Pas­try shop knows not to overdo it

Amy Drew: Light on the Su­gar bak­ery hits sweet spot for treats.

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By JeanMarie Brown­son

Our fam­ily bakes cook­ies. A lot of cook­ies. Not so much in num­ber as in va­ri­ety. Most years we craft more than two dozen va­ri­eties. We broke a record in 2018 with 35 dif­fer­ent types of cook­ies on dis­play Christ­mas morn­ing.

We do a lot of this bak­ing to­gether in my kitchen. For about eight hours ev­ery year, the house is filled with my sib­lings and their mil­len­nial off­spring mix­ing, rolling, man­ning the oven, dec­o­rat­ing and clean­ing up the su­gar. My sis­ters haul bak­ing sheets, bags of flour, cookie cut­ters and tins from their house to mine. We were blessed to have our father pho­tograph­ing (and taste test­ing) all the ac­tiv­ity for many years.

Natasha keeps count and fre­quently bakes a batch or two just to break records. Joseph, a tal­ented baker, out­shines us all in mak­ing the most in­tri­cate cook­ies. Glen and Marty read, then reread their recipes dozens of times. For Henry, it’s all about the dec­o­rat­ing — his su­gar cook­ies look like ed­i­ble art. Claire del­i­cately sand­wiches her pecan lace cook­ies with orange cream. We count Erika’s but­tery caramels as a cookie. Ev­ery­one bakes their fa­vorites.

Each year we add new cook­ies to the reper­toire. Ten years ago, my dad painstak­ingly gath­ered many of the recipes, typed them into uni­for­mity and put them into binders. He gave us each a copy. The “Kaiser Krist­mas Kookie Kook­book” def­i­nitely con­tains a sweet chunk of our fam­ily history.

Dozens of the 50-plus recipes are made ev­ery year for as long as the oldest of us can re­mem­ber. Christ­mas would not be Christ­mas with­out ko­lacky, oat­meal thins, blond brown­ies, short­bread logs and mo­lasses cook­ies.

We ar­gue about fa­vorites. Dad’s was never in doubt: Cherry cookie bars. I can­not re­mem­ber a hol­i­day with­out this bright red cherry, oat and co­conut bar cookie. Mom thinks the recipe orig­i­nally came from a pack­age of co­conut — no one knows for sure. Last year was the first year I made the cookie in­stead of mom. I was tempted to swap out the maraschino cher­ries for some­thing fancier. Nope. I’ll al­ways make the recipe the way Dad en­joyed them.

Pep­per­mint says hol­i­days bet­ter than any other fla­vor. No longer con­tent to hang candy canes on the tree, we crush them and add the shards to ev­ery­thing from cof­fee drinks to cock­tails and desserts. The Doyles bake choco­late pep­per­mint stars, the Hansens make pep­per­mint bark.

This year, I’m trans­form­ing the fam­ily’s fa­vorite choco­late brownie into a hol­i­day de­light.

Rem­i­nis­cent of cof­fee­house pep­per­mint mocha drinks and candy shop pep­per­mint bark, these are the brown­ies to make for

space. Its in­te­rior matches the snazzy, mod makeover this once-dreary Aloma shop­ping plaza has un­der­gone.

It’s also a word you could as­cribe to the items you’ll spy in the case.

Cream puffs in al­lur­ing fla­vors like matcha and Earl Grey. Crepe cakes — in thin, gor­geous lay­ers of gas­tro­nomic ge­ol­ogy. Ja­panese cheese­cake so light they seem apt to float away and panna cotta that I’m about pos­i­tive would be air­borne if not for the cute glass jars weigh­ing them down. And egg tarts. I’ve never met one I didn’t want to eat. These are lighter than any I’ve tried be­fore and just as tasty.

You could stop in and sit awhile — the cooler weather of late makes the bak­ery’s hand­ful of out­door seats ap­peal­ing — but in­side feels al­most like out, with nat­u­ral woods, bright whites and lovely live plants cre­at­ing seren­ity that’s sub­lime for sip­ping.

You could also take out, which you might just — since the hol­i­days ap­proach. You may have more time to linger over cof­fee, or loved ones in town with whom to share treats. These are like to im­press and please on any plat­ter. I couldn’t take a bad pic­ture, quite frankly (and that’s say­ing some­thing).

Light on the Su­gar will take or­ders for most ev­ery­thing they make. While a day’s ad­vance no­tice is usu­ally the M.O., they en­cour­age cus­tomers to call ahead as far in ad­vance as pos­si­ble — they’re get­ting busier as De­cem­ber wears on.

Pep­per­mint has been added to the cream puff fla­vor ros­ter (which also in­cludes matcha, Earl Grey, Kit Kat, cin­na­mon, Oreo, New York-style cheese­cake, black sesame, ube, straw­berry, pecan pie and cof­fee) and they’ll be do­ing log cakes in choco­late-ba­nana and mini-rein­deer cakes in straw­berry in the shop.

Those or­der­ing in ad­vance can get them in any fla­vor.

Those cream puffs, though. Wow. Big and beau­ti­ful, in­cred­i­bly light and airy, and per­fectly not-that-sweet. I can’t imag­ine any­one balk­ing; it’s just a mat­ter of find­ing your fla­vor.

