Recipe: Classic Lemon Bars

I'm going to a themed dinner party tonight, but when I say themed, I don't mean costume-themed like "Luau" or "Toga" (although I do love me a costume party), I mean food category-themed. We've had several of these dinners already where the theme has been "fig," "pumpkin," "cranberry" and "nuts." Each dinner I've been hugely impressed with everyone's dish. These friends of mine know how to cook! Tonight's theme, as you may have already guessed, is "lemon!" The only rules are that the host has to choose the theme (mine was "nuts," mostly for the jokes) and each person has to sign up for a dish. Since I like taking the easy road sometimes <often>, I snagged the dessert dish spot this time. I can't help it guys. I have a dessert blog for Pete's sake!

I believe this theme was meant to be because my awesome neighbors emailed me about having an abundance of lemons to give away. BOOM. After telling them that this was perfect timing, for I was about to go lemon shopping, the lovely wife told me I must promise her, that as long as they have lemons on their tree, I will never buy another one again. I mean. I kinda have the best neighbors, guys. Don't be jeals.

For my lemon dessert, I knew I wanted to give Lemon Bars another go. I've made them once before and they turned out piss poor. The bloody filling never set! Boo Radley. My girl Amy passed along her go-to recipe which is by the fabulous Barefoot Contessa.

Classic Lemon Bars
Yield: 20 squares or 40 triangles
Recipe from

For the crust: (Pro Tip: thick crust fans should double this, I'll def go double next time)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling:
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (3 to 4 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup flour
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.
3.  Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack.
4.  For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set.
5.  Let cool to room temperature. Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners' sugar.

Pro tips:
• If your eggs aren't at room temperature, place them in luke warm water for 15 mins
• If your butter isn't at room temperature, pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds, flip it 180º, microwave for another 8 seconds. Every microwave is different so this may be trial and error. I've over melted MANY a stick.

Lemon Bar crime scene

Recipe: Not Your Ordinary Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies

There was this decadent ridiculously good cookie I used get near work when I really wanted to treat myself. It was a Peanut Butter Blossom Cookie, but with a twist. Instead of having a Hershey Kiss in the middle of the cookie, it had a dark chocolate peanut butter cup there. Talk about a game changer. My coworker at the time, Katie, shared the same sentiment for them; we even went as far as naming the cookie "The Baby Jesus Cookie" or just "Baby Jesus" for short. This is because whenever we ate one of these puppies, it was like having a holy experience. The clouds parted and everything. We were known to say such things as "hey, I've got a hankering for a Baby Jesus, want me to getcha one?" or "the guy gave me an extra Baby Jesus on the house!" to each other at work. #typicalworkchitchat 

The key to these cookies is to buy, specifically, the Trader Joe's <crack> Peanut Butter Cups. I whole-heartedly believe that these are the BEST store-bought peanut butter cups on the planet. They easily take the gold, in my humble. Costco PB Cups take the silver and Reese's PB Cups take the bronze, in case you were wondering who else placed.

This recipe tastes exactly like those Baby Jesus Cookies I loved. You will not be sorry if you make these. I never am.

Not Your Ordinary Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies
Recipe adapted from 
Yield: approximately 48 cookies

2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar (and about 1/2 cup more later for rolling)
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons milk
Trader Joe's Milk or Dark Peanut Butter Cups or Hershey Kisses (you need 48 total), unwrapped

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.  Cream butter and peanut butter together until smooth. Add sugars and cream for 2-3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined. Stir in vanilla.
3.  Add flour, baking soda and salt, just mixing until combined, then add in milk.
4.  Cover and refrigerate dough for 30 minutes or up to 2 days.
5.  Roll cookies into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar. Lay on baking sheet about 1 inch apart.
6.  Bake at 375 for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and push candy of choice down into the middle of each cookie. Return to oven and bake for 2 1/2 more minutes. Remove and let cool completely.

Pro Tip: the kisses do just fine baking for those last 2.5 mins, but the pb cups melt too much. Wait to put the pb cups in until the cookies are done baking and come out of the oven. Push them in and leave them be. They will get melty but will definitely need some time to cool/harden. 


Recipe: Salted Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

Wonder what a chocolate bomb tastes like? It tastes like these cupcakes. They are rich, moist, fiercely chocolatey and should only be consumed by the very biggest chocolate fans. Consider yourself warned. 

Get the biggest glass you own and fill it with milk because you're going to need it!

Salted Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe from
Yield: 24 cupcakes (mine made 18)

Ingredients – Cupcakes
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder (or any unsweetened cocoa powder)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup coffee, lukewarm (you can use decaf coffee if desired!)
chocolate ganache frosting
coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

Ingredients – Frosting
18 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Directions – Cupcakes
1.  In the bowl of stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in vanilla.
2.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt until combined. Then in an additional separate bowl, stir together buttermilk and coffee. Add dry ingredients to creamed butter mixture alternately with buttermilk and coffee, beating well after each addition.
3.  Fill paper-lined baking cups two-thirds full. Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
4.  Top with chocolate ganache frosting, then sprinkle with sea salt.

Directions – Frosting
1.  Place the chopped chocolate in a small heat-proof bowl.
2.  Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it just reaches a boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour over the chocolate. Stir slowly until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Let it cool until it reaches room temperature, about 1-2 hours. It will continue to thicken the longer it sets.
3.  Spoon or pipe the ganache onto the cupcakes. If the ganache is too thin for piping, you can transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat it on medium-high for 3-5 minutes until it reaches a better consistency for piping. Pro Tip: this part was tricky for me. I ended up having to re-melt the ganache slightly in the microwave (10 seconds at a time) and then beat until it was just the right consistency to work in my froster. Play around with temperature and beating until you're happy with the thickness.

Recipe: Decadent Hot Chocolate with Fluffy Marshmallows

Hey east coast, I heard it's been one hell of a winter. I'd like to make you a batch of hot chocolate with marshmallows to help warm you up. It tastes like a yum factory in your mouth so I think you'll like it. 

Hang in there and if you're still chilly after a mugful, come out west for a visit! We've got plenty of drought and global warming to keep you dry and toasty.

Decadent Hot Chocolate
Recipe from
Yield: Just under 1 3/4 cups mix, enough for 9 cups

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon (8 grams) cornstarch
3 ounces (85 grams) semi- or bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 cup (40 grams) cocoa powder, any kind you like
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract or the seeds from a tiny segment of fresh vanilla bean
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt or 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

To make:
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until powdery. Don't have a food processor? Chop or grate chocolate until it's as fine as you can get it, and stir into the remaining ingredients. 
Note: Mixture keeps in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 months.

To use:
1.  Heat one cup of milk (coconut, almond or others would work here too) in a saucepan over medium heat until steamy.
2.  Add 3 tablespoons hot cocoa mix. Whisk over heat for another minute or two, until it begins to simmer and mix is completely dissolved. Pro Tip: some like their hot cocoa extra chocolatey (this girl) and some like it more subtle. Taste-test this concoction before mugging it and add more mix or milk to desired taste.
3.  Pour into mug, top with marshmallows (or a dollop of whipped cream), curl up on your couch and binge watch the latest season of House of Cards.

Other flavors to try: Mexican Hot Chocolate (chile powder, cayenne and cinnamon), Mint Hot Chocolate (mint extract instead of vanilla), Mocha Hot Chocolate (couple tablespoons of espresso powder).

