Make the season bright with these crowd-pleasing treats
It’s undeniable that holiday sweets and treats give the season its pizzazz. Remember making popcorn balls with your mom or wrapping up soft caramels with your grandma? Every year, you yearn to rekindle those feelings of togetherness by making those treats. But, all too often, finding time to cook and bake just doesn’t happen. With the obligatory parties, concerts, gift buying and volunteering that demand our participation over the holidays, our dreams of whipping up holiday treats tend to remain in the realm of fantasy.
But, no need to sink into the pit of despair. Just put down the cooking sherry and walk away from the kitchen. Let the staff of Devour Utah help you find a solution. Check out the following locally crafted foods and snacks that are not only luscious in every way but ready-made to serve as party snacks or to give as gifts. From breads and cookies to candy and nuts, there is no shortage of heavenly bites made by Utah’s talented cooks, bakers and confectionary makers. The holiday season is their time to shine, and they’re only too happy to serve you, using top quality, fresh ingredients and making their goods in small batches that ensures they will taste great and be well-received.
Pick up a gift box, a platter and/or a package of their goodies and share them with loved ones. They might not be the popcorn balls of your youth, but in many respects, they’re even better.
Here’s to celebrating and creating new traditions.
Rockin’ Around the Sourdough
What began as a Sunday outing in 2007—baking bread and pedaling it up to sell at the Park Silly Market on a red bicycle—has evolved into a seven-day-a-week operation for chef/owner Brent Whitford and his staff of seven who bake 20 types of bread. Sourcing local ingredients such as flour and grains from Central Milling in Logan, Redmond Real Salt and all-natural yeasts, Red Bicycle bread has become a household name and a must-have on dinner tables, especially when entertaining.
“I just started getting into baking bread for the restaurant I was working at for their table service,” Whitford says, “and then started baking at home.” Whitford is most proud of his sourdough ($5.99), which, he says, is a three-day process from start to finish. “We are probably best known for our sea salt and olive oil stick bread ($3.50), selling between 200 and 1,000 of those a day.”
Red Bicycle doesn’t ship its bread and only currently sells it at The Market in Park City. Whitford likes keeping things small and local. He is happy to accommodate large orders but needs a few days’ advance notice. (Aimee L. Cook)
Red Bicycle Breadworks
1500 Snow Creek Drive, Park City
It’s a Wonderful Cookie
Growing up in Saudi Arabia without many modern conveniences (such as a local grocery store!) led Ruby Snap owner Tami Steggell to learn how to cook from scratch. Her mother made everything at home, from tortillas to cream puffs, and proudly passed on her recipes. After becoming a young wife, Steggell honed her culinary skills and learned how to make delicious cookies at home. In the 1990s, she became an avid cyclist and wanted to make delicious treats on her off-training days. Not wanting to waste precious calories on a mediocre product, she soon realized she had a mission. She cashed out her savings and left her career as a designer to open RubySnap.
“What makes us truly different is that every ingredient is hand-prepared, or uniquely sourced—from whole vanilla beans, fresh eggs, rich butter, clean nut butters, pure chocolates and fruits and veggies from quality farmers,” Steggell says. Every day, the bakers hand zest, cut, squeeze and peel their ingredients, from citrus to root veggies.
“We have a ‘no yucky stuff’ policy,” Steggell says, noting that real ingredients deliver real flavor. “This also ensures that our product is being made fresh every day. RubySnap freshness and quality are what we live by,” Steggell says.
RubySnap produces 450 dozen cookies a day, just for their Salt Lake store. Popular cookies include the Mia, a vanilla bean sugar cookie, with a buttercream beet frosting; the classic chocolate chip Trudy and the cherry-chocolate Suzie. You can also purchase their frozen cookie dough at Harmons grocery stores. (Aimee L. Cook)
770 S. 300 West, SLC
Hark How the Balls, Sweet Rice Balls, All Seem to Say, Throw Cares Away
While Kyung Myers excels at baking Korean goods, although she’s skilled with French pastries as well. The former baker for the Bill White Restaurant Group in Park City is a self-taught baker, having learned the art 20 years ago. “Over the years,” she says, “I have provided breads and desserts to many local restaurants,” and she still works with some Park City and Salt Lake eateries including Blue Lemon and others.
