Nov./Dec. 2013 California Bountiful magazine
Story by Jolaine Collins
Photos by Melissa Jewel
Coachella Valley bakery heats up for the holidays.
Life is sweet for Palm Desert pastry chef Samantha Ward, who creates custom desserts for country clubs in the Coachella Valley.
If you're up to your elbows in mixing bowls this holiday season, consider Samantha Ward, a pastry chef whose custom bakery serves 20 country clubs in the Coachella Valley.
Things really heat up for her business in November and December. Ward's team prepares and delivers 1,000 pies and cakes, and 8,000 petite pastries to her clients—and that's just for Thanksgiving, before the holiday party orders arrive and her giant mixers go into overdrive.
The owner of Exquisite Desserts in Palm Desert, Ward is accustomed to tall orders. A few years ago, she helped create an enormous, edible cupcake display and 500 cupcakes for celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck's birthday fundraiser.
Ward's holiday pastries feature a bounty of winter fruits from the Coachella Valley, including citrus, dates and strawberries.
"By buying local, we support our community," she said.
Ward credits her mother for recognizing her passion for baking and encouraging her to attend the California Culinary Academy. Ward went on to become a pastry chef in San Francisco and trained under world-famous chefs in Europe. Her husband is the executive chef at a local country club.
Ward's tip for busy bakers this holiday season: Keep ready-made puff pastry, phyllo dough and pie crusts on hand.
"They quickly can be turned into a variety of sweet and savory dishes," she explained.
Her Lemon Chiffon Tart recipe on the following page is a good example of turning pre-made pie crust into baked goodness.