As Seen on "Unique Sweets": Hooker’s

     If it hasn’t caught on around you yet, let me tell you about the latest sweet treat fad: salt.
It’s not even that it’s new, or that Hooker’s started something completely radical. But I’ve found it everywhere in the city: on top of chocolate chip cookies, in fancy grinders showing off fancier colors (Himalayan pink, anyone?), ice cream, and soap. Kinfolk Magazine has even written a letter (from pepper) to salt, to slow its roll. Here, Hook is using salt to truly enhance the flavors coming out of his confections. And it works.
     Again, I actually walked past this small and adorable place on my way to it. Very hole-in-the-wall, grab-your-coffee-on-the-way-to-work kinda place (they sell SF’s Sight Glass coffee here too).

     Exhibit A: Party Girl Caramel – “she’s a sassy and spicy sweet treat with plenty of fun in every bite…she’s loaded with toasted pecans, coconut, corn cereal, pretzel bits, and sits on a smoked sea-salted dark chocolate base.” So some of the descriptions weird me out a little, but check it out – all that in one caramel. There’s caramel in that, right? Yes…I think so. I went for a “Straight Boyfriend” (make that descriptions and names), pictured below: with peanuts and a graham cracker base, if I remember correctly.

     “We’re about aesthetics.” That’s what Matt told me when we discussed a potential photo project with Hook, the owner and creator of Hooker’s. This is clear. Check out the cocoa nibs on top of that white-chocolate dipped caramel.

     The original gangster, right here. This is where it’s at. If you’re going to buy a $2 caramel, go straight to the source of inspiration/the most caramel you can get in one go. No extras, no fillers. Just caramel and chocolate. And salt.

     I would call Hook’s flavors and combinations…thoughtful. There are a lot of different things going on with his caramels, but not so many things in one caramel that you can’t appreciate the flavor of the caramel itself. But I like me a good classic treat. Especially if I’m a n00b to the game and need to know what I’m getting into.

     The one thing I knew I had to try when I went though was the caramel bar, where they flatten a cookie base onto a baking sheet and throw a bunch of original caramels on it so they melt right onto the cookie. It was just as good as it sounds. If you’re wondering how I think that sounds, SO GOOD.
Definitely at the top of my list. If you’re into San Francisco-priced dessert. $2 for a caramel and $3 for a bar. But hey, it’s a treat-yoself kinda place.

On the Hunt: Dynamo Doughnuts

     One morning I was inspired to google “best doughnuts in San Francisco”, and what it came up with was less than disappointing. Among the 2-3 different sites and opinions I received, Dynamo Donuts was a unanimous choice among doughnut eaters. They’re known for their wacky flavors and ingredient combinations. And of course, their prices are just as hipster as their options (apparently hipsters have money now? Completely different subject). Normally these rings go for $2 each or more, but past a certain time in the day, they present their “twofer” deal where they’ll give you two, so they can get rid of as many fresh doughnuts as possible. So you can go in the morning, where they’ll have probably around 10 flavors for $2+ each, or you can go in the afternoon, when they’ll have 4 flavors for half the price. I say it’s a win-win.

     That’s what was left around maybe 3pm? Minus one, because I took the last of it.

     I picked lemon sichuan because I love all things lemony, and the cashier suggested something like “hibiscus heart beet”. I’d hoped he knew what he was talking about.

     I guess he did know. I was pleasantly surprised by the pink cake of the doughnut that could only have come from the ingredients. It was a nice combination of chocolate and natural sweeteners – again, from the ingredients, and not too much sugar. It was nice and simple. Particularly good for those who prefer their desserts less sweet.

     Then came my lemon. I’ve yet to ever go wrong with lemon. My favorite part about this doughnut was how it was “filled”. Instead of taking a whole doughnut and piping it, at Dynamo they form doughnuts halves and then place ample filling in between before frying away. GENIUS. Look at that space. No crowding of room, no cream oozing out of your bite and onto your shirt before you can get to it. The flavor was just as good: I guess the powder was supposed to be spicy, like a sort of pepper. So, definitely a healthier route than powdered sugar. But it was a very mild sourness, nothing too extreme. On the inside was the perfect lemon curd: not too sweet, and not overpowered by sour. Brought me back to my British jam days…mm lemon curd!