Fluffy Marshmallows
Recipe from
Yield: Makes about 96 1-inch cubed marshmallows

About 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 1/2 envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water, divided
2 cups granulated sugar (cane sugar worked just fine)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites or reconstituted powdered egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla (alternately: 1/2 of a scraped vanilla bean, 2 teaspoons almond or mint extract)

1.  Oil bottom and sides of a 13- by 9- by 2-inch rectangular metal baking pan and dust bottom and sides with some confectioners’ sugar.
2.  In bowl of a standing electric mixer or in a large bowl sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold cold water, and let stand to soften.
3.  In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, second 1/2 cup of cold water, and salt over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to moderate and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F, about 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.
4.  With standing or a hand-held electric mixer beat mixture on high speed until white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about six minutes if using standing mixer or about 10 minutes if using hand-held mixer. 
5.  In separate medium bowl with cleaned beaters beat egg whites until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat whites and vanilla (or your choice of flavoring) into sugar mixture until just combined. Pour mixture into baking pan and don’t fret if you don’t get it all out. Sift 1/4 cup confectioners sugar evenly over top. Chill marshmallow, uncovered, until firm, at least three hours, and up to one day.
6.  Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto a large cutting board. Lifting up one corner of inverted pan, with fingers loosen marshmallow and ease onto cutting board. With a large knife trim edges of marshmallow and cut marshmallow into roughly one-inch cubes. (An oiled pizza cutter works well here too.) Sift remaining confectioners’ sugar back into your now-empty baking pan, and roll the marshmallows through it, on all six sides, before shaking off the excess and packing them away.
Note: Marshmallows keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 weeks.

Makes for a darn cute gifty huh?

Recipe: Homemade Oreos

Did you know that Oreos have been around for over 100 years? Talk about an oldie but a goodie. These cookies were a childhood favorite of mine, but I’ve gotta admit, I mostly preferred the cookie part to the filling. I found the filing weirdly waxy and artificial tasting, so I often times would scrap it out and just eat the cookie. Was that anti-American of me to do? <shrugs> At times, I even went as far as making a “milkshake" out of my cookies and a glass of milk. Gross or brilliant? Don't answer that.

For my hub's birthday, after asking what he wanted for dessert, he said “a cookie with a creamy filling.” The first cookie that popped into my head was, of course, an Oreo. My beloved cookbook, Flour, had a solid looking Oreo recipe and I was excited to see how a homemade version compared to the real deal. 

The recipe was simple enough, but the only bother was that the dough needed to sit for a few hours here and a few hours there before baking. #dessertdelayer Luckily, these puppies were worth the wait. The cookie part tasted exactly like the real deal, but was overall much softer. As for the filling, I didn’t have any desire to scrap it out, so I call that a success. It was super sweet, nicely creamy and natural tasting. One thing to note is that these are JUMBO-sized Oreos, "king-sized" if you will. That was the immediate reaction everyone had to them, so try to prepare yourself and your consumers accordingly.

Oreo lovers should give these a go, no doubt. And don't forget to complete your Oreo experience with a large rimmed glass of milk to dip these bad boys into! 

Homemade Oreos
Yield: 16–18 sandwich cookies
Recipe from Flour by Joanne Cheng

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 kosher 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 kosher 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.
In another medium bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda until well mixed. Using a wooden spoon, stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture. The dough will start to seem too floury, and you will find it easiest to switch to mixing it with your hands until it comes together. It will have the consistency of Play-Doh. Let the dough sit at room temperature for about 1 hour to firm up.
Transfer the dough to a 15-inch square sheet of parchment or waxed paper. Using your hands, shape the dough into a rough log about 10 inches long and 21/2 inches in diameter. Place the log at the edge of the sheet of parchment paper, and roll the parchment around the log. With the log fully encased in parchment, roll it into a smoother log, keeping it at 21/2 inches in diameter. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until firm. The log may settle and sink a bit in the fridge, so reroll it every 15 minutes or so to maintain a nice round log, if you like. If not, your cookies will be more oblong than round, which is not a bad thing taste-wise, though they won’t look like the famous packaged cookie. (At this point, the dough log can be well wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 1 month. If the dough is frozen, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding.)
Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or butter it.
5.  Cut the dough log into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place the slices about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cookies are firm to the touch. Check them frequently after 16 or 17 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.
Let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack to warm or room temperature. They don’t have to cool completely before you fill them, but you can’t fill them while they are hot. 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. It will look like white spackle and feel about the same—like putty. You can also mix this frosting by hand. Make sure the butter is very soft, and use your hands to mix and knead the confectioners’ sugar into the butter. You should have about 1 cup. (The filling can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Bring to room temperature before using.)
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. Repeat until all of the cookies are filled.

Victorious Pumpkin Cheesecake

It's been quite a December for me. A bit coo coo ca choo if you will. I decided to part ways with the lovely Williams-Sonoma, a company I had been working at for over 8 years! Major WOAH, right? During my last week there, I felt like a chicken with it's head cut off. While I was wrapping up my work to dos and fully utilizing my corporate discount (why of course I need a Snowflake Cakelet Pan and a couple Spoonulas), the company had another baking contest for all the Pottery Barn brand teams. This was my last shot at partaking in a work baking contest, so I couldn't not enter, ego shot from the last failed contest or not! I discussed dessert ideas with a coworker and she brought up the idea of making a pumpkin cheesecake, mostly because it's a favorite of hers (smart girl). I'm a big fan of this dessert as well and I've had experience making it a few times so this plan was fully a go! I knew I had to use my "crack cheesecake crust" (the name I lovingly gave to Momufuku's Milk Bar's Graham Cracker Crust because it's rightfully addicting), and I wanted to try out a new pumpkin cheesecake recipe I've been eyeing. It's a dicey move to make something new for a contest, i know, but I felt like I needed to go balls out for this last one.

As I've mentioned, cheesecake takes for evs to cook- I'm talking hours upon hours upon hours. You've got your baking time, cooling time and more cooling time that adds up to about 11 hours. It's insane, but strangely always worth it in the end. So, I tackled this recipe the night before the contest, but made the mistake of starting rather late. Not wise. That meant I had to set several alarms to wake my ass up to tend to the cheesecake. Alarm #1: turn oven off after cheesecake had baked for almost 2 hours. Alarm #2: take cheesecake out of oven after it had sat in oven for 1 hour, put on cooling rack. Alarm #3: put cheesecake in fridge to cool for 8+ hours.

Like I said, it's strangely worth all the hassle in the end, and this time was luckily no different, when it really mattered. Friends, I placed in the contest! And by "placed," I mean I got 3rd place. Yes, it's not the gold or silver, but it's bronze friends and it's a beautiful metal to me. This win was the perfect ending to my career at Williams-Sonoma. 

As I walked out the door of my beloved workplace for the last time, I tucked the empty cheesecake pan under my arm, still wearing a satisfied victory grin. Special shoutout to Mr. Williams and my fabulous work peeps- hugs all around!

Victorious Pumpkin Cheesecake
Yield: Roughly 12 servings, but it depends on how generous you are with your slices.
Crust Recipe from Momofuku Milk Bar
Filling Recipe from

Ingredients – Crust
: Makes about 340 g (2 Cups)
Note: if you want a thicker crust, double this recipe! I did.
190 g (1 1/2 cups) graham cracker crumbs
20 g (1/4 cup) milk powder
25 g (2 tbs) sugar
3 g (3/4 tsp) kosher salt
55 g (4 tbs) butter, melted, or as needed
55 g (1/4 cup) heavy cream

Ingredients – Filling
2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
1, 15 -ounce can pure pumpkin
6 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups sweetened whipped cream
1/3 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped

Directions – Crust
Preheat over to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
2.  Brush a 10-inch springform pan with some melted butter.
3.  Toss the graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar, and salt with your hands in a medium bowl to evenly distribute your dry ingredients.
4.  Whisk the butter and heavy cream together. Add to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute. The butter will act as glue, adhering to the dry ingredients and turning the mixture into a bunch of small clusters. The mixture should hold its shape if squeezed tightly in the palm of your hand. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 14 to 25 g (1 to 1½ table- spoons) butter and mix it in.
5.  Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pan, packing it tightly and evenly (Pro Tip: OR do what I did and just spread a thick layer on the bottom). Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
6.  Cool on a rack, then wrap the outside of the springform pan with foil or slow cooker liners (these are fool-proof!) and place in a roasting pan or a larger pan.

