Wedding Trends: Chic Styles I’m Loving Now

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Weddings, no matter how big or small, have always held a special place in my heart. I’m inspired by the creative elements each couple chooses to represent their love for each other when planning their wedding. Whether their aesthetic is modern or rustic, over the top or understated, I feel honored to be a part bringing their wedding day dreams to life.

Over the past year, it’s been exciting to see the direction of new wedding trends. A typical “wedding season” doesn’t necessarily exist here in Southern California where the weather permits year-round, outdoor weddings. Popular, visually-driven social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram have opened brides up to endless inspiration and ideas, freeing them from more traditional “rules” when it comes to creating their perfect day. Nowhere is that more true than with the wedding cake.

Second only to the bride when it comes to taking center stage at the wedding, the cake is perhaps the most personal choice of all and needs to be the perfect blend of style and taste.

Just like fashion, wedding cake trends most certainly come and go, but here are some of my recent creations for our brides:

  1. Pearls are big this year both in the fashion world and the wedding industry. Clean and Classic. Love Struck from our Weddings Portfolio is featured.
  2. Behind the scenes. Developing new designs for our new wedding cake collection and styling the photo shoot.
  3. Adding gold accents to a rustic design really elevates a simple design and creates a more luxe look. Perfect for an outdoor evening wedding.
  4. Black and white cakes are also trending. Elegance is featured from our Weddings Portfolio.
  5. Customized cake toppers are fun and chocolate cakes are also chic.  A perfect example of this combination is “I love you to pieces” from our portfolio.
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Posted in Extraordinary Cakes, Extraordinary Desserts, Extraordinary Wedding Cakes, wedding cakes, Weddings | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Ice Cream: All Grown Up

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Cool and creamy, it’s hard to beat really good ice cream as a treat when summer temperatures start heating up. This iconic favorite even has it’s own month dedicated to it (July!). But, gone are the days of ice cream being an afterthought that is only served in scoops or as a sidekick to other desserts.

For me, ice cream has become a launching pad for creative, grown up creations – from sophisticated flavor combinations to boozy floats and decadent vegan options. Here’s a look at some of our newest “I scream-worthy” selections perfect to help you keep your cool:

  1. Each day at Extraordinary Desserts, we hand make small batches of gourmet ice cream and sorbet made with organic milk and the best seasonal ingredients available. Be on the lookout for new flavors debuting throughout the month of July including Blackberry Cheesecake, Caramelized White Chocolate, Roasted Banana Chocolate Chip, Crème Brulee, and Hana Highway – a macadamia inspired spin on Rocky Road. 
  2. Brand new for summer and hard to resist! Meet our new trio of frosty treats including the insanely rich Frozen Hot Chocolate, our Rosé Float, and Matcha Shaved Ice (my personal favorite).
  3. I’ve never met an ice cream sundae that I didn’t like but dietary restrictions kept me from indulging too often. That is, until I created this little gem. Layers of Peruvian dark chocolate fudge, house made vegan vanilla bean ice cream, and a caramelized hazelnut almond praline. All VEGAN. Yes, really.
  4. A true match made in heaven, our boozy Beer Floats are frosty, rich, and feature some of our favorite craft beers perfectly paired with our house made ice cream flavors including Toasted Coconut, Bailey’s, and Salted Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
    Karen
Posted in Beer Floats, Extraordinary Desserts, Ice Cream, Iced Matcha, Vegan Desserts | Leave a comment

Wanderlust

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My love for exotic places and luxury stays are a part of my breaking away from the day-to-day chaos of running restaurants.  It’s in those travels that I find myself most open to soaking in inspiration from my surroundings – whether that be the culture of my destination, the architecture, the colors, or the cuisine.  I rarely come away from these trips without several new desserts and ideas to better my business and I always come home feeling creatively rejuvenated.

My most recent adventure was to Chile and Argentina this spring with my family. Here are some of the moments and memories that left me feeling inspired.

  1. The stunning architecture truly captivated us throughout our trip. Pictured here is the entry to the winery, Vina VIK where there is also a gorgeous hotel that we stayed at in Millahue, Chile.
  2. Wine is one of my favorite indulgences, especially when traveling abroad. Here we are tasting incredible Malbecs and blends at Giminez Riili in Mendoza, Argentina.
  3. The rich, chocolate-coated, hand-made ice cream bars are available in 30+ flavors at Emporio La Rosa in Santiago. Of course we had to taste test – our research depended on it! Our favorite was Dulce de Leche.
  4. The lush vineyards were perfect to stroll through. I even had the opportunity to pick grapes at the Vines of Mendoza in Argentina.
  5. Late morning walks on the beach burn off last night’s indulgences, clear the mind, and put things into perspective – Punta de Lobos in Chile.
  6. From all of the inspiration and South American flavors, I developed my newest dessert creation – El Gaucho. A decadent combination of goat cheese mousse and dulce de leche surrounded by chocolate cake, dark chocolate ganache, and crunchy chocolate pearls.

Cheers!

