Recipe: The Best Carmelitas You've Ever Had

Guys, how obnoxious is my recipe title? This overly dramatic title is inspired by what pops up every time I Google any recipe. Every dumbo names their recipe “the best blady-blah,” but the problem with that is, who the devil do you trust?! No one. Well, except me of course. Y’all can trust me. But hey, better to be safe and try these out for yourself, eh?

So lets talk Carmelitas. They are the perfect cross between cookie and bar. The breakdown is this: semi-sweet chocolate, toasted walnuts and homemade caramel sandwiched between an oatmeal cookie (minus the raisins, which are the devil). Yessssplease.

Few notes before diving in:
• These puppies are especially delish the second day, so if you can, make these ahead of time - the flavors noticeably have more depth.
• Regarding the homemade caramel, I promise it’s not as daunting as you might think it is. However, if you’re still scrrd and can’t get around your sccrrdness, buy a jar of it <cough> quitter. But I believe in you!
• I highly recommend eating these with a cup of Joe, it is so choice.

Enjoy fellow fiends!

The Best Carmelitas You’ve Ever Had

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup quick cooking oats
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup melted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup caramel (3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, 1 teaspoon salt)

For the caramel
1.  Combine the sugar and water in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. This is the only time you can stir the sugar. If you stir it while it's cooking, it turns to rock candy. Place the saucepan over medium to low heat until the sugars start to dissolve, 5–8 mins. Then turn the heat up to medium-high and cook until the sugar starts to caramelize, 5 to 7 minutes.
2.  When the caramel starts to smoke, turn off the heat. Slowly add the cream and careful not to splatter yourself. Don't panic - the cream will bubble violently, and the caramel will solidify. Just give it more time to liquefy again-trust me!
3.  Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth, about 5–10 minutes. Pro Tip: Use an oven mitt with the stir-hand for safety.
4.  Stir in salt. Sauce will thicken as it sits.

For the bars
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease one 9x9 inch square pan.
2. Roughly chop and toast the walnuts for 8 mins or until toasted. Pro Tip: It’s done when you start to smell the toasty nuts.
3. Combine the 1 cup flour, baking soda, oats, brown sugar, salt and melted butter. Mix to combine, mixture will be very crumbly. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 10 minutes.
5. Let cool slightly then sprinkle over the crust the chocolate chips and nuts. Mix the caramel with the 3 tablespoons of flour and drizzle over the chocolate chips. Top with the remaining oatmeal mixture.
6. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 15 minutes. Let bars cool before cutting.

Note: This is my personal pref, but I’d scale back on how much caramel you put on. I think it would be plenty sweet with a skosh less. The leftovers you have will go swimmingly on top of vanilla ice cream. Just sayin’.

Recipe: Summertime Strawberry Lemon Parfaits


As far as the summer fruit lineup goes, strawberries are really calling my name these days. They're on point or "on fleek" as the millennials are saying. Whether you're snagging a basket at a corner market or farmer's market, they're looking mighty fine wherever you go.

I've been dabbling in all the fruity delights lately- I made a fruit galette, pie, jam and ice cream, but hadn't yet made a legit fruit parfait. After some light googling, I landed on this stellar looking strawberry lemon parfait recipe that really lured me in. I loved the contrast of tart lemon to sweet strawberry. In addition, it had them nestled with other delicious friends - whipped cream and pound cake. Yass.

There are 4 different components going on with this dessert, which sounds time-consuming, but each item went swiftly. The most time consuming being the pound cake, simply because you have the blasted bake and cool time. Alas, I have pro tips for you in the directions on how you can shave off some time.

Fun(?) fact: you can make this dessert ahead of time- several hours or a day ahead - allowing the layers to spoon each other, upping their flavor.

Here's to taking full advantage of summer fruit while the gettin's good!

Strawberry Lemon Parfaits
Yield: 6 individual cups (about 150 ml each)

Ingredients - Pound Cake
Yield: 8 servings (more than you need for the parfait, feel free to half it if you want)
Recipe by Once Upon a Chef
3 tablespoons milk (any kind)
3 eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/3 cups cake flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
13 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Ingredients - Lemon Curd
Yield/Note: makes 1.5 cups, BUT you only need 1 C for the parfait
Recipe by Pretty Simple Sweet
3 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2-3 lemons for both zest and juice)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Ingredients - Strawberries n' Cream
Recipe by Pretty Simple Sweet
2 cups chopped strawberries
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions - Pound Cake
1.  Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-in x 4-in x 2½-inch loaf pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray. Dust with flour, shaking off any excess. 
2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, and vanilla until just combined.
3.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds or until blended.
4.  Add the butter and half of the egg mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase the mixer speed to medium (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for one minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining egg mixture, in 2 separate additions, beating about 30 seconds after each addition to combine. Do not over-mix. (The batter may have a slightly curdled or grainy appearance -- that's okay.)
5.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. 
6.  Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
7.  Place the cake on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Then remove the cake from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack. Pro Tip: Wrap the warm cake well in plastic wrap and pop into fridge or freezer to cool faster.

Directions - Lemon Curd
1.  In a medium heatproof bowl, place eggs, sugar, lemon zest, and juice and whisk to combine. 
2.  Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (bain-marie). 
3.  Once simmering, cook on medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until mixture becomes thick. If you have a thermometer, it should register 170F; otherwise, it should coat the back of a wooden spoon and leave a clear pass if you run your finger through it.
4.  Remove from heat and immediately strain mixture through a sieve (I skipped this because, lazy). 
5.  Add butter and whisk until completely melted and incorporated, and mixture is smooth.
6.  Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a "skin" from forming, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Directions - strawberries and cream
For the strawberries
Place the strawberries and 2 tablespoons sugar in a bowl and mix to combine. Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature to let the strawberries macerate and release some of their juices.

For the whipped cream:
Using a mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk together heavy cream, 2 tablespoons sugar, and vanilla on high speed until medium peaks form.

Place a few cake pieces at the bottom of the glasses. Spoon a dollop of the lemon curd on top, then the strawberries (with their juices), and then the whipped cream. Repeat the layering until you've reached the top, ending with whipped cream. If not serving immediately, cover and store in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Recipe: Brown Butter Salted Caramel Snickerdoodles

I've recently started working at <an awesome> food consulting company a few months ago - working on the branding team. It's been a sweet mashup of my love of food and design. One of the perks is that I have a kickass source for anything food-related: my coworkers! They're a wealth of knowledge, not surprisingly, as most of them are food scientists for crying out loud! When I'm in need of inspiration or ideas on what to bake, they have an answer for me in 2.2. It's rad.

I needed a solid low-maintenance cookie recipe the other day, and my coworker with her Brown Butter Salted Caramel Snickerdoodles recipe came through for me. As soon as she said the magic words: "brown butter" it was game over. Brown butter is my boy! I also love me some 'doodles and desserts stuffed with more dessert.

Friends, it's time to up your Snickerdoodle game. Lets do this.

Note: This cookie can be stuffed with store-bought candy caramels or with homemade caramel if you're feeling like a baller.

Brown Butter Salted Caramel Snickerdoodles
Recipe from
Yield: about 3 dozen cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup unsalted butter, sliced
1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt
About 1 cup caramel squares, cut into 1/4’s

For Baller-Style Caramel
you're going to have a good amount leftover. Thoughts? Wrap individual pieces in waxed paper and you've got yourself some chewy caramel candies. Boom.
1/2 cup butter or margarine
8oz light brown sugar
7 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 pinch salt
3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

For Rolling the Cookies:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Sea salt, for sprinkling on top of cookies

For the Cookies
1.  In a medium bowl, Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
2.  To brown the butter, heat a thick-bottomed skillet on medium heat. Add the sliced butter, whisking frequently. Continue to cook the butter until melted. The butter will start to foam and browned specks will begin to form at the bottom of the pan. The butter should have a nutty aroma. Watch the butter carefully because it can go from brown to burnt quickly. Remove butter from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
3.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the brown butter and sugars. Mix until blended and smooth. Beat in the egg, yolk, vanilla, and yogurt and mix until combined. Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
4.  Form the dough in a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. You can chill the dough overnight.
5.  When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Measure about 2 tablespoons of dough and roll into balls. Flatten the ball with the palm of your hand and place a piece of caramel in the center of the dough. Wrap the cookie dough around the caramel, making sure the caramel is completely covered with dough.
6.  In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar. Roll the balls in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place dough balls on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make sure the cookies are about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle the cookie tops generously with sea salt.
7.  Bake the cookies 8-10 minutes or until the edges of the cookies begin to turn golden brown. The centers will still be soft. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes, or until set. Transfer cookies to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.

