In Dubai, the quality of food has kept pace with the city’s reputation for luxury, and visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to indulging their appetites. As new developments take shape, so too do fresh venues serving the finest artisanal confections, including a dizzying array of cakes, candy and pastries. Anyone with a sweet tooth is in for a treat. From ice cream parlours and chocolate shops to bakeries and gourmet cafes, here we’ve hand-picked seven of the top places in the city to get your sugar fix.
The icing on the cake
One of Dubai’s most indulgent ice cream parlours on Jumeirah Beach Road is deeply tempting for a cool refresher on a hot desert day with comfy sofas tucked away in the shade. It has the distinction of serving up the most expensive ice cream in Dubai – The Black Diamond – a sundae made from Madagascan vanilla, saffron from Iran, Italian black truffles and 23-carat edible gold flakes, all appropriately served in a gold bowl with a silver spoon. While the AED2,999 price tag may be an indulgence too far for most visitors, the cafe is full of more affordable flavours, offering scoops of strawberry sorbet, mocha expresso and mango cheesecake served in cones or waffle cups including the inventive edible charcoal cone.
2. Vivel Patisserie
For more traditional Middle Eastern treats from a family-run chain, the Vivel Patisserie is a Dubai staple with branches at Dubai Mall, Dubai Marina Mall, Downtown Dubai and more. Persian sweets and mini pastries are spiced with classic regional flavours such as cardamom and conjured from ground chick peas sweetened with syrup and bursting with almonds, pistachios, coconut and walnuts. The shop offers strings of chocolate pearls, marzipan sweets, candied dates and almond macarons of many colours. The selection is so good it’s said to be a royal favourite.
Candy fans should not miss a trip to the eye-popping and tastebud-tantalizing Candylicious store –one of the biggest sweet shops in the world. The confection paradise is a bit like Charlie’s Chocolate Factory featuring a giant lollipop tree, a candy aeroplane and row-upon-row of rainbow-coloured sweets, stacks of giant chocolate bars and other fantastic edible creations. At Dubai Mall directly opposite Dubai Aquarium, it’s in a prime spot to tempt in shoppers and families who can also find just about any chocolate or sweet brand from around the world from M&Ms and American Hershey’s too old-fashioned favourites and home-grown Cadburys chocolate.
4. 112 Main St Bakery
If cakes are your guilty pleasure, the boutique bakery that’s part of the Arrows and Sparrows café in The Greens area of Dubai serves up some of the most tempting cakes, tarts and pastries imaginable. Among the bakery’s most delicious delights are banana hazelnut cake with Nutella cream cheese frosting, rich and gooey brownies and raspberry shortbread. There are quirky snacks too, such as Snickers cake and apple caramel cheesecake bars, and customers visiting over the festive period will find themed treats and melt-in-the-mouth smores.
5. Mirzam Chocolate Makers
Travellers with a passion for chocolate will be in seventh heaven at Mirzam chocolatiers. Part of Dubai’s Alserkal Avenue arts district that houses independent galleries, workshops and other creative enterprises, this artisanal chocolate factory conjures organic cocoa bars before your eyes with three simple ingredients – cocoa butter, unrefined cane sugar and cocoa beans. The single-sourced beans are roasted and ground over three days to produce the smoothest, richest and purest dark chocolate with no additives. The production process from bean to bar is designed to be completely transparent so that visitors can witness every aspect of chocolate making and work up an appetite before sampling the final product.
A New York institution, the Dubai outpost of this gourmet café specialises in sweet baked treats from amazing signature Chubbie cookies and chocolate cupcakes to tiramisu and apple pie. Popular at breakfast and lunch time, the café on City Walk in the Jumeirah district of the city offers savoury goodies but the fresh cakes and desserts from the bakery are the real reason most people visit. Its Afternoon Tea is a really good way to sample a selection of its most mouth-watering tarts, biscuits and brownies.
7. Jelly Belly Ice Cream
The famous American candy maker opened its first ice cream shop in Dubai’s Al Seef village, and more branches have sprung up fast including one at the recently-opened La Mer beach-side development. Whether by Dubai Creek or down by the beach, the traditional ice cream shops are the ideal spot for a deliciously indulgent snack sprinkled with all manner of confectionary. Jelly Belly Ice Cream stocks 50 flavours of ice cream and sorbets, as well as 30 different toppings and handmade sauces, so you can have fun designing the ice cream of your dreams.
More sugar stops
Dubai’s superhot climate has led to a flurry of amazing ice cream and gelato shops opening up, which are well worth seeking out on a sun-drenched day. Aside from Jelly Belly and Scoopi, you might like to pay a visit to Cold Stone Creamery for a myriad of inventive and delicious cool concoctions. Boutique bakeries are a big deal in Dubai too – consider stopping in at the Magnolia Bakery in Dubai Festival City Mall for a cute and tasty cupcake or pop in to Bouchon Bakery at The Beach for a pastry rustled up by a Michelin-starred chef.