A decadent yellow sponge cake soaked in a rum syrup and layered with rum custard, this is the star of Dianda’s cake offerings and my family’s go-to holiday dessert. Don’t be intimidated by the double-rum aspect of this cake. The flavor is warm rather than boozy, with the rum providing a rich aura that’s infused in each bite. An airy whipped cream frosting is a safeguard against cloying sweet.
Tres Leches Cake
The most popular cake at Dianda’s was introduced in recent years to serve the taste of the Mission’s Chicano and Latino residents. Instead of the usual rum custard, this cake features a vanilla pastry cream, but it isn’t short on flavor. Seasons permitting, you can add strawberries, mangos or bananas to your tres leches cake. There’s even a chocolate version on the menu.
Otherwise known as profiteroles or rum balls, these are arguably the easiest dessert to put down in mass quantities. The ones at Dianda’s are bite-size puffs filled with the bakery’s signature rum custard and piled into a mound that’s held together by a drizzle of caramelized sugar. Something about these bignés makes even a plain afternoon feel like a party.
Also known as mille-feuille, these pastries are rare in San Francisco, especially ones made as traditionally as they are at Dianda’s. Each slice is composed of three layers of flaky puff pastry and two layers of custard. Paired with a cup of coffee or black tea, a Napoleon slice turns the mundane into a cherished ritual.
Originally published in the February issue of San Francisco