Halloween isn’t always easy when you’re an adult who longs to go trick-or-treating, especially if you don’t have a child who you can live vicariously through or enough chutzpah to don your best little piggie costume and knock on doors yourself.
I left the costume in the car as I scoured the city of San Francisco for clever Halloween treats that adults can claim as their own. After wading through what seemed like dozens of boring pumpkin cookies and ratcheting my blood sugar up several notches, I came away with three stops serving grown-ups the kind of treats that keep us feeling like big kids. They’re all much better than snarfling some stale Dots from a kid.
DeLise Dessert Café falls below the radar of many San Franciscans due to its proximity to Fisherman’s Wharf, but is well worth a stop at any time of year for homemade ice cream, cookies, cakes, and other sweets, all presented in small portions so as not to induce guilt. Proprietors Dennis and Eloise Leung are having fun this season with three items inspired by All Hallows’ Eve. Their triple pumpkin ice cream is made with Dogfish Head Pumpkin Ale, candied pumpkin seed, and pumpkin puree. A “bloody berry bar” has a chocolate pine nut crust and a raspberry lemon custard on top. And there’s also a pumpkin cupcake for the 21 and over set, garnished with a maple bourbon frosting and candied bacon bits.
When we stopped by Fillmore Bakeshop, Elena Basagio-Carpenter (who runs the place with her father Doug Basagio) was still figuring out a number of Halloween-themed items, her experiments in chocolate slowed due to our stretch of Indian Summer. Offerings include a pumpkin macaron, a crisped rice pumpkin with a caramel stem, dried fruit bark, and some incredibly psychedelic hollow chocolate pumpkins filled with fresh chocolate truffles.
Fans of Humphry Slocombe would probably not be surprised to learn that Jake Godby’s ice cream shop takes Halloween very seriously, with flavors firmly geared to adults both in their ingredient combinations and the pop culture references that some of them make. Spiders from Mars, for example, has a milk chocolate ice cream base that’s sprinkled with “spider webs” made from meringue. Rosemary’s Baby gets a boost from fresh rosemary and a pine nut swirl. The bloody red Hibiscus sorbet is known for the moment as O-Negative. Meanwhile, there’s a Candy Apple flavor (apple ice cream with caramel swirl), the Devil’s Deal (house made red velvet cake in a cream cheese ice cream base), and pumpkin ice cream, which gets a sophisticated twist with the inclusions of Chinese five spice: Star anise, fennel seed, Szechuan peppercorn, cinnamon, and clove. The latter also goes into their Bad-Ass Pumpkin Pie Sundae, crowned with hot butterscotch sauce, cinnamon whipped cream, and house made pie crumble.
The best part of all? You don’t need to wait until Halloween to get your fill of the holiday.