Directions – Filling
1.  Boil a kettle of water to have ready for your water bath.
2.  Toast your pecans at 375 degrees until you can barely start to smell them (5ish mins), set aside to cool.
3.  Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees.
4.  In a larger bowl or stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar and beat until just light, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beaters as needed. Beat in the sour cream, then add the pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, 1 teaspoon salt and the spices and beat until just combined. Pour into the cooled crust.
5.  Gently place a roasting pan (or any pan that is larger than your springform pan) in the oven (don't pull the rack out) and pour the boiling water into the roasting pan until it comes about halfway up the side of the springform pan.
6.  Bake at 325 degrees until the outside of the cheesecake sets but the center is still loose, about 1 hour 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and open the door briefly to let out some heat. Leave the cheesecake in the oven for 1 more hour, then carefully remove from the roasting pan and cool on a rack. Run a knife around the edges, cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
7.  Bring the cheesecake to room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Unlock and remove the springform ring. To finish, place a dollop of the whipped cream on each slice and sprinkle with the toasted pecans.

My Thanksgiving Dessert Menu

Thanksgiving snuck up on me like a ninja this year. There I was, enjoying Halloween and the next thing I knew, Thanksgiving was all up in my grill!

As I've mentioned before, my mom and I go to town on dessert making every Thanksgiving. We're focused, we're fierce and we know how to get desserts did. Before the holiday, we have a sit-down to discuss our dessert menu. It's fun to mull over which favorites to bring back and what new recipes we'd like to try out. This year, our dessert chat went well and we were happy with our final line-up. So, without further ado, here is this years Thanksgiving Dessert Menu:


Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars
This dessert is a must as it's a huge hit in my family. These bars are so approachable, just sitting there with their decadent dark chocolate chips and chewy peanut butter looking at you. They never make it to the actual dessert course because of their delicious factor, so we fondly refer to them as "appetizers."

Image courtesy of

Pumpkin Roll Cake
It ain't a Thanksgiving without seasonal gourds, ammi right? This dessert has been one of our off and on regulars. It's creamy, nutty and of course, delightfully pumpkiny. It's a bit of a process to make so we tackle this the night before Thanksgiving. Note: Once completed, it looks like a weird orange log, but I assure you, it's darn tasty.

Image courtesy of

Grandma Ople's Apple PIe
My mom discovered this recipe a few Thanksgivings ago and it's quickly become our go-to apple pie recipe. Sadly, Grandma O isn't a member of my family, but man do I wish she was because homegirl really nailed this recipe. It's actually more of a caramel apple pie as it's topped with a friendly layer of caramel that turns a classic apple pie into a bombtastic apple pie.

Ginger Molasses Cookies
Seasonal, easy, but most importantly, tastilicious. It's wise to have a few easy grab desserts to snack on while Aunt Bun is talking your ear off.

Chocolate Cake with Easy Fudge Frosting
For the chocolate fans in my family. Pair any simple chocolate cake with this AMAZING fudge frosting and you can't lose. We make sure to choose quality chocolate for both parts; it's the most important ingredient in chocolate desserts, in my humble opinion.

Image courtesy of The Cook's Alelier

Lemon Tart
This dessert is a new-comer that we're trying out for the first time. We thought another fruity number would be a good addition to the group. Also, I'm WELL overdue to make a tart after I idiotically proclaimed that this was going to be the "year of the tart!" Yeah, I haven't made a single tart since uttering that <hangs head in shame>.

Image courtesy of

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Another Thanksgiving dessert must! Homemade ice cream is a tradition my uncle used to manage, but now my cousin and husband have taken on the task. This year we're going with Vanilla Bean for one of the flavs, simply because it's compatible with most of the above desserts.

Before you bake this week, here are a couple tips:
• If you're making more than a few desserts, plan ahead! Select your recipes and make your store run several days before (although, we're guilty of sending my dad on <multiple> store runs Thanksgiving morning).
• For your pie crust, use the refrigerated Pillsbury Pie Dough (found in the refrigerated section in grocery stores, near the yogurts usually). Rumor has it is that some pastry chefs claim that it tastes just as good as homemade dough. So make your life easy by using this!

• Some people are sticklers about not going rogue and only making traditional desserts for the holidays, but I think as long as you have a few seasonal items, it's OK to segue away from these (without drawing too much attention).

Good luck and god speed with your holiday baking friends!

Recipe: Cocoa Buttermilk Birthday Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

"A party without cake is really just a meeting." - Julia Child

It was one of my favorite people's birthday last weekend and I insisted on making her a birthday dessert. She requested "anything chocolate and peanut butter." Ahh, one of the many reasons why I like this friend of mine, she's got great dessert taste. PB/choco is one of the best combinations on the planet and one that I choose to enjoy often.

I excitedly knew exactly which recipe I was going to use that I <stupidly> had tucked away for too long. When I first discovered this recipe, it looked like a peanut butter and chocolate dream. And now after making it, I know that it tastes like a dream too. It's especially perfect for Reese's Peanut Butter Cup fans too, which are an important component. The frosting is my favorite part- fluffy, smooth and not too sweet- exactly what I would imagine a peanut butter cloud to taste like. The cake is a bit crumbly, but it has a nice mellow chocolate flavor that collaborates well with the milk chocolate in the peanut butter cups. The last bites of the cake are everything. All the peanut butter cup friends are nestled there, waiting to give you happiness.

For all the peanut butter chocolate fans out there, this is the perfect cake for you. Enjoy!

Cocoa Buttermilk Birthday Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting
Recipe by Baking: from my home to yours and Barefoot Contessa

Ingredients - Cake
2 cups all purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 and ½ cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled (optional) Pro Tip: Not optional, chocolate should never be optional!
Countless amounts of miniature Reese’s peanut butter cups, smashed or cut up.

Ingredients - Frosting
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup heavy cream

Directions - Cake
1.  Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
2.  Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small-medium bowl. Set aside.
3.  Working with a stand mixer or hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for about 2 minutes, until it is thoroughly blended into the butter.
4.  Add the eggs one at a time, then the yolks one by one, beating for 1 minute after each addition and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla.
5.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk; add the dry ingredients in 3 portions and the buttermilk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); mix only until each new batch is blended into the batter.
6.  Add the melted chocolate, folding it in with a rubber spatula. Divide the batter between the cake pans.
7.  Bake for 26 to 30 minutes, or until the cakes feel springy to the touch and start to pull away from the sides of the pans.
8.  Transfer the cakes to racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. (Once the layers are cooled, they can be wrapped airtight and left at room temperature overnight or kept frozen for up to 2 months.)

Directions - Frosting
1.  Place the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl. Use stand or hand mixer and mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work.
2.  Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

To Assemble the Cake:
1.  Place one layer top side up on a cardboard round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.
2.  Frost the top of the layer, and sprinkle the smashed up peanut butter cups inside. Be careful to not overload the inside with peanut butter cups or else it will look uneven when you place the top layer. Pro Tip: crumble up more than you think though for this layer.
3.  Next, cover with the second layer, top side down. Frost the sides and top of the cake, either smoothing the frosting for a sleek look or using a spatula, knife or spoon to swirl it for a more exuberant look.
4.  Press the remaining peanut butter cups (or as many as you can fit) around the sides of the frosted cake, and if you want you can sprinkle them on top too.
5.  Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour (or for up to 1 day, if that’s more convenient) to set the frosting, then bring it to room temperature before serving.

