Compiled by Meda Kessler and June Naylor
Photos by Meda Kessler
Fresh off of the pie-heavy menu of Thanksgiving, we’re loosening our belt a notch in preparation for December celebrations. While visions of fudge and rum balls dance in our heads, our holiday menus also include sweet pastries: chocolate-stuffed croissants, cookies dusted with powdered sugar, buttery sheets of dough layered with nuts and fruits. European chefs and bakeries who know how to work with butter and flour bring even more magic to the season. Here are some of our favorites.
Bisous Bisous Pâtisserie
Named for the French custom of kissing each cheek (“kiss, kiss”), the lovely bake shop from pastry chef Andrea Meyer delivers the utmost in Gallic confections, from tarts and macarons to mousse and gâteau. We’re especially taken with her gorgeous eclairs, in flavors such as pistachio or coffee ($4.15), and her cruffins, muffin-shaped pastries made from croissant dough, in varieties such as ham-smoked Gouda, raspberry cream cheese, pecan pie and red velvet (pictured, $4.25 and up). Note: A traditional bûche de noël is offered, too, in chocolate-hazelnut and caramel toffee ($52.50). Order online
48 hours prior to pickup.
3700 McKinney Ave., Dallas, 214-613-3570, bisous-bisous.com
The best stollen can be found in, oddly enough, Boyd, Texas, at a pop-up bakery. Letty Thome, co-owner and general manager of gogo gumbo!, sells a limited supply of German sweet bread for the holidays. Her baking partner each year is Marche Ann Mann, head of catering at Fort Worth’s Central Market and former owner of Black Rooster Bakery. Mann first learned to make stollen as a student long ago at The French Culinary Institute and offered the popular bread each Christmas season at the original Black Rooster, which she sold in 2014. She and Thome started making stollen together in 2017. Now, it’s a yearly ladies’ day at the Boyd bakery: Marche Ann does it for fun, and Letty gives the sweet bread as gifts and sells them at The Bakeshop. Stollen is incredibly labor intensive (it’s also soaked in butter), which justifies the price. $16 per loaf.
118 W. Rock Island Ave., Boyd, bakeshopboyd.com
Mark and Petra Lively bring rustic German breads to our table. Crafted with organic ingredients, shaped by hand and baked in their European-style oven, these labor-intensive Old World goodies include German nut rolls with almond filling (pictured, $8 each, weekends only) and apple streusel ($2.50 per slice, $60 for whole streusel, which serves 24; order at least a week ahead). The dark chocolate and Michigan dried cherry knots (pictured, $2 each) make a wonderful breakfast bread. And the Lebkuchen ($2 each, pictured), cookielike pastries with a crusty sugar-ginger glaze, are perfect with a cup of hot tea.
700 W. Dallas Road, Grapevine, 817-488-5223, breadhaus.com
Main Street Bistro & Bakery
The warm, welcoming bakery run by Fabien and Yasmine Goury has been a go-to for French pastries for 20 years. Well before they expanded to Chez Fabien next door and Piaf across the street, the couple’s charming bake shop provided the sort of picture-perfect croissants that make mornings just right. Among many pastry choices, our favorites include raspberry, Nutella or almond croissants, sausage-cheese brioche and cinnamon scones ($2.25-$4.25) each; large orders require 24 hours’ notice.
316 S. Main St., Grapevine, 817-424-4333, themainbakery.com
A search for simple but perfect Italian pastries led us to the Dallas Farmers Market, home to a petite coffee stand where the bakery goods match the exacting standards of the espresso drinks (Palmieri owns its own roastery). Pastries abound in sweet and savory choices, but our hands-down favorite is the cannoncino. The elegant cylinder or horn — filled with a choice of milk chocolate or lemon-vanilla crème and dusted with powdered sugar — is sturdy enough not to get soggy from the filling while staying crisp enough to crunch ($3.50).
920 S. Harwood St., Dallas, 214-684-9932, palmiericafe.com
DeVivo Bros. Eatery
Carmella DeVivo made bite-size Italian wedding cookies for special occasions and Sunday family get-togethers in her native Naples. Now, grandsons John and Ralph DeVivo keep her baking memory alive at their breakfast-lunch-dinner cafe, where comfort food from Italy and the U.S. satisfies a devoted following. Like most DeVivo items, these cookies — similar to Mexican wedding cookies and Russian tea cakes, with copious quantities of butter, ground almonds and powdered sugar — are supersized ($4 each). Available most days, they can be ordered in advance.
750 S. Main St., Keller, 817-431-6890, devivobroseatery.com
Three Danes Baking Company
Pastry chef and B&B-bakery owner Darlene Marks studied in Copenhagen to learn the baking artistry of her mom’s homeland. Among a list of holiday-perfect treats from her Near Southside kitchen is the kringle (pictured), a ring-shaped flaky pastry, layered with almonds and various fillings, including cinnamon-pecan or chocolate buttercream-macaroon, and topped with sugar frosting ($35, serves 18 to 20). A runaway hit, the hindbaersnitter is a rectangular Danish butter cookie filled with raspberry jam and topped with a vanilla glaze decorated with a rainbow of sprinkles — think of it as an elevated (and addictive) Pop-Tart ($2.50 each, $30 for an order of 16). Discounts offered on holiday pre-orders placed by Dec. 1. Open for curbside service weekends and by appointment only.
712 May St., Fort Worth, 817-690-8465, three-danes-baking-company.business.site
Known for authentic tastes of Italy, this restaurant’s temptations include the customary crisp cannoli, filled with sweet ricotta crème and chocolate chips and dipped in crushed pistachios ($5 each). But the showstopper is chef Daniel Albarran’s golden chocolate cake, capped with deep chocolate swirls dusted in gold sparkles ($45; order three days in advance). Watch for special pastries to come from Albarran’s kitchen at sister restaurant Spuntino, soon to open at Harvest Hall in Grapevine.
5615 Colleyville Blvd., Colleyville, 817-893-5880, loveriacaffe.com
Swiss Pastry Shop
Everyone knows about its crispy, light-as-air Black Forest cake, but there’s so much more to this European-style bakery-cafe. A newer specialty available only on Saturday, the kouign amann, is owner-chef Hans Peter Muller’s rendition of the laminated butter cake native to Brittany. He likes making the traditional one with caramelized sugar, but he’s upped the game with his figgy kouigns, made with fig jam, almonds and marzipan — and sometimes you’ll find a version with chocolate and Mexican caramel ($3.75 each; available through Dec. 19). The apple strudel is excellent, too.
3936 W. Vickery Blvd., Fort Worth, 817-732-5661, swisspastryonline.com