Karen

Posted in Argentina, Chile, Chocolate, Extraordinary Desserts, Mendoza, New Desserts, Pastry, Travel, Wine, Wine and Travel | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Class That Takes the Cake – Kitchen Secrets with Karen

If you live in San Diego, you know Extraordinary Desserts as an iconic part of the city’s culinary scene. For more than two decades, Karen Krasne has created stunning desserts and pastries, gilded and gorgeous with her signature gold leaf and fresh flower decorations. Classically trained and constantly creating, Karen has long been considered one of the best in the biz and the lines of customers out the door any night of the week at both of the Extraordinary Desserts locations are proof positive of the draw her desserts have.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Karen and her fantastic team for nearly two and a half years as her publicist. I often get the inside scoop on “what’s new,” get spoiled with samples at our meetings, and get to work with media and influencers to further visibility for Karen and the Extraordinary Desserts brand.

While my professional expertise with Extraordinary Desserts has expanded over the years, it is very safe to say that my personal experience with baking has not. Admittedly, I tend to take more of a “working mom picking up store bought cookies approach” to things as opposed to a “from scratch” one.

I’m the person who LOVES to watch all types Food Network shows, yet could count the number of things I’ve actually made on one hand.

So, when Karen told me she was resurrecting her popular Kitchen Secrets with Karen cooking class and invited me to attend, I jumped at the chance, eager to have a kitchen-side seat and hopefully pick up some tips to get me motivated.

After arriving at the Little Italy location and enjoying a lovely glass of wine to start the evening, our intimate group of eight was escorted into the kitchen where all the magic happens. Seated around a large stainless steel prep table, Karen and her dynamic duo of assistants welcomed us and got right to work. Looking around the table, I could tell I was in the presence of some serious home bakers. They were there to pick up all the knowledge Karen was about to drop and I wondered if they could tell I was out of my league.

First up – Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding. As Karen expertly sliced fresh croissants, explained the nuances of selecting the right bitterness of chocolate, and taught us a nifty trick for drying vanilla beans, notes were being scribbled furiously. As the massive bread pudding was being assembled, the addition of the secret ingredient elicited some serious ooohs and aaaahs – Karen’s Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies. SAY WHAT?! This recipe is basically my version of HEAVEN.

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Next on the agenda were the gorgeous Devonshire Pavlovas.  Perfect meringue nests filled with mixed berries and velvety Devonshire cream.

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After Karen prepared the ingredients and explained each step in detail, including a demonstration of how she transforms egg whites into perfectly glossy meringue, we got to try our hand at making the nests for the Pavlovas.

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Not bad for a first timer!

Then, the piece de resistance – getting to assemble our own Pavlovas as our delicious party favor, complete with fresh flowers and gold leaf, of course.

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I must say, as a complete novice, I was pretty pleased not only with how my Pavlova turned out, but that I left the class feeling a new level of confidence, ready to add some more sophisticated baking recipes to my (very limited) repertoire.  Who knows? Maybe that decadent Chocolate Bread Pudding will make an appearance on my holiday table!

If you are interested in taking a Kitchen Secrets class with Karen, 2017 will bring new dates and new recipes to experience! Follow Extraordinary Desserts on Instagram for the latest class updates: @extraordinary_desserts and online at http://www.extraordinarydesserts.com.

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Karen’s Picks: Hello, Summer Wines!

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As much as I love sweet indulgences, I adore wine—and the long summer nights are an ideal time to sip and savor some of my favorite finds.

1. Sommariva di Conegliano Prosecco Brut NV – Italy:
I love the bubbles, complexity and overall value of this Prosecco.  It feels like I’m having a great Champagne.

2. Sangria Blanco:
Our refreshing homemade white wine sangria from Extraordinary Desserts includes white grape juice, fresh oranges, kiwis and limes. It is served in a carafe for 2, which is perfect for sharing on a hot, summer date night out.

3. Bodega Garzon Albarino 2014 – Uruguay:
From one of my favorite vacation spots, this wine has bright citrus with tropical notes and great acidity. You don’t need much more than a glass and an opener to enjoy this super priced South American beauty.

4. Wild Thing Rendezvous Rose 2014 by Carol Shelton – Mendocino, CA:
This wine is produced from wild yeasts found on organically grown grapes. Rich, cranberry colored rose that is dry and refreshing with strawberry and watermelon aromas and a hint of pink grapefruit. Perfect for a beach rendezvous.

5. Chateau Miraval Rose 2015 – Cote de Provence, France:
Soft blush color that is bright with raspberries, peaches and white flowers. True romance in a bottle. Nothing less expected from Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s Provence vineyard.

6. Magnolia Pinot Noir 2014 by Krutz Family Cellars – Sonoma Coast, CA:
I love this red wine because of its earthy, spicy and balanced silky tannins. Some juice of red fruit and plum with coffee over a long finish.  Enjoy with or without food, and it is spectacular with cheese.

Cheers!

Karen

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Karen’s 8 “Must Do’s” on Oahu

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Everyone dreams about the perfect Hawaiian vacation. And bliss is everywhere on these magical islands, but my ideal vacation to Hawaii isn’t just about surf and sand. Our favorite island is Oahu and I’ve discovered the eight most alluring things to create a truly special Hawaiian escape.