For the Homemade Caramel
1.  In a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup and salt.
2.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Heat to between 234 and 240 degrees F (112 to 116 degrees C), or until a small amount of syrup dropped into cold water forms a soft ball that flattens when removed from the water and placed on a flat surface.
3.  Cook for 2 minutes at that temperature. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla.
4.  Meanwhile, butter a baking pan. When the caramel is ready, pour into the buttered pan. Allow to cool completely at room temperature.
5.  Remove from the pan before cutting into squares.

Recipe: Key Lime Pie, minus the Key

Lets talk about Key Limes for a minute. Key Limes were grown commercially in the Florida Keys until a hurricane wiped out most of the groves in the 1920s. Farmers replaced them with the larger, seedless Persian limes you see more often in the U.S. I'm guessing that's why I came up empty when I tried to find these puppies at the store. Thanks a lot hurricane!

Now lets talk about limes for a minute. According to Wiki, there are 15 types of limes. FIFTEEN! I was actually startled by that number. I mean...I've been living my whole life thinking there were only like 3 types of limes that existed. I feel like a damn fool!

Well, since I couldn't find Key Limes specifically (along with any of the 13 others!) I decided to add some lime zest to the filling and garnish in order to crank up the tartness, because Key Limes are more acidic and tart.

Now that you have all this lime knowledge, it's time you baked a lime dessert, yes? Key or no Key, this pie is still worth your while!

Key Lime Pie
Recipe adapted from Mangrove Mama's
Yield: 1, 9 inch pie or 1, 10 inch tart

For the Crust
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, melted
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

For the Filling
5 large egg yolks
1, 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
Juice from 6 to 8 Key limes (about 2/3 cup)

Whipped cream
Lime zest

1.  Heat oven to 325°F.
2.  For the crust, mix butter, graham crackers, sugar, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie pan (or bottom of a 10-inch tart pan). Bake 8 minutes. Set aside; let cool completely.
3.  For the filling, beat yolks in a food processor fitted with whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, about 2 minutes. Add condensed milk to yolks; process or beat until incorporated. Add lime juice. Process 2 minutes; pour into pie shell.
4.  Bake until set, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven; cool on a wire rack 1 hour.
5.  Refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap set directly on top of filling, at least 4 hours or overnight.
6.  Top with fresh whipped cream and lime zest.

VARIATION: Instead of whipped cream, you may top with meringue. Beat 5 egg whites until frothy. Stream in 1/4 cup sugar, beating constantly until stiff peaks. Spread over baked filling; bake at 325°F until meringue starts to brown, about 5 minutes.

Recipe: Whiskey and Rye Chocolate Chip Cookies

There are a lot of good, but not great cookie recipes out there. #deepthoughtsbycourtney Yes, that goes for lots of recipes in the universe, but lets stay on topic. It's rare for me to stumble upon a cookie recipe where I feel like it hit-it-out-of-the-ballpark. These Whiskey and Rye Chocolate Chip Cookies are one of these unicorns.

Firstly, lets talk size. I love that the recipe directs us to make the cookies BIG, like a two-handed cookie, which makes me swoon. Secondly, lets talk flavor. This puppy is perfectly well-balanced, my favorite parts being the rye flour, which gives it a subtle earthiness and the vanilla salt, an unexpected topper. I mean, why use regular old salt when you can make the world better by using vanilla salt?! I just want to sprinkle that shit on everything!

Best thing about this recipe? It was created by my fellow alumni from San Francisco Cooking School and can be found on! Two thumbs the fuck up!

My <dorky> pastry hat is tipped to you guys!

Whiskey and Rye Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe by San Francisco Cooking School
Yield: 16 cookies

1 1/2 cups chocolate wafers (discs, pistoles, fèves; preferably 72% cacao), divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rye flour (I used dark rye flour, but light is ok too!)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla paste
1 teaspoon bourbon
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt

1.  Pulse 3/4 cup chocolate wafers in a food processor until pea-sized pieces form OR chop into small pea-sized bits (what I did because I'm a lazy sack! Food processors are a pain in the ass to clean).
2.  Whisk all-purpose flour, rye flour, baking soda, and kosher salt in a medium bowl.
3.  Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in a large bowl, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until light and fluffy, 3–4 minutes. Add egg, vanilla, and bourbon and beat until fully incorporated, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and slowly add dry ingredients, mixing just to blend. Fold in chopped chocolate and remaining chocolate wafers.
4.  Portion dough into 16 balls (about 1/4 cup each) and transfer to a rimmed sheet sheet as you go. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and chill at least 3 hours or up to 1 day.
5.  Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°. Scrape vanilla seeds into sea salt in a small bowl and mix to combine (save pod for another use).
6.  Divide dough balls between 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 3" apart. Flatten each ball to about 3/4" thick and sprinkle with vanilla salt.
7.  Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden brown around the edges, 14–18 minutes (cookies will firm up as they cool).
8.  Let cool slightly on baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks and let cool completely.

Galentine's Day Dessert

A good friend of mine threw a Galentine's Day party last week. a.k.a. a Valentine's Day for girlfriends which, quite frankly, sounds way more fun than just plain old Valentine's Day. Ammi right? She had a need for an array of tasty desserts for the occasion, so she kindly asked me to take on the job.

She and I brainstormed about the menu and color palate and decided on black and white and to incorporate some <classy, not cheesy> romantical hearts in the mix because, you know, Valentine's Day. As for the menu we landed on a Vegan Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, Vegan Cashew TigerBark, Heart-Shaped Chocolate Sandwich Cookies and Cheesecake Bites with Chocolate Hearts. Nice little chocolate medley.

Luckily there were no baking disasters <whew!> and the party went off without a hitch. And may I just say, my friend knows how to throw a gorgeous party, holy cow. The other attendees were all fantastic too, all blogger gals doing amazingly creative things. #girlpower For more deets on the fabulous party and the fabulous attendees, check out my friend's blog post here.

If you're feeling like getting festive with your baking tomorrow, I've got 5 solid desserts for you to choose from. Whether you're baking for your lovah, a friend who you'd like to be your lovah or perhaps just for your platonic friend, any of these desserts is sure to light their whistle!

Vegan Cashew Tiger Bark
Recipe adapted from View From Great Island
Yield: 12-15 pieces

Dessert Fiend Note: these were the easiest dessert out of the bunch! Easy and pretty is a win-win if you ask me.

1, 12-ounce package (about 2 cups) white chocolate chips
1/3 cup cashew butter
1 cup dark chocolate chips

1.  Line a standard baking sheet with a silicone mat, parchment, or foil.
2.  Melt the white chocolate and the cashew butter in a bowl over a bain marie on low heat- make sure your water isn't boiling, just steamy so you don't burn your chocolate- and heat until smooth.
3.  Melt the dark chocolate chips in a bowl over a bain marie on low-medium heat until smooth.
4.  Pour the cashew butter mixture out onto the baking sheet. Spread it out with an offset spatula until it is approximately a 8x12 rectangle. Don't stress over the exact size, your bark can be as thick or thin as you like.
5.  Drizzle the dark chocolate over the cashew layer in long stripes.
6.  Take the pointed end of a chopstick and swirl the layers together. Pro tip: I followed this technique roughly and it did the job!
7.  Let the chocolate sit until completely firm or pop in the fridge to harden faster.
8.  When the bark is solid, remove it from the silicone or foil, and cut it into pieces. Keep chilled until ready to eat.

Pro Tip- To Cut Bark:
Using a chef's knife, dip it in a glass of hot water and wipe dry before cutting. Repeat every 2 cuts or so. Start by trimming the edges to square off and then I recommend using a ruler and lightly mark where your cuts will be so your squares are consistent in sizing.

Heart-Shaped Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
Yield: roughly 2 dozen sandwich cookies
Recipe adapted from Flour by Joanne Cheng

Dessert Fiend Note: Ever had gourmet Oreos®? Well these are it! These puppies require an extra hour to let the dough sit/chill so be sure to keep that in mind.

