The Most Decadent Sweet Gifts
It would be hard to find somebody on your list who doesn’t like and appreciate a good sweet gift. We talked to many world-renowned bakers and top pastry chefs from restaurants, hotels, and their own shops to get recommendations for the most spectacular baked gifts this holiday season.
Christina Tosi of Milk Bar recommends three legendary options:
1. The B’Day Baller – birthday cake, Crack Pie, and some other goodies
2. Double Trouble – two tins of cookies and a dozen truffles
3. Gift certificates for baking classes available in Williamsburg, Brooklyn; Washington, D.C.; and Los Angeles.
Dominique Ansel, creator of the Cronut, runs baking shops in New York and Los Angeles and recommends Christmas Morning Cereal. This delicacy consists of caramelized milk chocolate (Valrhona Caramelia) covered crispy puffed rice, whole caramelized hazelnuts, and smoked cinnamon miniature meringues. You can enjoy it with a bowl of cold milk, over ice cream or yogurt. This cereal is as special as Christmas morning when the whole family gathers and opens gifts and enjoys breakfast together. According to Ansel, more and more people around the world are discovering this special treat and creating unforgettable memories. The cereal is available starting November 2
Miro Uskokovic is the pastry chef of Gramercy Tavern in New York and is famous for his Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Pie. According to him, this is the best gift for every holiday feast. It makes perfect sense as the delicacy consists of creamy chocolate and hazelnut, but it’s a lot more than just that. The pie is a collection of different textures, from crispy cookie crust to thick praline, creamy Gianduja custard, crunchy chocolate hazelnut shell, complete with light vanilla cream and candied hazelnut pieces. You can order this dessert at Goldbelly.com.
Ashley Boyd from 300 East of Charlotte, N.C. offers her Hibiscus and Pear Crumb Cake as a perfect gift for anybody on your list. This cake embodies everything that we value about our traditions and earthy tones – it has pear and cranberry, buckwheat flour and spicy cinnamon, and just a touch of white pepper. All ingredients are local and fresh. The dessert can stay fresh for a long time and goes perfect with a little whipped cream.
Rebecca Pensyl of Belmond Charleston Place, Charleston, S.C. brings her childhood delight to life at the hotel’s Charleston Grill. It’s her Fried Waffle and Rhubarb Ice Cream Sandwich that embodies the easiness of waffles and ice cream together. You will be surprised how light it is and how good it goes with various dessert wines.
Dolester Miles was named 2018 James Beard Foundation’s top pastry chef and for a good reason. Her creations are featured in all three of Chef Frank Stitt’s restaurants in Birmingham, AL: Bottega, Chez Fonfon, and Highlands Bar and Grill. Her most famous creation is Coconut Pecan Cake, inspired by traditional German chocolate cake. It goes with any occasion, including winter holidays. Dol, as she is called by friends and colleagues, took the chocolate out of the chocolate cake and that made her version unforgettable. The cake is moist and sweet thanks to every form of coconut imaginable, including coconut milk, cream of coconut, coconut extract, and real coconut. You can order this cake at Bottega.
Margarita Manzke works her magic at Los Angeles restaurant Republique, which she runs together with her husband. She suggests three different holiday desserts. Her Berry Pavola is the first offer and contains strawberries, vanilla, and mascarpone. Another delicacy – Stollen has various spices, lots of candied citrus peel, raisins, and almonds and tastes amazing sliced, toasted, and with butter. Finally, her Berry Tres Letches Cake is unique with its red berries and pistachios.
Paul Lemieux works at Auberge Du Soleil in Napa Valley and presents his signature torte that is made of 11 layers of crisp hazelnut dacquoise, velvety chocolate cremeux, fresh organic pureed hazelnuts, and deep dark chocolate ganache. After all, nothing says I love you like chocolate.
Another Napa Valley pastry chef, Kristin Davison, has special Christmas cookies for the ultimate indulgence. She used to make cookies with her mom and she does so to this day. Kristin believes that this can be that perfect Christmas gift for your loved ones. She loves her Chocolate Cringle cookies – fudgy in the middle and just a tad crunchy on top. She also puts a lot of love into decorated Christmas sugar cookies.
Sarah Barber of Dorchester, London, suggests her out of this world Santa’s Hat Pastry made from gingerbread panna cotta and mulled wine jelly. You can find this delicacy at the hotel’s Festive Champagne Afternoon Tea through January 4th and at its Christmas Carols Afternoon Tea until Christmas. This tiny creation is brought from her childhood as a special nod to her grandfather, who was also a chef.
Angelo Musa and Alexandre Dufeu of Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris went a different route than traditional Yule Log and created an entire edible forest. You will find seven white fir trees of various shapes and sizes and sparkling round chocolate bushes on a base of dark chocolate mendicant bar sparkling with dry crystalized fruit. You can order this dessert online on December 1st.
Nelson Fernandes is a pastry chef at the Lodhi, world famous upscale hotel in New Delhi, India. He offers his signature sponge cake dessert, Gateaux Fraises Pate d’amande. It might sound simple, but the combination of almond-meal sponge with English cream and fresh strawberries is to die for.