No easy feat, but all the baked goods at West Hollywood seafood institution Connie & Ted’s are made in-house: the crackers that accompany the smoky oily sauce. The buttery bun that completes their lobster roll, widely considered the best in town, and even the sesame seed bun that completes the burger. Then, of course, there are the desserts, a rotating cast of classics and seasonal delights that are also made in-house, daily, by pastry chef Daphane DeLone and her team.
Which means that when it comes to scouring the town for the best Christmas treats, DeLone is something of an expert. “I wandered into the kitchen on a whim,” DeLone tells InsideHook. “A friend basically asked, ‘Oh, if you like to cook, why don’t you go to culinary school?’ After that, I started working in bakeries, where I learned a lot, and I went on to work in restaurants. I moved to Los Angeles about six years ago and started working at Huckleberry Cafe, where we had a lot of cake orders for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and all that stuff. That was a great task that taught me a lot.”
As she worked her way up to taking over the kitchen at Huckleberry, DeLone was ready for a change earlier this year, moving to Connie & Ted’s in early 2022. Since then, she has been at the helm of its strong pastry programs and bread, and she presented her own treats, such as a spiced sweet potato pie. Since it’s that time of year when everyone is on the hunt for a stunning dessert, here are DeLone’s suggestions for some of the best sweet treats in town to help make your Thanksgiving or Christmas table stand out. .
Take this: The chocolate cake
This is a recent addition to the menu so get it while you can. “We just launched this chocolate cake,” DeLone says. “It’s basically a homemade version of a candy bar, layered with peanut butter and caramel buttercream, chocolate peanuts, and nougat crumble.” All that plus chocolate layer cake? That’s going to dwarf any competing cake on the table. Plus, the salt balance of the peanuts helps make this a not-too-sweet way to end an already heavy meal.
Take this: Apple Pie or Cornbread
Considering this was DeLone’s first historic gig in Los Angeles, there’s no way I wouldn’t recommend stopping by this spin-off from the team behind Rustic Canyon. “Because I used to work there, Huckleberry is my go-to,” she says. “I know they make everything with super fresh ingredients and it’s all organic, if that’s what you’re looking for. I like their apple pie, because it has three different types of apples baked into the pie. I also like their cornbread for the holidays.” Grab a cake to go with coffee and amaro for the post-turkey haze, and a cornbread pan to mop up the sauce during the main event (and if anyone asks, yes, he made both from scratch).
Take this: sweet potato pie
This is the kind of dessert that makes sense during Thanksgiving, a holiday that is already centered around pumpkins. It’s a little more understated than the sweet potato pie DeLone is serving at Connie & Ted’s, but the quality and balance for which this Baldwin Hills shop is known is part of the appeal. “I just like sweet potatoes,” DeLone says with a smile. “But I like simple things with simple fresh ingredients. It’s more about the quality of the food and what’s in it than the exact flavors. Nothing too sweet, I like to have it a little…not salty, but a little more balanced in dessert. “
Take this: praline cake
When it’s time to get serious about cheesecake, there’s one place in Los Angeles that never fails: Harriet’s Cheesecake in Inglewood. DeLone’s pick here is praline, though there’s pumpkin praline and plenty of other options, too. “I like it because the pralines really remind me of New Orleans, and I really love New Orleans culture and food,” says DeLone. In case bonbons aren’t your thing, Harriet’s serves over 60 different flavors of cheesecake, from Snickers to sweet potato. Please note: ordering a whole cheesecake requires two weeks notice during the holiday season.
This article appeared in the InsideHook LA Newsletter. Sign up now to learn more about Southland.