MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - One great thing about being an adult: you can eat your dessert FIRST.
Our Scorecard viewers say these are the five best desserts in the Mid-South, whether you start with 'em or clean your plate first.
* ITALIAN ICE, CUSTARD & GELATI; Rita's Ice, Custard & Happiness; 305 N. Byhalia Rd, Collierville, TN, (901) 221-8443, http://www.ritasice.com/.
The Philadelphia-based chain's locally owned franchise in Collierville is the most nominated dessert location on the Scorecard.
Not your average snow cone.
In fact, Rita's Italian ice ISN'T a snow cone at all.
"We freeze the water, the ice, all the extra ingredients together at one time so that the flavor is actually frozen into the ice," said Valerie Brang, owner and operator of Rita's in Collierville.
The silky smooth ice comes in creative flavors like Swedish Fish, Peep (yes, those marshmallow chicks!), Strawberry Margarita and my favorite: Wild Black Cherry (with real chunks of black cherries!).
Brang and her staff can also top off an ice with Rita's creamy custard. The combination's called a Gelati.
"There wasn't anything (in the Mid-South) where you could mix custard and Italian ice," said Tara Tooby, loyal customer and Philadelphia native familiar with the Rita's brand. "So it's a completely different product from what the other ice cream places offer in the area."
* GOURMET CUPCAKES, Muddy's Bake Shop, 5101 Sanderlin Ave., East Memphis, (901) 683-8844, http://www.muddysbakeshop.com
Cupcakes are just cupcakes. Frosting and cake, right?
Not with flavors like Citrus Explosion, Pucker Up, Prozac and Hot Momma.
The folks at Muddy's Bake Shop down the street from the Racquet Club of Memphis come up with the coolest names and tastes for their gourmet cupcakes.
They all go down good!
"It's the perfect amount of frosting and the perfect amount of cake just all together," said Lynn Bray of Collierville as her 2 1/2-year-old son Jack licks the frosting off his wrist. "It's perfect!"
* HOT FUDGE PIE, Big John's Shake Shack, 409 Military Rd, Marion, AR, (870) 739-3943 (NOT OPEN SATURDAYS OR SUNDAYS)
Three generations of East Arkansas families have enjoyed the desserts, big burgers and the illustrious 'Ms. Loretta' at this treasure in Marion, AR (please read/watch our previous Scorecard visit here: http://www.wmctv.com/Global/story.asp?S=12356941).
But folks in three STATES nominated Loretta Tacker's hot fudge pie as a must-eat Mid-South treat.
"It is wonderful!" said Rodney Russell, who joked that he moved to Marion from Cordova, TN, just for Big John's hot fudge pie. "It makes me want to eat more, unfortunately."
"A very close friend of mine from Memphis gave me that recipe," said Tacker, "and I've sold lots and lots of those!"
Top it with some of Big John's soft serve ice cream, and buddy, it's on!
* SLAP YO MAMA PIE, The Pie Folks, 7501 Goodman Rd., Olive Branch, MS, (662) 890-0743, http://www.thepiefolks.com
Moms, please excuse your children after they take a bite of this one.
You're going to get socked.
"It's perfect," said Sophia King of Southaven, MS, after taking a bite of this double-chocolate cream, rich-as-a-Wall-Street-banker delight. "It's not bitter. It's not too sweet. It has the right consistency. It's delicious!"
The American Pie Council thinks so, too. It declared the Slap Yo Mama pie the best independent commercial chocolate cream pie at its 2009 national pie competition in Orlando, FL.
"They judge by consistency, the taste, the appearance," said Audrey Anderson, the creator of the Slap Yo Mama pie. "When it's for competition, I really whoop it up!"
* BUTTER COOKIES, Makeda's Homemade Butter Cookies, Multiple Locations, http://makedascookies.com/index.html
Memphis-based and family-owned -- with four locations plus cookies on Kroger's shelves -- Makeda's main ingredients are love and BUTTER.
"I like the butter cookies and the chocolate pecan chip cookies," said Jamine Jones, who lives around the corner from Makeda's flagship store on Airways.
Butter's in everything at Makeda's -- the cookies, the butter cream icing on the outstanding cookie cakes, everything.
"We put a lot of love in our cookies, and we enjoy making them," said Pam Hill when we first featured Makeda's as one of our Big Tip winners (please read/watch that Scorecard episode here: http://www.wmctv.com/Global/story.asp?S=12235632).
For all of this week's Memphis-Shelby County restaurant scores, click here.