Food & Drink
Sugar, spice and all things nice: Dubai's best desserts
Tue, December 20, 2022
From ultra-indulgent cakes to decadent desserts, don't miss Dubai's best sweet treats.
From ultra-indulgent cakes to decadent desserts, don't miss Dubai's best sweet treats.
Taste Arabic favourites that showcase the best of the region.
Bukaj at Al Samadi Sweets
One of the best spots in the city to try Arabic desserts, Al Samadi Sweets has been a permanent fixture in Dubai since the 1970s. Pop over to the buzzing Al Muraqqabat Street in Deira to step into this bakery and cafe that serves everything from maamoul (spiced date cookie) to bukaj (a cashew nut-stuffed baklava pouch). It's also where you can experience one of the best halawet el-jibn – a semolina and cheese dough, filled with clotted cream and topped with syrup and rose petal jam – in town.
Luqaimat at Logma
Bachir ice cream at Zaroob
Its special sticky consistency makes it very different to your regular gelato but that doesn't make the mastic-filled Bachir ice cream any less tasty. Scoop up this cool Lebanese treat – that also happens to be organic – in flavours like rose, melon or milk. But, true fans go for the signature cornet achta with whipped cream and crushed pistachios.
Kunafa at Firas Sweets
Camel milk ice ceam from Nouq
Tapping into local Emirati culture, this premium ice cream and chocolate brand uses whole camel milk, to craft its products. Nouq has almost a dozen camel milk flavours to choose from, each with a regional twist, including caramel biscuit, honey saffron, pistachio, mint tea and Turkish coffee. Camel milk is typically known for its bold taste, but Nouq's ice cream is pasteurised, allowing for much more subtlety. You'll find it at supermarkets such as Spinneys and Waitrose, and even on the menus of leading restaurants such as the Arabian Tea House in the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood.
Pastéis de natas at Lana Lusa
Head to Lana Lusa, a chilled-out spot, for its mind-blowing pastéis de nata. The custard tarts are available to buy in a box to take away as well, if you'd like to keep snacking on the flaky pastries as you get on with your day. Other authentic desserts on the menu include the tarte de amêndoa (almond tart) and the bolo de bolacha (a no-bake biscuit cake). This cute neighbourhood-style restaurant is in the Wasl 51 complex, and offers an all-day menu filled with traditional Portuguese favourites.
Cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery
This New York City-based bakery's Dubai outposts in Bloomingdale's and Dubai Festival City Mall have a big fan following. No stranger to the sweets scene, Magnolia is most famous for its cupcakes – and rightly so. Red velvet, German chocolate and banana varieties, topped with icing in pale pastel hues, share space with puddings, triple-tiered cakes and more. We suggest you get a box as you won't want to share!
Coconut rasmalai at Bombay Bungalow
Floating island at Brasserie Boulud
Could there be a dish more quintessentially French – and difficult to master – than a Floating island? Luckily for Dubai residents, an exceptional version is served up by master chef Daniel Boulud's kitchen at Sofitel The Obelisk's Brasserie Boulud. Soft meringue 'clouds' are set on top of a pourable vanilla cream – the ideal end to a Parisian feast.
Sacertorte at Sisi's Eatery
This multi-layered Viennese cake is a must for those who love chocolate. Rich, decadent with a layer of apricot jam that cuts through, this Austrian dessert was first served to Prince von Metternich by pastry chef Franz Sacher. It is difficult to master yet Sisi's Eatery at Dubai Hills Mall has managed to serve up an authentic version that impresses. Pick up a mini-version that's ideal to treat yourself or a large dome that will make a monumental centrepiece for a party.
Meringue cake at Cipriani Dolci
Cipriani Dolci puts a spotlight on the famous Venetian restaurant's dessert display, with their feather-light meringue cake still being the all-time favourite. The slice may look huge when first presented, but it is so good, that you'll find yourself polishing off the delicate vanilla-flavoured piece in no time. Team it with their espresso and you'll feel like you've been whisked off to Italy.
Mango sticky rice at Pai Thai
It's known for its delicious spicy Thai dishes and its picturesque location on Madinat Jumeirah's meandering waterways. But true foodies know that Jumeirah Al Qasr's atmospheric Pai Thai has an additional draw – it's signature sweet treat, called Kao Niew Ma Muang, which consists of sweet mango atop sticky rice, served with a scoop of coconut ice cream.
Baked Chenna at Kinara by Vikas Khanna
Vikas Khanna has taken a much-loved Indian dessert – the chenna poda or 'baked cheese' – and elevated it for his fine dining eatery. Expect notes of caramelised sugar, cardamom gel, pistachio sponge and passion fruit in this multi-textural plate that showcases the celebrity chef's deft touch.
Locals and visitors alike tick these signatures off their sweet bucket lists.