Ingredients – Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks/228 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (200 grams) semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled slightly
1 egg
1 1/2 cups (210 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (90 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Ingredients – Vanilla Cream Filling
1/2 cup (1 stick/114 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1 2/3 cups (230 grams) confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk
Pinch of salt

Directions – Cookies
1.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter and granulated sugar until well combined. Whisk in the vanilla and chocolate. Add the egg and whisk until thoroughly incorporated.
2.  In another medium bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. Using a wooden spoon, stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture.
3.  Divide the dough in half, and shape into two discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
4.  Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
5.  Taking only one portion of dough out of the refrigerator at a time, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Pro Tip: Use your dutch-cocoa powder instead of flour, if you have some left, in order to retain the darkest color. Roll the dough to 1/8 – 1/4-inch thickness. Use a <heart> cookie cutter (approximately 2 inches in diameter) to cut out cookies and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet.
6.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are firm to the touch. Check them frequently after 8 minutes, poking them in the middle. As soon as they feel firm to the touch, remove them from the oven. You can’t judge by color because they start out black.
7.  Let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack to room temperature. While the cookies are cooling, make the frosting.

Directions – Filling
1.  Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a handheld mixer), beat the butter on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until completely smooth and soft. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and beat until the mixture is perfectly smooth. Add the milk and salt and again beat until smooth.
2.  Scoop about 1 rounded tablespoon of the filling onto the bottom of 1 cookie. Top with a second cookie, bottom side down, then press the cookies together to spread the filling toward the edges. Pro Tip: I used a pastry bag which was a bit more controlled and faster, so use one if you have it!

Cheesecake Bites with Chocolate Hearts
Yield: 3 dozen

Dessert Fiend Note: This cheesecake recipe is an old favorite standby of mine. Also, feel free to half this recipe, unless you're looking to serve this to an army of cheesecake lovers.

Graham Crust
Recipe from Momofuku Milk Bar
Note: You will have extra crust but it freezes beautifully!

Ingredients - Crust
370 g (3 cups) graham cracker crumbs
40 g (1/2 cup) milk powder
50 g (4 tbs) sugar
6 g (1 1/2 tsp) kosher salt
110 g (8 tbs) butter, melted, or as needed
110 g (1/2 cup) heavy cream

Ingredients - Filling
5 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups (one pint) sour cream, room temperature
4, 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
8 tablespoons (one stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Chocolate Sauce (store-bought or make my version here)

Directions - Crust
1.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2.  Toss the graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar and salt with your hands in a medium bowl to evenly distribute your dry ingredients.
3.  Whisk the butter and heavy cream together. Add to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute.
4.  Scoop about 1 tablespoon of mixture into each muffin tin and pack it down using the back of the tablespoon or a fork.
5.  Bake for 5ish minutes until the crust starts to set. Cool on wire rack while you make the filling.

Directions - Filling
1.  Position the baking rack in the center of the oven; preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the sour cream until well blended.
3.  In a medium-sized bowl, beat the cream cheese with the butter until smooth and creamy. Add this to the egg-sour cream mixture and beat until smooth. 
4.  Add the sugar, cornstarch, vanilla and beat thoroughly, about 2 minutes. 
5.  Pour batter into tins until about ¾ of the way full.
6.  Drop 2 dots of chocolate sauce about 1 inch apart in cupcake. Drag the tip of a toothpick down through centers of dots to create a heart. Note: You might have to finesse the heart with toothpicks until you get the right shape.
7.  Bake 15-20 minutes, the edges will appear to be set, but the center will still have a little jiggle to it. Pro Tip: How to know when it's done? Jiggle test! Knock the side of the tin, if it jiggles and then stops right away, then it's done (center will firm as they cool).
7.  Let stand at room temperature on a cooling rack until completely cool, then transfer to fridge until well chilled. For best flavor and texture, these cheesecakes are best chilled overnight.

Vegan Chocolate Cake
Recipe adapted from Joy The Baker
Yield: 1, 9-inch chocolate bundt cake

Dessert Fiend Note: I haven't made a ton of vegan desserts, but this one tastes just like the real deal egg version I've made. Score! It also requires little effort. Double score!

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm coffee
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
handful of chocolate chips

1.  Place rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch bundt pan with cooking spray, oil or butter and dust with cocoa powder. Set aside.
2.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together coffee, oil and vanilla.
3.  Add the wet ingredients, all at once to the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
4.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
5.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes
Yield: 50 cookies

Dessert Fiend Note: This is a classic, chewy, chocolate cookie (say that three times fast). Another easy one, but requires you to chill the dough for an hour or so. This recipe can also be halved since it makes a bajillion.

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or beat by hand with a wooden spoon) beat together the cocoa powder, white sugar, and vegetable oil until it comes together into a shiny, gritty, black dough of sorts.
2.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for 30 seconds each. Add the vanilla and beat in thoroughly.
3.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and espresso powder if using.
4.  Mix into the chocolate mixture on low speed until just combined.
5.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill the dough for 1 hour or overnight.
6.  Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the confectioner's sugar in a wide bowl.
7.  Using a rounded teaspoon scoop clumps of the chilled dough and roll them into 1-inch sized balls using your hands.
8.  Roll the balls in the confectioner's sugar and place on the cookie sheets (you should be able to get 12-16 on each sheet).
9.  Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool a minute or two on the sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

And that's all she wrote! Happy Galentine's-Valentine's Day y'all!

Huge shout-out to Hamee Ha for all the ridiculously good looking photos!

Recipe: Tartine Bakery's Lemon Cream Tart

Tartine Bakery's Lemon Cream Tart will always hold a special place in my heart. It dazzled me the first time I ate it and I was downright tickled when I got the chance to have a hand in making it when I worked at Tartine. This creamy-tangy tart is also one of those "almost too pretty to eat desserts." We would top it with a quenelle of fluffy whipped cream or torched meringue and pretty little edible flowers. I always felt proud to put those beauties in the display case. I'd reckon (yes "reckon," I've been watching too much Westworld) you'd feel pretty proud of yourself too if you made it. Best to try it out and see.

Tartine Bakery's Lemon Cream Tart
Recipe from Tartine Bakery Cookbook
Yield: 1, 9-inch tart

For The Tart Dough
(makes 2, 9-inch tart shells)
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 large egg, room temperature
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

For The Lemon Cream
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp lemon juice
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup unsalted butter

Whipped Cream Topping
1 pint Heavy Whipping Cream
2 tbsp confectioner's sugar
Swiss Meringue Topping
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup egg whites

Directions - Dough
1.  Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar, and salt and mix on medium speed until smooth.
2.  Mix in 1 egg. Add the remaining egg and mix until smooth. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
3.  Add the flour all at once and mix on low speed until incorporated.
4.  On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough into 2 equal balls and shape each ball into a disk 1/2 inch thick. Wrap well in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight. (You can also freeze them for future use. They can keep for 3 weeks.)
5.  To line a tart pan, place a dough disk on a lightly floured surface and roll out 1/8 inch thick, rolling from the center toward the edge in all directions. Lift and rotate the dough a quarter turn after every few strokes, dusting underneath as necessary to discourage sticking, and work quickly to prevent the dough from becoming warm. Cut out a circle 2 inches larger than the pan. If the dough is still cool, carefully transfer the circle to the pan, easing it into the bottom and sides and then pressing gently into place. If the dough has become too soft to work with, put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes to firm up before transferring it to the pan. If the dough develops any tears, just patch with a little extra dough, pressing firmly to adhere. Trim the dough level with the top of the pan with a sharp knife or the palm or your hand. Place the pastry shell in the refrigerator or freezer until it is firm, about 15 minutes.
6.  Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
7.  Dock the bottom of the tart shell or tart shells with a fork or the tip of a knife, making tiny holes 2 inches apart. Place in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes. The pastry should be lightly colored and look dry and opaque.
8.  Let cool completely on wire racks. The pastry shells will keep, well wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

Directions - Lemon Cream
1.  Pour water to a depth of about 2 inches into a saucepan, place over medium heat, and bring to a simmer.
2.  Combine lemon juice, whole eggs, yolk, sugar and salt in a stainless steel bowl on top of the double boiler. Whisk ingredients constantly for 10-12 minutes until the mixture becomes very thick and registers 180 degrees Fahrenheit on a thermometer (if you don’t have a thermometer, just whisk until the mixture leaves a trail when you move the whisk through it. It should became opaque and pale yellow)
3.  Remove the bowl from over the water and stir from time to time to release the heat.
4.  Meanwhile, cut butter into 1 tbsp pieces. When the cream is ready and cooled, using either a regular or immersion blender, add 1 piece of butter at a time to the lemon mixture, blending after each addition of butter. The cream will become a pale yellow and very thick.
5.  You can use the cream immediately, or store it into an air-tight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. If you decide to store it for later use, you will need to warm it up again in a bowl over a bain marie until the texture becomes thinner and smoother before pouring into shell.

Directions - Whipped Cream Topping
Whip cream and sugar on high until soft-stiff peaks form.

