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Sweet Treats for the holidays

Author: | posted 12/15/08 | Print This Post Print This Post |

peppermint2.jpgNot everyone is culinarily gifted when it comes to baking. And trust me, I understand.

We all want to be Martha Stewart this time of year. The Food Network and mommy guilt get the best of us. Dusty mixers and aprons see the light of day. Tragically, it all too often ends in tears and kitchen disaster. I know.

Steaming in my garbage can are three gritty, greasy batches of failed
fudge
— a ridiculously over-ambitious effort at seasonal kindness that
cost me $25 in butter, sugar, vanilla, gourmet chocolate and potato
chips (don’t ask).  Not to mention Marshmallow Fluff in places Fluff should never be.

So here’s Plan B. Which maybe should have been Plan A: Call in the professionals.

assortment.jpgThe elves at Sift Cupcakery are currently taking orders for the world’s cutest desserts, uh, ever.  For $45, you can get a dozen painstakingly designed cupcakes in either a “holiday” or “Christmas” theme. We’re not talking about a few sprinkles and a plastic Santa — but tiny works of holiday art. Chomp into a skiing snowman,  gingerbread house, cup of hot cocoa, a frosting tree, the Grinch or perfect peppermint candy.

New seasonal flavors include Snickerdoodle, Mr. Man (gingerbread with cinnamon cream cheese frosting), Peppermint Twist (Red Velvet with peppermint frosting), and Knock Your SOX off (think Boston Cream Pie). Sift Cupcakery, 7582 Commerce Blvd., Cotati, 707.792.1681.

bouche.jpgChloe’s is offering an authentic Buche de Noel, a traditional French pastry “yule log”. Alas, this delicious little cord is filled with vanilla sponge cake, chocolate butter cream and chocolate ganache. Meringue mushrooms and chocolate bark make Marc Pisan’s one of my favorite. Ever. The cake serves 10-12. Chloe’s French Cafe, 3883 Airway Drive, Santa Rosa, 707.528.3095, $34.75. Call ahead.

What are some of your favorite local holiday treats? Let me know!

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19 Responses

  1. Anonymous December 30, 2008 at 7:23 pm #

    Patisserie Angelica is decadence,elegance and exquisiteness wrapped up in the most amazing,sweet package of delight! Their hot chocolate is the smoothest,richest, most velvety,heavenly hot chocolate I have ever had the pleasure to indulge.A visit is a memorable experience you will not forget.

  2. Wojamo December 22, 2008 at 1:50 pm #

    I had the Snickerdoodle holiday cupcake yesterday from Sift. Man!!! It was SO good! I got one for the two of us to share. Rookie mistake. Next time, I’ll get my own!

  3. Anonymous December 18, 2008 at 11:05 am #

    I’m surprised that no one (yet!) has mentioned Patissere Angelica in Sebastopol. Incredible desserts. (Fallen Chocolate Mousse Cake is my favorite.) They are pricey, but so is my homemade chocolate cheesecake. . . good butter, the best chocolate, etc. and fine desserts DO cost. But, oh, what a treat!!
    Check out Patissere Angelica’s Buche de Noel.
    I’d love to have a side by side taste test of their’s and Chloe’s. Heaven!

  4. jaime December 17, 2008 at 4:38 pm #

    Marc Pisan is NOT the Pastry chef at Chloe’s. His brother Alain is and Alain is the BEST!!!
    I was just at Chloe’s and you should see all the unusual French pastries Alain has created on a special holiday menu. They are wrapped and ready to delivery…..would advise advance notice cause the other day they sold out……Chloe’s is the best! Airway Drive at Hopper Ave.

  5. Jackie C. December 16, 2008 at 11:11 am #

    Sift’s cupcakes are awesome and well worth the extra spend when you can afford it…when you can’t, then don’t…and stop crying about it! $45 for a gift that will get people drooling isn’t that much of a bank break (and they also have dozens for $30).
    And I’m sure that many people will disagree with you about mediocre products in Sonoma Co, please move along to Vallejo then.

  6. Kate December 16, 2008 at 8:02 am #

    I have never been a huge lover of Panettone until I found a recipe for Panettone French Toast. It is now a tradional breakfast at our home during the Christmas season.Totally decadent.
    Recipe:
    Cinnamon Syrup:
    1 cup water
    1 cup packed dark brown sugar
    2 tablespoons whipping cream
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 Loaf Panettone
    6 large eggs
    3/4 cup whipping cream
    3/4 cup whole milk
    1/4 cup sugar
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
    Powdered sugar, for dusting
    Directions
    To make the syrup: Combine 1 cup of water and brown sugar in a heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Boil until the syrup reduces to 1 cup, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cream and cinnamon. Keep the syrup warm. (The syrup can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Rewarm before serving.)
    Meanwhile, prepare the French toast: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Trim the bottom crust of the panettone. Starting at the bottom end of the panettone, cut it crosswise into 6 (3/4-inch thick) round slices (reserve the top piece for toast!). In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until well blended. Add the cream, milk, and sugar and whisk until well mixed. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter on a large nonstick griddle over medium heat. Dip 3 slices of panettone into the custard, turning to allow both sides to absorb the custard. Grill the soaked panettone slices until they are golden brown and firm to the touch, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the French toast to a baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven. Repeat with the remaining butter, panettone slices, and custard.
    Transfer the French toast to plates. Dollop the mascarpone atop each. Lightly dust with the powdered sugar. Drizzle the cinnamon syrup over and around the French toast and serve immediately.

