by Mike Dunphy
Perhaps no other time of the year shows off Montpelier’s growing culinary cred than the holidays, when eateries around the city roll out their seasonal treats. The skill of the chefs, as well as the fresh, local ingredients, add a special, wholesome sweetness to the holidays and make the calories nearly impossible to resist, particularly these six treats at Montpelier restaurants on sale through the New Year.
Peppermint Hot Chocolate at Skinny Pancake: Hot chocolate never tastes better than on a cold winter day. Skinny Pancake adds yet more satisfaction to its own cocoa brew with house-made organic peppermint syrup, made by steeping Vermont Artisan peppermint tea leaves in hot water, then, simmering the mint water with sugar to make a simple syrup mixture.
Mamaw’s Fresh Coconut Cake at Down Home Kitchen: For Down Home Kitchen’s owner, Mary Alice Proffitt, one of her sweetest Christmas memories was the very challenging and time consuming layered coconut cake her grandmother made each year. In tribute, she’s serving her own version made with the meat and juice fresh from the coconut and a buttermilk soak—just like grandma used to make.
Gingerbread at Bohemian Bakery: Although the recipe remains a closely guarded secret, owner Annie Bakst can tell you her ginger bread uses its own special cookie dough, plus pepper and cloves, creating a taste with more kick than sweetness. The patterned rolling pin of flowers, leaves, and vines makes it almost too pretty to eat at all … almost.
Hot Buttered Rum at Kismet: Whether complementing brunch and dinner, or simply taken on its own, the hot buttered rum at Kismet will warm the holiday cockles. It’s less about the rum than Kismet’s own homemade butter, which combines local cream with sea salt, maple sugar, and other spices. Simply add hot water, rum, and yum!
Stollen at Manghis’: A sweet, dense cake shaped like the folds of baby Jesus’s blanket has appeared on Christmas tables since the late 1400s, when it was invented and developed in Dresden, Germany. Over the centuries, the simple mix of flour, water, yeast, and oil has grown into an ornate and rich affair, with Manghis adding Cabot Creamery butter, raisins, almonds, candied fruit, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and vanilla.
Bucha de Noel at Birchgrove Bakery: Few treats represent the holiday season better than the traditional yule log, rolled from sponge cake to represent its woody origins. The French added their own flair to the “bucha de noel,” as has Birchgrove, rolling chocolate cake and chocolate mousse together, before coating with chocolate buttercream and topping with meringue mushrooms and marzipan holly leaves.