Particular about ingredients, she uses real butter and distilled water in her pastries. Using red bean paste and powder, green tea and sweet sticky rice, she prepares a plethora of Korean-inspired sweets and savory items in the bakery that she opened a year ago. Sweet rice balls (3 for $2.99) are a soft and chewy treat that come in a variety of flavors like cake crumb and green tea, and red bean powder. Homemade Korean breads are filled with red bean paste ($1.89) and the large dough pockets of the traditional Korean favorite, koroke, are stuffed with potato, cabbage, onion, carrots and curry ($3.49).
Her sweet breads are filled with lemon and coconut ($2.49) or melon ($2.99). Other standouts include Myers’ eclairs ($3.49), fruit tarts ($5.99) and cinnamon caramel sticks ($1.99).
In a season noted for sugar-overload, Myers has carved a niche with her delicious gluten-free, dairy free and low-sugar desserts. Hers is a bakery with a strong following of happy customers. (Aimee L. Cook)
153 E. 4370 South, No. 17, Murray
Love and Baklava Come to You
“Punk’D Out Baklava”—that’s how Elif Ekin describes her homemade treats. Ekin took her mother’s Turkish baklava recipe, made a few changes and began selling it at the local farmers markets in 2004. After her success there and having her recipe featured by Martha Stewart in 2008, she began selling baklava and other items at the Tea Grotto, and now has expanded to local businesses such as Laziz Kitchen and BGR.
“My baklava is different in that I only use 26 layers. I use a sugar, water and lemon syrup, which makes it lighter, and I do not butter every layer,” she says.
She’s always up for a challenge, whether it’s creating a boozy product or combination—such as bacon and bourbon—or a candy line using dark chocolate. “I will try just about anything,” she says.
Elkin makes trays of 96 bite-size pieces ($100 for traditional). Her nuts are ground fine so that ingredients combine well together, and she uses a reduced amount of syrup—just what is necessary to create the texture she wants.
Her unusual baklava offerings include flavors such as lemon zinger, chocolate walnut, marzipan, Twizzlers, s’mores and Mango Madness. There’s even a cheesecake baklava!
Order through her website. Special orders (and challenges) are always welcome, with a minimum purchase of a quarter-tray. (Aimee L. Cook)
645 E. 700 South, SLC
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Toffee
Cache Toffee founder Lori Darr learned the art of toffee-making from her mother, who made the confection for family and friends as a holiday treat. After mastering toffee-making herself, Darr continued the tradition with her family and friends. In 2016, she decided to bring her toffee collection to market and launched Cache Toffee. The handcrafted, small-batch toffee is made with fresh local butter and chocolate. The candy has a melt-in-your-mouth creamy crunch that’s accompanied by flavors inspired by the changing seasons.
Her Summit flavor ($40/pound) reminds her of fall colors in the mountains. Layered with locally made Solstice dark chocolate, the irresistible toffee is blended with seeds, nuts, dried berries and fruit. It’s finished with a sprinkle of sea salt and organic green tea leaves, which Darr says remind her of the musty, damp, fall smell.
“Blondie ($40/pound) makes me think of summer,” she says, “with the sun shining in your face. I use Solstice white chocolate, local bean-to-bar chocolate, with mangoes, rum and toasted coconut.”
Cache Toffee’s use of quality ingredients, she notes, “is what really sets us apart.”
Sampler boxes, gift boxes and corporate gifts are available on the website, and you can find many Cache Toffee flavors in local Whole Foods, The Store and Provisions on Main Street in Park City. (Aimee L. Cook)
The Cheddar Express
The Kohler family has been at the heart of the Heber Valley for nearly 100 years. Their dairy farm has long produced rich, premium raw milk and in 2011, the family decided to build the new Kohler Creamery and make handcrafted artisan cheese as a way to preserve the farm and land for the future.
