Dolce Neve is one of my favorite gelato spots in town! I saw this post on Facebook and had to share. I will be casting my vote soon!
Dear all, we are representing Texas and the United States and the most prestigious gelato festival in Italy and we need your help!
September 29 – October 2, we are joining other 39 gelato makers at the Sherbeth Festival in Palermo, Sicily. Sherbeth is THE festival of real artisanal gelato and is the only event not sponsored by companies making pre-made gelato mixes. At the festival, the public and a technical jury will choose their favorite gelato flavor.
We have selected three flavors to bring to the event and we need your help pick a winner! The three flavors are:
– Mascarpone, polenta cake and orange liquor
– Brown butter and pecan crumble
– Mascarpone and cocoa nibs infusion
Until September 16, you can stop by the shop, sample the three flavors and vote for your favorite!
Dessert in Austin used to be a boys club. There used to be very few pastry chefs. Many restaurants got their desserts off the Sysco truck and the few that did make desserts in house were led by men. But the times they are a-changin’. As more and more restaurants open and expand to new locations, women are becoming the new face of pastry in town.
Noble Sandwich Co. has grown from a tiny location in far north Austin to two much larger shops now serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. As much as I love their fabulous sandwiches, I have always been a fan of the eclectic pastry case. In addition to the standard bacon caramel corn and rotating cookie varieties, there is always something interesting like chocolate pate or dried fruit and nut-studded nougat. These creations are the brainchild of Lindsay O’Rourke.
O’Rourke graduated from culinary school here in Austin and went to post-Katrina New Orleans to hone her skills. After returning to Austin she worked at a few different places until an all-too-familiar chef story happened to her. She knew a chef who knew the chefs at Noble. Like many places, Austin has an incestuous yet friendly and supportive culinary community.
Noble was looking for someone to take over making the bread for their tasty sandwiches as well as make some cookies and other desserts. When O’Rourke got tired of making the same old chocolate chip, a batch of her triple chocolate marshmallow convinced the guys to expand their offerings. Now every trip finds something new and exciting in the pastry case.
One of the hottest new restaurants in town is la V. Ladies rule the roost from management to sommelier to chef. Their highly pedigreed pastry chef is Janina O’Leary. After graduating from the French Culinary Institute she worked in New York with such legendary chefs as Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller and Pichet Ong. She came to Austin to be closer to family and soon became the Executive Pastry Chef at Trace at the W. O’Leary was lured away by a longing to work more with local ingredients including those grown in La V’s own gardens.
O’Leary’s other joy is the bread program. As restaurants are going back to having in-house pastry chef’s they are discovering one of the perks is better quality bread. Instead of the same one or two bakeries supplying all of the restaurants in town with mediocre bread, pastry teams are coming up with supple brioche, crusty rolls and hearty wheat breads to fill the bread baskets. In addition, O’Leary also offers an assortment of doughnuts, scones and hand-rolled croissants for brunch.
Erica Waksmunski has worked literally from coast to coast. From Tennessee to Chicago to San Francisco. She came to Austin via the chef’s network- she met someone who used to work for David Bull. Before she knew it she was relocating once again to be the pastry chef at Congress. Like many pastry chefs, survival means versatility and Waksmunski does savory as well as sweet. She opened a food trailer Red Star Southern famous for its hot chicken and social media personality Ol’ Shitter Jim.
But sweet came knocking on the door once again. This time as Executive Pastry Chef for parkside projects, Shawn Cirkiel’s family of restaurants that include parkside, olive and june, and coming soon- Bullfight, a tapas restaurant slated to open in the Spring. Waksmunski spends her days bouncing between restaurants supervising a team that helps her execute desserts, breads as well as handmade pastas. Evenings are back to the trailer to relieve her partner at Red Star Southern. And she could not be happier.
As the culinary scene changes and expands here in Austin it has been fascinating to watch the pastry scene grow. I am so glad for the fresh faces and innovative desserts. Do not forget to save room next time you go out. You will not be disappointed. And check out my fellow food bloggers posts in our 2015 AFBA City Guide.
*UPDATE* 3/3/14 So sad to say- Cinnamon’s has closed its doors. Happy to say Philip Speer is working on a new bakery/cafe called St. Philip. Trace has a new pastry chef I have yet to check out but fortunately Janina O’Leary passed up big city offers to stay in Austin at the new brick and mortar for very popular food truck La V, opening this week! Steven Cak expands his dessert offering along with parkside’s expansions with chavez and olive and june. And finally Jodi Elliot will also be opening her own bakery very soon called Bribery. I will do a full post along with a couple of new spots once all of these open. It has been a very sweet year in desserts in Austin!
It is time once again for the AFBA city guide! I drew the difficult task of bringing you the cities best desserts. It is such a broad category, I decided to give a shout out to some of my favorite pastry cases and trailers available at any time your sweet tooth might be calling you and then focus on the high end dessert porn available at Austin’s finest restaurants.