     Dynamo itself is a cool place. I’m finding that so many places in San Francisco where baking goes down, the kitchen is in plain view for all to see. Of course, not much happens in the afternoon…at all. But here’s where the magic happens. On the other side of the counter are chairs and places to sit and enjoy your high end coffee and doughnuts. In the back there’s a nice outdoor patio area where I hid.

     And here is my super shady picture of the store front. I passed by Dynamo almost twice when I went looking for it. The front is the counter that your walk up to, modest and quiet. But I’m sure in the morning there’s a line down the block! I wanted to document this, so I crossed the street with my big camera around my neck and hid behind this tree so as not to be seen by the guy working there taking a picture of this place without previously mentioning it. In hindsight, I clearly should have said something, and he definitely saw me. Then there was this guy parking his car. So I thought I’d leave this photo here to tell more of a story than to illustrate the unique store front of Dynamo…
     There you have it! Hipster doughnuts in the hipster part of town: Dynamo Donut + Coffee in Mission. If you’re in the area, definitely check them out!

Rollin’ Roulade

     Happy New Year! My Frame-By-Frame baking cookbook struck again with its slightly inconvenient recipe for a roulade, which I guess can mean anything rolled up, likely edible (and not to be confused with the musical technique). Originally a coffee walnut roulade, the sticky outcome of Iris and my efforts was more of a spice-cream cheese roulade. All the better, though! This was definitely a new experience for the two of us, having to beat egg whites…and their yolks, with an electric mixer. After adding all the baking spices in the cupboards, almond & vanilla extract in place of the coffee extract, and the typical dry ingredients, we poured the mixture (not much of a dough) onto a baking sheet and moved it to the oven while we worked on the filling. Lacking necessary/most ingredients for the classic icing swirl, we opted for a cream cheese frosting instead, using only cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract. The most important part of the process was likely the patience possessed while we waited for the roulade to cool in its ultimate rolled shape right after it came out of the oven. You see, if you let it cool flat and then spread the icing, when you come to roll the whole thing up, it will tragically and literally rip to shreds. There’s little else more frustrating than having your baked good come out looking wonky because you couldn’t wait long enough. Moral of this episode isss: restrain thyself; your occipital lobe will thank you for it.

3.5 eggs and countless minutes later, we have this

Folded, not stirred (bahah wow…)

Looks….uh

The moment of truth
Look at that aesthetically pleasing confection


Coffee and Walnut Roulade
From Frame by Frame Baking by Love Food
Serves 6

Ingredients
Butter or oil, for greasing
3 eggs
1 egg white
1/2 cup superfine sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 tsp coffee extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
Roughly chopped walnuts, to decorate

Filling
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar, plus extra, sifted for dusting
1 tbsp coffee liqueur

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F/200°C. Grease a 13×8.5 inch jelly roll pan and line with nonstick parchment paper (any baking sheet will do, though the paper is important).
  2. Place the eggs, egg white, and sugar in a bowl over a pan of very hot water. Whisk with an electric mixer until pale and thick enough to leave a trail (completely stiff is unnecessary).
  3. Whisk in the coffee extract, then fold in the flour and finely chopped walnuts lightly with a metal spoon.
  4.  Spoon into the pan, spreading evenly. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown and firm.
  5. Sprinkle a sheet of parchment paper with superfine sugar (that might have helped, but we didn’t do it). Turn out the roulade onto the paper and peel off the lining paper. Trim the edges (oops).
  6. Quickly roll up the sponge from one short side, with the paper inside. Cool completely (try hard).
  7. For the filling, place the cream, sugar, and liqueur in a bowl and whisk until the mixture begins to hold its shape.
  8. Carefully unroll the roulade, remove the paper and spread the cream over. Roll up carefully

Serve the roulade dusted with confectioner’s sugar and topped with roughly chopped walnuts.  <!– @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in