Battle of the Sexy Desserts

With Valentine's Day around the corner, we thought we'd get you in the mood with a little friendly competition of gooey, rich and chocolatey desserts. We have two serious competitors: a deep, dark chocolate cake and a brownie-like dessert served with a side of warm chocolate sauce.

So light some candles. Slip into something sensual. And read on...

In One Corner: Cafe Zuzu at The Valley Ho
6850 E. Main St. in Scottsdale

Oh, the naughty things we could do with this chocolate sauce...

Cafe Zuzu exudes swank elegance without being overly pretentious. The dining area is dark and cozy, with an orange-red glow. We nabbed one of the large circular booths on the far wall, giving us a view of the place. On a weeknight it was fairly empty, save for our dining party and a couple with a small child dining on the other side of the room.

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​The decor has a mid-century modern flavor, boosted by the sleek, low chairs and groovy hanging lamps that look like giant versions the string Easter eggs we made in Sunday school (we bet these were made using balloons that were popped after the glue on the string dried, too!).

During our visit, the staff was prepping one large table as if expecting a group of foreign dignitaries. Or Brangelina and their brood.

We ordered the most sinful, diet-busting dessert on the menu: Warm Chocolate Decadence. The description given on the menu was vague, but we figured with that name it had to be good. Our dessert arrived piping hot in a cast iron baker, topped with a generous scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and accompanied by a tiny pitcher of chocolate sauce.

We dug in and found a brownie-like chocolate cake with a moist center. The cake was a little dry around the edges, but the ice cream helped to moisten the rapidly crumbling cake. The vanilla ice cream was simple, but delicious -- exactly what ice cream should be.

"I can taste real vanilla bean in here," remarked my dining companion. "It's a nice light, refreshing ice cream. Not too heavy."

The ice cream was excellent, especially when paired with the thick cake. The chocolate sauce, on the other hand, was a total disappointment.

"Are you kidding me?" our friend griped. "This can't really be..." 

We know the Valley Ho is big on retro, but we didn't expect Hershey's syrup from a can. Tell us all you want about Chilean-grown cacao beans or hand-poured chocolate, everyone at our table would swear hand to Bible that this was Hershey's. That, or the Valley Ho's chefs have replicated the Pennsylvania-based company's syrup so perfectly they could put the original out of business.

The rest of our meal was delicious, and the Chocolate Decadence wasn't bad. If it had been a little moister and the syrup had been warm hot fudge, this dessert could've scored an "A." For now, the best part is the ideas the chocolate sauce gives you -- especially given that there are rooms ready and waiting right next door.

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