Cruffle Crazed? Sonoma Bakery Gives Cake a Sweet Twist

Tiny balls of deliciousness are a hot treat.

First, there were cronuts, those cleverly named deep-fried croissant-doughnuts that had everyone buzzing.

Then, there were baissants (bagel-croissants), and croizels (pretzel croissants). There’s the chiweenie, too – oops, no, that’s actually a dog, an official American Canine Hybrid Club-recognized cross of a Chihuahua and a dachshund. But surely it could be a pastry, as well — perhaps a churro stuffed with a hot dog?

So are we really surprised that the groovy kids these days are scarfing up another confection called a cruffle? It’s a cross between a cupcake and a truffle, and it happens when bakers mix cake, filling and frosting together, form them into little balls, bake them, then dip them in white and/or dark chocolate.

At Santa Rosa-based Sift Dessert Bar, customers are “cruffle crazy.” The company crafts the sweet treats in about a dozen flavors plus seasonal ones like a chocolate-covered strawberry cruffle. Two of the best-sellers include the Pink Champagne, of raspberry cake and champagne buttercream dipped in white chocolate, and the Samoa, of chocolate cake, chocolate ganache and caramel frosting dipped in dark chocolate and sprinkled in toasted coconut.

“I created the cruffle because I’m always on the lookout for some place new to use our cake,” says Sift founder Andrea Ballus. “They’re especially popular with our guests who want something more bite-sized to satisfy their sweet tooth.”

Some cruffle flavors can be made gluten-free, and Ballus invites custom flavor requests.

“We once had a custom request for a mango mojito flavor for a destination wedding, because the bride was from Miami,” Ballus says. Yet her own recipes already take the prize, quite literally. In 2011, Sift won Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, and today, Ballus and her partners Jeff Ballus and Corey Fanfa operate stores in Santa Rosa, Cotati, Petaluma, Napa and San Francisco.