  1. Start your day at Diamond Head. This famous location is ideal for inspirational exercise. You can feel the power of the island, either swimming in the cove, running the trail head or walking along the paths. Insider tip: Spend the morning burning calories and then head to Kapiʻolani Community College farmers’ market (Saturdays 7:30AM-11AM an Tuesday 4-7PM) for the best bites of the island from various local purveyors. 4303 Diamond Head Rd, Honolulu.
  2. Banán Food Truck. This organic banana based dessert food truck is my pick for a healthy island not-too-sweet, satisfying treat. The Spirulina bowl features bananas blended with spirulina in a carved –out papaya bowl topped with granola. It’s the Hawaiian spin on Acai. 3212 Monsarrat Ave, Honolulu.
  3. Shangri-La. Heiress Doris Duke’s custom mansion is home to an extensive Islamic art collection and truly breathtaking. The oasis on the other side of Diamond Head sits above the waves and is a unique outing for anyone who loves art and design. Tours can be arranged through the Honolulu Museum of Art. 4055 Papu Cir, Honolulu.
  4. Azure. This delicious seafood restaurant is the ultimate date night location. Dine al fresco overlooking Waikiki from cabanas on the sand that feel like you’ve been transported to Greece or Morocco. Leave the kiddos at home and enjoy the upscale vibe. 2259 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu.
  5. Kaiwa. This teppan and sushi restaurant is a stunning teppanyaki bar with unusual combinations and authentic Japanese cuisine. Don’t be surprised if most of the guests are Japanese, it is that level of authentic. We love to sit in the leather comfy chairs at the large teppanyaki tables while watching the chefs create their amazing dishes. 226 Lewers St, Honolulu.
  6. Le Flowers. This tiny little flower shop has hundreds of leis and fresh flowers. It’s a must-stop on Oahu for celebrations, from birthdays to weddings, even just to celebrate your island time. A true locals destination, the shop is open to the public and has the most exquisite selection of leis. 2567 S King St # B, Honolulu.
  7. Nitrogenie: A specialty ice cream shop to cool off during your island adventure. All the ice cream is made from the magic of liquid nitrogen. The flavors are always rotating, but my favorite is the Lemon Meringue Pie, which is deconstructed: Lemon Curd ice cream, with a biscuit and toasted meringue on top. Ala Moana, Honolulu.
  8. Kahuku Farms. The perfect road trip stop along the North Shore serving warm banana bread that my daughter asks about even when we aren’t in Hawaii! The warm banana bread comes drizzled with caramel sauce and honey. It’s a must, but so is a passion fruit smoothie or their coconut ice cream. 56-800 Kamehameha Hwy, Kahuku.

Hawaii is about discover and enchantment and hopefully with these eight must dos, I’ve inspired your next trip.

Aloha, Karen

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Hello Chocolate, I Love You

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With the holidays upon us, chocolate is admittedly on my mind. Well, maybe it always is. I love to get out to gourmet food shops and patisseries to see what ideas pop in my head from tasting and experiencing what is going on in the world of sweets.

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the things currently feeding my chocolate obsession:

  1. Valrhona Chocolate Class

I recently took a 3-day seminar at the L’Ecole Valrhona Brooklyn cooking school. I came away totally inspired from working with pastry chefs from around the world with ideas for chocolate creations that are going to blow your mind and your diet. I perfected the Big Chocolate Cake and our new Caramelized White Chocolate Ice Cream.

2) Chocolate Manjari Bûche de Noel

This cheesecake filled bûche puts a smile on my face. It is so chocolate, so cheesecake, so crunchy, and so smooth and dreamy. We have really stepped up our game with a contemporary take on this classic French Christmas dessert. Cheers!

3) Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookie

A combination of melt-in-your-mouth Valrhona chocolates with a caramelized butter flavor and crispy texture, you literally can’t eat just one of these cookies. You’ll need to buy 2, because you won’t want to share.

4) OMG Candy Bar

Morsels of luxury in this chocolate bar I bumped into in SF’s Ferry Building.  It’s made with crispy hazelnut praline and sea salt caramel with caramelized Rice Krispies enrobed in 64% dark chocolate, and it’s a perfect stocking-stuffer.

5) Theo Chocolate Book

Seattle based Theo chocolate is North America’s first organic and Fair Trade chocolate factory.  This 75-recipe book also tells the story of the company and its mouth-watering photos are sure to inspire you in the kitchen.

6) Chocolate Inspired Jewelry

Girls of all ages are going “ga-ga” over our dessert inspired jewelry from France.  Les Delices d’ Emilie hand makes everything from éclairs and chocolate bars to Oreo Cookies and macaroons. Necklaces and earrings so enticing, you’ll want to buy them for the chocolate lovers in your life.

7) Extraordinary Desserts Baker’s Chocolates

A line of Valrhona chocolates and baking sugars to amp up your holiday baking or to give as a gift.

Wishing you a delicious and peaceful holiday season!

-Karen

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