By June Naylor
Photos by Ralph Lauer
Forget the fruitcake and sugar cookies. Here are some other tasty treats to satisfy your sweet tooth this holiday season.
The season of indulgences arrives momentarily, giving us license to eat all the desserts. Holiday celebrations await around every corner, and each opportunity to sweeten the occasion is more irresistible than the one before. Checking out some of our favorite places known for the best treats, we find a fine selection of sweet endings both traditional and unexpected. Here are five places worthy of your sugar-seeking consideration.
Oak St. Pie Co.
Visiting an antiques shop some years ago, we spotted an old sign that proclaimed, “Pie fixes everything.” And who are we to argue? Since 2006, Carol Southern’s pie shop in historic downtown Roanoke has made good on that pronouncement — and with aplomb. With head baker Angie Hernandez at the helm and support from Aurora Fernandez and Evelyn Barron, this busy bakery produces a year-round pie menu that includes blueberry, buttermilk, chocolate meringue, German chocolate, lemon chess, raspberry-rhubarb and many more. There’s peach and blackberry cobbler, too, as well as peanut brittle, lemon bars and that Texas treasure called divinity. This holiday season, the Oak St. crew is baking millionaire pie, with a cream cheese-whipped cream filling chock-full of coconut, pecans, cherries and crushed pineapple. You also can get a Thanksgiving quartet of mini-pies in pecan, German chocolate, Dutch apple and pumpkin. Us? We’re coming in hot for the apple-cranberry pie, made with 2 pounds of apples and a cup of cranberries, laced with spices and topped with a lattice crust.
Servings: Eight to 10
Order: By Nov. 21 for Thanksgiving; by Dec. 17 for Christmas
Where: 110 N. Oak St., Roanoke, 817-490-0994, oakstpieco.com
Cravings are sated in style at this cinnamon roll haven, even for those sticking to a plant-based diet. Cinnaholic — begun in Berkeley, California, in 2010 — staked its sweets reputation on its vegan recipes for cinnamon rolls, obviously, but also for its fudge brownies, chocolate chip cookies and cookie dough. And yes, everything is made without dairy, lactose and eggs. The Southlake shop (which came under new ownership this year) offers more than 15 frosting flavors, including amaretto, coffee, chai and peanut butter. The bakery options are impressive, with mini-bun towers and cinnamon roll cakes in the mix, and they can be lavished in myriad combinations of toppings that include fresh fruits and nuts. For the holidays, however, the construction called the Cinnawreath — yep, a wreath fashioned from cinnamon rolls — is a no-brainer. We like the idea of maple frosting topped with apples, walnuts and pie crumble best, but a close second is the cream cheese frosting decorated with strawberries, pecans and chocolate chips.
Servings: 12 to 15
Order: 24 hours in advance
Where: Wyndham Plaza, 2704 E. Southlake Blvd., Suite 102; 817-749-0246, cinnaholic.com.
DeVivo Bros. Eatery
It was love at first bite with the Italian cream cake at this family-run bistro in Keller. Brothers John and Ralph DeVivo put a lifelong passion for comfort food into their recipes. Try the Sicilian omelet, chipotle and Gouda mac and cheese or the eggplant Parmesan if you need further proof. The bakery goods leave lasting memories, though, thanks to a baking team winning raves for its German chocolate cake, hummingbird cake, and rustic carrot cake with the distinctive inclusions of pineapple and apricot. During the holidays, their baking brilliance shines in coconut-rum cream pie, cabernet sauvignon apple pie and bourbon peach pie. That said, we cannot resist the white chocolate-pumpkin cheesecake this time of year. The 9-inch cheesecake, crusted in graham crackers and filled with white chocolate swirled with pumpkin pie filling, is crowned with homemade whipped cream.
Servings: 16 to 18
Order: 24 to 48 hours in advance
Where: 750 S. Main St., Suite 165, Keller, 817-431-6890, devivobroseatery.com
Mason & Dixie
There’s a good reason that owner-chef Beth Newman moved from one end of Grapevine to the other a couple of years ago: Her charming lunch spot in an antiques mall became far too popular for the space, and she needed room to accommodate the booming crowds clamoring for her fabulous sandwiches, soups and desserts. Expanding her space meant adding a happy hour, a wine list and menus such as those served Friday and Saturday evenings. Newman’s sweets are a big draw at the shop, too, especially at the holidays. Favorites include her pecan pie cheesecake (yes, all in one), gingerbread bread pudding and pumpkin bread pudding. Given a choice, we can’t resist the candy cane-Nutella bread pudding, served in a 9-by-13-inch pan. She sends you home with printed directions for heating and sauces in separate containers for you to add at serving time.
Servings: Eight to 16, depending on portions
Order: Three days in advance
Where: 603 S. Main St., Suite 303, Grapevine, 817-707-2111, masonanddixietx.com
Megan Rountree’s artistry knows few equals. The work she turns out on a daily basis from the kitchen of her Grapevine bakery is the sort you see on the best TV baking shows — which explains her victory on the Food Network’s Winner Cake All competition earlier this year. For the holidays, she creates a wonderful assortment of things you’ll deem too pretty to eat, but they’re too good not to devour with gusto. At Thanksgiving, she makes cakes and cupcakes into the cutest turkeys ever, as well as cupcakes that resemble lattice-top pies. Her decorated Thanksgiving and Christmas cookies are just gorgeous, and she offers paint-your-own cookie sets, as well. If you want a holiday theme turned into a cake — maybe a bountiful cornucopia or a Santa in his sleigh — she can do it. We asked for a bûche de Noël, also called a yule log cake, and she happily obliged. Some histories date this creation from the early 1600s; Rountree’s modern version is a lovely homage to the time-tested tradition.
Servings: 10 to 12
Order: 10 days in advance
Where: 120 S. Main St., Suite 20, Grapevine, 817-442-9999, legacycakesbakery.com