Europeans know their cold-weather treats. During the frigid winter months, you’ll find German grandmothers baking cinnamon-laced apple strudels and Italians popping into bakeries for an espresso and rich cannoli. In Denver, a few select pastry chefs are outsmarting the Mile High winter with flaky dough, creamy fillings, and genuine European delights.
Three risings keep the dough of Il Posto’s bombolini wonderfully soft as it passes through a deep fryer, under a sugar sifter, and onto a plate pooled with a grappa pastry cream. Although Italians traditionally eat these doughnut-like pastries for breakfast, at Il Posto, the liqueur accent and accompanying Moscato d’Asti make it a night-out dessert. 2011 E. 17th Ave., 303-394-0100, ilpostodenver.com
In Jewish Cooking in America, cookbook author Joan Nathan writes that no other Jewish sweet has gone as mainstream as rugalach. In Denver, the Market on Larimer Square serves the central European treat along with breakfast muffins and scones. But don’t limit this flaky cream cheese dough and raspberry jam–filled cookie to breakfast alone—the generous portion makes it a perfect afternoon snack. 1445 Larimer St., 303-534-5140, coloradoeats.com/market
Sfoglia di Lambone
Growing up in southern Italy, Francesco Spatola’s typical breakfast was a cappuccino and a sfoglia di lambone, a twist of buttery puff pastry dough around an intensely sweet raspberry-coconut-walnut filling. When Spatola opened Dolce Sicilia in Wheat Ridge, the sfoglia went onto the morning baking list. Today, the flaky, best-selling sweet flies off the shelves. 3210 Wadsworth Blvd., Wheat Ridge, 303-233-3755, dolcesiciliabakery.com/menu.htm
As a young pastry chef in Zurich, Switzerland, Bruno Gegenschatz layered smooth chocolate ganache and hazelnut between crispy chocolate wafer cookies. Then he dipped them in chocolate. Gegenschatz doesn’t remember the name of those cookies, so at his 43-year-old André’s Confiserie Suisse he simply calls the decadent treats zurcherli, in remembrance of Zurich. 370 S. Garfield St., 303-322-8871, andreschocolates.com
Suggest to Erhard Bochert, owner of Boulder’s Erhard’s European Bakery and Cafe, that his almond lace florentine cookies are Italian, which their name implies, and he’ll scoff. Florentines are German, he says. Regardless of their contested origin, the large cookies, made of toasted almond slices, sugar, and corn syrup and glazed with chocolate, are among Erhard's regulars’ favorites. 4800 Baseline Road, Suite A109, Boulder, 303-494-3635