Paul: Paul does some of the best French pastries in the emirate. We’re particularly partial to anything involving seasonal fruit, puff pastry and custard: so enter the angalise abricots. The stewed fruits sit on top of a delicate layer of custard and a flaky, airy pastry square. So simple, yet so delicious.
Dhs13. Mercato, Jumeirah Beach Road (04 344 3505). Other locations: Mall of the Emirates (04 341 4844), Jumeirah Beach Residence (04 437 6494), Deira City Centre (04 295 8404), BurJuman (04 220 3360), Wafi (04 327 9669)
Al Reef Bakery: When it comes to Lebanese sweets, Al Reef is among the top purveyors in Dubai, and its baklava is out of this world. If you’re lucky, you might get to the bakery at the same time the sweet stuff pops out of the oven. If you do, you’re in store for some of the gooiest, warmest, crumbliest baklava in town.
Dhs55 per kg. Karama, near Post Office (04 396 1980); Al Wasl Road 04 394 5200
Zuma: Made with green tea, this moist specimen is then topped with a fan of thinly sliced, caramelised bananas and a sprinkling of crushed peanuts. In addition to its moist texture, the melding of flavours is makes this dish.
Dhs36. DIFC (04 425 5660)
Indego: These deep-fried beauties are iconic of celebrity chef Vineet Bhatia’s culinary style. The crisp triangles give way to a thick, oozing belly of masala-spiced dark chocolate, and come with a side of saffron kofi. Though pricey, they’re worth every dirham.
Dhs90. Grosvenor House (04 399 8888)
Bread and butter pudding
Rhodes Mezzanine: If nostalgia had a taste, it would taste like Gary Rhodes’ bread and butter pudding – for Brits, at least. It just may be the lightest and creamiest bread and butter pudding ever concocted. When he was last in town Rhodes told us that any attempt to take the item off the menu met with cries of protest. If he ever tries to pull that kind of dirty trick in Dubai, we’d be the first ones on the picket line.
Dhs65. Grosvenor House (04 399 8888)
The Edge: You may or may not get a millefeuille at The Edge, as they change the menu daily. The chef is accommodating though, so if you ask, he might just serve you one, made up of alternating layers of cream, chocolate and jelly. The pastry easily gives way to the stab of a fork before disintegrating in the mouth.
Part of the Dhs600 set menu at The Edge, DIFC (04 363 7770). Reservations required
Margaux: Margaux’s cheesecake is surely the best in town. It’s silken and cloudlike, and could almost double as mousse. The kitchen knows not to overload the dish, and serves it with a simple pool of wild berry coulis.
Dhs39. Souk Al Bahar (04 439 7555)
Manvaar: This Rajasthani sweet bears a striking resemblance to bread and butter pudding. It doesn’t possess many ingredients – basically, it’s flour, jiggery (a type of sugar cane) and ghee – but the combination makes for a rich, buttery dessert that will have you in raptures.
Dhs7. Karama, near the fish market (04 336 8332)
Sugar Daddy’s: They may look like they’ve been slapped together with plaster, but Sugar Daddy’s undoubtedly has some of the best cupcakes in town. The flour is imported to ensure the cakes are as light and airy as possible, and the mountain of frosting on top is creamy and delicious. Plus, every aspect of their products is whipped up from scratch.
Dhs12 each. The Village Mall, Jumeriah Beach Road (04 344 8204)
Double ka meetha
Hyderabad Rocks: The colour of this Hyderabad specialty – Chernobyl yellow – may be a bit disconcerting, but the taste is electric. Essentially fried bread topped with a milky, sugary syrup flavoured with saffron, cashews and cardamom, this spongy sweet is a gooey delight.
Dhs12. Karama, opposite BurJuman (04 397 7882)
Ossiano: The term ‘fritters’ doesn’t exactly do justice to the dessert Ossiano is serving up, even if that’s what they choose to call them. What you get is a crispy doughnut that is spongy and light on the inside, and served with a bitter pool of melted Spanish chocolate and a scoop of exquisite coconut sorbet. Hey, there are worse ways to go bankrupt.
