Halloween marks the beginning of sweets season; a time to shamelessly indulge in desserts for a solid two months of bliss.
Kids tend to be less discerning, grabbing whatever brightly colored sugar treat or foil-wrapped holiday chocolate that comes their way. But what if you’re not keen on the traditional Halloween candy bars that pile up in offices and in orange-colored plastic bowls by the front door? Those with more sophisticated palates, namely gown-ups, tend to be pickier, looking for more flavor beyond blood-sugar-spiking sweetness as well as a greater variety of textures.
Luckily, the East Bay is home to a bounty of sweet treats, with numerous bakeries, patisseries and chocolatiers serving familiar favorites and new inventions. Nosh created a round-up of treats for adults to explore some of the East Bay’s most decadent desserts that are well worth the couple extra dollars. Adults can turn to these treats as a reward for sewing their children’s jellyfish costume and shepparding them to the neighborhoods with the best candy, or anytime their sweet tooth is fussing for a fix.
Baklava from Simurgh Bakery
Calling all baklava connoisseurs: if you thought you knew baklava—the classic pastry dating back to the Ottoman Empire made of phyllo dough, nuts and honey—think again. Simurgh Bakery makes five different types of the sweet, crunchy dessert, expanding the horizons of the Bay Area’s baklava lovers.
In addition to making the classic triangle pistachio baklava, Simurgh’s founder Hatice Yildiz, a native of Turkey, makes pistachio rolls and wraps with similar ingredients but with different layers and shapes of phyllo dough. She further spins the classic dessert with a date and walnut baklava and a chocolate-filled version.
Simurgh Bakery is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, serving other Turkish favorites, like handmade grape leaves and kebabs. Simurgh Bakery, 4125 San Pablo Ave., Emeryville; simurghbakery.com
Beet and Berry Cheesecake from Crumble & Whisk Patisserie
In another dessert for folks who like a little savory with their sweets, the earthy flavors of beets pair seamlessly with the fruity punch of blueberry in this unique cheesecake. The two commingle in a red wine reduction purée combined with the classic cheesecake filling and topped with blueberry compote.
Chef Charles Ferriér started Crumble & Whisk in 2013, and his cheesecakes are not only delicious, but aesthetically impressive, often topped with flowers and psychedelic-looking swirls. In addition to their storefront in Laurel, Crumble & Whisk is often in attendance at several East Bay farmers markets and offers multiple pick-up options. Crumble & Whisk Patisserie, 4104 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland; crumbleandwhisk.com
Chocolate Cream Pie from Gregory’s Gourmet Desserts
Chocoholics look no further, the chocolate cream pie from Gregory’s Gourmet Desserts is a must have. It’s a goopy, messy, decadent pie that doesn’t disappoint folks who want a classic dessert done right.
Gregory’s is a cult-favorite institution located in a basement in uptown Oakland and lovingly referred to as an “underground bakery.”
The fact that it has been successful despite little signage is a testament to its lasting quality and reputation in Oakland. Other fan favorites include the peach cobbler and key lime pie. To spot the somewhat hidden den of desserts, just look for the mural with “Famous” Wally Amos, Carla Hall and other Black culinary luminaries. Gregory’s Gourmet Desserts, 285 23rd St. Oakland; gregorysgourmetdesserts.com
Hoppy Hour Chocolate Bar from Tcho Chocolate
Want to get your IPA and chocolate fix all in one? This bar is a bitter and decadent creation for folks who like more intense varieties of both beer and chocolate. Berkeley’s Tcho Chocolate teamed up with Fieldwork Brewing to layer Cascade, Centennial and Chinook hops into 68% dark chocolate for a spicy, piney concoction.
Tcho operates in Berkeley, and offers factory tours. The chocolate maker also takes online orders and is available in groceries and shops around the East Bay. Other unique chocolate bar flavors offered include Karl the Nog, an eggnog oat milk white chocolate bar with nutmeg and rum flavor, and the Perfect Matcha, a strawberry matcha latte oat milk white chocolate bar created in collaboration with Third Culture. Tcho Chocolate Factory, 3100 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley; tcho.com
Kouign Amann from Starter Bakery
A kouign amann is a round, multilayered Breton cake that consists of many layers of thin dough separated by butter. The name comes from the Breton language native to a Celtic ethnic group from Brittany, France.
Starter Bakery serves several of these small, heavenly treats, dubbed by the New York Times as the “fattiest pastry in all of Europe.” Favorite varieties include hazelnut praline and of course, chocolate. Starter also makes a seasonal kouign amann which will be caramel and poached pear during Halloween.
Starter Bakery has operated a wholesale business in Berkeley since 2010 where online orders can be picked up on Fridays, and owner Brian Wood opened his first cafe and retail shop on College Avenue in Oakland in March. Starter Bakery Cafe, 5804 College, Ave. Oakland; Wholesale, 901 Gilman St., Berkeley; starterbakery.com
Mochi Brownies from Third Culture
Did Third Culture peak with their signature mochi muffin? Maybe not. The chocolate mochi brownie is an even richer, chewier spin on the classic mochi muffin, wedding the popular pastry with a chocolatey brownie. Chef Sam Butarbutar, who started Third Culture with their partner, uses cocoa powder from Tcho and California-grown mochiko rice flour. They also serve mochi doughnuts and matcha teas.
Third Culture has cafes in Walnut Creek and in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset neighborhood, and a showroom in West Berkeley’s Berkeley Kitchens. Tcho Showroom, 2701 8th St., Berkeley; Cafe, 1310 S California Blvd., Walnut Creek; thirdculturebakery.com