Today, the Kohlers operate using a cow-to-consumer philosophy. “We want our customers to understand the dairy process, what quality dairy products are and where they come from,” explains Russ Kohler, the fourth generation to raise dairy cows on their land in Midway. “We want customers to understand everything about the process from the cow to the cheese.”
Together, Russ and his father, Grant, along with their families and, of course, their 150 free-roaming, grass-fed dairy cows now make a wide range of cheddars as well as raw milk and fresh cheese offerings. The Holsteins graze in Midway’s mountain valley pastures and drink from the area’s natural springs. They’re milked up to five times a day using one of the first robotic milking systems installed in the West.
The father-and-son Kohler team are widely celebrated as success stories in preserving their farming heritage while adjusting to a changing economic landscape. And the results are delicious.
Whether you choose to gift a basket of locally made Heber Valley Artisan Cheese cheddars this holiday season or celebrate with a decadent charcuterie board at home, a wise choice includes Heber Valley’s Snake Creek 6-Year Cheddar—a very special farmstead cheddar available only in Utah that offers an intense, sharp bite. “It’s an amazing cheese,” Kohler says. “It’s been in the cheese cave for six years waiting for that perfect time to come out, and it has amazing flavors …”
The award-winning cheddar displays strong citrus notes of pineapple, key lime and blood orange at the forefront and a palate-pleasing crystalline texture.
You can find Heber Valley’s Snake Creek 6-Year Cheddar, and many of their other cheeses, at all Utah Harmons and Whole Foods locations as well as at Kohler Creamery in Midway. (Heather L. King)
Heber Valley Artisan Cheese
920 River Road, Midway
A Cup of Good Cheer
The Hive Winery and their brandy producing spin-off company, The Hive Brandy Co., have a beverage for everyone at your holiday table or as stocking stuffers from Santa.
Based in Layton, The Hive Winery established itself by specializing in fruit and honey wines made with local ingredients. Founders and winemakers Jay and Lori Yahne are adamant about supporting Utah’s strong agricultural heritage, so their boutique winery produces small batches of seasonal offerings featuring honey from Yack Brothers Honey in Roosevelt, fruits from Rowley’s Red Barn in Santaquin, berries from Weeks Berries of Paradise, and produce from Payson Fruit Growers Co-op, to name just a few. “We believe the wine should taste like the fruit it’s from,” Jay says. “We look for the best ingredients and make some very unique blends.”
The Yahnes are geotechnical engineers by trade but fell in love with winemaking as a hobby. Over the years, they’ve crafted more than 100 fruit wines, brandies and ports along with hard ciders.
One of the first hard apple ciders made in Utah is The Hive’s Stinger Hard Cider. Using apple juice blended from a variety of apples sourced from Rowley’s Red Barn in Santaquin, this carbonated cider is on the sweeter side—truly reflecting the taste of the apple juice it’s made with. Stinger Dry is a less-sweet option. Seasonal fruit Stingers featuring raspberry, black currant, peach, blackberry and raspberry jalapeno or mint and autumn (cinnamon and nutmeg) flavors are available on a rotating basis.
Select products from The Hive Winery can be found in DABC liquor stores across the state with a full selection available at the winery in Layton where tastings are also offered for $5. (Heather L. King)
The Hive Winery
1220 W. 450 North, No. 2, Layton
Our Finest Nuts We Bring Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum
Quality and tradition keep satisfied customers returning to Western Nut Co. throughout the year for the best nut mixes, brittles, toffees and fudge. Generations of Utah, Wyoming and Idaho families continue to shop here to pass on fond memories of special favorites and treats, especially during the holiday season. Since it was founded in 1966, only the highest-quality nuts—sourced from around the world—are used and roasted at the Factory Store, which can be viewed through glass windows. Plump peanuts, silken cashews, meaty walnuts and pecans, firm almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts and more are oh-so tempting.
Western Nut Co. maintains a quaint old-fashioned shop atmosphere at the retail store but keeps modern by creating new mixes such as the super-nutritious Antioxidant Medley Mix and Golden Spike Trail Mix along with sugar- and salt-free offerings. There are shelves of dried fruits and hard-to-find specialty candies such as Holland mints and Jordan almonds.
