The Most Delicious Sweets Recommended By The World’s Top Pastry Chefs
There are few better gifts for loved ones at holiday time than sweets, a true sign of affection. We’ve polled a baker’s dozen of the world’s top pastry chefs—at hotels, restaurants and their own shops–for their recommendations for such gifts—these follow:
Christina Tosi, founder and owner of Milk Bar, and author of a new cookbook, Milk Bar: All About Cake, recommends two bundles of Milk Bar’s favorite cult classics, available online for shipping anywhere in the U.S.. One, “The B’Day Baller.” includes a birthday cake, Crack Pie and other goodies, while “Double Trouble” features two tins of cookies and a dozen truffles. And for those who can’t get enough of Milk Bar’s sweets, it even sells gift certificates to its baking classes, offered in Williamsburg, Brooklyn; Washington D.C.; and Los Angeles.
Dominique Ansel, legendary creator of the Cronut who has shops in New York and Los Angeles, recommends his Christmas Morning Cereal, a gourmet blend of Valrhona Caramelia (caramelized milk chocolate)-covered crispy puffed rice, whole caramelized hazelnuts and smoked cinnamon miniature meringues. This is delectable with a bowl of cold milk, sprinkled on ice cream or yogurt, or eaten plain. “Christmas morning is such a cherished moment for so many people, when they wake up and enjoy breakfast together and open presents surrounded by the people they love. So we wanted to start a tradition of our own with Christmas Morning Cereal. It’s become a tradition for so many people around the world–I love waking up every Christmas morning and seeing photos from people on Instagram eating it for breakfast,” Ansel said. The cereal will be available online and in his shops starting November 22.
Miro Uskokogic, pastry chef of Gramercy Tavern in New York, recommends his Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Pie, which he calls “a perfect gift for all holiday spreads. First, who doesn’t love a combination of creamy chocolate and hazelnut (hello there Nutella!). But what makes this pie perfect is the explosion of different textures, from crispy cookie crust, to thick praline, creamy Gianduja custard, crunchy chocolate hazelnut shell, light and airy vanilla cream on top, and then garnished with extra candied hazelnut pieces.” The pie is available only by order online, at Goldbelly, a purveyor of regional gourmet foods.
Ashley Boyd, pastry chef of 300 East in Charlotte, N.C., recommends her Hibiscus and Pear Crumb Cake, which she not only serves at her restaurant but also plans to bring to her family’s Christmas gathering. Boyd said it is “reminiscent of the classic holiday flavor profile of pear and cranberry, a little earthy from buckwheat flour and spicy from cinnamon and white pepper, and uses ingredients that are available to us locally. It holds well and can be displayed and served at room temperature, and with softly whipped cream. It’s everything I want in a holiday dessert!”
Rebecca Pensyl, lead pastry chef of the Belmond Charleston Place in Charleston, S.C., suggests her special creation, Fried Waffle and Rhubarb Ice Cream Sandwich, served at the hotel’s Charleston Grill. “This recipe is a personal favorite because it takes me back to childhood. On special occasions, we’d get a sweet treat of waffles or ice cream, and I thought why not combine the two? After dining at the Charleston Grill, this dessert is surprisingly light and is great to pair with dessert wines,” Pensyl said.
Dolester Miles, the 2018 James Beard Foundation’s top pastry chef, recommends the Coconut Pecan Cake she has created for all three of chef Frank Stitt’s restaurants in Birmingham, Ala., Bottega; Chez Fonfon; and Highlands Bar and Grill, the last named this year’s best U.S. restaurant by the foundation. Dol, as she is called by friends, family and colleagues, said the coconut confection, inspired by a traditional German chocolate cake, is the ideal all-occasion cake. “I grew up on German chocolate cake, and I wanted to do a version of that, so I took the chocolate out. It’s the perfect cake for Christmas and holiday gatherings.” The moist, sweet cake, served with a crème anglaise, is studded with pecans and contains many things coconut, including coconut milk, cream of coconut, coconut extract and actual coconut. The cake is also available for purchase at Bottega.
