If visions of sugarplums are dancing in your head but the time or talent for holiday baking have yet to materialize, Virginia B. Wood has done the homework for you: This week's Food-o-File lists local bakeries cooking up Christmas sweets.
If visions of sugarplums are dancing in your head but the time or talent for holiday baking have yet to materialize, Austin bakers and confectioners are ready and willing to make your sweet dreams come true. Russell's Bakery & Coffee Bar (3339 Hancock, 419-7877): A pastry case full of rugelach, linzer bars, and macaroons, plus bourbon balls, chocolate truffles, and real petit fours. Our favorite item is the Holiday Chocolate Indulgence, a lovely package made with layers of brownie and chocolate mousse enrobed in dark chocolate ganache and tied with a buttercream ribbon. Texas French Bread (seven locations): All your favorite tea breads (pumpkin, hobbit, banana, cranberry) can be made in miniature or regular sizes and shipped wherever you'd like. Cookie tins can be packed with a choice of more than 15 different holiday cookies (we're partial to the nutty chocolate thumbprints filled with fudge) for that special holiday party. There are rustic fruit tarts (go for the cranberry) as well as a Pear Flan or Rum Raisin Custard Tart. Sweetish Hill (1120 W. Sixth, 472-7370; 98 San Jacinto, 472-2411): The very French buche de Noel is a longtime tradition here; choose a yellow genoise with mocha frosting or a chocolate genoise with chocolate. Dainty decorated cupcakes and hand-decorated sugar cookies. Great renditions of American fruitcakes, German Stollen, and Italian Panettone are made with Sweetish Hill's very own candied fruits. Rather Sweet Bakery (814 W. 12th, 474-4288): The breads and desserts you love at Ella's and Ranch 616 are produced at this new little sweet shop near 12th & Lamar. Try the shortbread angels with golden wings, a Southern Comfort Apple Pie, Eggnog Cheesecake, or a Ginger Roulade with mascarpone filling. Order a tray of scrumptious little Rocket Roll sandwiches for that last-minute office party or luncheon meeting. Marta's Flan (476-4334): In addition to the famous Pumpkin Flan, Marta has added a marvelous Eggnog Flan as a special holiday flavor. Look for them at both Central Markets, Whole Foods downtown, at Fresh Plus, and selected HEBs. Upper Crust Bakery (5408 Burnet Road, 467-1012): Any of your favorite Upper Crust treats can be wrapped and packed for holiday gift-giving. Try some gift packs of hand-decorated sugar cookies or their fruit- and nut-studded versions of Stollen and Panettone. The buche de Noel here is available with your choice of two fillings for a dazzling presentation at any party table. Dr. Chocolate (Central Park, 454-0555; Westgate Shopping Center, 891-6800): With the always busy mid-town outlet and a new south location just open last week, the good doctors are now ready to fill your chocolate prescriptions all over town. We were enchanted by the gift sleighs, beautiful wicker and metal creations ready to fill with chocolate confections. Small sleighs packed to your specifications will run $15-25 while the well-stocked large sleigh will run $50-75, depending on the load. Austinuts (2900 W. Anderson Ln., 323-6887): We were sampling all the wonderful varieties of dry roasted nuts here when we discovered heaven for fans of malted milk balls: They have enormous plain, espresso coffee, and peanut butter chocolate-covered malted milk balls. Divine! Penny's Pastries (302-3663): Look for Penny's signature collection of elegant, handpainted sugar cookies (wreaths, Christmas trees, packages, Santas, snowflakes, doves) at Northwest Hills Pharmacy, Food!Food!, Kitchen Door, Fresh Plus, and Breed & Co.
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