Sweet Treats: Beyond the Bakery
There’s nothing a chocolate cookie can’t fix. At least that’s the message we’re hearing loud and clear from an increasing number of sweet treateries spiking the glycemic index of North Bay.
Maybe its a sign of tough times or just our collective need for a little fresh-from-the-oven comfort food, but it’s hard to walk down the street these days without bumping into a Whoopie pie or monster-sized cookie.
But forget the bakery. This week, we dig deep for a different kind of pastry pusher — one or two-person operations working from the backs of restaurants, in borrowed commercial kitchens and behind farm stand stalls.
Da Bombe Desserts: Cupcakes get super-sized by this cake-baking
duo. And bigger is definitely better when it comes to intense flavors
like a puckery lemon poppyseed with raspberry frosting, delicate
champagne, spicy carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and classic red
velvet. Pairs well with their pint-sized bons — one-bit nibbles of
chocolate cake and mousse covered by dark chocolate gananche.
dabombedesserts.com or 794.9164.
Dominique’s Sweets: This Cordon Bleu culinary grad has become one of the hottest commodities at Santa Rosa farmer’s markets with her buttercream-filled French macaroons. The light, almond-flavored cookies come in a rainbow of colors, sandwiching homemade caramel, rose, bittersweet chocolate and lemon inside. Don’t miss her new Hawaiian flavors: papaya with hibiscus, macadamia, coconut-pinapple and banana with caramel. Wednesday at the Santa Rosa downtown market; second and fourth Saturdays at the Santa Rosa Veteran’s building market or dominiquesweets.com.
French Garden Restaurant: Days of preparation go into the Sunday morning spread of French pastries sprawling across the restaurant’s bar. Flakey, buttery crusts, pastry cream and chocolate-filled Napoleons don’t just make themselves, after all. Part of the Sebastopol restaurant’s weekly farm market, pastry chef Eric Rocher incorporates fresh produce from the nearby biodynamic farm into fruit tarts and ridiculously rich quiches. Sundays from 10am to 2pm. 8050 Bodega Avenue, Sebastopol, (707) 824-2030.
Zix Treats: Sebastopol CPA turned semi-pro baker Glenn Minervini-Zick bakes up micro-batches of gourmet cookies in a borrowed commercial kitchen. Getting a box is strictly a word-of-mouth affair. Over the holidays he baked more than 6,000 cookies…and sold out completely. You can find his cookies at the French Garden Restaurant farm market on Sunday mornings filled with seasonal local fruit in late August. zixtreats.com.
Viola Pastry Boutique: If you’re lucky, you’ve gotten a sneak preview of Jennifer McMurry’s pastries at Santa Rosa’s Wednesday night market — most notably her strawberry shortcake and chocolate whoopie pies. She’ll be opening full time in Montgomery Village sometime in September. Viola Pastry Boutique.
Pasteles Fiesta: Why eat cake when you can have tres leches? Spongecake gets doused within an inch of its life with three kinds of milk (evaporated, condensed, cream), then slathered with whipped cream. You’ll never go back to Duncan Hines. 443 Dutton Ave, #1, Dutton Plaza, Santa Rosa, 568-7051.
Divine Delights: Their doll-sized cakes, otherwise known as petit fours are shipped around the world, but surprisingly few people know that this Petaluma bakery operates an in-house outlet where you can buy their mini morsels at a fraction of the cost. Choose from Mice-A-Fours (which contain no actual mice), chocolate truffle, raspberry, strawberry and lemon-flavored petit fours, and holiday-inspired boxes. At about $1 a piece (some run slightly higher), they’re a bargain. 1250 Hold Road, Petaluma, (800) 443-2836.
Humble Pie: Chef Miriam Lee Donaldson does some very ungranny-like pies each day in her tiny Penngrove cafe. Using all-butter crusts and family recipes, her deep-dish apple-cheddar pie, banana cream with coconut and Ohio lemon (flavors change with the seasons) are lovingly baked each day. You can get a slice after dinner or order a whole pie from the restaurant. 10056 Main St., Penngrove, 664-8779.
Chloe’s French Cafe: Word’s gotten out about this office-park gem, but don’t let the crowds stop you. French pastry chef Alain Pisan whips up feather-light éclairs, tarts and buns each day, in addition to morning croissant, cream-filled pastries and weep-worthy cheesecake. Around the holidays, the Bouche de Noel — little logs of buttercream and chocolate — are a coveted centerpiece. 3883 Airway Dr., Suite 145, Santa Rosa, 707.528.3095. Open 7:30am to 5pm weekdays. Closed weekends.