Review: London's Sticky Toffee Pudding

I've been on a fantastic London holiday for the past 7 days, but sadly I'm heading back to the states today. I'm confident this is why the clouds grew dark and started crying this morning. Luckily for this girl, it's the only rain London has seen all week. 

I traveled with one of my best mates and my mum and dad. After hearing my parents were going to Londontown and renting a two-bedroom flat, we pretty much invited ourselves. We made solid use of our time and walked/tubed all over this city like it was nobody's business. Parks, pubs, shows, sights, shopping, museums, meandering, getting lost on the daily, ghastly amounts of food and half-pints of ale are some of the things we partook in (yes I said half-pints or "kid size" as my mate liked to say. We had to pace ourselves!)

Anytime I visit a new town, I'm determined to to sample their best dessert, or die trying. A local told me that London's best desserts are trifles and sticky toffee pudding. Trifles don't excite me much, but sticky toffee pudding sure does. Game on. 

After some research, we decided to try out the STP at a few places that reviewers claimed had the best in town. 

First up, The Winsor Castle in Notting Hill. The dinner, ambiance and service was amazing, but I'd be a liar if I said the same for their Sticky Toffee Pudding. One word: raisins. Just thinking about those little turds surprising me in my first bite makes me gag. #getoutofmyliferaisins

Overall Rating: 1 Big Ben (because the toffee sauce was good)

Second up, Rules Restaurant in Covent Garden. Committed to our challenge, we took a special trip to this place after catching a play, just for dessert. We were greeted by an icy hostess who apparently hated smiling, but loved frowning. After excitedly telling her that we journeyed there solely for their Sticky Toffee Pudding, she pretentiously told us we couldn't be seated unless we ordered at least two courses. It was 11:00pm on a school night...seriously? Can a course be wine? Yes seriously and no wine isn't a course (I know many people who would disagree with the latter statement, i.e. Olivia Pope). After receiving the R-card from the ice queen, we promptly left. Well, at least I can tell people now that I met the real life Elsa from Frozen. #celebsighting

Overall Rating: -5 Big Bens

Last up, Sophie's Steakhouse in Covent Garden. After our sour experience at Rules Restaurant, we refused to let our night end like that. My dad, "dessert MVP of the night," came through and was able to find this spot that happened to be nearby and on our STP list. We were refreshingly greeted with a smile and seated right away. Shortly after, two delightful looking Sticky Toffee Puddings were placed before us. We broke into pairs, grabbed our spoons, and in less than 5 minutes our plates were clean. Yum. Tastic. The cake was warm, spongy and had lovely soft favors of brown sugar and butter. It was also happily sitting in a warm bath of toffee sauce and cream sauce. I'd like to sit in a warm bath of toffee sauce and cream sauce too. #justsayin This fabulous restaurant did Sticky Toffee Pudding justice and I give them a strong tilt of my fancy British hat <that I wish I owned>. 

Overall Rating: 5 Big Bens

Thank you for a smashing time, London. I know this won't my last visit to you and it certainly won't be my last Sticky Toffee Pudding. Cheers. 

Fun fact: "Pudding" in the UK means "cake." Also, "rocket" means "arugula," so a "rocket scientist" in the U.S. would probably translate to a "gardener" in the UK.

The dishes are done man...the dishes are done.

Review: Metro Lafayette's Butterscotch Pot de Crème

I'm from a little town in the east bizz-ay called Lafayette. It's past Oaktown, through the tunnel, a little further, keep going and you're there. On occasion my mom and I get together in those neck of the woods to lunch, catch up and discuss important things like who got voted off the island on the latest episode of Survivor. #ladieswholunch

Several months ago, my parents dined at a one of Lafayette's newer restaurants called Metro Lafayette: "it's one of Lafayette's most popular joints, it's so hip!" they told me. Ever since they ate there, they wouldn't stop talking about the dessert they had: Butterscotch Pot de Crème. "UGH it's SO good Court, you've GOT to try it, UGH." is what I was hearing on the daily (bi-weekly). I knew it was only a matter of time before we lunched there and had this tasty sounding dessert. 

