Lots of caffeinated buzz is going on lately about Ernest Coffee in the Palm Springs Uptown District, opened in June by two creative young entrepreneurs — interior designer Chris Pardo and photographer Jaime Kowal.
As entrepreneurs, Kowal and Pardo encourage other creative individuals to become involved with their endeavor. All the pastries, tarts, brownies, croissants, muffins and breads are made fresh daily by local artisans.
Gluten-free brownies, chocolate cookies and chocolate ganache tarts are created by patisseur Chris Griego who works out of a local commercial kitchen at night; quiche, croissants, muffins and breads are by L’Artisan Bakery, a locally owned and operated business in Thousand Palms.
Griego, a self-taught baker who grew up in Indio, said her passion for baking turned serious when her favorite cookie outlet, The Sweet Life, closed its Westfield Palm Desert location.
“Cookies are my favorite food,” says Griego. “Growing up I would eat pounds of cookies. When this bakery closed and I couldn’t find anything comparable, I started experimenting. It took me years to perfect these recipes, and I have to love it myself!”
Griego approached Kowal and Pardo even before Ernest Coffee opened to offer her custom desserts and began bringing in samples.
“They wanted gluten-free desserts,” says Griego. “At first I resisted doing this, thinking gluten-free is not going to be equal in flavor or texture to real flour and butter.”
But putting her creativity and taste buds to work, Griego’s luscious pastries overshoot the mark: The peanut butter chocolate tart (pictured above) crust is filled with chocolate crème and topped by a peanut butter cookie of the same “dough” as the crust.
“It feels and tastes like you’re eating a regular dessert,” she says.
Her chocolate chunk cookies are topped with disks of dark or white chocolate, and her gluten-free chocolate brownies are drizzled with caramel and a bite of Brandini Toffee on top. (Brandini Toffee also sells her brownies).
But she has managed to convince Kowal to carry her pecan bars, which are made of shortbread wafers with a praline pecan filling and drizzled with dark chocolate.
“Most people go crazy for this one,” said Griego.
L’Artisan Valley Baking Company, which is known for its authentic French and rustic artisan breads, now also provide pastries and quiches. On display are their almond, chocolate and regular butter croissants; blueberry, banana, apple-orange-cranberry muffins; cranberry and currant-date scones, and chocolate “escargot,” pastry-crème filled rolls. For lunch, there is classic Lorraine and vegetarian mushroom-leek, and spinach quiches.
Ernest Coffee, 1101 N. Palm Canyon, Palm Springs, 760-668-1766. Current Hours: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.