Soft serves at Salt
Perhaps Dubai’s most famous icy treat, Salt's Lotus soft serve – or 'Softies' as they are coined on their menu – takes the addictive flavour of everyone's favourite spiced cookie, and puts it into a refreshing ice cream cone (or thick shake). Visit the food-truck-turned-cafe at Kite Beach – now a local institution – to find out what all the fuss is about.
Milk cakes at Home Bakery
This Emirati-owned bakery has become a local institution. And, although it produces a huge range of savoury dishes, plus cookies, cakes and pastries, we suggest you head straight for its speciality milk cake options. From delicate saffron to pistachio, coffee-tinged tiramisu to fragrant rose, you're sure to find a flavour that suits your palate.
Baked Alaska at Jun's
Nostalgia at Brix
Chef Carmen Rueda Hernandez has worked in innovative, experimental kitchens like The Fat Duck which is why Brix, the dessert bar concept that she helms, is so ground-breaking. Backed by the stable behind 3Fils, the intimate venue serves up a tasting menu with the spotlight on sweet treats. Don't miss out on Nostalgia, spotlighting ingredients like peanut, salted caramel, hazelnut, mango and passion fruit – paired with a Golden Autumn drink that blends earl grey, fresh lemon and American malt.
Quarantine cake at Mélange
Homegrown batch bakery Mélange has a range of sinfully delicious gourmet cookies, towering cakes and tantalising tarts that can brighten up your day. Owner Nadia Parekh's signature slice is a Quarantine chocolate salted caramel slab, while the 2Faced brownie pairs chocolate with tahini for a savoury and salty mix. You'll find Mélange's desserts across Dubai in places like Depachika at Nakheel Mall and High Joint in Al Manara. Mélange also has a permanent studio at The Bayswater Tower in Business Bay for enthusiasts to drop in.
Le Mille-feuille at DRIFT Beach Club
Crisp, flaky pastry layered with vanilla cream, a mixed berry compote and topped with fresh raspberries – that's the star dessert on DRIFT Beach Club's list. And once you've had a bite of this French Le Mille-Feuille, you'll realise why the city's foodies love its dishes as much as its serene waterside setting.
Passion fruit and vanilla profiteroles at Rive Gauche
French fine dining spot Rive Gauche has reinterpreted the classic profiterole. The DIFC restaurant's version fills the light choux pastry with vanilla parfait, teaming it with a passion fruit confit and white chocolate coconut crumb. Don't forget to pour over the extra passion fruit sauce served on the side for an unforgettable, elevated end to your meal.
Honey ricotta chamomile at Social
Picture-perfect plates that will light up your social media feed.
CrazyShakes at Black Tap
Located inside several major Dubai malls like City Centre Mirdif and Mall of the Emirates, this NYC import specialises in stacked burgers and trending ‘monster shakes'. These made-for-Instagram treats are nothing short of indulgent, and layered with sky-high toppings, from peanut butter cups to cake wedges. Our favourite is the strawberry-flavoured Cotton Candy, which comes loaded with a vanilla frosted rim, a sprinkling of blue, pink and pearl chocolates, pink lollipop, rock candy, whipped cream, and of course, cotton candy.
Açia bowls at Friends Avenue Cafe
Picture-perfect cakes at L'ETO
L'ETO's cafes in Dubai Mall and across the city are always buzzing. Visitors are greeted by a wall of flowers while the boho decor offers up an ideal backdrop to enjoy the stylish menu. The cafe is best-known for its irresistible desserts and elaborate coffees. Those with a sweet tooth will want to try the crisp Napoleon millefeuille, pistachio, rose and raspberry selection, or birdberry cake – a healthier offering made with birdberry flour and layers of sour cream.
Cheesecake at Brunch & Cake
Rose milk cake at Vibe Café
With neon slogans, green cacti and a bright pink decor, Emirati-owned Vibe Café ticks all the boxes when it comes to Instagrammable interiors. And, regulars who frequent both its DIFC and Jumeirah branches know that it's impossible to leave without sampling their rose milk cake, which combines regional flavours, a silky texture and eye-catching visual appeal.
Cascading cake at Saya Brasserie
A sea of decadent ganache, ice-cream, biscuit crumbs and delicate sponge comes cascading out of a translucent tube when it's unravelled, creating a spectacle that needs to be captured on video. Luckily this dessert, also called a Pull-Me-Up cake, hits the flavour boxes too, with saffron and rose varieties particular highlights at Saya Brasserie, which has bloom-packed interiors that match its pretty pastries.
FI'LIAMISU at FI'LIA
If Italian-accented dishes are always on your must-try list then sky high FI'LIA on the 70th floor of the SLS Hotel has the perfected recipe. After sampling its comforting savoury classics, end your meal by opting for the signature FI'LIAMISU. Mascarpone cream, Savoiardi sponge and espresso syrup combine to provide the lightest of desserts. And, if you're in a group, then you can concoct your own ice cream sundae as a trolley of flavours comes complete with toppings, and serves four easily.