Got a sweet tooth? We’ve scoured the country for the most interesting sweet shops that specialise in a signature item, and we’re not talking ice cream and cupcakes. Ever had a peach and green chilli-flavoured doughnut? How about a frappucheesecake drink or Texas-style banana pudding-flavoured popcorn? We run down the most delicious gourmet desserts to be found in Abu Dhabi and Dubai
This home-grown shop specialises solely in lava cakes. Served up in small glass jars, these treats are easy to transport – and even easier to love. They come in three bases – chocolate, white chocolate and red velvet – and are filled with a variety of flavours that includes almond, lemon, pistachio, coconut, hazelnut, marshmallow and peanut butter. The liquid filling oozes when you dig into these moist, warm desserts.
Dh20 per jar. Molten Me is in Darwish Tower on Muroor Road in Abu Dhabi. A second location is scheduled to open in March in Dubai in Wasl Vita. Visit www.moltenme.com
This family-run sweet shop offers gourmet doughnuts in flavours we’re sure you’ve never thought of before. While you will see typical flavours such as Boston creme, glazed and chocolate, it’s much more fun to try the exotic ones – green tea and black pepper, or peach and green chillies, anyone? The shop also sells excellent handmade gelato.
Dh14 per doughnut. Love Doughnuts is in Abu Dhabi on Muroor Road and World Trade Center Mall. Expansion plans include London and Dubai. Visit www.lovedoughnuts.com
Pie Face Bakery
This Australian bakery, which offers both sweet and savoury handmade mini pies, opened its first store in the Middle East in Yas Mall in December. Among the sweet flavours are pecan, lemon, raspberry, white chocolate and apple crumble. While the sweet pies are easy to identify, each of the savoury pies is designed with a different face on top to distinguish what’s inside.
Dh8 for a mini pie or Dh20 for three (party packs are available). The bakery is at Yas Mall and Dubai Marina Walk; future shops are confirmed for Abu Dhabi Mall, Al Wasl Road in Dubai and a second branch at Yas Mall. Visit www.facebook.com/PieFaceME
Bee’s Knees Baking Company
This shop started in New York and opened its first international location in Abu Dhabi last summer. While it does sell salads, quiches, bagels and bakery items, the signature item in this shop is the cake-cup. Moist cake crumbs combined with the convenience (and portion size) of a cupcake. Everyday favourites include chocolate salted caramel, red velvet, date cake, chai cake and carrot cake; the shop also offers seasonal flavours that change through the year. Available now are coconut grapefruit, apple spice, gingerbread eggnog and lemon raspberry. We’re sure you’ll find your favourite flavour – in fact, we haven’t found one yet that we didn’t like. A second location is scheduled to open in Dubai this year.
Dh22 per cake-cup. Bee's Knees Baking Company is located in the Nation Galleria Mall, Corniche. Visit www.beeskneesuae.com
This shop, a concept that started in Abu Dhabi, specialises in cheesecake, of course, but it also sells cake pops plus other cakes and desserts. You can get 20 different flavours of cheesecake, each packed into small or large shot glass-shaped containers. Flavours include saffron, date, cherry with crumble, pistachio, red velvet, blueberry and more. It even has sugar-free chocolate and vanilla. The shop also sells frappucheesecake drinks — different flavours of cheesecake blended with ice and topped with whipped cream.
Small cheesecakes are Dh10, large are Dh14. At Al Wahda Mall, Mushrif Mall, Al Raha Mall, the Spar store in Khalidiya Centre, Al Marasy, and there's one scheduled to open this week in Khalidiyah Mall. Visit www.cheesecake.ae
Head to this shop to try one of France’s most beloved treats, the eclair. This home-grown shop in Jumeirah Lakes Towers has perfected the art of carefully crafted eclairs, which come in a range of 15 flavours. Choose from dark chocolate, Japanese green matcha tea, raspberry, lemon, rose and pistachio, blood orange and cardamom, mint chocolate and more. The shop offers seasonal and limited-edition flavours as well.
Mini eclairs are Dh8.50 and regular eclairs are Dh19 each. Éclair is located in Cluster Y, Lake Shore Towers in Jumeirah Lakes Towers. It's the only Eclair in the world at the moment, but we've been told there are plans to expand. Visit www.eclair.ae
This cafe – home-grown in Dubai – specialises in Asian mochi. Mochi is a Japanese treat beloved by both kids and adults. The list of 20 flavours includes caramel pudding, pistachio, strawberry cheesecake, mixed berry, banana, green tea and chocolate. It even offers the more unusual red bean, corn and custard flavours. The treats are frozen, then thawed for five minutes before eating.