Directions - Swiss Meringue
1.  Whisk together sugar and egg whites over bain marie until temperature reaches 120 degrees.
2.  Transfer to mixer with a whisk attachment and mix until stiff peaks form

Assembling Tart:
Have the tart shell ready and cool for filling. Pour the lemon cream into the cooled tart shell. Chill the tart until firm, about 2 hours. Top with a quenelle or sexy dollop of whipped cream or swiss meringue. If topping with meringue, hit it with a blow torch for a toasty taste and look. 

Recreating Old Memories: Pumpkin Waffles

'Tis the season for all things pumpkin, my personal favorite fall flavor. One of the best breakfast items I've had was the pumpkin waffle at Rockridge Cafe. It was such a spot hitter. I used to go there when my sis lived a few blocks away and I'll always fondly remember that delectable waffle. Pumpkin season has rightfully inspired me to recreate this delight at home, and if memory serves me correctly, this recipe isn't far off. These are worth the extra effort in the morning, I promise.

Pumpkin Waffles
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Yield: 4-6, depending on your waffle iron

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
4 large eggs, separated
2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil for brushing waffle iron or cooking spray
Softened butter and a few shakes of cinnamon for topping

1.  Preheat oven to 200°F and preheat waffle iron. Sift together flour, brown sugar, baking powder and soda, salt, and spices. Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl with buttermilk, pumpkin, and butter until smooth. Whisk in dry ingredients just until combined.
2.  In a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Fold them gently into the waffle batter, until just combined.
3.  Brush waffle iron lightly with oil and spoon batter (about 2 cups for four 4-inch Belgian waffles) into waffle iron, spreading quickly. Cook according to manufacturer’s instructions.
4.  Transfer waffles to rack in oven to keep warm and crisp. Make more waffles in same manner.
5.  Top waffles with cinnamon butter.

Recipe: Caramel Pot de Crème

Pot de créme or "pot of cream" is a decadent custard that has the texture of a thick, sturdier pudding. It's hands down my favorite custard dessert, sorrynotsorry créme brûlée. Typically it's topped with a sexy dollop of whipped cream, and boy do I love me a sexy dollop. Truth be told, I haven't met a pot de créme that I haven't liked, and this recipe is no exception. Best part about it is that it only calls for 4 ingredients, that you probably already have. Now you really have no excuse not to try this recipe on for size. 

Happy pot de créme-ing friends!

Caramel Pot de Crème
Recipe adapted from
Yield: 6 small jars

6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
2 cups heavy cream (or 1 1/2 cups heavy cream and 1/2 cup whole milk)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Optional toppings:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Maldon sea salt
Shortbread cookie

1.  Set oven to 325F
2.  Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl until well blended. Set aside.
3.  In a heavy bottomed sauce pan combine the sugar and 1/2 cup water and stir gently to combine. Over medium heat, simmer the mixture WITHOUT STIRRING until sugar starts to dissolve. Increase to medium-high heat and boil for anywhere from 5-10 minutes, until the sugar syrup starts to brown. The browner the syrup gets, the more flavor you will have in your finished custard. Pro tip: once the mixture starts to smoke (burn), wait 30 more seconds until step 4. Trust me, this will increase the richness of the flavor. 
4.  When the syrup is nice and brown, whisk in the cream (be careful, it will spurt) and continue to stir while you lower the heat to medium. The caramel with be hardened at first and will dissolve as the cream heats. Stir just until all the bits of caramel are dissolved.
5.  Slowly drizzle the cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking as you drizzle. Continue until all the cream has been incorporated into the eggs and is smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract.
6.  Pour the mixture into 6 small oven safe glasses.
7.  Set the glasses in a baking dish and pour hot water into the dish to come up about an inch or two.
8.  Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until the custards are set on the edges, but still a little wobbly in the center.
9.  Let cool and then refrigerate until chilled.
10.  Serve with one of the below:
- a sprinkle of Maldon sea salt
- a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream and Maldon salt
- a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream and a blackberry
- go for the full Monty! A dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream, a blackberry and shortbread cookie crumbles

French themed din? Cue pot de créme. 

Recipe: Any-Kind-Of-Fruit Galette


Oh hai there stranger. Been awhile, hasn't it? I almost forgot what your face looked like.

Yeeesh, so did I fall of the band wagon hard or what? I kind of felt like this poor sap. Wish I had a good story to go along with it, but really, I just procrastinated x100 and decided to wait until I felt the urge again, which ended up taking 6 (!) months. But hey, better late than never, right?

So I've GOT to share a dessert with you that I'm currently obsessed with: galettes! Heard of them? They're like pie, but easier to make and rustic AF. Bonus: they look impressive too! I made this puppy most recently for a ladies food-themed dinner; this time around the theme was "stone fruit." Sidenote: you might be asking yourself, "what the devil is stone fruit exactly?" I tell you. It's a fruit with a "stone" inside of it, also known as a "pit." #themoreyouknow

What's damn cool about galettes is that you can use any fruit you fancy in it. The only thing you might have to modify is the cornstarch (if the fruit is super juicy to start with, add more) and sugar (if the fruit is naturally super sweet, use less), that's it though. The rest of the recipe is the samesies.

I think y'all should give this a go because A: stone fruit season is phasing out soon, get it while the gettin's good! B: galettes are rookie-friendly, you seriously can't screw this up, and C: because I said so! (aka my least favorite phrase my dad used to use on me growing up...the worst!)

Guys, it's good to be back. See you real soon. 

Any-Kind-Of-Fruit Galette
Yield: 8-10 servings
Recipe: adapted from A Life Well Lived

For the pie dough:
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3–5 tablespoons ice cold water

For the filling:
4 cups fruit, sliced (I used 2 cups peaches, 2 cups strawberries)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (use less if fruit is super sweet pre-sugar)
1 Tbs. lemon zest
2 Tbs. lemon juice
2 Tbs. cornstarch (add more if fruit is super juicy on its own)
pinch of salt

For the egg wash:
1 egg mixed with 1 tbs. half and half or water
turbinado sugar

For the topper:
1 pint heavy whipping cream
4 Tbs. powdered sugar
Go à la mode! Vanilla Bean Ice Cream recipe here.

For the pie dough:
1.  In a food processor pulse to combine the flour, salt and sugar. Add butter and pulse another 10 times or until the butter is the size of peas.
2.  With the motor running slowly add the water and continue for another 20 seconds or so until the dough has come together.
3.  Place dough on a well floured surface and form into a disk shape. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

For the filling:
1.  Pre-heat oven to 400°F.
2.  In a medium bowl, stir to combine the fruit, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, cornstarch and pinch of salt.
3.  Roll out refrigerated pie dough until about 1/8 " thick and about 12" in diameter.
4.  Carefully place the fruit mixture in the center of the rolled out pie dough leaving a 2 inch border. Gently fold the dough partially over the fruit mixture pleating the dough. 
5.  Brush the dough with the egg wash mixture then sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
6.  Bake galette for about 30 to 35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
7.  Let cool for 15 mins or so before serving.

For the topper:
1.  Whip heavy whipping cream with powdered sugar until soft peaks form.
2.  Top galette with a sexy dollop.
3.  OR, top galette with scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.
4.  Take a combo bite and be happy.

Strawb-Peach Galette à la mode

Graduation Day

This was day one! Feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago.

Today, I graduate from pastry school! 6 months has come and gone way too fast for my liking, but you know what they say: "time flies when you're having fun." Ain't that the truth because it sure as hell was fun.

So here we are, 6 months later. What's different now then prior to this, you ask? I'll tell you. Lets bullet point it up and cue this song because no one likes an awkward silence.

• First and foremost, I have a TON of more hands on pastry experience under my belt.
• I've made dozens and dozens and dozens of new recipes I've never dared to try before.
• I've worked in a professional kitchen that happened to be one of my favorite bakeries on the planet.
• I'm more confident in my culinary-pastry skillz.
• I'm <politely> bossier in the kitchen with non-industry people, sorry not sorry. I can't help it! My sense of urgency has followed me.
• I've made 11 new friends! <cue awws>. I can't wait to see what each of these ladies do.
• I feel like a new and improved version of myself. Not that I've changed drastically, but that I've definitely grown for the better.
•  I still have SO much more to learn and I'm hungry for more! #nailedthatpun Lets keep on keeping on!