Margarita Manzke, pastry chef at Republique, the Los Angeles restaurant she runs with her husband, Walter, actually recommends three desserts for the holidays, all available at the restaurant’s bakery. Her Berry Pavola features strawberries rather than tropical fruit, as well as vanilla and mascarpone. Her stolen—which features a variety of spices, different kinds of candied citrus peel, raisins and almonds–is delicious sliced, toasted and spread with butter. Her Berry Tres Leches Cake, which contains seasonal fruit, especially red fruits, and pistachios for texture, reminds her of baking in her native Philippines, because of its evaporated milk. Manzke’s new cookbook, Baking at Republique, contains recipes for all three sweets; it will be published in April 2019 and is currently available for pre-order.
Paul Lemieux, the pastry chef at Auberge Du Soleil in Napa Valley, recommends the resort’s signature dessert with 11 layers of crisp hazelnut dacquoise, smooth chocolate crémeux, fresh pureed organic hazelnuts and rich, dark chocolate ganache. Lemieux believes this is the most decadent seasonal treat because it’s “The best way to say goodnight— or to say anything, really— is with chocolate.”
Kristin Davison, estate pastry chef at Meadowood Napa Valley, recommends Christmas cookies, which bring back fond memories of childhood. “As a little girl, I helped my mom make dozens of different Christmas cookies every year. We would serve them at all the family gatherings and pack them into tins as gifts. As an adult and pastry chef, I’ve continued to do so, giving tins or boxes of cookies to neighbors and friends. I love Chocolate Cringle cookies. An unassuming ball of chocolate dough covered with powdered sugar goes into the oven and comes out fudgy in the middle with magical white crackles on it. My favorite to make, though, are decorated sugar cookies. A lot of love goes into each cookie–Christmas just isn’t Christmas without cookies. “
This holiday season, Sarah Barber, the new pastry chef at the Dorchester in London, recommends her Santa’s Hat Pastry, made with gingerbread panna cotta and mulled wine jelly. This is served at the hotel’s Festive Champagne Afternoon Tea, through January 4, and its Christmas Carols Afternoon Tea, through December 23. Barber said she was inspired by childhood nostalgia and especially her grandfather, a professional chef.
Angelo Musa and Alexandre Dufeu, pastry chefs at the Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris, have created an entire forest of sweets, the 100% Gourmet Forest –rather than an individual Yule Log–for this holiday season. Inspired by Musa’s 100% Vanilla signature desert, this white edible forest features seven snow-covered fir trees in a range of different shapes. The forest’s undergrowth includes sparkling chocolate bushes, while its base is a dark chocolate mendiant bar covered with dried and crystallized fruit. Starting December 1, the chefs’ creation will be served at the hotel’s La Galerie restaurant and will also be available for purchase online.
Cedric Grolet, of the Meurice Hotel in Paris, named the world’s best restaurant pastry chef by Les Grandes Tables du Monde last year, makes two versions of the Yule Log. One is created with fresh chestnuts in a wide range of textures – mousse, cream, crisps and candied–counterbalanced by a roast chestnut biscuit base with hazelnut praline and lemon-flavored gel; the other features smoked chestnuts. The fresh chestnut cake will be available in two sizes starting December 18 at La Pâtisserie du Meurice par Cédric Grolet, while the Smoked Chestnut Yule Log will be available at the hotel’s Restaurant Le Dali from December 5 through 31.
Nelson Fernandes, executive pastry chef of the Lodhi, a luxury hotel that spreads across nearly seven acres in New Delhi, India, recommends a tasty, intricately decorated sponge cake dessert, Gateaux Fraises Pate d’amande. This almond-meal sponge is layered with decadent English cream and fresh strawberries and is covered with roasted almond flakes.
artikel by :forbes.com