Yesterday, my mom and I made it happen. Lunch was yum but I was highly anticipating this dessert to see what all my parents' hubbub was about. The pot de crème friend came out in a cute coffee mug sitting on top of a sliced menu. I stared down at it grinning, which I often times do to dessert, and noticed the pot was dolloped with crème Chantilly, drizzled with caramel and sprinkled with course sea salt. She was a beaut. With my spoon at the ready I wasted no time and dove in. First bite...solid gold. Creamy, rich butterscotch with a hint of burnt flavor and then the sea salt hits you square in the face. BAM. I could have almost done without the salt or maybe would have scaled it back by a hair. My mom stopped about 3 bites in (she claimed she was full?!), but I heroically stepped up to the plate and polished off that bad boy no problem. That's how I do.

Overall, a lovely lovely dessert and my parents did not steer me wrong. If you find yourself on the east side of the bay, go get hip and dine at Metro to see what this Butterscotch Pot de Crème is all about for yourself.

Overall Rating: 4.9 dollops of crème Chantilly

Guest Post! Review: Petit Pot's Pot de Créme

Three dollars and ninety-nine cents for 3.5 ounces of what's more or less pudding, albeit in a glass jar, probably sounds a little snobby. That's like, what, just over a dollar an ounce? It belongs in the same category as everything else between $3.50 and $3.99 that should really go for, say, two bucks. 

But the words "chocolate pot de créme with dark Belgian chocolate" coupled with "handmade in the Bay Area" were enough to make me go "well ok just this once" before tossing it in my cart. And just this twice, really, because the lemon curd pot de créme was a) sitting right there too, and b) the only one left of its kind, which always provokes in me some ancestral urge to provide! Scarcity! Get the last one! 

They're both made by Petit Pot, a small business based in Oakland.

Fast forward three weeks and let's see, I've had the chocolate one three times, the lemon one twice, and the caramel one and vanilla one each once. I've also given a couple out as miniature gifts, so anyway, do the math and that's…$43.89 spent on pot de fucking cremés OH MY GOD. 

You know what though, whatever, these are damn good. Each is topped with a dollop of whipped cream, and while that top layer is neither flavorful nor dull, it's a nice introduction to the rest of the…pot? Can we just agree this is fancy pudding? 

My favorite, the chocolate, is slightly bitter with 70% cocoa bean content. Here are the rest of the ingredients: milk, cream, sugar, egg yolk, sea salt and buttermilk. Nice, huh? Real foods that don't require Wiki to decipher what they are. Dark Belgian chocolate is the protagonist here, rich, layered and complex. The real judge: my 5-year-old son loved this one. 

My second favorite, the lemon curd flavor, is tart! Like this!! It leaves you with pursed lips, and when it's lemon anything – cookies, bars or icebox pie – my preference is go big or go home. Also, being a copywriter, I'm a sucker for specific descriptors, and the "made with Californian lemons" bit wooed me (but they're Californian!). The child critic didn't care for this one, "delightfully tart" to me likely read "fucking sour" to him. 

So there we have it, first and second place. Then there's the equivalent of an awkward pause before we get to third and fourth, and actually, they both kind of just tie for last. The caramel pot de créme is salted caramel (of course…), and like most things salted caramel, I found it just a little too salty. The vanilla one, which I thought would be an easy second place for me, was oddly eggy. I don't know how else to describe it. It was good, and even had the little black Madagascar vanilla bean flecks that make anything vanilla-flavored better. But for some reason, the taste of eggs presided, sort of like an eggy French toast. 

All in all, I'm into these desserts. And I like that they're locally made. Oh, and that 3.5-ounce thing? Turns out it's the perfect size, as each is rich and just a little is just enough.  

I'm hoping Petit Pots thrives. I've seen their stuff in a few different upscale markets in the East Bay as well as Mollie Stone's in San Francisco. I'd love for them to try a few new flavors that stray from the traditional – Chai or anise, perhaps? Black tea? Mango rum? 

