Decadent Desserts

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For those craving something sugary this holiday season, Laguna’s restaurants provide an array of confections to satisfy even the sweetest of teeth.

By Beth Fhaner

IMG_3124-EditThe magical holiday season has always been considered a time of indulgence, and it allows the perfect excuse to stop counting calories and enjoy a delectable treat or two. For diners with a sweet tooth, Laguna’s restaurants will satisfy sugar cravings with an array of decadent desserts, including cakes, pies, flans, pastries and libations. So whether you’re dreaming of creme brulee, white chocolate cheesecake or a multitude of other pleasing concoctions this holiday season, these dishes offer the sweetest fix.

Comfort Food Creations

Scrumptious, retro-inspired desserts are a trademark of Three Seventy Common Kitchen + Drink, but the popular eatery will feature some new creations this holiday season. A sweet potato buttermilk pie with cranberry confit, “creme anglaise” (vanilla custard) with persimmon cookie and vanilla ice cream, and a sticky toffee pudding cake with cinnamon sauteed pears and oatmeal ice cream will all join the menu. Other temptations include a whiskey pear tart with honey-ginger mascarpone and quince ice cream as well as apple cider-glazed doughnuts with caramel dipping sauce.

“The seasonal ingredients in these desserts say holiday celebrations, rustic hardiness, warmth, comfort and home baking to me,” chef Ryan Adams says. “The colors, aromas and textures are varied and appealing—just right for this time of the year.” (949-494-8686; 370common.com)

Sapphire Laguna Chef de Cuisine Devin Wells plans to focus on comfort foods this holiday season by offering desserts that incorporate peak seasonal fruits. For example, an apple cobbler with streusel topping, riesling-poached pears with a moist buttermilk cake, and a maple panna cotta will make appearances on the seasonal menu. In addition to the chocolate and peppermint flavors that many love to indulge in during the holidays, Devin expects candied pumpkins and salted pumpkin seeds to be popular dessert trends this season. (949-715-9888; sapphirellc.com)

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Winter Notes

Maro Wood Grill’s menu changes daily depending on the availability of seasonal ingredients, but Executive Chef Debra Sims plans to introduce many new desserts over the coming months, such as baked apples with dulce de leche, a variety of cheesecakes, a lemon meringue pie and gingerbread with ginger ice cream. Along with typical holiday treats that utilize citrus, pecan and pumpkin flavors, Debra cites house-made marshmallows as a top trend this winter. Maro’s malbec chocolate cake with whipped mascarpone frosting, a favorite among regular customers, will remain on the menu, as will the restaurant’s signature banana bread pudding, which took home the trophy for Most Delicious Dessert in OC at the Golden Foodie Awards in September. “Winter is probably my favorite season for dreaming up desserts,” Debra says. “Everyone seems to be in a more jovial mood than usual, and I always strive to create a lasting dessert memory that’s just as sweet as the thoughts and feelings we all have this time of year.” (949-793-4044; marowoodgrill.com)

Guests visiting The Loft or Studio restaurants at the Montage Laguna Beach during the holidays are in for some truly delightful desserts as well.

On Christmas Day, diners at The Loft can select from either a delicious apple chestnut “tarte Tatin” (an upside-down tart), served with cinnamon ice cream and Breton shortbread, or butterscotch “pot de creme” (French custard) with Valrhona Caramélia (a milk chocolate-caramel hybrid) ice cream and bourbon chocolate ganache. Over at Studio, patrons can indulge in a flavorful chestnut apple flan with McIntosh apples, natural yogurt foam and Calvados brandy.

“The holidays are my favorite time of the year, so I wanted to select ingredients such as chestnuts, butterscotch, cinnamon, hot chocolate and bourbon that play to childhood memories and conjure up images of warm, festive holiday traditions,” says Executive Pastry Chef Lee Smith. “These are fantastic flavors that always remind me of all the wonderful ingredients of the winter season.”

And come New Year’s Eve, revelers at The Loft can enjoy a dark chocolate “marquise” (a French mousse) with verjuice sorbet, chocolate ice and Manjari chocolate ganache, while celebrants at Studio can end the year with the ultimate libation: an Opalys white chocolate Champagne featuring organic lemons, Veuve Clicquot and Valrhona Opalys chocolate cream. (949-715-6000; montagelagunabeach.com)

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Signature Sweets

At the trendy K’ya Bistro Bar, diners can indulge in a regular dessert menu featuring tantalizing options such as vanilla bean creme brulee, peanut crunch bars with caramel creme anglaise or a warm flourless chocolate cake with white chocolate raspberry cream. Meanwhile, a satisfying winter spice cheesecake will be added to the holiday menu this year. (949-376-9718; kyabistro.com)

Later, toast the holidays at Splashes at Surf & Sand Resort with one of the decadent drinks featured on the dessert menu. The s’mores martini, composed of Smirnoff marshmallow vodka, Godiva chocolate liqueur and a graham cracker crumb-lined rim, is a delicious ode to the campfire treat, while the white chocolate martini is equally enjoyable with Stoli’s vanilla vodka, Godiva white chocolate liqueur and Frangelico chocolate syrup. A chai cupcake martini featuring Three Olives Cake vodka, chai mix and a cinnamon-sugar-lined rim is another excellent choice. (888-869-7569; surfandsandresort.com/splashes)

Over at Rock’n Fish, patrons can finish their meal with the perfect concluding dish: a heavenly Kona pie. Featuring chocolate, vanilla and coffee ice creams layered with Butterfinger, toffee and Oreo crumbs, this must-try dessert is topped with candied almonds, whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup. Also available this holiday season will be a white chocolate cheesecake served with homemade raspberry-and-Grand Marnier sauce and fresh whipped cream. (949-497-3113; rocknfishlb.com)

So, give yourself a little break this holiday season and give into these delectable delights. LBM

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