  7. BiteClub December 15, 2008 at 9:55 pm #

    What I’d really love to hear about are other holiday traditions for sweets (or not so sweets). What are you missing? What have you found that satisfies your craving? A friend told me about the Saint Honore cake (which I’d never heard about). I’m fascinated by Pannetone. Does anyone do ravioli for Christmas eve? My family does nut rolls and poppyseed rolls for Xmas morning. Clearly there are lots of other traditions out there I’m missing. I’m hoping to get to some of the other bakeries around town — what about gingerbread? I’m still looking for really good gingerbread.
    That’s just a start. I’m off to fried chicken heaven tomorrow. Stay tuned.

  8. Dara December 15, 2008 at 7:45 pm #

    Thanks for the recommendation on the Buche de Noel, I have only been able to find it at Michelle Marie’s and they ruined my wedding cake so I’m never going back! While it is expensive, the holidays are about splurging a little, even if it means that we cut back in other places.

  9. xtinaznap December 15, 2008 at 6:01 pm #

    I don’t think Heather was necessarily calling Rosalind or anyone unable to spend $ on cupcakes as small-minded….I interpreted her response differently – an explanation of her own choices and perspective, not a judgement of other people’s choices (although perhaps it would have been better to eliminated that line to avoid potential misinterpretation). And honestly, just because the economy is poor doesn’t mean that I want this blog to turn into a recipe blog or a blog where we only hear about budget-eating establishments. Perhaps we can share recipes on the new forum, and have a topic for budget lunches, dinners, breakfasts, etc….but when it comes to Heather’s articles, I’d like to hear about all types of food experiences, even if I’m just virtually drooling over them.

  10. Chris December 15, 2008 at 5:15 pm #

    I don’t think that being willing and able to spend money for cupcakes makes anyone “big-hearted.” I don’t think that being unwilling or unable to spend such a lot of money makes anyone “small-minded.” But that was pretty small-minded response that Rosalind got.

  11. Lydia December 15, 2008 at 5:00 pm #

    The problem with Sift cupcakes (in addition to the price) is they don’t taste good. I was hugely disappointed. They are absolutely nothing special. I like supporting local businesses but one problem in Sonoma County is you often get mediocre products for inflated prices.

  12. dahlfnz December 15, 2008 at 4:44 pm #

    I think you actually have to have had the cupcakes from Sift to understand that they are worth every penny! The cupcakes themselves are fantastic, and the specialty holiday decorating is amazing. They may not be for everyday, but as a treat every so often, it’s well worth it. I’m with Heather!

  13. BiteClub December 15, 2008 at 4:40 pm #

    Leave it to Woj for some perspective.

  14. BiteClub December 15, 2008 at 4:39 pm #

    I’m working on a fool-proof fudge recipe with one of the Relish team, so stay tuned.
    And peeps, let’s try to play nice for the holidays. I’m hurting as much as anyone. Maybe more. Hugs all around.

  15. Wojamo December 15, 2008 at 4:32 pm #

    Yeah, the cupcakes are pricey, but look at them! With the amount of work that goes into those decorations, I’d be surprised if they clear a buck a piece in profit by the time all’s said and done. As for the yule log, if I’m taking one up to Santa Cruz, you think Chloe’s would add a marzipan banana slug for me?

  16. Savorybaker December 15, 2008 at 4:12 pm #

    I love Choe’s Cafe. They are the best.

  17. Kate December 15, 2008 at 4:09 pm #

    Sorry Heather, I am in agreement with Rosalind, $45.00 for a doz. cupcakes is a bit on the pricey side, $3.75 a piece is well, pricey. You seem to be chastising her in your reply as well, not really professional, sounds a bit defensive. I spend most all my dollars locally so I feel like I give back to our local small businesses regularly. The alternatives out there when hit with a kitchen disaster are endless and I might say a bit less expensive. I guess I got excited because I thought perhaps your plan A/B might have been a fool proof fudge recipe, no problem, I’m pretty resourceful I’ll find one…..happy holidays to you and yours.

  18. BiteClub December 15, 2008 at 2:45 pm #

    Rosalind, I totally respect your choice and your thriftiness.
    My job is simply to let folks know what’s available.
    But here’s how I look at it…
    I would rather support a wonderful local business.
    I would rather applaud creativity.
    I would rather find joy in everything pink and sugary.
    I would rather find wonder and beauty in the holidays.
    I would rather love more and worry less.
    I would rather hear my daughter squeal in delight.
    I would rather be big-hearted than small-minded.
    I would rather just be myself and not worry so much about being real.

  19. Rosalind Sandler December 15, 2008 at 2:28 pm #

    These are hard economic times and you are suggesting $45/dozen cupcakes! Get real. I would rather receive a $45 gift certificate so I could buy healthy food.

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