By Charlotte Peale
If you’re wondering how to send some local flavor to far away friends and family this holiday season, consider a delicious confection from Donsuemor, a line of French pastries that originated in the home of an East Bay baker. Back in 1976 in her home kitchen, Susie Morris began baking traditional madeleines from a French recipe. They were sold at Pig-By-the-Tail, a charcuterie in Berkeley’s gourmet ghetto. Madeleines are the rich, buttery cookies that French novelist Marcel Proust so famously described as “plump little cakes . . . which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim’s shell.” It was these cookies that provoked in Proust’s protagonist, after just a single bite, one of the greatest reflections on memory in literature. Demand for Donsuemor’s satisfying little cakes grew, and Susie’s husband Don joined her in business, which kept growing so they had to move into successively larger bakeries. Forty years later, the company ovens are now in Alameda, turning out a multitude of European-inspired desserts, from Traditional Madeleines (Lemon Zest are a particular favorite) to Petit Gateau, French Almond Cakes, Nonnettes, and Biscotti. Donsuemor’s individually packaged sweets can be found at local grocery stores or purchased online and shipped.