One of my first jobs was as a baker at a small chain that specialized in cinnamon rolls located at the Lincoln Village shopping center. The same little store is now an independently owned bakery called Cinnamon’s run by French Chef Loic Duchesne. The cinnamon rolls are huge, buttery, and delicious, just like the ones I remember from the summer I gained 10 pounds. Chef Loic does a booming business with the soup and salad crowd as well as American favorites like chocolate chip cookies but just like a corner patisserie in Paris, there are a rainbow of pastel macarons and chocolate croissants ready to whisk you away on a virtual visit to the City of Lights.
Another one of my favorite dessert cases is at Vespaio Enoteca. While Vespaio is one of the best Italian places in town and worth a long leisurely visit, more often I find myself in a rush and the case here carries a nice assortment of European style desserts and breads as well as charcuterie and antipasti perfect for a picnic on the go. Just need a bottle of Pinot and you are ready for whatever Austin adventure awaits you.
Hillside Farmacy could also be known as Chef Sonya Cote’s favorite things. The walls are lined with local products, most of which have little in common except that Cote likes them. And she does have great taste. The pastry case is an assortment of local bakers and their best products, many of which are usually found only at the weekend farmer’s markets. So sleep in on Saturday and check out Hillside instead.
The Flying Pig, a giant fresh fried donut covered in bacon and maple icing, has long been one of my favorite indulgences courtesy of Gordough’s, one of the first trailers to start the current dining craze in Austin. I have not had the pleasure of visiting their new brick and mortar, Gordough’s Public House, which offers sandwiches and burgers made from donuts as well as craft cocktails and a fine assortment of beers but I have heard great things. Even the salads are served with a “piping hot garlic donut.”
My other trailer pic is Holy Cacao, which is most famous for its yummy cake balls but I am in love with the frozen hot chocolate. Most shakes I find too thick and cloyingly sweet but the folks at Holy Cacao start off with a European style super thick hot chocolate, add it to Bluebell chocolate ice cream, and top it off with enough ice to keep it slushy without watering it down. SO. FREAKING. GOOD.
One of my favorite desserts last year was the Popcorn and a Movie by Callie Speer at the wildly popular Swift’s Attic. I was also impressed with a seasonal apple dessert I had but unfortunately the lighting is not exactly photographer friendly. The food at Swift’s is imaginative and flavorful and so are the desserts. They recently started a brunch on Sunday’s with Foie Gras PB&J Pancakes that I must try. Mmmmm, foie!
Yet another Austin chef as a semifinalist for a James Beard Award Rising Star is Janina O’Leary from Trace. O’Leary has a long list of prestigious chef’s she has worked with like Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, and Pichet Ong. But she brings her own sense of color and balance to the desserts she crafts at Trace. With all of her prestigious training, I am anxious to watch this talented hand blossom into her own super stardom.
Jodi Elliott is the pastry genius behind Foreign and Domestic. She has recently started a Bake Sale on Saturdays at the restaurant. The sale starts at 10am and lasts until they run out, which means, get in line by 9:30 and be happy with whatever you get. But try especially hard to get some popovers if you can.
My top 4 dessert places, well, the pictures pretty much tell the story. Fantastic, creative, blending of the savory with the sweet, gorgeous, works of art.
First up is Steven Cak at Parkside
Next up is Philip Speer and Andrew Lewis from Uchiko-
Next is the delightful Erica Waksmunski of Congress
Finally, one of my favorite people in the pastry world, Plinio Sandalio from the Carillon.
Despite the million other things we all have going on around the holidays, when I saw the call for a blogger cookie swap to raise money to fight kids cancer, I knew I wanted to participate. Julie at The Little Kitchen and Lindsay at Love and Olive Oil were the brave organizers of the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. For a small registration fee of $4 (which all went to Cookies for Kid’s Cancer), each blogger receives 3 contacts Secret Santa style. You send a dozen cookies to each and in return, you receive a dozen cookies from 3 other bloggers. Neat, huh?
In addition, the good folks at OXO are matching the donations and sent each participant the super cute “be a good cookie spatula”. Half of the sales from the spatula are also being donated to CFKC
I sent cookies to The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler, Chocolate and Carrots, and blogchickabowow. I included both my business cards, a Scooby Doo Christmas card, and still neglected to tell them what kind of cookies I was sending. Although I usually like a soft cookies, I had box of Crispy Rice cereal (yes, I spelled it right, it is the generic version) I wanted to use. I dug through my recipe box for my grandmother’s Cowboy Cookies and got to work.