Raising a toast to these little glass jars, 
katie louise 

2015 Dessert Resolution & Reviewing The Mill’s Toast

If I were to make a 2015 dessert resolution, I can firstly tell ya that it wouldn’t be to make a crapload of tarts, which was essentially my dessert resolution from last year. If you’re wondering, I only made 3 tarts...here's to trying again. This year I've decided to give this DR another go, but this time I'm going much broader with it: to review more desserts. I’d like to see what the world has to offer my belly. 

As y’all know, this blog developed from my deep love for dessert. It’s not just the fact that I enjoy baking, which I truly do, but it’s mostly because I just simply love eating dessert. Always. At anytime. If you woke me up at 3am with a cheesecake inches from my face, I'd be delighted. So, I’d like to try exploring what’s out there, but also continue baking and chatting about dessert nonsense, obvi. 

To start my reviews off, this morning I jaunted to one of my neighborhood coffee shops, The Mill, for a cup of Joe and to try a slice of their $3.50 hipster toast. The Mill makes their own bread (props) but this is the first time I sampled their toast- I had to see what this toast fuss was about. Toast has become very much a thing in SF and places like this sell it like hot cakes (read about the history of toast here). The Mill has a legit toast menu and I wanted to try the piece that comes slathered with homemade Nutella, but sadly some selfish yammos ate all of it and they were sold out. Humph. I went with my second choice which was, essentially cinnamon/sugar toast...$3.50 cinnamon/sugar toast. So, I sat down with my hipster coffee and hipster toast, snapped a hipster photo of my situation (which I planned to filter the shit out of later) and took a bite of my 1 inch thick slab o' toast. Thoughts? I'd be a liar if I said it wasn't tasty because it really was. Crunchy, warm, buttery and of course cinnamon-sugary. I appreciated that they didn’t skimp on the butter and the cinnamon/sugar layer. This toast also brought me back to my youth because I used to make cinnamon/sugar toast all the time as a dessertsnack. So, overall, The Mill did a solid job with this toast, I admit, but is it really worth the $3.50? Hells no. Will I come back to try their homemade Nutella on toast? Hells yes. Let's be honest, I've spent more on a beer before so I won't judge toast connoisseurs. 

As far as this toast phenomenon goes, if you feel inclined to dabble in a piece, give me a shout and I’ll gladly meet you at The Mill for a round o’ toast.

Overall Rating: 4/5 tartlets

Quite Possibly The Best Ice Cream I've Ever Had

I was in Lancaster, PA for a handful of days on a work trip last week. Lancaster is quirky little town in Amish country- about 1.5 hours west of Philly. When visiting someplace new, I have this habit of trying to befriend a local in order to find out where the best restaurants, bars and attractions are in that given town. If I befriend the right local, I'm never let down by this strategy, it's gold. After chatting up a local chef, while grabbing dinner on my first night, I asked him where would a dessert fiend, like myself, go for dessert in this town? Without hesitation he said "Carmen and David's Creamery." He told me they get their dairy from local Amish farmers and the ice cream is to die for. He also said that one of the owner's went to Ice Cream School at Penn State in order to learn the ways of ice cream making. Ice Cream School actually exists? I did the college thing all wrong.

On my last day, I finally made a special trip to this quaint little ice cream shop located downtown. I was a bit early, it didn't open until 5pm, and I had 30 mins to kill. I jaunted next door to Prince Street Cafe for a hit of caffeine while I waited. This wait is worth mentioning because I had quite possibly the best latte I've ever had. I went in thinking of ordering a normal latte, but was rightfully steered towards their "How Now Brown Cow." This drink is an iced latte, BUT made with rich, local chocolate milk instead of regular boring milk. WOAH it was delicious. It was a solid dessert appetizer before I moved on to my dessert entrée next door.

