The sweetest time of the year is here, and the City has no shortage of decadent holiday cheer. Here are a few of San Francisco’s must-eat holiday sweets and their homemade counterparts to inspire those near and far. If you’re in the area, make sure to grab the featured local ingredients at a nearby farmer’s market or grocery store to stamp your confections with signature Bay Area style.
Seasonal pumpkin pie from Mission Pie (2901 Mission St at 25th San Francisco, CA 94110)
Get your winter pie fix at Mission Pie, the Mission District’s beloved pie-centric (but not pie-exclusive) hangout that serves up a rotating daily menu of both sweet and savory goods. A frequently-offered holiday favorite is Mission Pie’s pumpkin, a masterful medley of spices plated with a sky-high pile of whipped cream.
Homemade Equivalent: Mini triple chocolate pumpkin pie with whipped cream snowman
Local Ingredient: Clover Stornetta whipped cream
If you’re far from the Mission but are still on a mission to devour delectable holiday pie, look no further than your own kitchen. Bring on the cute by substituting a cupcake tin for the pie plate called for in this decadent triple chocolate pumpkin pie recipe. Use local Clover Stornetta whipped cream to top with a marshmallow whipped cream snowman (complete with an orange Mike&Ike nose). Warning: Snowmen may contain sass.
Old-fashioned chocolate cake with Italian meringue frosting at Miette (Ferry Building Marketplace)
Modern, cheerful and always delicious, Miette is hands-down one of San Francisco’s most charming bakeries. Aptly named after the French word for “crumb,” there will be but a crumb left on your plate once you’ve feasted your eyes on Miette’s renowned old-fashioned chocolate cake with marshmallow-like boiled icing. Take a deep breath. You’ll need it to inhale another.
Homemade Equivalent: Strawberry Santa hat brownie bites with chocolate ganache
Local Ingredient: Ghirardelli chocolate
Channel Miette’s minimalist decoration into an effortless homemade creation guaranteed to put a smile on Santa’s face. Smother brownie bites with ganache made from this recipe and top with trimmed strawberries dotted with whipped cream (or frosting of your choice). Enhance your ganache with San Francisco’s famed Ghirardelli chocolate for a Bay Area twist.
Lemon cookie ice cream at Three Twins Ice Cream (254 Fillmore Street San Francisco, CA 94117)
Sourcing all milk and cream from within 17 miles of their Marin factory, Three Twins ice cream is as fresh and local as it gets. Bolder, richer and more intense than the rest, this independently-run start up has expanded to four locations and has become a bona fide Bay Area hit, as well as a must-taste if you’re in the neighborhood. Energize your taste buds with festive lemon cookie, and enjoy the sensation of snow without having to physically drag your frostbitten body through it. Isn’t that why you came to San Francisco?
Homemade Equivalent: Lemon ice sorbet
Local Ingredient: Meyer lemon
Made popular during the California Cuisine revolution after being rediscovered by chefs like Chez Panisse’s Alice Waters, nothing says Golden State like the sweet and fragrant Meyer. Follow in Three Twins’ icy footsteps by substituting Meyer lemon into this simple sorbet recipe and delight in the closest thing you’ll find to San Francisco snow.
Featured Drink: The Cranberry Street at the Burritt Room (417 Stockton St San Francisco, CA 94108)
Tucked inside the Mystic Hotel in Union Square is one of the neighborhood’s coolest spots—the Burritt Room. In addition to prohibition-style cocktails with mixed-era ambiance, this cocktail bar offers a team of highly trained mixologists who will gladly prepare whatever classic or novel combination you desire. One of their tastiest original holiday drinks is the Cranberry Street, a concoction of dry gin, amaro, cranberry sauce, absinthe and lemon. ‘Tis the season to be jolly. (And engage in drunken folly.)
Homemade Equivalent: Clove-studded winter punch
Local Ingredient: Gravenstein apple
For half the cost and twice the bragging rights, save a few bucks and show off with this cranberry-apple winter punch. Dress it up by pouring into a clove-studded orange and garnishing with fresh pomegranate, orange, and a sprig of mint. The final San Francisco touch? Accentuate flavors with slices of fresh and local Gravenstein apple, a west coast variety found largely in the Bay Area.
Photos by Anna Pieper, mybapsang.com, lovetoknowcooking.com, and ahacooking.com.