native Franck Desplechin took over as the director of food and beverage at L’Auberge de Sedona, he created a special Paris-Brest dessert for the resort. (Most recently, Franck was the executive chef at The St. Regis San Francisco.) This mouthwatering beauty showcases puff pastries filled with hazelnut-and-pecan-praline-mousse cream (the 1910 recipe used almonds). As a nod to his new Arizona hometown, Franck tops the pastries with organic desert bee pollen. CRESS ON OAK CREEK, 301 L’Auberge Lane at L’Auberge de Sedona (855-702-0063/www.lauberge.com)


High-altitude cooking isn’t easy, and high-altitude baking is even harder. That’s why it took Jen Nagel-Pasich six months to perfect her crème brûlée recipe, which has been on the menu at The Asylum since shortly after it opened in 2001. Crème brûlée is one of those deceptively simple desserts, but any sweet tooth will tell you that it’s all about the texture. Jen’s concoction is made with three different sugars, including Sugar in the Raw, in order to give the thick crust the perfect crackle, smack and shatter. Fresh blackberries are all that’s required to make this dessert delish. The Asylum is located inside of the spooky (and reportedly haunted) Jerome Grand Hotel, which was built in 1926 as United Verde Hospital. We like to sit near the windows that look out over the Verde Valley and Sedona while enjoying our brûlée with a dessert wine from the restaurant’s award-winning list. THE ASYLUM RESTAURANT, 200 Hill St. in Jerome (928-639-3197/www.asylumrestaurant.com)

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