At 5pm on the nose, I sauntered into C & D's Creamery and was faced with copious amounts of ice cream flavors- 30 to be exact. "It's sample o'clock," I thought. After asking the gal behind the counter a few Q's about their flavors, I sampled only 3 flavors, but felt like trying at least 5 more. The pressure of the line got to me (quit breathing down my neck line!) so I pulled the trigger and got 3-mini scoops on a pretzel (!!) cone of Molasses Brownie Chunk, Vanilla Fudge Ripple and Dark Chocolate. Lets back the truck up and talk about that pretzel cone. In all my ice cream shop visiting days, I've never come across a cone like this before so it was a no-brainer to give it a go. Verdict? I loved the concept, but the cone was slightly stale. Le sigh. As for the ice cream, it was <dramatic pause> quite possibly the best ice cream I've ever had. It has a thick, velvety texture that kind of coats your tongue. It's creamy, but not overly rich creamy. It tastes like homemade ice cream to the highest degree. The Dark Chocolate top scoop was unreal. I'm talking having the urge to high five a fellow patron good. The fudge in the Vanilla Fudge Ripple tasted like legit homemade fudge. Same went for the brownies in my Molasses Brownie Chunk scoop. I chose well, but probably would have felt that way about any of the flavors. I'm a real dumb dumb for going to this place on my last day.

Until I return to this happy place, I will have dessert dreams about Carmen, David and their creamery for days to come.

Photo cred: carmenanddavidscreamery.com

Review: Three Twins Ice Cream

When my BF (now hubs) and I moved in together, we were stoked to discover an ice cream shop two blocks from our new place. "This could be very, very dangerous" I recall saying to him. The shop was Three Twins Ice Cream, and we were excited to see what it was all about. After waltzing into the hard to miss lime green shop for the first time, it didn't take long for us to fall madly in love with the shop and their ice cream. Three Twins was founded by Neal Gottlieb, his twin Carl, and his twin's wife Liz, hence the clever name. Their ice cream is organic (how very San Francisco) and they kindly donate one percent of sales to land conservation initiatives through 1% for the Planet. Eat delicious ice cream for a good cause = reason to never feel guilty about eating ice cream again! I'm game. Also, if you're feeling really generous (and hungry), you can order the World's Most Expensive Ice Cream Sundae, that clocks in at $3,333.33. When I win the lottery, this may or may not be one of the first purchases I make...I mean...how could you not be curious about this?!

Naturally, we became regulars here in no time. We loved trying each of their creative mash-up of flavors such as Chocolate Orange Confetti and Dad's Cardamom. YUM. My personal combo favorites are Sea Salted Caramel with Chocolate Malt OR Lemon Cookie with Strawberry Je Ne Sais Quoi <cue drooling>. Pro Tip: If you are going for a two scooper, I recommend you ask someone working there for a suggestion. They're the pros, after all. My hubs has many a time gone rogue and paired up flavors that create a questionable combo-bite. Order wisely my friends.

A few months after we discovered our precious spot, we were crushed to hear they had to close due to damage caused by a fire in one of the apartments over the shop. They said not to worry and that the repairs should only take a handful of months. Two years later...(which was a long painful ice cream-deprived wait), they opened their doors again, which are a boring grey now, but we didn't care. It was like Christmas when we happily skipped over to the shop's re-opening night. We giddily placed our order, after a sample or five, and felt complete again.

Hook yourself up with a double scoop at one of these shops and thank me later, or if you're feeling lazy, grab a pint at a SF grocery store (most have Three Twins), or if you're the laziest of lazy, order some pints online.

Overall Rating: 5 Ice Cream Cheers'

Thompson Sibling Dessert Drink Challenge (Guest Writer!)

Courtney's Brother – Guest Writer

To the loyal readers of Courtney’s Dessert Blog:

A few weeks ago I posed a challenge to my siblings. We would all come up with a dessert drink and the winner would get top billing in Court’s dessert blog, a prestigious honor filled with full bragging rights. And it is with great pride and enthusiasm that I would like to announce that I am officially the winner of the Thompson Sibling Dessert Drink Challenge.

After being absolutely robbed for first place in Court’s birthday dessert competition a few years ago I’ve felt beaten down and was in despair. It wasn’t like I made this fantastic version of bananas flambé that got beaten out by my oldest sister’s age old family cake that could easily be served at a retirement home. But whatever, I’m not bitter or anything…So, I came into last Friday’s battle ready to get after it. I knew competing against all of my sisters would be a dubious task, but I felt that I needed redemption, and redemption is exactly what I would have.