As a member of Utah’s Own, the charming store has displays of locally made jams, sauces, fun gifts and décor, and you’ll find a huge selection of bee- and beehive-themed items. Creative gift baskets and pre-wrapped gift boxes are available in-store or for online ordering and corporate giving. Holiday kiosks and store displays pop up in malls and grocery stores during the season.
There is truly something for everyone, even a fun Nut of the Month Club that gives superior nuts to those you love all year. Part-owner Lee Mercer says they are happy to help businesses create specialty mixes like the one they are currently working on for a brewery.
Western Nut Co. really knows its nuts! They maintain a strict three-month sell-by date, whereas many stores keep nut products on the shelf a full year. Customers can rest assured that their nut purchase is fresh, whole and delicious any time of the year. (Merry Lycette Harrison)
Western Nut Co.
434 S. 300 West, SLC
Oh Bring Us a Figgy Pudding
Casee and John Francis delight in bringing together fresh fruit, pure cane sugar and organic lemon juice to produce flavor-filled, jewel-toned jars of Amour Spreads jams and marmalades. This passion has been both their hobby and business for nearly a decade.
Amour Spreads highlights perfectly ripe fruits primarily grown and harvested in Utah. Plums, elderberries, peaches, apricots, chokecherries, tayberries and even heirloom tomatoes follow the seasons into each jar of Amour Spreads preserves. As Amour Spreads uses nothing frozen, when an ingredient run out, they’re gone until the next harvest season.
It’s their true dedication to traditional artisan ways that have earned the Francises acclaim as craft producers. “It’s not about the volume—it’s about the quality,” Casee says of their products. Their blackcurrant blackberry jam won a Good Food Award in the preserve division in 2016—celebrating the dark, tart and earthy fruit grown in Paradise by local farmers.
Jams are made by hand in traditional copper pans in the commercial kitchen of Amour Café. John says the copper’s conductive properties provide an even cooking surface and prevents scorching.
In 2016, Casee and John opened Amour Café near Liberty Park to further serve their community—and also are building a place to showcase their jarred creations. Savory egg plates and grilled cheese feature Amour Spreads’ Heirloom Tomato jam while baguettes brim with Black Mission Fig jam and brie. Full jars are available for purchase.
Holiday shoppers can mix and match their favorite flavors of Amour Spreads by shopping at Amour Café or other specialty stores like Caputos and Liberty Heights Fresh. Better still, give a gift that lasts all year. The Amour Jam Club is a selection of 12 jars of jam shipped in three collections throughout the year that reflect the best of the best from Amour Spreads. It’s a delicious way to spread the love of local fruits. (Heather L. King)
Amour Spreads and Amour Café
1329 S. 500 East, SLC
Have Yourself a Merry Little Croissant
Crumb Brothers has been a Cache Valley staple since it opened in 2004. For years, the bakery produced more than a thousand loaves of bread each day—much of which was delivered around Salt Lake City to restaurants and grocery stores. But the retirement of the original owners Bill and Diane Oblock and eventual closing of the bakery in 2015 was cause for mourning by loyal customers—until bread lovers and Logan residents Rudy and Luba Otrusinik bought and reopened Crumb Brothers featuring many of the original recipes and employees.
Since then, there’s been significantly more focus on catering to the local Logan community with Crumb Brothers’ celebrated artisan breads and European-style pastries. The restaurant offers drool-worthy breakfast, scratch-made lunch and a hearty Sunday brunch menu. Wine Wednesday dinner also features seasonal dishes and special wine flights.
Yet, it’s still the baked goods that customers most clamor for. Using organic flours and locally sourced ingredients—everything from black garlic in focaccia, cherries in the cherry chocolate sourdough or polenta and corn flour in the corn ball brioche—the flaky pastries and crusty breads are showstoppers, whether in the restaurant or at home.
For the holidays, a selection of scones, Danish and croissants are the perfect centerpiece for a winter wonderland brunch, while a sourdough braid or crusty baguette makes a delicious and festive hostess gift.