I spill the tea on res­tau­rants week in and week out, but I prom­ise you: I’m not spilling a drop if I pick one up here.

Light on the Su­gar Bak­ery Cafe

• Where: 4270 Aloma Ave. in Win­ter Park

• When: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. daily

• Cost: $2-8

• At­tire: Ca­sual

• Call: 407-916-0215

• On­line: lighton­the su­gar.com

Bak­ing merry for the hol­i­days

Since a bak­ery was on this week’s re­view ros­ter, and the hol­i­days are a time when sweet in­dul­gences col­lide beau­ti­fully with joy­ous oc­ca­sions, here are a few other Or­lando-area gems you might con­sider to jazz up your ta­ble, no mat­ter the meal.

It’s a hol­i­day hap­pi­ness tri­fecta: Sup­port small busi­ness, save your­self time, make your loved ones happy!

Sis­ter Honey’s (247 E. Michi­gan St. in Or­lando; 407-730-7315; sis­ter­honeys.com)

Fresh on the heels of a huge win at the World Food Cham­pi­onships in Dal­las, this SoDo stan­dard will be of­fer­ing up a fes­tive ros­ter of hol­i­day sweets for pre-or­der: co­conut cake ($44.99), pump­kin gin­ger­bread pound cake ($34.99) and key lime pie ($32.99) but we’re most ex­cited about the Sneaky Doo­dle cook­ies ($28.99 by the dozen only). Or­der dead­line is Dec. 14.

This fes­tive goodie scored a su­per-rare 100 points at the com­pe­ti­tion for a stuffed cookie round. It’s a but­tery cookie — filled with caramel, choco­late and pecans — is lightly coated in cin­na­mon su­gar, driz­zled with choco­late and dusted with pecans.

“Cook­ies are the quin­tes­sen­tial Christ­mas dessert,” says Sis­ter Honey’s owner (and cham­pion baker!) Evette Rah­man. “What else do peo­ple leave for Santa?”

But­ter­milk Bak­ery

(1198 Orange Ave. in Win­ter Park; 321-422-4015; but­ter­milk-bak­ery.com)

You’ll find But­ter­milk’s ex­ten­sive cake, pie and tart menu on their web­site — special or­ders must be placed a min­i­mum four days in ad­vance — but staffers say the longer the lead time the bet­ter, es­pe­cially dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son. Look for their bouche de Noel and special-edi­tion sea­sonal pies and other items, too. There were cran­berry items a ‘plenty on their counter at press time. Ev­ery­thing here is baked daily and you re­ally can­not beat the im­pos­si­bly flaky crois­sants — sweet or sa­vory. Guests will rave. The se­cret? Come early. There’s no limit on what you can buy and the ear­lier you ar­rive, the wider and fresher the se­lec­tion you’ll have.

Blue Bird Bake Shop

(3122 Cor­rine Dr. in Or­lando; 407-228-3822) They’ve got their hol­i­day menu ready at this Audubon Park Gar­den Dis­trict fa­vorite. Cup­cakes ($2.95) abound, in fla­vors that in­clude Candy Cane (vanilla cake with crushed candy cane in­side and pep­per­mint but­ter­cream with crushed candy cane on top) and Gin­ger­bread (gin­ger­bread cake with cream cheese frost­ing topped with can­died gin­ger). Cook­ies ($2.09), brown­ies ($3.59) and Bundt cakes ($30) also are avail­able. Check out the full list on their Face­book page and be sure to place or­ders 24-48 hours in ad­vance.

Want to reach out? Find me on Face­book, Twit­ter or In­sta­gram (@amy­droo) or on the OSFoodie In­sta­gram ac­count (@or­lando.foodie). Email: amthomp­[email protected]­lan­dosen­tinel.com. Want more foodie news? Sign up for the Food & Drink news­let­ter at mem­ber­ship.or­lan­dosen­tinel.com/news­let­ters.

E. JA­SON WAMBSGANS/CHICAGO TRI­BUNE PHO­TOS; SHAN­NON KINSELLA/FOOD STYLING

Cherry cookie bars are a long­stand­ing Christ­mas tra­di­tion for colum­nist JeanMarie Brown­son’s fam­ily.

Brown­son adds pep­per­mint to her fam­ily’s fa­vorite brownie recipe to make a hol­i­day treat. See the recipe in­side.

AMY DREW THOMPSON/OR­LANDO SENTINEL

De­ci­sions, de­ci­sions: An ar­ray of good­ies at the But­ter­milk Bak­ery counter.

AMY DREW THOMPSON/OR­LANDO SENTINEL

Fresh and fruit: the ly­chee and grape­fruit teas at Light on the Su­gar Bak­ery Cafe.

AMY DREW THOMPSON/OR­LANDO SENTINEL

Choco­late and con­fetti cup­cakes from Blue Bird Bake Shop. There are far less tra­di­tional va­ri­eties avail­able, but the clas­sics are still the clas­sics.

SIS­TER HONEY’S

Sis­ter Honey’s Sneaky Doo­dle earned a per­fect score of 100 at the World Food Cham­pi­onships in Dal­las in Oc­to­ber. Or­der now to gift these stuffed cook­ies for the hol­i­days.

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