Cowboy Cookies are a highly versatile version of a chocolate chip cookie, usually containing oats and chocolate chips but pretty much open to interpretation after that. The combination of oil and butter gives a crisp, shortbread texture and the crispy rice cereal adds an extra crunch that is hard to identify on first bite. So you must follow up with many more bites, just to be sure. I also added a cup of dried fruit that I had on hand that gave a nice chewy sweet kick to them as well. I am not a raisin fan but little bits of dried mango, pineapple, and cranberries go well in cookies as well as homemade granola. I used a smaller scoop for the cookies to make sure I had enough and boy, did I. This made almost 5 dozen 3 inch cookies. Quality control is very important. I had to taste a few before I boxed them up. Then decided I better send 1 1/2 dozen to each of my bloggers before I ate them all.
1 cup Butter, softened
1 cup Canola Oil
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 large Egg
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
3 1/2 cups Flour
1 cup Crispy Rice Cereal
1 cup Quick Oats
1 (12 ounce) bag Chocolate Chips
1 cup Dried Fruit
Preheat oven to 350° and line sheet pans with parchment paper.
Combine butter and oil as well as you can and then blend in sugars until creamy and smooth.
Add egg, salt and vanilla to butter and sugar.
In separate bowl, combine flour, and baking powder. Then add oats and cereal to flour mixture.
Combine butter mixture with flour mixture to make a soft dough, then fold in chocolate chips and dried fruit.
Drop dough by heaping tablespoon onto parchment paper and bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned.
Two more bonus links- to the Round Up of all of the participating bloggers! Part one at Love and Oil and part 2 at The Little Kitchen. Just a few hundred more cookie recipes to drool over 🙂
Join the country’s top pastry chefs for an unforgettable evening of dessert to benefit Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign.
Killed by Dessert is a collaboration of far-flung friends- a mere slice of a broad pastry chef community. Spontaneously conceived among the mumblings and rumblings of social media, our vision is to share personal reflections of ‘favorite things’- those things that please us, things that motivate and inspire us, and the processes that often remain hidden in the kitchen.
Austin has a ton of dessert options, from trailers to fine dining to bakeries you are sure to find something to satisfy that sweet tooth.
Two of the best restaurants in town are Uchi and her sister restaurant Uchiko. You may have heard of them, Tyson Cole won a James Beard Award last year for best chef Southwest and if there is any justice in the world, Paul Qui will be crowned Top Chef tomorrow night. As ethereal as their food is, I always save room for dessert. Sometimes two.
Director of Culinary Operations at Uchi and designer of desserts Philip Speer was just nominated for a James Beard Award for the third time. His plates are as beautiful as they are tasty. Speer uses familiar flavors and combines them with bold techniques to make a sophisticated presentation. One of his biggest sellers is the peanut butter semifreddo which came to him one day when he was making a sack lunch for his daughter.
My next post talks about the Social Hour they offer at both restaurants. If you go, make sure to try the desserts as well.
The Carillon is the restaurant located at the AT&T Executive Center on the University of Texas Campus. This is one of the best restaurants in town that nobody seems to know about. It is probably due to the fact that it is located in a hotel/conference center run by UT and is only open to staff for breakfast and lunch but it opens for fine dining to the public in the evening and it is outstanding. I have been a huge fan of the executive chef, Josh Watkins, since his days at the Driskill. As much as I love Watkins’ food, his dessert program did not do justice to his high caliber food. That problem was recently resolved with the addition on Plinio Sandalio to the team.
Sandalio originally comes from Bolivia but spent most of his life growing up in Houston. He is known for his daring desserts that combine savory elements like foie gras or offer surprising twists like flavored pop rocks. I always look forward to his inventive design.
Huge tip- the restaurant validates for its parking garage. It is one of the few places downtown you do not have to worry about parking.
Additional fine dining desserts:
Tons of pastry cases around town including many Mexican bakeries that you should try but that is subject to a whole separate post. Here are a few of my favorite European style bakeries:
Do not forget the trailers! Far more delicious desserts than I can count but here are a few of my favorites:
Did you get enough pie for Thanksgiving? Me neither, no such thing! Today the first 2000 to sign up for ClickedIn deals through this link will receive a voucher for a free 4″ pie.
ClickedIn is a new daily deal website from Time Warner Cable. They hope to add another avenue to advertisers including local businesses like Cutie Pies. The goal is a more sustainable marketing campaign versus the guerrilla tactics that leave many small businesses even worse off.
The heart behind Cutie Pies is Jaynie Buckingham. Being especially fond of pie, I have followed news of her since she first won a holiday pie contest at the Driskill. This inspired her to take her massive collection of family pie recipes and turn it into first a successful South Congress trailer and now a brick and mortar at 7329 Burnet Rd.
Cutie Pies come in a variety of flavors. Buttermilk is her signature pie but also look for key lime, chocolate ice box, pumpkin spice, coconut cream, cherry, the list goes on and on. My current favorite is the Heath Bar Pecan. I especially love the flaky, thin crust that Buckingham manages to produce on every single tiny pie. She also sells full sized pies, cookies, and other baked goods. It is best to call ahead if you are looking for a specific flavor or want a whole pie.