Delight in a box: 8 inspired SF desserts for the intrepid partygoer

By Christina Mueller

The start of the summer season means a change in how and what we eat, with meals shared outside with friends and family. Bakers and pastry chefs shift gears, too, serving up fresh fare inspired as much by the Bay’s summer fog as by the sunny days. A frigid fog breeze may be blowing but these desserts will warm up any summer celebration. Perfectly portable, these treats express the best of the season and the Bay Area.

Bluestem Brasserie (photo: Ally Chen)

Bluestem Brasserie strawberry tall cake
No single ingredient embodies late spring more than the petite strawberry, and Bluestem Brasserie’s pastry consultant Lori Baker takes full advantage of the seasonal charmer in her signature strawberry tall cake. Springy yellow cake is layered with a one-of-a-kind strawberry cheesecake filling that gives the cake an unrivaled, light flavor. Strawberry buttercream and fresh strawberries bring it all together. Perfect at room temperature, it keeps its shape in the box and doesn’t mind hanging out on a buffet table.
Neighborhood: SOMA MAP

Stonemill Matcha Café and Tea Room matcha cream pie
Cakes with a “wow” factor are not often associated with summer parties, but that is about to change thanks to Stonemill Matcha Café’s matcha cream pie. Slice into the fluffy pie to reveal an understory of matcha cream in a green so vibrant, the Japanese—and the Irish—will need a new word to describe it. Infused with a specific blend of matcha developed for Stonemill Matcha from a traditional tea house in Kyoto, and seasoned with a hint of fresh orange zest, the pie is silky smooth with a piquancy that peeks through the cream. It’s a playful take on a traditional American dessert that expresses its Japanese character in every bite.
Neighborhood: Mission MAP

NOON All Day coconut taro danish
As portable a dessert as pastries are, it’s only fitting that the team behind NOON All Day fill their renowned Danish dough with fillings inspired by pastry chef Sarah Hipwell’s travels. Inspired in equal parts by Hawaii and New Zealand, the coconut taro Danish is a layer of taro rolled with coconut pastry crème. Serve it whole or cut it open to reveal the taro’s purple stripes. The Danish is crowned with coconut flakes dusted with taro root powder and a hint of fresh basil, adding a subtle anise note and a pop of purple up top. It’s the perfect beginning (or ending) for any party, but pairs especially well with a tropical theme.
Neighborhood: Dogpatch MAP

Alexander’s Patisserie Chocolate Pillow Mousse Cake
Known for their exacting approach to preparing meat, Alexander’s Steakhouse brings the same rigorous attention to their in-house patisserie program, Alexander’s Patisserie. Helmed by pastry chef Phuong Quach (aka PQ), they offer a full suite of sweets, from petit fours to custom cakes, at the ready for your next celebration. PQ is partial to the chocolate pillow mousse cake. The salted chocolate sable crust supports layers of milk and dark Valrhona chocolate cake with a delicate whisper of hazelnut praline. The mirror glaze ensures this cake can withstand transport in a hot car and still look as beautiful as a blushing bride.
Neighborhood: Cupertino MAP

E&O Kitchen and Bar ginger cookies
Modern Asian defines the fare that emerges from E&O Kitchen and Bar, where executive chef Sharon Nahm combines her love of sweet and savory in E&O’s singular ginger cookies. Spiced with both candied and dried ginger, the diminutive treat packs a one-two punch of warm, tingling heat, softened by a sprinkle of cane sugar on top. Crispy and crackly at first bite, the crunch gives way to a chewy center. Flavorful and fun, the ginger cookies make a great ending to any barbecue. Extra points for their super portability.
Neighborhood: Union Square MAP

Sand Angel® cookies from Batter Bakery (photo: Stuart Locklear)

Sand Angel® cookies from Batter Bakery
Owner Jen Musty works hard to ensure that nearly every ingredient brought into Batter Bakery is local and seasonal, but her Sand Angel® cookies know no season. Made from a secret recipe known only to Musty, the Sand Angels® are reminiscent of a cross between a snickerdoodle and a molasses cookie. Crispy on the outside and chewy and soft on the inside, each cookie is finished with a dusting of powdered sugar. Perfectly portioned and extremely portable, these cookies are so unique, they carry a registered trademark. Luckily, eating them is an experience everyone can share.
Neighborhood: TenderNob MAP

China Live coconut rose cream roll
Step inside the vast food hall that is China Live and experience the dessert counter, where pastry chef Luis Villavelazquez serves up desserts inspired by Chinese sweets. Petal-soft and rose-infused, the cake is topped with a delicately scented rose cream before the two are rolled together into a retro-modern dessert. Topped with glacéed rose petals and dusted with fresh coconut, the cake is creamy with just a hint of sweetness. Roll into your next event with this subtle cake and surprise even the most ardent cake lover.
Neighborhood: Chinatown MAP

altoVino cannoli
At the tender age of seven, altoVino chef Nick Kelly learned to make traditional Sicilian cannoli from his pastry chef mom, rolling the shells by hand and stuffing them with the freshest ricotta. The cannoli Kelly crafts at altoVino hew closely to the kind found all over Sicily, but with his personal touch. Stuffing them with ricotta, chocolate, pistachio, candied orange, and lemon zest, Kelly swirls in a touch of vanilla. The crunchy shell is infused with moscato, adding a floral note that pairs beautifully with another Sicilian, the 2011 Malvasia delle Lipari, an aromatic dessert wine. Kelly advises eating them subito, before they soften. Call to order: 415-834-5766.
Neighborhood: Nob Hill MAP

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