Dh12 per mochi. Edo Cafe has two locations in Dubai: Mirdif City Center and City Walk. There are plans to expand across the Gulf region. Visit www.edosweets.com
The Nutella Bar
For a slice of Nutella heaven, hit The Nutella Bar at Eataly in The Dubai Mall. It serves a range of treats that will satisfy those with even the strongest Nutella obsession. The hazelnut-and-cocoa spread was created in the 1940s when Pietro Ferrero tried to extend his limited wartime chocolate supply using hazelnuts. Nutella is made with skimmed milk and has no artificial colours or preservatives so you can feel good about that, but we’re not saying this is healthy. At the Nutella Bar, you can get a variety of Nutella-filled delights: Eataly’s homemade rustic bread, crêpes, brioche, muffins, and bacio de dama — hazelnut cookies sandwiched together with Nutella.
Treats start at Dh12. The Nutella Bar is at The Dubai Mall. For more information, call 04 330 8899
Yet another home-grown concept, Rice Creamery came about when a group of friends — all from different cultural backgrounds — sat down to talk about their favourite desserts from childhood. The one they all had in common? Rice pudding. This shop’s slogan is: rice pudding your grandmother would be proud of. There are 21 flavours with playful names such as Take Me on a Date, Choco Loco, Nutty About Nutella and Psssstachio. If the creamy goodness of the pudding isn’t enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, add one (or more) of the 36 different toppings such as brownie bites, Turkish delight, chocolate-chip cookies, coconut or M&M candies.
Dh18 for a small pudding. Rice Creamery is located at City Walk in Dubai. A second location will open in Dalma Mall, Abu Dhabi, next month. Visit www.ricecreamery.com
Around the country
This Japanese confectionery brand has stores around the UAE and if you haven't tasted its buttery little biscuits, you need to try them today. There are 16 shops across Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and Al Ain and it will soon open two more. You can get delicate, rolled, plain butter biscuits, biscuits filled with – or covered in – chocolate or go for its range of flat biscuits. There are collections for every special occasion and the shop always has seasonal variations. Collections start at Dh110. Visit www.yokumokugulf.com
Though this cafe does offer other small bites and meals, Pappa Roti is most famous for its buns. You've surely seen this shop in one of its nearly 30 locations across the country and you may have wondered about that slogan: The Father of All Buns. It will likely take just one bite of this signature bun to keep you coming back for more. The thin, crispy exterior – which comes from the coffee- caramel butter topping – is just the right amount of sweet, while the puffy, soft inside is a flavoursome buttery fluff. One bun is Dh11 and worth every dirham (and every calorie). The franchise started in Malaysia in 2003 and now has more than 400 locations around the world. For locations in the UAE, visit www.papparoti.ae
Gourmet popcorn is a trend we’re loving and it appears to be gaining momentum around the country. Here are our two favourite shops that specialise in this addictive snack.
Sunny’s Pop was started by Sunny Landeros, an American mum with five children. This home-grown store, located in Dubai Investment Park, sells sweet, savoury and candied popcorn in nearly 50 different flavours. Savoury popcorn includes Cajun, dill pickle, pizza, honey mustard and sour cream with chives. There’s plenty for those with a sweet tooth, such as white-chocolate Oreo, strawberry cheesecake, Texas-style banana pudding, or candied flavours such as blueberry, bubblegum, cherry and banana cream. Sunny’s Pop produces all of its flavours right at the store, which has just three employees. The shop also sells a variety of flavoured candy floss.
Dh15 for a small bag, Dh30 for a bucket. At Dubai Investment Park. Visit www.facebook.com/sunnyspopme
POParazzi’s Popcorn is an American concept from Houston, Texas. The shop, which just has two locations in Houston, now has two shops in Dubai – Dubai Festival City and Ibn Battuta Mall – one in Abu Dhabi at Centrepoint, Marina Mall and there are five more planned for locations around the UAE. Choose from 15 flavours of salty goodness that include jalapeño cheese, zaatar, red velvet and birthday cake. Each month, these popcorn artisans will offer a different flavour so you’ll never run out of new tastes to try (this month it’s dill pickle). The shop says it has more than 100 flavours in its recipe bank and it will be introducing them one by one to the region. We’ll be waiting.
Prices range from Dh17 to Dh35. At Dubai Festival City and Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai and Centrepoint, Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi. Visit www.poparazzispopcorn.com