One of the best things my chef said to me that I won't ever forget is: "just do it with confidence!" I remember the time she said this vividly. It was early into the program and I needed to flip over a large and in charge dessert. I was hesitating and expressed my fear of screwing it up. Her response was that very line so I followed her instructions, committing to it, whether I'd screw it up or not. Even if I did fail in that moment, (which I didn't for the record <brushes dirt off shoulder>), that advice can be used with anything in life, really. I'm grateful for it and all the other priceless advice my chef gave me.

I will miss San Francisco Cooking School and wish I could Groundhog Day this experience. It's been one hell of a ride from inspirational guest chefs, field trips to local amazing bakeries, baguette sword fights, tempering chocolate for days, making up a song for the 3 weeks of bread, pants fitting tighter than usual with no regrets, laughing at Graham's laugh, packing my freezer full of all the pastries, dancing while throwing flour, piping macarons until I wanted to gouge my eyes out, feeling like a boss with my classmates on bakery day, to surprising myself, but feeling very humbled while working at Tartine.

Hugs to all my supporters along the way. Now lets go raise a glass and eat some dessert!

Recipe: Tartine Bakery's Chocolate Pudding

When I tasted Tartine's Chocolate Pudding for the first time, I thought: "This is how chocolate pudding should taste!" It has the right balance of richness and the texture is velvety smooth. Overall, this dessert just makes you happy. I decided to make this at home on Valentine's Day because chocolate is the thing to eat on this day of love. Why get your romantical chocolate in a heart shaped box when you can get it on a spoon?

This recipe is easy for bakers of all levels (truth!) and is relatively fast. No baking is involved, just some stove-top action. Once you portion it out, it doesn't take long to cool, so this pudding can be in your belly in under a couple hours. #fistpump

If you're looking to step up your pudding game, look no further. Tartine, thanks for nailing chocolate pudding.

Tartine Bakery's Chocolate Pudding
Recipe from Tartine Bakery Cookbook
Yield: 4-6 servings

1 3⁄4 cups (14 oz/425 ml) whole milk
1⁄2 cup heavy cream, plus 2 tablespoons (5 oz/155 ml) heavy cream (plus 1 cup/8 oz for topping later on)
1⁄4 cup (1 oz/30 g) cornstarch
3⁄4 cup (5 oz/140 g) sugar
3 tablespoons (45 ml) cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1⁄4 teaspoon (1 ml) salt
2 1⁄2 ounces (70 g) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1.  Place a fine-mesh sieve over a large heat-proof container.
2.  In a saucepan, combine the milk and cream; heat to just under a boil. Pro Tip: When you start to see a good amount of steam while you're stirring it, you're close!
3.  Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, combine the cornstarch and sugar; sift in the cocoa powder; whisk until blended.
4.  In another bowl, whisk the eggs with the salt until blended, then add to the sugar mixture and whisk until well combined.
5.  Slowly add half of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture while whisking constantly. Pro Tip: Don't rush this part or, as my chef has said, you'll make "egg-drop soup!"
6.  Pour the combined egg mixture back into the pan with the rest of the milk mixture; cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture has visibly thickened and reads 208° on a thermometer, should take about 5-7 minutes, depending on how cold your eggs are.
7.  Immediately pour the contents of the pan through the sieve. Pro Tip: to help it along, use a small ladle/spatula/spoon to push it through, moving it in a circular motion.
8.  Add the chocolate and let the heat of the milk/egg mixture melt it.
9.  When the chocolate has melted, blend with an immersion blender for a full 5 minutes until no lumps are visible. Stop the blender and scrape down the sides of the container with a rubber spatula here and there.
10.  Immediately portion pudding into individual cups; let cool, and serve at room temperature, topped with whipped cream.
FYI: The pudding will keep, well covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Want to get wild and crazy?
• Try adding some cinnamon and cayenne pepper during the immersion blender stage (or earlier, whatevs) to taste and you've got yourself a Mexican Chocolate Pudding! Boom.
• Try adding some mint OR orange extract to taste (start small!) for a mint (or orange) chocolate experience. Blammo.

Bakers Wake Up Earrrly

What are you doing up at 4:30 in the morning? Baking scones and gougères? Oh wait, that's me. Yes, I wake up at the same time I used to go to sleep on a Saturday (that's a lie, but just go with it) so people like yourself can have their hot buns at 7:30am.

I've been externing at the kick-ass Tartine for just over a month now and it's been going swimmingly. I've been working on a few different stations: cookies/bars, shelling (lining/baking pastry shells for tarts/quiches) and the morning bake team which is either "quiche side" or "scone side" as they call it. Each station has been stellar and I've loved all the variety. Hell, I've even enjoyed working the 4:30am shift, who knew?! Those days actually fly by and the kitchen is less chaotic the first half of the day, due to the fact that there's usually only 5 of us there in vs 20+.

So one of the things Tartine is known for is it's line, due to it's popularity. Lines are the worst, but there's a reason for it. The food is legit guys! I can attest to this because I've tried most of the menu by now. #patsonbuddahbelly I actually think it's kind of exciting that people are willing to wait in line for Tartine's goodies. Yes, perhaps people are just in line because of the hype, but I'd be a liar if I said that the hype isn't justified and the line isn't worth waiting in. DO IT, or even better, holler at me when you're coming and I'll buy you a warm croissant to keep you company in line.

Surprises so far? The amount of heavy labor! Tartine is cranking out a ton of products for the masses so the yield is always LARGE. These LARGE yields need to be chopped, stirred and folded by hand sometimes which is, frankly, a workout and a half. For example, I break a sweat every time I make gougères (which requires vigorous continuous stirring by hand) and I have a gougère calluses on my hand to show for it.

Another surprise, that has nothing to do with any of the above, is I've become a biker! Not the Hells Angels kind (I'm certain that's what you were imagining), but the bicycle kind. My sweet ride is from junior high, so it's real hip. At least I don't have to worry about it ever getting stolen...

Back on subject again, here are some solid things I've learned so far while working at Tartine:

Lift with your knees, not your back! I've been aware of this tip, but it's an important one to recall when you have to lift a 50lb bag of flour. Those bags are no joke! It seriously feels like I'm carrying a large child through the kitchen.

Hands and arms make fantastic tools! Bowl scrapers and spatulas are nice and all, but sometimes ya gotta get in there with your hand or even your arm to get all the sneaky hidden spots. Also, folding brownie batter with your hand/arm is ridiculously fun.

Have one clean hand and one dirty hand. Love this one, but it's a challenge to follow sometimes. When you need to scrape down a bowl using either your hand or bowl scraper, that hand will likely get batter and such on it, so in turn it becomes your "dirty hand." The other hand, by default, is your "clean hand" and should be used to do "clean tasks" like turn the mixer on/off and raise/lower the mixer. This is especially useful for recipes that require you to scrape down the bowl several times over several rounds. In the end, having these clean/dirty hands will avoid more cleanup- making you more efficient! #winning

Refill the line if there's a lull. This is the new "If you've got time to lean, you've got time to clean." Sooo "if you've got time to lean, you've got time to refill?" Where's a poet when I need one?

Walking by a pot? Give it a stir sister! This kitchen multi-tasks like champions so the stove top is always full. If you find yourself passing by, why not stir that chocolate or pastry cream or apples for a hot second? Thaaaaanks.

Behind! Hot! Sharp! I hear the phrase "behind" at least 100x a day, "hot" about 40x a day and "sharp" a solid 10x. There's a reason for this- no one wants a run-in with 3 sheet trays of shells or a hot pot of bacon fat or perhaps get stabbed in the thigh with a chef's knife. That would make for a bad day.

Be efficient! Try to take as few trips as possible when gathering what you need- ingredients, tools etc. Also, try to re-use bowls, measuring cups and such when you're putting a recipe together. Work smart you dummy!

When in doubt, write it down! Pounds and ounces and grams, oh my! Perhaps if I had a photographic memory, I'd have no use for a notepad, but alas, my memory is more like a goldfisheseseses.

And lastly,
No one is awake at 4am except crackheads and bakers! When I bike to Tartine at this ungodly hour, I bike like zombies are chasing me (the fast "28 Days Later" kind of zombies, not the slow "Walking Dead" kind). I hope I don't come across humans (or zombies) because most likely they're up to no good and will surely steal my junior high bike and break my knee-caps if they spot me. #fact

This would be the part where I'd cue a song and show you all the beautiful things I've been working on, but sadly, I've got nothing for you. Pulling out your phone at work to take selfies and food porn photos are frowned upon- I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to have a photo shoot with croissants/cookies/cakes/bread/bars etc. Where's a Google Glass to take surreptitious pics when I need one?!