Julia Child and her Perfect Chocolate Mousse

"People who love to eat are always the best people." - Julia Child

I have mad love for Julia Child. I love her story (thanks Julia & Julia!), her cookbooks, her cooking shows, her attitude and lastly, her witty sense of humor.

Julia's story of how she came to be a cultural phenomenon is unreal. Here is my very condensed synopsis of it. In her mid-thirties, after moving to Paris, she dove head first into French cooking, knowing nothing about cooking. "I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate." She not only mastered it, but she published a <hugely famous> two-part cookbook and became a television icon. Way to conquer your thirties and then some JC. #feelingsuddenlyinadequate

She had the perfect attitude about cooking- if you flub a recipe, do your best to fix it, but if that's not possible, serve your food with a huge smile because there's nothing you can do about it at that point, and that's totally OK. She wanted people to know that mistakes happen, even to the best of us. "One of the secrets, and pleasures, of cooking is to learn to correct something if it goes awry; and one of the lessons is to grin and bear it if it cannot be fixed.”

A few other things I personally enjoyed about Julia was that she always had a glass of wine with her while she cooked (I fully support that idea) and...homegirl was TALL. A fellow amazon like me! #tallgirlbond She even brilliantly modified her kitchen by raising up the counter tops so she could cook more comfortably. "Being tall is an advantage, especially in business. People will always remember you. And if you're in a crowd, you'll always have some clean air to breathe."

As an ode to Julia, I decided to make her Perfect Chocolate Mousse. I insisted on making it the way she would have made it- without using any electric appliances. That's right, I only used my brute strength. I've gotta admit, I wasn't aware of how much whisking I was getting myself into. This recipe involves several rounds of vigorous whipping. SEVERAL I broke out into a sweat early on and even had to take a few stretching breaks. When the mousse was completed, I felt like a champion...and really bedraggled. I now have even more respect for Julia and anyone who attempts this recipe sans machinery.

This mousse is quite lovely. It's rich and airy with a hint of espresso nestled into the chocolate. As Julia would say, Bon Appétit!

Julia Child’s Perfect Chocolate Mousse
Yield: Six to eight servings
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Knopf) by Julia Child

6 ounces (170g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used Green and Black’s organic 72% chocolate)
6 ounces (170g) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup (60ml) dark-brewed coffee
4 large eggs, separated
2/3 cup (170g), plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons (30ml) dark rum
1 tablespoon (15ml) water
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.  Heat a saucepan one-third full with hot water, and in a bowl set on top, melt together the chocolate, butter and coffee, stirring over the barely simmering water, until smooth. Remove from heat.
2.  Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside.
3.  In a bowl large enough to nest securely on the saucepan of simmering water, whisk the yolks of the eggs with the 2/3 cup of sugar, rum, and water for about 3 minutes until the mixture is thick, like runny mayonnaise. (If you feel like cheating, you can also use a handheld electric mixer).
3.  Remove from heat and place the bowl of whipped egg yolks within the bowl of ice water and beat until cool and thick. (Pro Tip: Use more ice than water. I didn't and was afraid the water was going to splash into my situation the whole time). Then fold the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks.
4.  In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until frothy. Continue to beat until they start to hold their shape. Whip in the tablespoon of sugar and continue to beat until thick and shiny, but not completely stiff, then the vanilla.
5.  Fold one-third of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remainder of the whites just until incorporated, but don’t overdo it or the mousse will lose volume.
6.  Transfer the mousse to a serving bowl or divide into serving dishes, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until firm. (Can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.)
7.  Serve as is or with a small dollop of whipped cream

Julia in her tall kitchen  –  Photo cred:

I look forward to making more of JC's recipes. Until then, I'll leave you with my two of my favorite quotes of hers. The first, because it's inspiring to me and the second, because it's just plain funny.

"Learn how to cook – try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless and above all have fun."

"I always give my bird a generous butter massage before I put it in the oven. Why? Because I think the chicken likes it – and, more important, I like to give it."

Recipe: Shelly Brownies

Brownnnaaayy tiiiiiiimme!

Just because I have a dessert blog doesn't mean I'm opposed to making dessert from a box mix. In fact, boxed desserts hold a special place in my heart, but...they're also my nemesis. They're such showoffs being all convenient, easy and delicious! We have your typical love-hate relationship.

One of my all-time favorite boxed numbers is made by my sister, Shelly. She starts with box fudge brownie mix and adds a friendly addition of semi-sweet chocolate chips, which makes ALL the difference. There are several boxed brownie mixes out there that come with chocolate chips/chunks already built into it, but let me tell you, it's definitely not the same as these bad boys. #doubletrue

I've named this dessert after her because I request it often for our weekly "sister TiVo nights." This recipe is as easy as it gets, but the key is to not overcook them!

Fun Fact: After the brownies have cooled enough to eat, my sis announces they're ready by singing: "brownnnaaayy tiiiiiiimme!!" It makes the brownie experience much more enjoyable (I highly recommend you ask for a demo of this the next time you see her).

Shelly Brownies
Recipe adapted by Betty Crocker
Yield: 12 servings

Betty Crocker® Fudge Brownie Mix (Pro Tip: this is our tried and true brand! It can be found online or at most grocery stores)
1/4 cup water
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
6oz Nestlé® Toll House® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (Pro Tip: you might be wondering why we don't use the whole bag, we've tried it and it's too much)

Directions (same directions can be found on the back of Betty's box)
1.  Heat oven to: 350° for 13 x 9" pan and 9 x 9" pan; 325° for 8 x 8" pan (Pro Tip: we heat at 325° on convection bake and use a 13 x 9" metal pan). Grease bottom of pan with butter or cooking spray.
2.  Stir brownie mix, water, oil and eggs in medium bowl until well blended.
3.  Stir in chocolate chips. Spread batter into pan.
4.  Bake as directed on the box: 13 x 9" pan 24–26 mins; 9 x 9" pan 38–40 mins; 8 x 8" pan 52–54. (Pro Tip: ours takes 22 mins on the nose). Let cool for 15-20 mins on a cooling rack.

"Ees OK" Notes:
• Don't feel bad if you screw these up (we definitely have), but 9.9 out of 10 times, you won't.
• These taste best while watching an episode of The Bachelor/Bachelorette, Damages or Orange Is the New Black.

Recipe: Flour’s Ginger Molasses Cookies

I have a new favorite cookbook: Flour by Joanne Cheng, thanks to my bud Amy who gifted it to me. Flour is an amazing bakery in Boston and is one of Amy's favorites. They have four locations around the city and I sadly haven't been to a single one! Owning one of their two cookbooks will have to suffice for now.

Amy told me that she likes to curl up with a good cookbook sometimes, and that's exactly what I did with Flour the other night. As I paged through, I ogled over each, amazing sounding recipe, mentally adding most to my "must bake and consume soon" list. Not every recipe had a #foodporn picture with it, but when it did, I couldn't look away. Nothing tickles my fancy more than a gorgeous dessert photograph.

After my ogle-fest, I chose to make these Ginger Molasses Cookies first. I liked that the recipe had simple, accessible ingredients and the process wasn't overly complicated. This was my first time working with molasses and my immediate observation was that it smells like death. I almost gagged after I stupidly decided to take a whiff of it. #icannotunsmellthat I was rightfully worried for my cookies, wondering if they would actually be edible. I mean, how could something that smells like a decaying possum taste good? Apparently, if you add enough sugar and butter to a recipe, anything will taste like a dream, and these cookies luckily did. They were big, soft and chewy with subtle spicy notes. It's not one of those smack you in the face ginger cookies. So far, my beloved Flour is a strong 1 for 1!