The stakes of the competition were simple. Each sibling would have to make an adult flavored dessert drink. Aside from that, anything went. Our drinks were graded based on presentation, aroma, texture and taste, straight top chef style. In the week leading into the competition I spent a handful of time researching dessert drinks. I found several recipes I felt would get me competing for the top prize, but none that stood out as clear cut winners. It wasn’t until I was driving home from work that the prized concoction came to me.

If you are unfamiliar with the Thompson sisters, they are a savvy bunch of ladies, and after years and years of devouring gourmet desserts they’ve all got a refined pallet. As competitors, my oldest sis has a knack for getting into the hunt no matter what the competition is, my second oldest sis is as sharp as a tack and can never be counted out. Courtney, my younger sis, as we all know, is practically like a bloodhound when it comes to desserts.

For my drink I began thinking about one of my favorite ice cream flavors, sea salted caramel, and then it hit me while I was stuck in traffic on the 680 listening to some JT. I would combine a scoop of sea salted caramel gelato, add in some milk, and then top it off with Baileys and some caramel liqueur. I know what you’re asking yourself, and yes it’s true, caramel liqueur does exist and can be purchased at a nominal fee at your local BevMo.

At the competition my eldest sis came in strong out of the gates with her drink, “The Angry Leprechaun.” And let me tell you the name says it all. This little doozy will get you feeling good and buzzed with just a single serving! After a couple you may very well feel like tossing on a green hat and pants and start dancing around the room to an Irish jig. What it lacked in flavor it made up for in strength. A pretty nice blend of Jamison and whatever else she had in it.

The Angry Leprechaun
Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients
1 part Jamisons
2 parts Baileys

Directions
Stir, pour over ice

Court was up next with her drink, “Hot Buttered Rum” and let me just say that I expected a little more out of my baby sister. I mean, Court is a well refined, married woman nowadays. I expected her drink to reflect her new level of calmness and maturity, but wow, her drink very politely put looked like a glass full of dinosaur vomit (I put that in bold so you can really get a visual). Perhaps she should have titled it, “Barney’s Barf.” It was some awful combination of brown sugar and booze. My little pooch Bacardi didn’t even want anything to do with it.  

Hot Buttered Rum & Carmel Crush

Hot Buttered Rum
Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients
1 stick unsalted butter, softened 
2 cups light brown sugar 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg 
Pinch ground cloves 
Pinch salt 
Dark rum
Boiling water 

Directions
1.  In a bowl, cream together butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Refrigerate until almost firm.
2.  Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the butter mixture into 12 small mugs.
3.  Pour about 3 ounces of rum into each mug (filling about halfway).
4.  Top with boiling water (to fill remaining half), stir wall and serve immediately. 

I came in next with my delightful beverage which I titled, “Caramel Crush.” A wonderful blend of the ingredients, again listed below, and let me say the judges, aka my parents and my brother-in-law, really took to it. I knew right away I was in the running.

Caramel Crush
Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients/Directions
1.
 Scoop of Sea Salted Caramel Ice Cream
2.  Some Milk
3.  Rip of Baileys
4.  Nip of Caramel Liqueur

My second oldest sis had the evening night cap, and being half drunk at this point, I had no clue where the judge’s heads were at. After a glass or two of wine, my dad is just as likely to start imitating a pirate much less decipher a game winning dessert drink and my mom, who has been on an absolute re-decorating binge at my pad, was probably more concerned researching ways she can make it more bachelorpadish. As it went down, my dear sister came in with not one but two drinks! #teacherspet She made these delightful looking drinks she called the “Boozy Affogato.” One had chocolate ice cream, coffee liqueur and hazelnuts and the other was a mix of vanilla ice cream, Limoncello and macadamia nuts. You go girl! I was sweating it pretty hard after my sister's drinks were brought to the table, but thankfully the taste factor went to me, but wow, she really brought the heat. Amazingly enough she didn’t even come in second! Sorry sukka, better luck next time. Maybe you should have brought an apple for the judges?

