A Very Yummy Yuletide
Festive Local Dessert Pairings for Your Holiday Gatherings
By: Jen Brignall-Strong of Tailgate Takeout
The holiday season is upon us: a time to gather with friends and family and indulge in all our favourite eats and treats. While a home cooked turkey dinner is delicious, we all know who the real star of the show is: dessert. After all, who doesn’t love cozying up with a cup of coffee and a fresh pastry, or perhaps an adult beverage and a slice of cake?
In Windsor-Essex, we’re fortunate to have so many amazing bake shops, breweries, wineries, and coffee purveyors; each offering their own unique creations to satisfy any palette.
Entertaining a crowd and looking to end your meal on a sweet note? Here are a few of my favourite local dessert and beverage pairings to wow your guests.
Walkerville Brewery Winter Ale & Mary’s Mindful Bakehouse Turtle Brownies
‘Tis the season for festive brews, and Walkerville Brewery has come up with another fabulous holiday blend for craft beer lovers to enjoy. Their new limited edition Winter Ale is smooth yet indulgent, with a mild hop bitterness that’s balanced by a bouquet of delightful holiday spices and a sweet toffee character from the exquisite range of roasted malt. The epitome of Christmas cheer.
I find this ale pairs really well with chocolate (but really, doesn’t EVERYTHING taste good with chocolate?) I suggest serving with some decadent Turtle brownies from Mary’s Mindful Bakehouse in Lasalle.
Mary’s specializes in better-for-you desserts that are completely gluten, grain, dairy, soy, peanut & cashew-free, use unprocessed oils, natural sweeteners, and colour using whole foods.
These fudgy Turtle squares are topped with a creamy salted-caramel drizzle and crunchy chopped pecans. They’re super addictive and since they’re basically a health food, you can feel good eating more than one. A great option for guests with food allergies or anyone who loves delicious desserts.
Vin Winery Rosé & Sweet Revenge Bake Shop Strawberry Cheesecake Cake
Bing Crosby might be dreaming of a white Christmas, but I prefer to think pink when it comes to holiday desserts. If you’re looking for something different than the traditional peppermint flavours of the season, I’ve got a berry merry wine and cake combo for you.
VIN is Essex County’s newest winery and they’re already making quite the name for themselves, offering fun to drink wines at a great price point. Their Rosé is a popular choice; with a light, fruity flavour, it pairs nicely with one of my all-time favour cakes: the Strawberry Cheesecake cake from Sweet Revenge Bake Shop.
Available in a variety of sizes, the cake features homemade strawberry sauce and cream cheese buttercream spread on fluffy vanilla cake. It’s then iced in strawberry buttercream and finished with dried strawberries and graham crumbs. This one is almost too good to share, so be sure to order more than you think you need. As my mom would say, there’s no such thing as too much cake.
Both VIN and Sweet Revenge feature a number of other festive offerings for the season, like wine gift baskets and festive macarons, so I recommend following them on social media for the latest news on how to order. Gift giving made easy.
Chance Coffee Holidaze Blend & Iron Kettle Pastries
As soon as the last dinner dish hits the sink, my dad immediately asks, “Who wants coffee?” The post-meal ritual is something my family treasures because 1. We all love the way he makes coffee and 2. We know dessert is soon to follow.
I always like grabbing different local beans to try, especially the special holiday blends. The Holidaze blend from Chance Coffee has been a top pick the past few years. The 2022 version is the 6th iteration of the blend and is a 50/50 mix of naturally processed Ethiopian and Brazilian coffee with sweet notes of sugar cookie, cranberry, and chocolate milk. It is so good. Literally everyone in my life who loves coffee is getting a bag of this in their stocking.
Of course, while I’m at Chance, I always have to pick up some pastries from The Iron Kettle. They bring in a variety of fresh pastries three times per week, including their flakey, buttery croissants. If you’ve ever had one, you know just what a treat they are. I love the original croissants as well and the chocolate and the Nutella walnut versions; all perfect with a fresh cup of coffee after dinner or even as a treat on Christmas morning.
It’s definitely convenient to grab them at Chance if you’re in the city, but I highly recommend taking a drive out to Comber and visiting the Iron Kettle bread boutique for a full selection of pastries, fresh breads, soups, and take and bake meal options.
Wiser’s 10 Year Old Canadian Whisky & Caffeine & Co’s Banana Cake w/Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Our area is steeped in whisky history, so it only makes sense to raise a glass and celebrate our rich traditions this time of year.
My hubby’s new favourite after dinner sipper is the Wiser’s 10 Year Old Canadian Whisky; an award-winning blend of corn and rye distillate, aged for 10 years in new white oak, once used American bourbon, and used Canadian whisky casks. With tasting notes of caramel, vanilla, honey, and warm spices, it’s the perfect way to warm up on a cold winter night.
I really think whisky and maple flavours go well together, so I like to pair this with the gluten-free banana cake with maple cream cheese frosting from Caffeine & Co.
This chic café is nestled in the heart of historic Amherstburg and features a wide variety of coffees and teas, as well as pastries, cakes, cupcakes, brownies, and more. They also have the most adorably decorated sugar cookies (psst…a great stocking stuffer idea for the kiddos!)
The first time I tried their banana cake, I’m pretty sure I heard angels sing. Like, wow. That maple cream cheese frosting. The moistness of the cake. Perfection. It’s a departure from the traditional holiday flavours and I am here for it. A must try that will leave you and your guests fighting over seconds, so be sure to grab extras.
Red Lantern Coffee Co. & King’s Bake Shop Holiday Cookies
With a long night ahead of him, I’m guessing Santa would prefer coffee and cookies over milk and cookies, right?
Red Lantern is a specialty coffee roaster, focused on providing fresh roasted, approachable coffee from around the world. Their Juan Pablo Gomez Honduras Planes Village Pacayal is a nice pick for the holiday season because it has a lot of those warm, festive flavours like molasses, plum, and orange peel. Interested in trying some of their other blends? They have a great holiday sampler pack available for purchase; great to give as a gift or keep for yourself.
The coffee is great on its own, but I highly recommend pairing it with some holiday cookies from King’s Bake Shop. Dunking cookies in coffee? Double yum.
This super cute boutique bake shop is located right on Main Street and offers a drool-worthy selection of cupcakes, macarons, pastries, and cookies. Each day during the holiday season, they will be selling a variety of these festively decorated sugar cookies. They’re ALMOST too cute to eat. Almost.
Looking for a fun, festive activity? They are also offering a series of cookie decorating classes in December, so be sure to follow them on socials for details and dates.
Searching for more great ways to #shoplocal this holiday season? Check out the 4th Annual Holiday Gift Guide at yqgholidays.ca!