Flour's Ginger Molasses Cookies
Recipe from Flour by Joanne Cheng
Yield: 16 four inch cookies 

¾ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup unsulphured dark molasses
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp ground cloves
Small bowl of granulated sugar for coating

1.  In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer, mix together butter, brown sugar, molasses, and egg on low speed for about 20 seconds, until well combined.
2.  In a separate medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, salt, and cloves until well mixed. Add flour mixture to the butter sugar mixture and stir until ingredients are completely incorporated and evenly mixed.
3.  Put mixture in airtight container and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight for best results.
4.  When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees and place wire rack in center of oven.
5.  Scoop ¼ cup balls of the dough and roll it in the bowl of granulated sugar. Coat completely. Place coated balls on baking sheet prepared with parchment paper about 2 inches apart.
6.  Bake for 16-18 minutes until cookies are crackly on top and just barely firm.
7.  Let cool on baking sheet for 5-10 minutes then transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.
8.  Store in airtight container. Can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days. Dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Recipe: Boston Cream Pie (Cake)

Boston Cream Pie couldn't be farther from a pie. It's a bloody cake! I had to look up the origins of this dessert for obvious reasons. 

Story time! 

Cooks in New England and Pennsylvania Dutch regions were known for their cakes and pies and the dividing line between them was very thin. This cake was probably called a pie because in the mid-nineteenth century, pie tins were more common than cake pans. The first versions were probably baked in pie tins. Boston Cream Pie is a remake of the early American "Pudding-cake pie." Boston's (Omni) Parker House Hotel, has served Boston Cream Pies, created by French chef Sanzian, ever since their opening in 1856. In 1996, the BCP was declared the official dessert of Massachusetts.

How lovely!'s still not a pie.

The actual process of making this dessert was kind of a bother. The ingredients are simple, the steps are easy, but the steps don't happen at the same time. They happen in waves and there's lots of cooling and waiting in between. And then more cooling and waiting. Alas, in the end, it was worth it and the Birthday boy I made it for (who went to school in Boston- how fitting!) seemed pleased with the results.

Boston Cream Pie
Recipe from
Yield: 1, 9-inch cake. Serves 10–12

Ingredients – Sponge Cake
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sifted cake flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Ingredients – Cream Filling
2 cups whole, 2 percent fat, or 1 percent fat milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Ingredients – Ganache
8 ounces semisweet chocolate – I used my favorite Scharffen Berger
1 cup heavy cream, boiling

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add milk, oil, egg yolks, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed until combined. Beat an additional 3 minutes on high speed and set aside.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium to high speed until soft peaks form. Pour the egg yolk mixture over the egg white mixture and fold in. Gently pour the batter into a 9-inch greased pie pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched. Invert the pan onto a wire rack. Cool completely.
3.  Pastry Cream Filling: In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla bean to a boil over medium heat. Immediately turn off the heat and set aside to infuse for 10 to 15 minutes. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture until incorporated. Whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture, reserving the empty saucepan.
4.  Pour the mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Let cool slightly. Cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the plastic against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill at least 2 hours or until ready to serve. (The custard can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Refrigerate until 1 hour before using.)
5.  Ganache: In a medium bowl, pour the boiling cream over the chopped chocolate and stir until melted.
6.  To assemble pie, remove the cake from the pan. Cut the cake in half horizontally. Place bottom layer on a serving plate or board, and spread with the pastry cream. Top with second cake layer. Pour chocolate ganache over and down the sides of the cake. Store in refrigerator.

Recipe: Lemon Ricotta Cookies & Lemon Crinkle Cookies

A glorious thing happened this past weekend. After 3 years of living in my current home, I finally met my next door neighbors who own the house and gorgeous garden our place looks out to (with sadly, no access!) Our building doesn't have any outdoor space (¡qué lástima!) so we could only appreciate this beaut from afar...until a few days ago. Read on.

In my experience of living in SF, you typically don't meet your all. It certainly doesn't happen naturally like most of us were accustomed to growing up in the burbs. Even if you passed them on the street, you wouldn't know them from Joe Schmo. The other day, while I was kickin' it outside my building trying to decide on house paint colors (TMI), this lovely couple came up to me and introduced themselves as my next door neighbors– the ones with the backyard garden. "YES. The day has finally come," I thought. After our meet and greet, which involved a lot of garden raving on my end, we exchanged info AND they invited me over for "a tour of the garden, from the other side" for the following day. EEK. That next evening, my <new favorite> neighbors had me over and took me on this heavily anticipated garden tour. Guys, this garden was even more glorious in person. As we walked though the yard, they kindly offered me lemons from their lemon tree along with a few other items. They also generously invited me to come back anytime if I ever needed anything else. On my walk back to my apartment with an extra bounce in my step, I had Ice Cube's "Today Was A Good Day" playing in my head.

With these neighborly lemons, I made two different kinds of lemon cookies: Lemon Ricotta Cookies and Lemon Crinkle Cookies. The Lemon Ricotta Cookie recipe comes from my blogger-buddy Jamie's fabulous blog and the Lemon Crinkle Cookie recipe comes from another blogger who's cookie won in a cookie-off.

Lemon Ricotta Cookies
Recipe from
Yield: Makes about 30 cookies

Ingredients – Cookies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter – softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 15oz container whole milk ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons lemon juice – I use the juice of 1 whole lemon
1 lemon, zested

Ingredients – Glaze
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice or juice of 1 lemon (Pro Tip: if you use the juice of 1 lemon, up the amount of powdered sugar for a better ratio and glaze consistency)
1 lemon, zested

1.  Preheat the oven to 375°. Combine the butter and sugar in a bowl and use an electric mixer to beat until it’s light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beat until incorporated. Add the wet ingredients – ricotta cheese, lemon juice and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients.
2.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper, use an ice cream scooper (or about 2 tablespoons) to spoon the dough on the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, edges should be slightly golden. Let the cookies cool for about 15 minutes.
3.  Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in a bowl. Give it a good stir until it’s smooth and creamy. Put a spoonful on the top of each cooled cookie, spread it around the whole cookie with the back of the spoon. Let the glaze harden (about 2 hours or overnight). Keep the cookies in an air-tight container.

Lemon Crinkle Cookies
Recipe from
Yield: Makes 2 dozen

½ cups butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 whole egg
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoons baking powder
⅛ teaspoons baking soda
1-½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cups powdered sugar

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease light colored baking sheets* or line with parchment paper and set aside.
2.  In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Whip in vanilla, egg, lemon zest, and juice. Scrape sides and mix again. Stir in all dry ingredients slowly until just combined, excluding the powdered sugar. Scrape sides of bowl and mix again briefly.
3.  Pour powdered sugar onto a large plate. Roll a heaping teaspoon of dough into a ball and roll in powdered sugar. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough.
4.  Bake for 9-11 minutes or until bottoms begin to barely brown and cookies look matte {not melty or shiny}. Remove from oven and cool cookies about 3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

*If using a non-stick darker baking tray, reduce baking time by about 2 minutes.

Garden loot and our view into our neighbor's garden

Recipe: Scrumptious Strawberry Shortcake

Tastes like summer

Strawberry shortcake is THE quintessential summer dessert to me. I grew up making it with store bought angel food cake, Cool Whip and fresh strawberries. Hey, don't judge, this was a hip way to make it in the 80s!

A few decades later, I decided to make this not the way I remember it, but the way my mom and her mom remember it: homemade sweet biscuits with fresh whipped cream and strawberries. I love this recipe because it's light and not overly sweet. The biscuit is a dream too: sweet n' buttery and just dense enough to soak up the juices like a champ. I would happily eat it on it's own. As for the strawbs and whipped cream, lets be honest, these two are a force to be reckoned with. They wouldn't win in a duel between chocolate and peanut butter, but they'd put up a good fight.