The Angry Leprechaun & Boozy Affogato

Boozy Affogato
Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients - Chocolate Shots
3 cups chocolate ice cream
3/4 cup coffee-flavored liqueur
Whole hazelnuts

Ingredients - Vanilla Shots
3 cups vanilla ice cream
3/4 cup lemon-flavored liqueur
24 whole macadamia nuts

Directions
1.  Place a small scoop of ice cream in each glass. Top with 1 tablespoon liqueur and 2 nuts. Serve immediately.

Overall it was a very enjoyable evening and if you’ve never busted out a dessert drink competition with your family, I’d highly recommend it. Let me just say that my mother is hell bent on having another contest in the near future where she can get in the mix.

To cap off my guest post all I have to say is, Caramel Crush for the win. I hope everybody reading this has a fantastic Turkey Day filled with fun, family and my award winning beverage.

The Scorecard & Birthday Funfetti Cake (note the classy candle)

Review: Brown Butter Sea Salt Cookies

Photo Cred: Sarah O'Rourke

I've happily scarfed many cookies in my day and just when I think I've tried them all, I come across a golden nugget that blows my mind. Enter Brown Butter Cookie Company- thank you for existing. Huge thanks to my lovely coworker for introducing these to me. On occasion she'll generously bring in a box to share and each time it feels like Christmas. Heck, I even bogart more than my sweet pregnant coworker does. I can't help it, they're too good! The BBCC store is located in a cute surf town: Cayucos, Ca, but luckily you can order these online whenever you please. If you happen to hit up the store, you will be greeted by free samples and possibly the two sisters who co-own this company as well.

Now lets talk flavors. I've been lucky enough to sample 4 flavors, but they make 6 total: Coco, Coconut Lime, Citrus, Original, Coco Mint and Espresso. Here is my two cents on the flavs I've tried.

Photo Cred: Sarah O'Rourke  |  Coco Cookie 

Coco: It's so money. I mean, look at these beauties. It has a glorious light buttery chocolate flavor. Definitely one of my favorites!

Coco Rating: 4.5 Cookie Crumbs

Coconut Lime: This little guy is very intriguing. It's unlike any cookie I've had before. It has a hint of lime tucked away just enough in a butter-based cookie.

Coconut Lime Rating: 4 Cookie Crumbs

Citrus: I didn't dislike it, but it didn't make me want horde any away for later. I love citrus in chocolate, but it's not my favorite in a sugar-type cookie. They can't all be winners, right?

Citrus Rating: 3 Cookie Crumbs

Photo Cred: Sarah O'Rourke  |  Original Cookie 

Original: This is my FAV. It's so good once it hits your lips. I love the brown sugar and pop of salt you taste in each bite. I also appreciate the buttery flavor that's not greasy by any means. These cookies are too classy to be greasy!

Original Rating: 5 Cookie Crumbs

Photo Cred: Sarah O'Rourke

These cookies are so sweet, they even say "enjoy!" on their package. Do yourself a favor and order a box and thank me later.

Wedding Cake Tasting

The day was finally here. WEDDING CAKE TASTING! Naturally, I was beyond excited about this. Giddy even. One of my good friends, Amy, happens to be a kick-ass baker and kindly agreed to make our wedding cake. I've had several of her desserts before so was stoked to try out the cakes she made for us. When we walked into the tasting, she had made not one, not two, but FOUR cakes that were all gorgeous and beautifully presented. We were blown away. Keep in mind, in normal cake tastings, I'm told you usually only get a few slices to share, not actual full-on cakes. Amy rocks.

Our first slice was a golden yellow cake with orange zest and orange/Grand Marnier buttercream frosting. This cake was killer and the citrus kick made it delightfully refreshing. The Grand Marnier was a clever twist too, well played Amy.

Second up was a dark chocolate espresso cake with espresso buttercream frosting. While Amy was describing this cake to us, I was inwardly cheering and outwardly trying to keep my cool. After my first bite...I was in love. Decadent, moist chocolate cake paired perfectly with the light, espresso buttery frosting. Swoon.