Dhs150. Atlantis (04 426 0770)
Spice Lounge: There’s no shortage of excellent gulab jamun in this city. And yet the variety at Spice Lounge stands out for a few reasons. Often translated as milk dumplings, the sweet balls are light enough to float, and the accompanying rose syrup is sweet without being saccharine.
Dhs20. Satwa, near Al Ghazal Mall (04 345 3365)
Kholas, pecan and dhibs sundae
Bateel café: The kholas sundae remains our favourite date-related sweet. The ice cream has a soft cream-cheese tang, and is laced with sweet streaks of kholas dates. Add to the mix pecans, a sublime date honey and whipped cream, and you have one of Dubai’s best sundaes.
Dhs21. Souk Al Manzil (04 421 0724). Other locations: DIFC (04 370 0404), Marina Walk (04 368 4696), The Dubai Mall (04 339 9716), Festival City (04 232 8856) Kunafa
Wafi Gourmet: As one of our favourite haunts for Arabic desserts, Wafi Gourmet is a natural choice for anyone wanting to satisfy a kunafa craving. The cheesy filling is light and stringy and the surrounding pastry moist, crumbly and doused in a healthy drizzle of syrupy rose water.
Dhs22. Wafi (04 324 4433) Macaroons
Forrey & Galland: UAE-based Forrey & Galland sells macaroons every bit as good as those you’d find in France. The ingredients are fresh and the fillings of these airy biscuits are vibrant. Try some of the Middle East-inspired flavours, such as rose and halwa, or stick to classics like raspberry.
Dhs38 for 10 pieces. The Dubai Mall (04 339 8850) Pannekoeken
More Café: The only downside of these Dutch pancakes – which are so fluffy they’d make a sheep jealous – is that ploughing through one proves a bit of a feat. Still, these sugary beasts can be prepared in any number of ways. One of our favourites is the pannekoeken hazelnut, served with hazelnut cream and coconut.
Dhs28-31. Garhoud (04 283 0224). Other locations: Al Murooj Rotana (04 343 3779), The Dubai Mall (04 339 8934)
Puffed soba noodles
Dhs35. Souk Al Bahar (04 439 7333) Red bean pancake
Hukama: We wouldn’t call this buttery pastry a pancake. Still, Hukama’s version of the traditional Chinese dessert involves a crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth crust that gives way to a thin layer of sweet red bean paste. The whole thing is served warm with a scoop of subtle red bean ice cream.
Dhs60. The Address, Downtown Burj Dubai (04 436 8888) Sticky toffee pudding
Rivington Grill: There is no better place in Dubai to get a dose of traditional British sticky toffee pudding than at Rivington Grill. The cake is light, the toffee syrup on top sweet and sinful. The pudding is served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Overall, the dish is the very essence of British comfort food.
Dhs20. Souk Al Bahar (04 423 0903)
Prego’s: Whereas many restaurants in Dubai fail when it comes to tiramisu, Prego’s prevails. The dish comes in a giant glass, and is perfectly layered with moist, rum-soaked trifle and coffee-laced crème. Even the most prim might find themselves licking the bowl clean.
Dhs32. Media Rotana (04 435 0000)
Twice boiled pear
Ding Xiu Xuan: For something unexpected, you can’t beat Ding Xiu Xuan’s clove-kissed pears, which come floating in a syrupy broth alongside a few pieces of white fungus. We know it sounds scary, but it’s a comforting mix. In fact, it kind of reminds us of Christmas cider.
Dhs18. Al Khaleej Palace (04 223 1000)
Khan Murjan Restaurant: Wafi’s underground souk serves up the most decadent umm ali in the emirate. This formidable dessert comes packed with sultanas, pistachios and slivers of almonds and coconut.
Dhs18. Wafi (04 324 4555)
Reflets: It should come as no surprise that for ethereally light soufflés, one need look no further than Reflet. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Pierre Gagnaire dessert if it didn’t have some clever twist. The soufflé is encrusted in a strawberry compote and served with a strawberry and poppy ice cream.