It's best to make this dessert when strawberries are at their prime: April –June are their best months, but at stores like Safeway, it's strawberry season year round! 'Merica!

Strawberry friends

Biscuit friends pre-oven

Biscuit friends post-oven

Scrumptious Strawberry Shortcake
Adapted from All Recipes
Yield: 12 servings

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup butter
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 egg, beaten
3 cups sliced fresh strawberries (this is rough, but best to error on the side of too much)
2 tablespoons brown sugar (for strawberries)
coarse or white sugar (for biscuit sprinkling)

1.  Slice up strawberries, add brown sugar and pop into fridge. Fact: adding the brown sugar makes the strawberries juicier.
2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
3.  In a large bowl, mix flour, white sugar and baking powder. Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives. Pro Tip: After cutting in butter, I gently pulled mixture together with my hands in the mixing bowl.
4.  Stir in cream and egg. Knead for a few minutes until it comes together.
5.  Gently form 12 balls and place on baking sheet. Flatten top slightly and lightly sprinkle with coarse or white sugar (see my visual above).
6.  Bake in preheated oven 20 minutes, or until golden. Let cool. Pro Tip: mine took exactly 20 and never turned golden.
7.  Carefully split biscuit in half and add a scoop of berries on the bottom half, then a scoop whipped cream (don't be shy with these scoops). Top with second biscuit half (like a little hat!) and reverse the order: scoop of whipped cream then berries (this is my tried and true technique, but do what feels right to you. Go with your heart!) Lastly, be sure to add some juice that's hiding at the bottom of your bowl as a topper. The juice is where it's at!

Recipe: Jar Cheesecakes with Raspberry Sauce

Classic, original cheesecake can be a total standout dessert to me...when it's done right. I've had my fair share of below average cheesecakes that I cannot untaste, but the handful that have knocked it out of the park, will never be forgotten. One of them being my sister's friend's cheesecake. He has his own cheesecake business and has ruined all other cheesecake for me. They are, frankly, the best cheesecakes I've ever had. But I forgive him. He can't help having the gift of making ridiculously good cheesecakes.

In my humble opinion, this New York Cheesecake recipe rivals my sister's friend's cheesecake. It originates from Jim Fobel's Old-Fashioned Baking Book which The James Beard Foundation said was "one of the best cookbooks of the year." Granted that was in '96, but still, it must be pretty legit. The crust recipe comes from Momufuku's Milk Bar Cookbook. I've made it once when it was called for in the Compost Cookie recipe, and I couldn't stop eating it. I knew it was bound for greater things. As for the Raspberry Sauce, I'm usually anti-fruit sauce on dessert, but I thought it'd be worth a shot because A: maybe homemade sauce tastes better and B: it would be a pretty nice topper (harley) for the jar.

So why bake it in a jar? Well, first of all, I think glass jars make for a cool presentation and secondly, they don't have to bake as long as the pan recipe does, which is TWO HOURS! That's a long time to wait for dessert. Too long one might say.

Graham Crust
Yield: Makes about 340 g (2 Cups)
Recipe from Momofuku Milk Bar

190 g (1 1/2 cups) graham cracker crumbs
20 g (1/4 cup) milk powder
25 g (2 tbs) sugar
3 g (3/4 tsp) kosher salt
55 g (4 tbs) butter, melted, or as needed
55 g (1/4 cup) heavy cream

1.  Toss the graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar, and salt with your hands in a medium bowl to evenly distribute your dry ingredients.
2.  Whisk the butter and heavy cream together. Add to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute. The butter will act as glue, adhering to the dry ingredients and turning the mixture into a bunch of small clusters. The mixture should hold its shape if squeezed tightly in the palm of your hand. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 14 to 25 g (1 to 1½ table- spoons) butter and mix it in.
3.  The crust is easiest to mold just after mixing. Scoop about 2 tablespoons of mixture into each jar and pack it down using the back of the tablespoon or a fork. It should be about ¾ inch thick.

Note: Stored in an airtight container, graham crust will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or for 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

New York Cheesecake
Recipe adapted from Jim Fobel's Old-Fashioned Baking Book
Yield: 8, 13 oz jars

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
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

For the springform pan directions, go here
1.  Position the baking rack in the center of the oven; preheat the oven to 300* Fahrenheit.
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, lemon juice and lemon zest and beat thoroughly, about 2 minutes. 
5.  Pour batter into jars until about ¾ of the way full. Place jars into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the pan until halfway up the sides of the jars. Pro Tip(s): Line a towel on the bottom of the pan to keep the ramekins from sliding. Also, have a tea kettle ready with the hot water and pour in with the pan pulled out on the oven rack.
6.  Bake 25 to 30 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 jar, 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, about 1 hour.
8.  Refrigerate, covered, until well chilled. For best flavor and texture, this cheesecake is best chilled overnight.

My Notes:  If you don't let the first 4 ingredients in this recipe come to room temperature, the batter will be lumpy. The first time I made this, I waited until they were at the correct temp, but this time, I did not and it was indeed lumpy. Ah vell.

Raspberry Sauce
Recipe from

2 packages (6 ounces or 1 1/3 cup each) Driscoll's Raspberries
1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

1.  Puree raspberries in a blender or food processor until smooth.
2.  Press through a mesh sieve to remove seeds over a measuring cup.
3.  Add enough water to make 1 cup, if necessary.
4.  Whisk raspberry puree, sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan until blended.
5.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and let cool.
6.  Spoon over cheesecake, top with remaining raspberries and dust with confectioners' sugar.

The Perfect Ice Cream Sundae Bar

What should one do with a healthy amount of leftover salted caramel? Eat it by the spoonful (guilty), top an apple with it (apple bathed in caramel > apple), OR create an ice cream sundae bar around it? YES. I was into this sundae bar concept because it sounded fun, interactive, pretty low effort and it happened to be Sunday as well. The beauty of it is that it's a no-fail dessert that you can dial up or down as much as you'd like. I decided to dial it up to 11 because that's what I do. I crafted two sundae bars- one for a Game of Thrones viewing party (sundaes and strong adult content go really well together) and one for a family get together (fun for the whole famn damily!) I am pleased to report that both were smashing successes.

Here's the lowdown on how to create the perfect sundae bar:

Ice Cream: Several pints, several flavors. Definitely get Vanilla and Chocolate at the very least. My personal sundae favorite: Mint Chocolate Chip. Want to make your own? We loved the Vanilla Bean Ice Cream my hubs made. Recipe below.
Hot Fudge & Caramel Sauce: You've gotta have a hot situation for your ice cream to sit in and get drizzled upon. It's a must for a sundae. Along with Salted Caramel Sauce, I made Hot Fudge Sauce (both recipes below). Feeling lazy? Snag one of these and these. I won't judge.
Toppings: Chopped roasted peanuts, Mini Chocolate ChipsMini Butterscotch Chips (mini is my pref, but regular-sized is cool too), Rainbow or Chocolate Sprinkles.
•Baked Good: A Chocolate Chip Cookie or Brownie provide a lovely base or topper to your sundae.
Whipped Cream: One pint with 4 T sugar should be enough to heavily dollop your finished masterpiece. Beat cream until soft peaks form.
Maraschino Cherries: Optional. I'm a sucker for these, but some say they are terrible for you <shrugs and pops cherry in mouth>.

Pro Tip: My mom told me when she was a waitress back in the day, her insider tip for making pretty sundaes was to first spread the sauce all along the inside walls of the glass with the back of a spoon. It looks fancier and gives you a better sundae eating experience. She also mentioned that it gives you the illusion of having more sauce than you actually do. Sneaky sneaky. Thanks madre!