Third round was a golden yellow cake with Nutella filling and Nutella buttercream frosting. Man oh man. This golden cake and I should be friends. Close friends. I loved the little pocket of Nutella too which happens to be one of my favorite condiments (yes it's a condiment, ask any Brit). You know what else should be a condiment? Buttercream.

Lastly was a marble cake with chocolate ganache and hazelnut praline with vanilla buttercream frosting. I loved how pretty the slice looked with its marble swirlies. I also enjoyed the crunch the hazelnuts gave.

After we polished off all 4 of these slices each (can you say, cake coma?), my fi and I decided to blurt out our favorite at the count of three. We are very dessert compatible, but if we both said something different, heads would have rolled. Luckily, we both said the same cake and also agreed on our 2nd tier as well. Crisis. Averted.

I've been savoring the to-go slices we were given all week- yes, we even got to take half of the cakes home with us! Can't wait to revisit these beauts on our wedding day (inwardly cheering again).

Review: Luna Park's Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding

When my sister found out I started a dessert blog, she said I absolutely had to go to Luna Park to try their Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding. She was a fan, to put it lightly. So much in fact that when she was dining here with a friend when she was 9mos pregnant and started going into labor, she insisted they stay long enough to order this dessert...and polish off every last bite, including an extra scoop of ice cream! Brav-o sister, bravo.

Don't you hate it sometimes when siblings are right? Not in this case. This dessert is kind of like eating a hug. Crispy on the outside, warm gooey chocolatey goodness on the inside and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream that melts over this bread pudding in all the right places. Yeah that sounded weird...just go with it. 

Rating: 5 Milkshakes

Thank you sister for sharing this yummalicious dessert. : )

Review: Desserts of Disneyland

My family and I go to the happiest place on Earth, Disneyland, every year. This is partially due to the fact that we all truly love it, but mostly because there's a dental convention in Anaheim that my parents attend. (Ironic fact: my dad is a dentist and my mom is a hygienist...and we're all dessert fiends. GASP). Since we've been going for so many years, we know the park waaay too well, especially when it comes to the desserts (didn't see that one coming huh?) Luckily, Mr. Walt Disney didn't disappoint in this area. My fam and I have dessert traditions that we try to partake in each visit and I'd like to share some of the highlights with you.

Clockwise starting left: Chocolate Chip Cookie Hot Fudge Sundae, Strawberry Ice Cream with Hot Fudge, Firehouse Dalmatian Mint Sundae and Mocha Almond Fudge Ice Cream.

Best Ice Cream Sundae: Firehouse Dalmatian Mint Sundae @ Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor.
This sundae can do no wrong. Two scoops of mint chocolate chip ice cream, served in a waffle cup, with hot fudge, whipped cream and a cherry. This past visit, I stupidly ordered the Chocolate Chip Cookie Hot Fudge Sundae to mix things up. Don't do this. It was below average. Plus, I got to watch my sister happily chow down on the Mint Sundae across the table from me. I was an angry panda.

Why so happy friend? I'm about to eat your face.

Best Frozen Nibble: Mickey's Ice Cream Sandwhich @ Frozen Treat Cart.
Snag one of these adorable cookies 'n cream ice cream sandos and bite Mickey's ears off with glee.

Best Afternoon Snack: Churro: @ Churro Cart.
When you're in between meals and you need a little something something to tie yourself over, order yourself a Churro. It's sugary crunchy on the outside, warm and soft on the inside.

Best Baked Sweet Treat: Chef Cookie’s Deep Dish @ Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue.
Choose from a classic chocolate chip cookie or seasonal cookie (ours was a snickerdoodle), each served with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with hot fudge or caramel. It's yum.

photo cred: disneylandblackoutdates.com

Best Hot Day Refresher: Pineapple Whip @ Tiki Juice Bar.
This pineapple fro-yo is not only delightfully refreshing, but is probably the healthiest dessert at DL. Order this when you've been porking out on corn dogs and want a lighter sweet.