If you'd like to see me in action and eat all the pastries, come visit me! I've got only 3 weeks left!

image cred:

All Good Things Must Come To An End

And the next thing I know, 4 months of pastry school has come and gone. Did somebody fast forward my life because that sure as hell felt fast! Well, it's been quite the ride and I'm coming out of these 4 months feeling like I've been exposed to so much in the pastry world, yet, somehow I still lack confidence and feel like I have a truckload of things to learn and improve on. I suppose that's a good thing to feel, right? I'm actually glad that I'm not sauntering out of these 4 months thinking I'm the golden god of desserts. I'd have to slap myself in the face if so.

I started my 2 month externship at Tartine Bakery these last two weeks, and while I'd love to fill you in about that, you'll have to wait because you still haven't heard about the last 3 weeks of class! They were a memorable 3 weeks too so lets catch you up to speed shall we?

Week 14 - Plated Desserts
Ahhh a beautifully plated dessert. There's nothing more easy on the eyes than a beautifully plated dessert, other than a shirtless Ryan Reynolds of course (it's OK, my husband agrees that you can shred cheese on those abs). Plating dessert is a skill I wanted to improve on for awhile. Our chef showed us how to plate a variety of desserts; mashups that I would never think of putting together. We learned that plated desserts should have a balance of different tastes, textures and temperatures such as this killer dessert: Mango Custard with Roasted Pineapple, Coconut Sorbet, Coconut Snow, Kalamansi Gel and Micro Basil. We also learned that dessert should have the same style/size/vibe as the savory portion of the meal. Along with plated desserts, we had Nicole Krasinski, pastry chef/co-owner of the fantastic State Bird Provisions, pay us a visit to show us how to make a few of State Bird's desserts- SO so awesome. We ended the week with the fabulous Jeffrey Larsen, from our gluten-free workshop. Our final gluten-free project was due and Jeffery gave us some great feedback and critique on each of our desserts. My Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars weren't bad, but they were nothing compared to my classmate's gluten-free Triple Ginger Cookies. She nailed it. If I were an Olympic judge, I would give it a perfect 10.

Week 15 - Bakery Day Prep/Bakery Day
This week was all about prepping for our Bakery Day on Friday. Bakery Day was our final project where we got to invite a few friends/family to come to our school and be wined and dined on our behalf. We had a "pass" portion where we made/served food to them live and there was a "boxed" portion where they got to fill a box full of baked goods to take home that we made ahead of time. My classmates and I came up with these two menus together which took several rounds of narrowing down. Brutal cuts had to be made, such as any dessert involving peanut butter that I found only myself fighting for. I meannnn, who doesn't like peanut butter?! Sigh. So we came to a group consensus on the menus, each of us signed up for multiple items (mostly in teams) and planned out the to-dos for each day. My items were: Passion Fruit Caramels, Chocolate Caramels, Honey Lavender Macarons and Scallion Pancakes with Soy Dipping Sauce. My teammates and I banged out the caramels and pancakes, which had essentially no hiccups, but man oh man did the macarons ever. Those mac-attacks were real assholes. Firstly, they are labor-intensive to make, secondly, they just didn't want to cooperate. Long story short, we ended up having to make 4 batches until we got it right. Luckily in the end, they tasted good and looked pretty enough. Pro Tip: A topper of edible gold paint can take your macaron game from a 5 to a 9.

Bakery Day overall was a blast. We all wore orange bandannas which made us look like a cross between 2Pac and Rosie the Riveter, but we still looked cute in my humble. Shrug. All of our hard work leading to this day paid off- the decor and setup looked beautiful and professional, the kitchen crew killed it and the front of house foursome (myself included) made sure our guests were well fed and happy. It was so fun getting to meet all my classmates' people and see/hear how everyone was liking the food. It felt like a huge accomplishment and even though we could have improved on a few things, I was super proud of all of us. #goteam

Week 16 - Final exams & Field Trips
This week was a blend of low-key field trips and high stress test days - great fun for your blood pressure. Our field trips were to Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen, Guittard Chocolate and B. Patisserie. We started things off at good 'ol Williams-Sonoma! It brought me back to my old catalog life as I walked through the doors. It was such fun seeing this famous test kitchen in person. Fun Fact: The test kitchen ladies are the ones who judged the Chuck Williams Birthday Bake-Off (RIP Chuck) that I fatley lost in a few years ago. These ladies have a stellar gig: they get to test recipes for future catalogs. Hello dream-job. At Guittard, we got a grand tour of their facilities and got to see how they make their delicious chocolate - they are one hell of a well-oiled machine! We closed out the field trips at B. Patisserie where they make some of the best pastries I've ever had (their Kouign Amann is insane!) Eating their pastries would have been a fun field-trip in itself, but we got a chance to have B's kick-ass pastry chef, Belinda Leong, talk to us about her background and tell us her B. Patisserie story. Our last day at school was spent being fed by the lovely Culinary Arts class for their final project: Restaurant Day. They did a FANtastic job, to put it lightly.

The class portion of school is over, but all good things must come to an end. Now, I'm in the land of Tartine Bakery and that ain't bad. ;-)

Lets bring it on home with a photo montage from these 3 weeks! Cue song. Sidenote: I had never seen this music video before. Hello glam rock at it's finest. Cheers!

Carb Loaded For Life

Friends! It's been awhile. Like 4 weeks awhile. Lots of pastry school updates to be had, but lets start in reverse order, because I have exciting recent news.

We found out this week where we got placed for our externships. This is where we'll be working and spending all of our time for the last two months of the program, it's MAJOR. A few weeks ago, we all had a one-on-one with the founder of the school and ever since then, I've been anxiously-nervously-excitedly wondering where the devil I'll end up! On Wednesday morning, we were told that we'll all find out at lunchtime. Deep breath. Eeks magee. Lunchtime rolls around, and every one of us are silently on our phones, obsessively refreshing our email like a bunch of buffoons. And then, like dominoes, one by one, the emails start coming. Murmuring and smiles come next. I refresh my email for the 20th time and there it is. I open my email to see that I got placed at the same location where this journey began: Tartine Bakery! Motherf*&%ing Tartine! So SO excited. Want to know where everyone else got placed? Yeah ya do! NOPA, Chez Panisse, Quince, State Bird Provisions, Feve, Jane on Larkin, Little Bee Baking, Neighbor Bakehouse, Craftsman and Wolves, Della Fattoria and Cake Coquette. Bad. Ass. So excited for my pastry school peeps.


Lets continue this Memento-like order recap in reverse, shall we?

Week 13: Breads 2
That's what it said in our syllabus: "Breads 2." Pretty self-explanatory <insert sarcastic looking emoji of your choice here>. We only had two days of class this week before Thanksgiving break and they were filled with "quick breads," mostly breakfast-type pastries. Waffles, coffee cake (best I've ever had), muffins, brioche to name a few and one of the BEST croissants I've ever had: a PRETZEL croissant! Yes, it's as good as it sounds. Actually, it's better than it sounds.

Week 12: Laminated Dough
Translation: CROISSANTS!! There was a lot of <under the radar> happy dancing and fist-pumps this week. Laminated dough is dough consisting of many thin layers of dough separated by butter, produced by repeated folding and rolling. Fun Fact: Croissants have 81 layers, while puff pastry typically has about 1000. #mindblown We had chef Brian Wood from Starter Bakery come in to show us how croissant making is done. He's the king of all things croissant, and also, you haven't lived if you haven't eaten his kouign amann. #lifechanging Chef Brian also kindly participated in a "Last Supper" photo you can get a glimpse of below. He makes an excellent Jesus. We finished out the week with a visit to the kickass Craftman and Wolves facility. Chef William Werner gave us a personal tour of the digs and his soon to be expansion. It was beautiful, spotless and I noted that they had pretty much one of every tool and machine a pastry gal could dream of. Chef William really impressed us. Confident, business savvy and smart as a whip. I want to be like him when I grow up.

Week 11: Breads 1
The first installment of bread. This week was eye-opening. We made more of your classic loaves and baguettes this week. Guest chef Michael Kalanty joined us for a day to show us his way of making some classic breads like pan au levain and San Francisco sour dough. He takes the cake for my favorite guest chef. He's not only hugely entertaining and hilarious, but he's a fantastic teacher. Sign up for one of his classes, and thank me later. Other notable things we made: bagels, pretzels and babka, oh my! We closed out the week with a field trip to Central Milling in Petaluma. Nicky Giusto was our fabulous host who took us on a baguette making adventure. Chef Nicky is competing in the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie in Paris (a.k.a. The World Cup of bread baking), representing for team U.S.A. He's that good!