Hot Fudge Sauce
Recipe from
Yield: 2 heaping cups

2/3 cup heavy cream
½ cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder Pro Tip: How to know if it's Dutch? If it doesn't say those exact words on the package, look for "processed with Alkali" in the ingredients.
¼ teaspoon sea salt
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped, divided in half. Pro Tip: I tried both Ghirardelli & Scharffen Berger and preferred the latter simply because it was richer.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.  In a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cream, syrup, brown sugar, cocoa powder, salt and half of the chocolate to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low or low (enough to maintain a low simmer), and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2.  Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining chocolate, the butter, and the vanilla extract, stirring until smooth. Let cool for 20 to 30 minutes before using (it will thicken as it cools). Store in a jar or airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. To reheat, microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute until it's pourable but still thick.

Salted Caramel Sauce
Recipe from
Yield: 2 heaping cups

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 cups heavy cream, warmed
3 tsp fleur de sel (Pro Tip: I only used 2 tsp which was plenty salty)

1.  Combine the sugar and 1/3 cup water in a medium 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 to 10 minutes. Then turn the heat up to medium-high and cook until the sugar starts to caramelize, 5 to 7 minutes (Pro Tip: this took me more like 9 mins). Do not stir while this is happening. You've got to watch the pot, because it goes from caramel to burnt really quickly. And be careful, the mixture is extremely hot!
2.  Turn off the heat and stand back to avoid splattering. Slowly add the cream. 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 low heat, stirring constantly, until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth, about 2 minutes. Pro Tip: if your caramel is too liquidity (mine was 5/6 times I've made this), simmer over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes. It's not a bad idea to do this regardless for 5 mins, just to be safe.
4.  Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours. It will thicken as it sits. Stir in salt. Pro Tip: I transferred mine to a container after 2 hrs, it was cool enough.

Ben & Jerry’s Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Recipe from Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book
Yield: 1 quart

2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
2 tsp vanilla extract OR 1 vanilla bean, scraped

1.  Whip the eggs and sugar together with a whisk until fluffy (but not firm).
2.  Add the rest of the ingredients into the eggs and sugar. Whisk together until well mixed.
3.  Place in ice cream maker and follow it's directions to make.
4.  Best if stored in a separate flat container

Pro Tip: Make sure your ice cream maker container has been in the freezer for at least 24 hours or else the ice cream won't get cold enough and fully form.

Happy 4th of July! Now go do something 'Merican, like make an ice cream sundae....

Recipe: Magnolia Bakery's Banana Pudding with Salted Caramel

I've never made a banana dessert before, not counting breads and muffins of course. I'm typically drawn to chocolate anything before fruity numbers. Side-note: lets be clear friends, breads and muffins are snacks, most definitely not desserts. The only exception is a chocolate chocolate muffin, i.e. Costco's GIANT Double Chocolate Chip Muffins. 12 pack. Buy it and thank me later.

I digress. A few years ago, I went to NYC's famous Magnolia Bakery to sample their cupcakes. Apparently, I should have gotten their banana pudding too- people go cray for it. Since I won't be back to Mag's bakery anytime soon and banana's peak season is now (who knew?), I gave their recipe a go. It comes from their new cookbook, but I used the same recipe from this lovely blog, which has ridiculously delicious looking pictures of the dessert. Also, home girl took it up a notch by adding a salted caramel topper <fist-bump> which pairs perfectly with the pudding. Well played.

Aren't these (Bonne Maman) jars just so darn cute? Props to my coworker for giving me the idea of using these for desserts (and cocktails)!

Few things to note:
1.  PLAN AHEAD when you're going to make this! It's a really straight-forward recipe, mostly fast except for the portions when you have to let it sit in the fridge for several hours. The easiest solution for me was to make the caramel and first part of the pudding recipe the night before, plop it in the fridge and finish it up in the AM, planning the serve it that evening.
2.  The caramel does not need to be refrigerated - it thickens at room temperature.
3.  This caramel recipe will make much more than you need for the pudding... but you will not be upset about it. Trust me, you'll find use for it.

Va bene? Va bene.

Awaiting a salted caramel bath...

Magnolia Bakery's Banana Pudding with Salted Caramel
Recipe from The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook &

Ingredients – Pudding
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1½ cups cold water
1 (3.4-ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
3 cups heavy cream
1 (12-ounce) box Nabisco Nilla Wafers
4 cups sliced ripe bananas

Ingredients – Caramel
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 cups heavy cream, warmed
3 tsp fleur de sel (Pro Tip: I only used 2 tsp which was plenty salty)

Directions – Pudding
1.  In a medium-sized bowl, beat sweetened condensed milk and water for about a minute. Add the pudding mix and beat for about two more minutes.
2.  Transfer to a smaller bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
3.  In a large bowl on medium speed, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the pudding mixture until combined.
4.  In a large bowl, layer wafers, bananas, and pudding. (Pro Tip: I started off with a small scoop of the pudding at the bottom.) Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 8 hours before serving.

Directions – Caramel
1.  Combine the sugar and 1/3 cup water in a medium 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 to 10 minutes. Then turn the heat up to medium-high and cook until the sugar starts to caramelize, 5 to 7 minutes (Pro Tip: this took me more like 9 mins). Do not stir while this is happening. You've got to watch the pot, because it goes from caramel to burnt really quickly. And be careful, the mixture is extremely hot!
2.  Turn off the heat and stand back to avoid splattering. Slowly add the cream. 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 2 minutes. Pro Tip: if your caramel is too liquidity (mine was 5/6 times I've made this), simmer over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes. It's not a bad idea to do this regardless for 5 mins, just to be safe.
4.  Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours. It will thicken as it sits. Stir in salt. Pro Tip: I transferred mine to a container after 2 hrs, it was cool enough.

Salted Caramel, you had my at hello.

Recipe: My Latest Obsession: Brownie Bites

image courtesy of The Smitten Kitchen

Brownie bites y'all. They're all the rage these days, and with good reason! They cook faster than regular brownies, taste just as good, and they're just so darn cute.

I finally got to make use of my mini cupcake pan too, which I though was a stupid buy at first because who wants to eat a dainty dessert? Desserts should be adult-sized (maybe even king-sized), not some petite little thing. But, I've gotta say, I'm into this pan now and feel bad for bad-mouthing it. As long as I can have more than one and less than ten then I'm ok with desserts being small.

I've made this recipe thrice times already in the past two weeks, but each time I made them slightly different than that last. First batch: made it as is, classic and delish. Second batch: added semi-sweet chocolate chunks, hello melted pockets of chocolate. Third batch: added semi-sweet chocolate chips AND toffee bits, my favorite so far. Feel free to experiment and add your own flair. Nuts, white chocolate, butterscotch chips, etc. The texture of this brownie is awesome, and this is coming from a center brownie piece kind of girl. Chewy on the outside, soft and fudgie on the inside.

image courtesy of The Smitten Kitchen

Brownie Bites
Recipe from The Smitten Kitchen
Yield: roughly 29 brownies

3 ounces (85 grams) unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped (I used Scharffen Berger, again, because it's the bestest)
1 stick (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups (265 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt (about 2 grams)
2/3 cup (85 grams) all-purpose flour

1.  Heat oven to 350°F. Spray the pans with a non-stick spray.
2.  In a medium heatproof bowl over gently simmering water, melt chocolate and butter together until only a couple unmelted bits remain. Turn off the heat, stir until smooth and fully melted. You can also do this in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring between each (totally took the microwave route).
4.  Whisk in sugar, then eggs, one at a time, then vanilla and salt.
5.  Stir in flour with a spoon or flexible spatula and scrape batter into prepared pans, fill them almost to the top.
6.  Bake for about 16 minutes before a toothpick comes out batter-free (Pro Tip: mine took 14 mins). Let them sit in the pan for 5 minutes on a cooling rack before unmolding them, or they break easily.

