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Holiday Treats a Sweet Idea for Gift Lists

December 19, 1991|KITTY MORSE

Those who love to bake cookies think nothing of spending a good amount of time producing dozens upon dozens of cookies for holiday eating and gift-giving.

Some accumulate a variety of cookies by holding a cookie exchange, where each participant is required to bring a dozen cookies of the same variety for each anticipated guest (plus an extra dozen to sample at the party), only to return home with an equally astronomical number of baked goods.

However, if you have a taste for holiday cookies but don't want to spend days or hours toiling in the kitchen mixing thick batches of angelica-studded dough, don't despair. There are experts out there creating mouth-watering cookies and other holiday pastries that you can buy .

The freshly baked pfeffernuesse (a German specialty made of honeyed dough covered with a fondant anise glaze) and stollen are not the only treats that will welcome you upon entering the Petitfor Bake Shop in Vista.

So will Maureen Loveng's lilting Scottish accent. Loveng owns the bakery with her husband, Ron, a Wisconsin-born baker of Norwegian descent who started the bake shop 16 years ago. A look inside the wide display case reveals gingerbread boys and girls dressed up for Christmas, butter cookies and checkerboard cookies, among the myriad choices available.

Throughout the year, Petitfor also sells delicate florentines, mini-eclairs, and Ron's favorite, a raspberry almond bar. For the holidays, Ron has come up with a novel twist on the traditional French pyramid of miniature cream puffs called croquembouches.

"We fill our puffs with Bavarian cream, and fashion them into cream puff trees using Styrofoam cones of varying sizes," Ron said. He finishes off the "tree" with branches of real holly. Some customers like to use them as centerpieces for a buffet table. "One lady brings in her own 4-foot high cone, which she likes to decorate herself, and has me add 250 cream puffs to it," he said. For that, Ron requires two days' advance notice. A small eating area on the premises caters to a regular breakfast and luncheon crowd.

Carlos' Bakery, a new bakery off busy South Santa Fe Avenue in Vista, specializes in, among other things, Mexican bakery goods.

The warm smell of freshly baked bolillos, the crisp Mexican bread rolls (25 cents a piece) greet customers entering the bakery. This family operation is the domain of Carlos Viveros, a 20-year resident of Vista and former baking teacher, who once taught more than 200 students in his native Mexico City. "I prepare everything from scratch," said Carlos, pointing to his sparkling kitchen. Oversized Danish pastries, muffins and canastas , Mexican pastry baskets filled with apple or raspberry, are a few of Carlos' appetizing selections. During the holidays, Carlos and his son, Cesar, will prepare traditional bunuelos sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. They will also take special orders for fruit or strawberry-filled tamales , with 24 hours' notice.

The Edelweiss Bakery in Rancho Bernardo could well qualify as the ultimate family operation. Owner/baker Hans Ortmeier, who hails from Germany, is assisted by his Scottish wife, Sandra. Their daughter Susanne, waits on customers, as do Susanne's grandmother, fiance, cousin, and sister.

For Christmas, the Ortmeiers bake traditional German pfeffernuesse and Yule logs filled with chocolate mousse or raspberry Bavarian cream, as well as gingerbread houses ($27.95 each.) They feature gift boxes filled with dainty petits fours covered in white or dark chocolate ($7.45 for a box of 12) or boxes of assorted butter cookies in different shapes ($7.45 a pound), "all made with pure butter" Susanne said.

Peder Norby and his wife, Lone, of the Carlsbad Danish Bakery, like to abide by tradition. For the holidays, they bake a host of Scandinavian specialty items. One of them is a Finnish cookie made with butter and topped with almonds and multicolored bits of crystallized sugar. Another is a raspberry-filled macaroon, which graces every Swedish holiday table. Peder was born in San Diego of Danish parents, while Lone hails from Denmark. Baking brought them together when they both apprenticed in Del Mar.

For the past 10 years, their cozy bakery and cafe has served as a gathering place for dozens of local habitues, some of whom drop by daily for a cup of coffee and a freshly baked Danish.

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