Week 10: Ice Cream, Gelato, Frozen Desserts
Yes, yes and yes. Guest chefs Bill Corbett, former pastry chef of Absinthe, and Patti Dellamonica-Bauler, pastry chef at One Market, paid us separate visits and taught us their style of ice cream making. Chef Bill is all about the science angle of ice cream making utilizing emulsifiers and stabilizers such as Cremodan 30 that give ice cream viscosity and also delays the melting of ice cream. Too much of this can give ice cream a chalky, gummy mouth feel though so watch yourself. Chef Patti's angle was all natural, sans stabilizers. Ironically enough, one of our freezers broke during this week. Reminded me of the good ol' Pottery Barn days when the printer broke at clutch times like before a film review. Figures. All in all, it was an ice cream-tastic week.

So you might have noticed that we had three three glorious weeks of bread. THREE! That's some serious carb-loading.

And now, while I start my bread detox, here's a photo montage of the last 4 weeks. Oh, and cue this song first because I said so.

Still Not Sick Of Dessert

I'm halfway through pastry school friends! Thinking about this makes me both a bit anxious and sad. Anxious because I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Meaning, when people ask me what I’d like to do after I finish school (which has been a go-to question since enrolling in school), I don't have an answer. I have a few ideas I've been mulling over, but it would be much easier if the answer hit me like a ton of bricks, or perhaps if it came to me in a dream…delivered by Matt Damon. Just sayin’. I’m hoping over time this will become more clear. Being halfway done also bums me out because I actually like going to school- hell, I even look forward to it! I mean, why wouldn't I? I get to make copious amounts of killer desserts daily, and I'm constantly learning something new. Everyday includes brand-spanking new recipes I’ve never tackled before, and that’s so exciting to me. It's kinda like opening gifts on Christmas morning, but filled with more dessert and less pajamas.

Some of the best things I’ve learned so far have become mottos that I repeat in my head all the time (I usually hear them in my teacher’s voice though). Here are a few golden nuggets for your pleasure:

Have a sense of urgency! You're going to get more done faster if you work quickly and efficiently. This also includes walking with a purpose, and if you don't, I'm going to mow your ass down! Sorry I'm not sorry.
If you've got time to lean, you've got time to clean. Funny, yes, but damnit it's true too. Don't be a slouch and go wipe something down or put something away. I've used this line on my hubs recently...he wasn't amused.
Get your full yield! Translation: when you're doing any kind of product transferring from one container to another (i.e. measuring cups or a mixing bowl), scrape out as much of what's in there as you can. I’ve had those moments in the past where I'd shrug and say “good enough,” but there’s actually a lot more on the sides of that bowl than you think. It can effect your recipe and it’s a bit wasteful too, unless you're planning on licking the bowl, then I fully support that.
The oven light is your friend, use it. When you open the oven, the temperature drops 25 degrees! 'Tis a lot so stop opening that blasted oven and use the blasted light!
Keep your work-space clean. Done with the Kitchenaid? Put that sucker away! Got a pile of dirty bowls? Get that pile to a sink pronto! You will feel more organized and will work more efficiently if you clean as you go. It's a fact.

So mottos aside, I need to catch you up on these last three weeks. It’s been FULL and loads of fun.

Week 7 was all kinds of awesome. It focused on pastry doughs: brownies, blondies and cookies galore. Highlights? We made over 25 different cookie/brownie/blondie creations. Having to sample each of these goodies was hard work <said nobody ever>. By the end of the week, we made bakery boxes for our VIPs filled with our favorite desserts we’ve made thus far. This was a fun project because we had to really team up and work together in order to get these boxes done on time. My favorite thing in the box? The Candy Cap Pecan Cookies, hands down. Candy Cap is a mushroom, but alas these taste nothing like 'shrooms. They instead taste like a nutty maple buttery dreamboat. Other than the lucky VIPs, each of us were able to take a box of love home too. Another highlight was taking on a fun project: as a class, come up with our best version of a chocolate chip cookie. Apparently, a former pastry class tackled the same project and their recipe ended up being published in Bon Appétit! Hugely impressive and the bar has been set. Game on.

Week 8 was themed “advanced chocolate and confections.” Translation: we made a plethora of gourmet candy bars (i.e. Snickers) and other yum-tastic candy. Highlights? We spent one of the days at Feve Artisan Chocolatier learning how to decorate and shell chocolate. This was super fun because we got to get artsy-fartsy with the decorating by using gold dust, a spray gun and even just finger painting. It’s unreal how gorgeous chocolates can be. These chocolates that Feve make literally look like works of art. I'm almost inclined to say that they're too pretty to eat, but lets be honest, these beauties were meant to be pretty in my belly.

Week 9 was boot camp week- repetition and timed drills. Highlights? Other than being able to make 30 crepes in 10 minutes and dice 2 carrots into 1/4 inch squares (my own personal hell), we had a THREE HOUR cheese tasting workshop. It sounds amazing right? It really was, but towards the end of the last hour, I felt like a wheel of cheese in human form. Another workshop we did that week, was a gluten-free/food allergies workshop. We live in SF so this is great knowledge to have as the gluten-free population is strangely growing higher by the minute. We also made macarons! These are one of the most beautiful time-consuming cookies I've ever made before, but so worth it in the end. We even got to create our own version with a teammate- we made lemon poppy seed macs.

As for this week, it’s ice cream o’clock! More specifically, a week of ice cream, gelato and frozen desserts. My husband clearly is most excited about this week because after I told him, he did a happy car dance that lasted an awkwardly long time.

Want to stare at some pretty desserts now? Cue this song, enjoy and I’ll see you on the flip side.

Let Them Eat Cake! And Pie!

Just when I thought it couldn't get any better than "Chocolate Week," we have "Cake Week: Part 1 and Part Deux." TWO weeks of cake?! And to follow that up, we have Pastry Doughs: Part 1 and Part 2. Is this real life?

Let me fill you in on these last 3 weeks.

The first week (week 4 into the program) was an intro to cake baking. Translation: we made a ridiculous amount of cakes, which meant, I ate a lot of cake. Morning? Lets try the cakes we cranked out from yesterday. Afternoon? Time to sample the next wave o' cakes. Night? Oh look, cake leftovers! I mean, I'm just trying to educate myself (right?) Cake gorging aside, I was introduced to a whole plethora of different cake varietals, techniques and flavor profiles. I was stoked to discover some fun creative recipes like the Blum's Coffee Crunch Cake. This was a light, fluffy vanilla cake covered in whipped cream and honeycomb. Oh the honeycomb. I can eat it like popcorn (and I did). Highlights? I learned how to make gourmet Ho Hos! But more importantly, I learned the art of leveling out your cake layers, which was knowledge that I seriously needed (cue my "leaning tower of fail cake").

The second week (week 5 into the program) focused on cake filings, assembly and decorating, which included a two-day cake workshop taught by the lovely Laci of Wind & Rye Kitchen. She taught us, in a nutshell, how take your cake game up to 11. We learned such things as how to pipe frosting into beautiful shapes and how to drape/decorate fondant. This was my first time working with fondant and man it's a process getting a layer of this onto your cake. There's rolling, draping, smoothing, trimming, and several more rounds smoothing. I dunno about this fondant. If it tasted less like sugary wax and more like that honeycomb, then maybe I'd be more supportive of it. Highlights? We came out of the workshop knowing how to construct a multi-layered 2-tiered cake! These beauties looked like they were ready to be served at the closest black-tie wedding!

This current week (week 6!) is Pastry Dough Part 1. We made 7 different pastry doughs- I didn't know that many variations existed! Each of these doughs had a different flavor and texture, but I didn't noticed a huge difference in taste. So...when there's copious amounts of pastry dough, what shall one do? Make copious amounts of tarts and pies obvi! My favorites were a lemon tart, salty honey pie and a rhubarb custard streusel pie.

To top this week off, we had a guest speaker come in for an interview and Q&A session. Ruth Reichl, food writer extraordinaire! She's had some killer jobs, to put it lightly. She was a food critic for the New York Times, an editor in chief at Gourmet Magazine, has written several memoirs, a novel, and a few cookbooks. She's also co-owned a restaurant and has been the recipient of four James Beard Awards. I mean, the list goes on and on. Feeling a bit inadequate but in complete awe as much as I was?

If you've been following along, I've been in pastry school for 6 bloody weeks! My mind is boggled by everything that I've learned so far. This just in: learning is cool. Especially when you're 33. I don't think 23 year old Courtney would have been into this as much as I am now. Sometimes, life is all about timing eh?