Sidenote: super stoked because I'm heading to the happiest place on earth this weekend. No, not Three Twins, which always makes me happy, but Disneyland! I'm going to do DL desserts so right this time. Happy weekend friends!

Recipe: Mint Chocolate Truffles

Living in SF means you don't always have outdoor space and this is sadly the case for my current apartment. What's cruel is that my place looks out onto my neighbor's gorgeous backyard garden, which I have zero access too. Not fair not fair. It even has an outdoor shower...and yes I've unfortunately caught my neighb showering it in once. #icannotunseethat As far as having my own garden goes, I only have two options. 1: sneak into my neighb's garden and help myself or 2: create an indoor garden. I opted for the latter, since I'm not great at scaling walls, and refer to it as my "house garden."

My HG consists of one plant right now- a chocolate mint plant. Sounds delicious, doesn't it? It's kind of the perfect plant for me. It was given to me by my coworker who has these taking over his <outdoor> garden. He actually has the nerve to call them "weeds" though <shakes head> Not me. They are far from weeds to me, they are the "leading man" of my garden. So this coworker gave it to me because he thought I could make something dessserty with it. Challenge. Accepted.

The beginnings of the truffs

Mint Chocolate Truffles
Recipe from
Yield: Roughly 40 delectable balls

1 1/4 cup heavy cream
6 sprigs of fresh chocolate mint or peppermint (sprigs should be about 3 inches long)
16 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate (I used my current fav Scharffen Berger)
1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder

Step One: Infuse the cream
•  Pour cream into a small saucepan and warm over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil.
•  Add the herbs and submerge them in the cream, pushing them below the surface with a spoon.
•  Remove the pan from the heat immediately and cover with a plate or lid. Leave to steep for 30 minutes.
•  While the cream is steeping, chop chocolate into small pieces that are less than 1/2 inch in size.
•  Once the 30 minutes is up, strain the cream through a fine sieve to remove the herbs.
•  Check to see if the cream measures 1 1/4 cups. If not, add more cream until it reaches 1 1/4 cups.
•  Pour the cream back into the saucepan.

Step Two: Prepare Ganache
•  Add chopped chocolate to a food processor.
•  Warm the cream again until it comes to a full boil. Once it boils, immediately pour the cream over chopped chocolate in the food processor (Careful! Safety first!) Put lid on food processor.
•  Let sit for one minute.
•  Turn on processor and blend until smooth.
•  Use a rubber spatula to transfer the ganache to a small container or casserole dish.
•  All to cool to room temperature then move to the refrigerator to harden for about 2 hours.

Step Three: Form the Truffles
•  Use a melon baller or rounded teaspoon to scoop the ganache into balls (about 3/4 inch in size).
•  Roll quickly between the palms of your hands to form into a ball. (This can get very messy. But it’s worth it!)
•  Try to get a nice shaped ball, but don’t be a perfectionist.

Step Four: Coat the Truffles
•  Put cocoa powder in a bowl and toss truffles gently (two at a time) to coat.
•  Optional: After coating truffles, place truffles in a strainer and gently knock the side of the strainer with you hand to remove any excess cocoa powder.
•  Allow truffles to harden in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.
•  Stop reading this and pop one of those suckers in your mouth!
•  Truffles will keep in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Recipe: Butterscotch Crème Brûlée

I have a hard time figuring out what to bake sometimes. There's just SO. MUCH. OUT there. Love the internet, but damn, the oodles and oodles of recipes can be overwhelming. How does one even choose? For me, I'm a very visual person so often times it's the photographs that draw me into a recipe (pretty colors! shiny lights!), sometimes it's the sheer number of good reviews it gets (4,500 five star reviews? Ok!) and other times it's simply the name of the recipe ("Peanut Butter Double Chocolate Dream In Your Face"). My process goes something like this. Once I figure out the specific dessert I want to make, I usually put in a good amount of research before deciding on the recipe. Maybe I'll find a handful via Pinterest or maybe it's just from random online research. After that, the hemming and hawing process beings. Even after all the research, the recipe could suck, or I screw up the execution of it. Poopie. I'm definitely my hardest critic, but I've learned that it's not the end of the world if I bomb a recipe. It's only dessert! I'm not saving lives here!

When I heard my dad wanted me to make butterscotch créme brûlée for his birthday, I forgoed my usual process and literally went with the first recipe listing I found on the web, and called it a day. Sometimes, a girl gets lazy. Lucky for me, it turned out pretty good. Plus, I got to use a blow-torch for the first time which was awesome.

Butterscotch Crème Brûlée
Recipe from Chef Jamie
Yield: 8 servings, 6-ounce ramekins.

1 cup whole milk
4 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more for caramelizing
12 large egg yolks
1 cup brown sugar

1.  Place eight 6-ounce ramekins or custard cups in the bottom of a deep roasting pan. Combine the milk and cream in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.
2.  Place the 1/4 cup of granulated sugar in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat over medium heat while stirring with a wooden spoon. The sugar will begin to melt and lump. Continue stirring until the sugar starts to turn golden. Chop up large lumps of sugar into smaller pieces with the end of the spoon. They will dissolve as the sugar caramelizes. Stir until the caramel is a deep gold/brown color. If there are still a few lumps it is of no concern, they will be removed when the custard is strained.
3.  When the sugar is golden brown in color remove the pan from the heat. Slowly pour in the cream and milk, a few tablespoons at a time at first, while stirring constantly to keep the sugar from seizing up and turning into hard ribbons. Note: Use caution when you pour the cream-milk mixture into the sugar. Do not place your face directly over the pan and be conscious of where your hands are. The steam rising form the pan can cause a serious burn. After the cream mixture has been added place the pan back on the heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth and caramel in color. Turn off the heat and cover the pan. Place the oven rack on the lowest rung. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whisk the yolks and brown sugar together lightly. Bring the cream mixture back to a boil. Pour it in thirds over the eggs while whisking constantly. Strain and skim off the air bubbles from the surface of the custard.
4.  Pour the brulee into your cups or ramekins to fill 1/4-inch below the rim. Pour enough hot, not boiling water, into the roasting pan to come up three-quarters up the sides of the ramekins. Bake the custards in the preheated oven on the low oven rack, covered with a piece of parchment paper until set, 30 to 40 minutes. To test to see if the custard are done, jiggle one gently with your hand. They are done if the custard is set in all but the very center, a circle about the size of a dime. Pro Tip: Same jiggle test I used for my Pots de Creme recipe. Carefully remove the ramekins from the water bath. Cool the custards before placing in the refrigerator, uncovered, until they are completely cold. Then cover tightly with plastic until ready to serve.
5.  To caramelize the brulees, sprinkle the top of each with 1 tablespoon of granulated or superfine sugar. Roll and tap the ramekin to spread the sugar evenly on the surface of the custard. Use a blowtorch or a broiler to brulee the sugar just until it has melted and turned golden. Be careful not to curdle the custards when using a broiler. (See blow torch tips below).

Blow torches are a crowd pleaser

Blow Torch Pro Tips:
•As you torch, move in circle motions. It doesn't have to be fast movements, just don't hold it in one spot for awhile or else you'll burn the sugar.
•Your flame should be a few inches away from the brûlée. I cranked mine to high and as the gas ran out, I moved in closer to the brûlée.
•After 10 seconds or so, you should start to see the sugar melt and form bubbles.
•When are you done torching? When the sugar is melted and the majority of it is a nice golden color.