Customers living to the south of Logan are able to regularly find Crumb Brothers baguettes and loaves at farmers markets from Ogden to Murray during the warmer months. And this winter, enjoy breads and pastries in Salt Lake at the Downtown Winter Market at Rio Grande Depot from November to April. Of course, the best selection of fresh-baked items is always available at the flagship bakery in Logan—and always cause for celebration. (Heather L. King)
291 S. 300 West, Logan
The Crunch Before Christmas
In 1942, Cornelius Vanderlinden, bought Garden Gate Ice Cream, which he and his wife, Helen, operated while raising their family. As time went on, the Garden Gate eventually became a chocolate store.
Cornelius “worked many hours every day,” his daughter, Linda Peterson, recalls. After he died in 2009, Peterson became a co-owner along with her mother, Helen Vanderlinden, and sister, Connie Plumb. Operated seasonally, Golden Gate Candy opens for the holidays on the first Monday in November. Its bestseller, Garden Gate toffee, is known for its deep, rich flavor with just the right amount of sweetness.
Each year, members of the Vanderlinden family blend the toffee mixture of sugar and butter in a big copper kettle. When it reaches the optimal temperature, they pour it onto a 15-foot marble slab to cool. Then, Peterson says, they use a pizza cutter to cut the toffee to fit on cookie sheets. They cut the sheets of candy into still smaller pieces and dip them in a thick coating of melted Guittard Chocolate, ordered from California. They then roll the toffee in freshly ground almonds. The nut dusting provides both a flavor and texture to complement the chocolate and toffee.
They also use the imported Guittard chocolate to coat caramels, cinnamon bears and Oreos. “We dip marshmallows and pretzels in caramel and then in the chocolate,” says Peterson.
The toffee, however, remains the star. “We ship it all over the United States,” Peterson says. “And when we sell out, a day or two before Christmas, we close for another year.”
After 77 years, Garden Gate remains very much a family enterprise. “There’s a lot of love in this toffee,” Peterson says. (Carolyn Campbell)
Garden Gate Candy
928 E. 900 South, SLC
I’m Dreaming of a Mint Sandwich
Mint sandwiches, a melt-in-your mouth blend of mint and chocolate, are a top-selling confection at Fernwood Candy, says Bekah Staheli, manager of the Fernwood Factory in Logan. “As far as I’m aware, we have sold mint sandwiches since Fernwood opened in 1947,” she says. “They are still as yummy now as they were back then.”
The process of making the candy involves pouring a thin layer of velvety-smooth melted chocolate on the factory’s large granite tables. The green “mint-chocolate” center of the sandwich is added next, followed by a top layer of chocolate, completing the layers that in essence form a chocolate sandwich. “We still use a big knife to cut them into squares,” says Staheli.
Mint sandwiches are available in both dark and milk chocolate, or in packages that include both varieties. They are sold in an assortment of options ranging from a two-sandwich foil-wrapped package and in boxes ranging from 2 to 14 ounces. There is a 2-pound box and it’s possible to purchase a bulk order of 10 pounds of mint sandwiches. “People really love them,” Staheli says, “and we have a ton of repeat customers. They are especially popular around the Christmas holidays.”
In 2016, Staheli’s parents, Mike and Linda Staheli, purchased Fernwood Candy from Dick Wood, son of the original owners, George and Leah Wood. The name “Fernwood” is a combination of their last name, Wood, and Fern Street—where their home was located when they were newlyweds. Originally an ice cream parlor and candy store, Fernwood Candy now offers orange and raspberry sandwiches along with the popular mint confection. They also sell other handmade chocolates including nut barks, chocolate-covered pretzels and dipped cookies. Sea salt caramels and pecan logs are also popular during the Christmas holidays, while almondettes are a hit every spring.
Mint sandwiches are available online and at Frost’s Books and Deseret Book. At Christmastime, Kroger and Associated Food stores also sell the mint, raspberry and orange varieties of the chocolate sandwiches. (Carolyn Campbell)
6937 S. 1300 East, Cottonwood Heights