Clockwise starting top left: Some fruity dessert, some PB choco number, my duo of crème brûlée: vanilla and hazelnut and lastly molten choco with flare.

Best Exclusive Dessert: Crème Brûlée duo @ Club 33
You can't help but feel like a VIP getting to dine at Club 33. The 4 desserts we tried were not all mind-blowers, but most were really tasty. Tom Colicchio would give them all high marks on presentation, but I personally think the crème brûlée duo tasted the best.

Disneyland will always hold a very special place in my heart...and stomach. My hat is tipped to you Walt!

Overall Rating: 5 Ice Cream Scoops

Review: Cupcakes of NYC

On my first trip to New York City in the spring of 2009, I decided to embark on a journey: to find the tastiest cupcake NYC has to offer. It was a short trip, so I had to be focused. Sadly, I did not make it to the top of the Empire State Building or see the Statue of Liberty, but I did make it to three cupcake shops. Now that's what I call a successful trip!

Left to right: PB, Cookie Dough & Cappuccino

First, my girlfriends and I hit up a cupcake place that has a lot of hub-bub: Crumbs Bake Shop. The shop may be small, but the cupcakes are ginormous. We snagged three to try: Peanut Butter Cup, Cookie Dough and Cappuccino. Thoughts? The frosting-to-cake ratio was off; there was waaay too much frosting/topping for your own good. Plus, each of them had a frosting filling too, not like it needed anymore. All this frosting was crazy sweet too, which is ok for a bite or two, but come bite three, things start to turn bad.

Crumbs Bake Shop Rating: 1.5 cupcake wrappers

Disneyland length line

Next cupcake stop was at another crowd pleaser: Magnolia Bakery. This place was featured in a Sex and the City episode, so yeah, it's popular. We're talking line-out-the-door-and-around-the-block popular. So we waited in line with the other schmucks for our cupcakes, hoping they would be worth all the fuss. We ordered three cupcakes to sample, and to be honest, I can't even remember what they were. They were that forgettable. The only thing I recall is thinking they were OK, nothing special about them...not to mention it made me question Carrie and Miranda's taste in cupcakes.

Magnolia Bakery Rating: 2.5 cupcake wrappers

Left to right: Classic Chocolate , Red Velvet with Cream Cheese frosting on the right, hi old friend!

Last, but certainly not least, on our way to walk The Highline, I spotted a cute little bakery in the distance: Billy's Bakery. I insisted that we stop by after our walk and man am I glad we did. This cute, quaint shop is very unassuming and could easily be passed by if it weren't for my cupcake radar. I ended up splitting two cupcakes with one of my friends: Red Velvet and Classic Chocolate. Red Velvet was the CLEAR winner and I immediately regretted agreeing to split the second half. Cake to frosting ratio was perfect, cake was moist and a lovely light chocolatey flavor and the cream cheese frosting was just the right amount of sweet. It made me want to track down Billy and give him a high-five.

illy's Bakery Rating: 5 cupcake wrappers

The next time you find yourself in need of a cupcake in NYC, go treat yo-self with a Red Velv at (my future BFF) Billy's Bakery.

Review: Chapeau! French Toast

image courtesy of urbanspoon.com

My fee-awnce (fiancé sounds too hoity-toity) and I went to one of our favorite restaurants to celebrate V-day: Chapeau! The "!" happens to be part of its name, although I'd be inclined to use it anyways because I love this place so much. We had a lovely meal, but lets cut to the chase and chat about the important part. No, not the delicious authentic French food, but the dessert we had. It was listed as "French Toast" on the menu, making it sound incredibly average, but let me tell you, it was far from that. The description had the word "hazelnut" it in, which evoked an instant Pavlovian reaction in both of us, which made this the obvious choice. It consisted of a piece of perfectly seasoned french toast which was lying in a bed of soft caramel and topped with hazelnut ice cream. Sounds simple enough, but it was amazeballs. Rich, moist, caramelly goodness comboed with creamy hazelnut, and was surprisingly not too sweet. If you live in the bay area, go hit up Chapeau! for dinner, order the French Toast for dessert, and thank me later. 

Rating: 5 spoons