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Gift yourself! Two great local chefs provide desserts even a beginner could make


NO COM-PEAR-ISON:  Simple ingredients make for delicious dessert as shown here with Chef Maegen Loring’s pear pie. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • NO COM-PEAR-ISON: Simple ingredients make for delicious dessert as shown here with Chef Maegen Loring’s pear pie.

To indulge my love of sweet treats during the holiday season I called on two very special (and very popular) local chefs to ask for homespun recipes that anyone could make. Chef Jensen Lorenzen works at Cass House in Cayucos and chef Maegen Loring works at Lido in Dolphin Bay Resort in Shell Beach; each has a well-rounded repertoire and they’re both experts whether they’re cooking savory or sweet gourmet dishes. Of course, if a busy holiday schedule means you don’t have time for baking, give yourself the wonderful gift of dining in their restaurants—that’s a present you wouldn’t dream of returning.

“We have made this gingerbread cake around the holiday season since our days at Papillon,” Lorenzen said, recalling his holiday menu at the first restaurant he opened in Los Osos in 2006. “In addition to it being delicious, our staff enjoys the timeless nostalgia of a simple gingerbread cake. Most of the spices are entirely for flavor and can be omitted or substituted without sacrificing much depth of flavor. Two important elements to note: The stout reduction creates a bitter-spice aftertaste that I think makes this gingerbread unique, and the use of oil in the recipe will keep the gingerbread quite moist for several days.”

Lorenzen said he recently discovered a new local brewery making craft beers that he will be using to make the gingerbread cake, Barrelhouse Stout by Barrelhouse Brewing Co. in Paso Robles (widely available in shops throughout the county; check out a location near you at


Chef Jensen Lorenzen’s Gingerbread Cake

  • 1 cup imperial stout
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 / 2 tbsp. baking soda
  • 3 large farm eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 / 4 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp. ground ginger
  • 1 - 1 / 2 tsps. baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. ginger root, peeled/grated  
  • a dash each of ground cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and cardamom

Preheat oven to 350F; butter and flour a six-inch Bundt pan. In a deep saucepan, boil stout and molasses until reduced by half (watch closely to avoid boil-over). Remove mixture from heat, add baking soda, and allow it to sit until foam settles. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar then whisk in oil. In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk dry ingredients with spices until thoroughly combined. Combine the cooled stout mixture with the egg mixture, then slowly whisk wet ingredients into the dry ingredients one half at a time. Add the ginger, stirring until batter is smooth. Pour into prepared Bundt pan and bake one hour or until the top is caramelized and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy it with spiced whipped cream and hot cider.

When it comes to decadent desserts, Loring is the highly acclaimed specialist at Lido. For this recipe, however, she provided us one of her family’s favorite treats. She also considered it special enough to showcase during the monthly Lido cooking class (reservations are open to the public). Loring added: “Collin Tharp, our restaurant manager, suggests pairing it with any late harvest chardonnay.”


Chef Maegen Loring’s Pear Custard Pie

  • 1 – 9-inch prebaked pie pastry shell
  • 4 cups pears, peeled and cubed into one-inch pieces
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 / 4 cup flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream, divided
  • 1 / 4 tsp. butter, melted
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 / 4 tsp. cinnamon

In a food processor, place sugar, flour, eggs, 1 / 4 cup cream, butter, lemon zest, and vanilla and process until well mixed. Scatter pear chunks evenly over pastry shell and pour custard over the top. Cover the edges of the pastry crust loosely with foil. Place on middle oven rack and bake until filling is just set, approximately 50 minutes. Whip the remaining 3 / 4 cup cream with cinnamon until soft peaks form; serve with the pie.


Friday, Dec. 6: Eat Out Save Lives

Most people I know have lost a dear friend or relative who suffered from the devastating disease of HIV or AIDS. So I ask you to please join me in supporting the good people at the AIDS Support Network (ASN) of San Luis Obispo County. Simply dine out once, or as many times as you can afford to, during this one-day event on Friday, Dec. 6. Your support helps ASN provide fresh food and pantry ingredients for SLO County citizens living with HIV or AIDS. Eat Out Save Lives was created in honor of World Aids Day. Thanks to the many supporters of ASN, every dollar donated stays in SLO County to help local residents with these devastating diseases.  

These community-minded restaurateurs who participate annually make a huge difference for ASN. Each one donates a percentage of the day’s sales on Dec. 6 to the support network. It’s so easy for citizens to help and it makes a huge difference for ASN and the local residents who count on them. For your convenience, I’ve listed participating restaurants by their city of business.

  • Atascadero: Fig Good Food, Nardonne’s Pizzeria
  • Cambria: Robin’s
  • Pismo Beach: Splash Café
  • San Luis Obispo: Big Sky Café, Black Sheep Bar & Grill, Buffalo Pub & Grill, Jaffa Café, Koberl at Blue, Louisa’s Place, Luna Red, Novo, Spirit of San Luis, Splash Café & Artisan Bakery, Splash Café Seafood Grill, Taj Palace Cuisine of India, Vieni Vai Trattoria, West End Espresso & Tea, and Wild Donkey Café.


Contact Cuisine columnist Kathy Marcks Hardesty at


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