Lastly, if you see me anywhere holding a cake box(es), ask me for a taster of whatever is inside and I will happily give you some. I'm not even kidding. I encourage you to even wait outside my door around 3pm every day with a plate and fork. I'm like Santa Claus, gone wrong.

From that note, I give you week's 4-6's recap via another photo montage. But first, play this song. Who doesn't love a little Rihanna backing up their montage?

Pastry School: Three Weeks Deep!

I'm three weeks deep into pastry school at SFCS! How the devil did that happen?! It's been whirlwindy, but in all the right ways. The first week felt like information overload, since everything was so new; my head was a bit spiny at times, but by the end of the second and even more the third week, I started feeling like I was starting to get the hang of things.

Lets start by answering some go-to questions people have asked me:
1.  Do I like pastry school? Hell to the yes. It's tough and I feel in over my head sometimes, but I get to bake everyday and learn new things about one of my favorite subjects- constantly! Also, I get to work alongside fellow dessert fiends <my people!> How awesome is that?
2.  How many people are in your class? 12 lovely ladies. They're
3.  Who's the teacher? The brilliant badass Nicole Plue. She's the real deal.
4.  Do you wear a chef's hat? Jah! I wear the whole getup, "chef's whites" if you will: hat, coat, pants, apron and kitchen shoes. I always carry a pen, sharpie and lil' notebook too. I look like the nerdiest nerd who every nerded...or maybe i look legit. Jury's out.
5.  What do you want to do afterwards? Any end game? No idea! But I'm hoping I will know in 6 months. Wait for it...! 

So far so good friends. Like I said, I'm learning SO. MUCH. It's insane how much I didn't know in the world of baking. My mind is being blown on the daily.

A couple valuable things I learned so far:
• Read through the entire recipe a few (or five) times before you begin. You could miss a step or a vital ingredient- gasp! You could be unprepared for the next direction and end up over-whipping your french meringue- double gasp!
Setup is key! Before you start a recipe, setup all the equipment/tools/ingredients you'll need, including your "dismount." We're not talking an Olympic dismount, it's where you're going to place your dessert after it's done cooking/baking/cooling/mixing etc. This entire setup, in the culinary world, is called your "mise en place" a French culinary phrase meaning "everything in its place." It sets you up for success and will make you a more efficient chef!
A baking scale is everything: I feel like such a buffoon because I used to rely on my measuring cups, heavily. Know what's faster and more accurate? Weighing shit! Do it. I'm a changed lady.
Don't just watch your water boil, do something! Translation: make sure you're ready for the next step in your recipe (and the step after that, and the step after that); clean, put things away...anything but be a useless yammo while you wait.
Listen to the teacher when she talks. Sounds simple enough, but I get distracted by shiny things sometimes. Listen intently and save it to your hard drive. That way you won't look like a dumb dumb when you ask a Q she already answered, 10 times. <insert awkward emoji face>

As an overview of pastry school thus far, week one was all about baking fundamentals, week two was all things eggs and week three was <dramatic pause> chocolate week. Yes friends, week three was as amazing as it sounds, and then some. What better way to recap these first three weeks than with a good old-fashioned photo-montage. <cue this song>

More updates to come! Looking forward to sharing my sweet <pun intended> journey with you.

Recipe: Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Like brownies? How 'bout cookies? If you answered yes to both of these Q's then A: we can still be friends, and B: I've got the perfect mashup dessert for you. Behold: the Chocolate Brownie Cookie!

Picture a bomb and then a grip of chocolate; that's what this dessert tastes like- yes, a chocolate bomb. #acceptablebombjokes It has a chewy brownie texture on the inside but a firmer cookie texture on the outside. I guarantee it will cure any chocolate hankering you could possibly have. Bonus points for an easy to tackle recipe too. 

Fill up your tallest glass with milk and get your chocolate brownie cookie on. 

Chocolate Brownie Cookies
Recipe from
Yield: 3 dozen cookies

1 pound semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
One 12-ounce bag semisweet chocolate chips

1.  In a large bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chopped chocolate with the butter, stirring a few times, until smooth, about 7 minutes.
2.  In another large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar at medium speed until thick and pale, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and salt. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the melted chocolate, then fold in the flour and baking powder. Stir in the chocolate chips. Scrape the batter into a shallow baking dish, cover and freeze until well chilled and firm, about 1 hour.
3.  Preheat the oven to 350° and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Working in batches, scoop 2-tablespoon-size mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the cookies are dry around the edges and cracked on top. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely before serving.

Good to know:
The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Need more Chocolate? Say no more.
Recipe: The Best Chocolate Cake Ever
Recipe: Salted Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe: Mexican Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Recipe: Cocoa Brownies for a Brownieholic
Recipe: Mint Chocolate Truffles
Recipe: Julia Child and Her Perfect Chocolate Mousse
Recipe: Romantical Chocolate Hazelnut Pots de Creme

Recipe: Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches

Ice cream sandwiches and summer go together like peas and carrots. It's my personal favorite frozen treat, mostly because it's two desserts in one <double fist pump>. Well, it's August so this was my cue to attempt making these puppies for the first time.

Strawberries are so hot right now so it was the obvious choice for the ice cream flavor. I chose this specific ice cream recipe because A: minimal cooking was involved = faster (some ice cream recipes have you make a custard first and then you have to wait for it to cool etc etc) and B: no eggs are involved #peaceoutsalmonella. I've made strawberry ice cream before, sans roasting, but used twice the amount of strawbs. When you roast the fruit, it requires less because it releases some of the water from the berries, giving it a more concentrated flavor. #science

As for my cookie recipe selection, I wanted the cookie to be tasty but understated, a perfect wingman for the ice cream, so I chose a white chocolate chip cookie recipe. You don't want a crispy cookie in an ice cream sandy, so I purposely undercooked them a titch to get that chewy texture.

Pro Tip: When making ice cream, especially in this case, be sure to make it the night before so it hardens in time. Another thing to factor in is the assembly time. The process of putting ice cream between two cookies sounds like NBD, but it's strangely tedious and brought me back to my sculpture class days. I've included my process below to help soften the blow.

Verdict? The strawberry ice cream is my new personal favorite- creamy with a bold strawberry flavor, thanks to the roasting. The cookie is just what I was looking for too: chewy, mellow and kindly lets its ice cream friend shine.

This sando is a real spot hitter for these summer days so go be a hero and make them for your favorite.

Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches
Recipe from &
Yield: 10 sandos  

For the ice cream
3/4 lb fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the cookies
1 stick butter, room temperature (½ cup)
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2  cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups white chocolate chips OR 1 cup mini white chocolate chips (what I used)

For the ice cream
1.  Heat oven to 325 degrees.
2.  Toss strawberries with 2 tablespoons sugar and balsamic vinegar, and spread on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until soft. Allow to cool.
3.  Once cooled, finely chop, or puree the strawberries using an immersion blender.
4.  In a large bowl whisk together milk, heavy cream, 1 cup sugar, salt, vanilla, and strawberries. Pour mixture into the freezer bowl of an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturers instructions.

For the cookies
1.  Preheat the oven to 375°.
2.  In the bowl of a stand mixer cream together the butter and sugars. Add the egg and beat the mixture together into a smooth batter.
3.  Sift the flour and baking soda into the batter and continue mixing until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated. Mix in the white chocolate chips.
4.  On a parchment–lined baking sheet, arrange tablespoon-size balls of cookie dough a couple of inches apart, then freeze for about 10 minutes. (you should get 12 cookies all together). 
5.  Bake the chilled cookies for 10 to 12 minutes. They should seem slightly undercooked on top to get the amazingly chewy texture.
6.  Cool entirely on a rack before making your ice cream sandwiches. 
7.  Assemble your ice cream sandwiches and enjoy. Tips below!

To assemble: 
It's a process to assemble, and it took me several tries until I had some sort of system. Here's my technique.
1.  Hold bottom cookie on the palm of your hand or plate, face down (don't crack it!)
2.  Scoop ice cream with a regular spoon, not an ice cream scooper. Scoop strips (not balls) and layer them in a row as close to the edge as you can get, then repeat the process on top of that row, perpendicularly and so on until you have about 3/4" stack.
3.  Create a <white walker> wall wrapping around the outside of your stack.
4.  Even out the stack o' ice cream as best as you can with the back of your spoon, then place the second cookie on top, face up.
4.  Smooth out the sides of the sando with a butter knife and add additional ice cream to the sides if needed.
5.  Gobble that ice cream sando or put it back in the freezer until you're ready to gobble.