By Amy Sherman;
The holidays are a sweet time of year. And this is definitely the season for some of the most delicious desserts of the year. Locally you’ll find great holiday specialties and flavors for serving at home or enjoying when you dine out.
One of the most impressive desserts during the holidays is the Yule log and several bakeries specialize in making it. Top pastry chef and designer Katrina Rozelle of Katrina Rozelle Pastries and Desserts in Alamo makes a Yule log also known as a Bûche de Noël. It’s made from her obsession devil’s food cake with chocolate mousse and raspberry layered inside. It’s coated in chocolate ganache decorated with meringue berries and leaves. “The Yule logs are beautiful and taste divine,” says Rozelle.
Passionate baker Karen Cordeiro of Old Towne Danville Bakery makes her Yule log from chocolate cake with mocha, or sometimes vanilla with raspberry but it’s always decorated with leaves and mushrooms. The symbolism of the log? “It’s about keeping the home fires burning and keeping families together,” says Cordeiro.
Another bakery making the Yule log is Créme Si Bon in San Ramon. Their cakes come in two flavors, either chestnut or raspberry with buttercream frosting, decorations that include mushrooms and snowmen, and they come in two different sizes for different tastes and needs.
Other specialties include a dramatic croquembouche. Katrina Rozelle crafts a large pyramid of cream puffs, decorated with spun sugar and filigree. Traditionally served at French weddings, it is also reminiscent of a Christmas tree and is very airy and ethereal. It serves 50 so it’s great for a company party or larger gathering. Also popular this time of year is Rozelle’s cranberry walnut tart. It’s similar to a pecan pie but with creamy custard with orange and cranberry. She also makes a lovely airy and fragrant eggnog bundt cake with a whisky glaze.
At Old Towne Danville Bakery you’ll find some of the most iconic desserts, especially pie. They do traditional apple, pumpkin, berry, cream pies, pecan and of course, pumpkin pie. They are proud of their cream puffs and eclairs and note that people always love chocolate, so a chocolate cake is popular all year, even at Thanksgiving and Christmas. At Créme Si Bon you won’t find pies, but European style mousse cakes. If you want something non traditional, try their pumpkin cream cheese mousse cake or an apple mousse cake.
For gift giving or serving at holiday parties, local bakeries also offer some terrific options. At Katrina Rozelle you’ll find bags of cookies including pecan snowballs, peppermint snowballs, biscotti, as well as English toffee. At Old Towne Danville Bakery they make lots of cut out cookies for the holidays and offer cookie platters with shortbread that taste home made and are stress free! No shopping or cleaning the kitchen necessary. At Crème Si Bon, the specialty is the French style macaron, and they make 22 different flavors. They are gluten free, made with almond flour and in special seasonal flavors like spiced pumpkin, chestnut and a year round favorite, champagne.
Tal’s Patisserie in Danville prides itself on being an all-natural bakery, using only organic flour and pesticide free fruit. For Thanksgiving they do the traditional pumpkin pies, sweet potato pies and apple tarts as well as rolls out of the sweet and rich challah dough usually used to make loaves for the Sabbath. For Christmas they make cookies and loaf cakes, traditional gingerbread cookies and Yule logs in flavors like chocolate mousse, pistachio, grand mariner and vanilla.
Something you won’t find at other bakeries is the Hannukah specialty, sufganiyot an Israeil jelly donut. According to Tal Sendrovitz, “At Hanukkah people eat oil fried things to commemorate the miracle of oil in the temple. People traditionally eat latkes, and the sufganiyot are very popular donuts, only less dense, like a ball, very light with no hole and eaten only for this holiday.” At Tal’s Patisserie they make them filled with jelly or chocolate. Also for Hanukkah they make cookies in the shape of a Star of David, menorah and dreidels, the traditional holiday toy top. They also offer a kids baking camp with holiday specialties and afternoon tea around Christmas. Details on the Tal Patisserie website and Facebook page.
All the bakeries are taking orders now, but can accommodate most orders with a week’s notice.