Dhs140. InterContinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City (04 701 1111)
Ronda Locatelli: The cake may come out looking like it’s sporting jheri curls made from thinly sliced jam roly-poly, but don’t let that put you off. Beneath the cake is a layer of hazelnut and chocolate trifle that lends a sublime airiness to the heart of ice cream that lies beneath.
Dhs45. Atlantis (04 426 0750)
High-end chocolate shops have overrun the city. Here are our favourites.
Clusters: Imagine consuming a truffle the size of a fist. Enter Alison Nelson’s clusters. These huge chocolates come in a variety of flavours, including black cherry and coconut, and biscotti and caramel.
Dhs25 for four pieces at Alison Nelson’s Chocolate Bar, Souk Al Bahar (04 438 0297). Other location: The Dubai Mall (no number)
Curry truffle: Cocoa Sampaka, the Barcelonan chocolate company, has a range of exotic truffles. Our favourite is the curry truffle.
Dhs50 for 16 chocolates at Cocoa Sampaka, The Dubai Mall (04 434 1427)
Early Grey truffle: You could settle for a nice cuppa, or you could just have the whole thing stuffed into a divine chocolate truffle. Products at this RAK-run chocolate company are the essence of quality (maybe it helps that the owners are Swiss).
Dhs375 per kilogram at the Gourmet Station, Oasis Centre (04 515 4050)
Not everyone has a sweet tooth. For those not so inclined, we’ve gathered the best cheese plates in town.
Oeno: Why settle for a cheese plate when you can tackle a cheese room? There’s a private room sporting more than 30 varieties of cheese and a sommelier well adept at helping you match the perfect cheese with the perfect wine. Cheese lovers are well taken care of.
Dhs75 for three cheeses, Dhs120 for five, Dhs170 for seven. Westin Dubai (04 399 4141)
Ossiano: Diners seeking a cheesy reprieve are presented with a mammoth block of wood and roughly five to seven cheeses to choose from. The selection rotates, though often there are several breathtaking Spanish cheeses to choose from
Dhs150, Atlantis (04 426 2626)
Reflets: Reflets has abandoned the traditional cheese plate this season, and instead opts for a unique starter, the ‘hommage aux fromages de France’. A quartet of dishes highlights each cheese individually. Highlights include the nutty mash of ratte potatoes (a favourite French tuber) mixed with Fourme d’Ambert, and a Roquefort soufflé.
Dhs250. InterContinental (04 701 1111)
Screaming for gelato
Gelato’s taken over Dubai – here’s the best.
Affogato: What would gelato be without a traditional affogato? It’s basically gelato drowned in espresso. It’s like an ice cream float, but for grown-ups.
Dhs18 at Morelli’s Gelato, The Dubai Mall (04 339 9053)
Roasted almond gelato: Napoli gelato prides itself on its exotic flavours, but does just as well when it keeps things simple. We love the toasty goodness of the roasted almond gelato, which is creamy and sweet without being overly saccharine.
Dhs12 at Mall of the Emirates. Other locations: Ibn Batruta Mall and Deira City Centre
Gelato cake: The family-run Bacio Gelato (owned by Italians) takes special orders for their cakes, which are the height of creamy, and are super fresh. The hazelnut and biscotti combination mustn’t be missed.
Dhs185-285 at Bacio Gelato, the Baron Hotel Building, Al Barsha (04 323 2949)
Sweets can seem daunting to the unfamiliar eye. So here’s a glossary.
Basboussa: Otherwise known as ‘namoura’, this semolina-based cake is made with a mixture of cinnamon, lemon, rosewater (or sometimes orange blossom water) and usually topped with an almond.
Baklava: This ubiquitous sweet is made with layers of phyllo dough and crushed nuts (usually pistachios). A good soaking in honey makes them lovely.
Ghraybeh: These melt-in-your-mouth, ring-shaped biscuits are made of little more than flour and powdered sugar. They’re fun to eat, as they seem to vanish once they hit the tongue.