Giving Thanks and Celebrating

Thanksgiving is spending days off with friends, family and football, but let’s face it, it’s really all about snacks and food. For me, it’s all about the dessert.

Whether you make and bake things yourself or if you just want something easy, here are some ideas to make your Thanksgiving Day and weekend more extraordinary.

DESSERTS

My family counts on me for desserts every year. Our tradition is a dessert buffet that I am in charge of putting together.

If you want to make desserts yourself, here are some options:

Caramel-Apple-Trifle_Bakers-Royale-21

             Caramel Apple Trifles from Bakersroyale.com

 

spcheesecake-2-2

No Bake Sweet Potato Cheesecakes from HowSweetEats.com

 

Extraordinary Cake Kit

Our Gourmet Cake Kit makes it easy to create a moist, rich chocolate cake at home. The Dark Chocolate Truffle Banana Cake kit includes imported chocolate, dry ingredients, baking mold, round, pastry bag, pastry tip and ribbon to help you bake and decorate your own extraordinary cake. You provide the butter, eggs, bananas and sour cream. Cake Kits are available in both of our locations and online. A gluten free option is also available. Best of all, you get the credit.

However, if you need to have us do the baking for you, from our Thanksgiving Menu, I recommend:

cheesecake  pumpkin pie                        Pumpkin Cheesecake                                              Aloha Pumpkin Pie

pumpkin apple pecan torte 1  blood orange                  Pumpkin Apple Pecan Torte                              Blood Orange Ricotta Torte

SETTING THE TABLE WITH A SPECIAL TOUCH

I like to keep the table top simple, but with a special style that does not take much effort. While I was pinning on Pinterest recently, I found these unique DIY ideas:

rosemary-wreath-place-card

Rosemary wreath place cards from SpoonForkBacon.com

 

429631161_LRg7zd3N_c

A simple twist of ribbon can add unique color accents.  Ladolfinalifestyle.com

 

IMG_7654-682x1024

A votive candle in leaves to celebrate fall from San Diego based, Joyful Weddings & Events.

 

photo2

I loved these hand-crafted cake servers so much that I now sell them in my restaurants.

 

My second favorite part of Thanksgiving is opening a bottle of wine or bubbly and catching up with friends and family. Having easy to prepare foods are vital for gatherings throughout the weekend.

EXTRAORDINARY SNACKS

Here are some easy ideas for serving your loved ones while everyone is hanging out, catching up, and enjoying the time together.

truffle salt     chutney 2

Popcorn popped with black truffle salt          Our Maui Mango Chutney on cream cheese

snacks                             Small batch, hand-made, Gluten Free crackers by Marilyn’s

 

cheese platter

Whether you put your own together or have us do it for you, cheese platters can be refreshed and nibbled on throughout the day and weekend.

pizza

Here’s another creative way to enjoy leftover turkey, make your own pizza.

BREAKFAST

For the weekend, I need some easy breakfast ideas, so that I’m not back in the kitchen again. Our pancake mixes and syrups from Hawaii get my family out of bed.

breakfast

Go with a Hawaiian Breakfast: Coffee / Pancakes / Granola with Passion Fruit syrup

scones

You can also pick up our delicious Pumpkin Maple Pecan Scones

Whether you are traveling far or staying close to home, we all have something to be grateful and thankful for at this time of year. Thank you for letting us be a part of your holiday celebrations.

Karen

Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Cake Walk in Paris

On my trip to Paris last month, I created a plan to bike throughout the city in search of the most delicious chocolate cakes, outstanding fruit tarts, contemporary takes on classic pastries, and other assorted sumptuous sweets.

photo(36)                    photo(35)

I made 24 stops over 7 days and wrangled my Parisian friend, Denise for 3 days of the journey. She was the one who recommended that we stop riding bikes, because finding parking for bikes was as hard as finding rental bikes that actually worked. Therefore, we walked in the 90 degree heat and took cabs instead. My pain is your gain, as I’m now happy to share with you my top picks of what Paris has to offer. Call it a Parisian Chef’s Feed for Dessert Foodies and Chocoholics.

1) I couldn’t wait to get started, so without Denise on day one, my first stop was around the corner from my hotel at Bread and Roses for some of the best cheesecake and carrot cake that I have ever tasted.

photo(8)                         photo(10)

2) My second stop was at Ciel, which is the most adorable, little spot in St. Michel. Here, I enjoyed heavenly angel food cakes with a Franco-Japanese spin.

photo(20)

photo(22)

 

 

3) As I circled my way back to my neighborhood, I stopped in to the renowned salon de thé Angelina. The famous Mont Blanc has been re-invented with a chocolate spin and was remarkable alongside their hot white chocolate.

photo(15)             photo(16)

4) Denise joined me on day 2 at the Mandarin Oriental, where the desserts were jewels, but we were awe-struck by the stunning flower displays.

photo(17)                   photo(37)

5) We headed out to Fauchon where they were celebrating Le Semaine des Éclairs. Showcase after showcase of sweet and savory spectacular éclairs. There were double decker chocolate, blueberry vanilla, salted butter, grape fruit, blood orange and Moroccan date among dozens more.

photo(5)      photo(28)

6) We quickly ran through Ladurée salon de thé where we ogled and grabbed a black currant macaron for the road.

photo(7)

7) Our next stop was Jean-Paul Hévin where I had the best macaron of my life. I was too busy enjoying my chocolate and crème brulee macaron that I forgot to take a photo!

8) Last stop of the day was to the Holy Grail of all chocolate shops:  Le Chocolat – Alain Ducasse. We indulged ourselves as any girl would amongst chocolate ganaches, pralines, truffles, and chocolate bars in 44 different flavors.

photo(9)                                         photo(29)

photo(14)

9) La Pâtisserie by Cyril Lignac is where I was stunned by the largest Kouing Aman (round crunchy caramelized cake made with bread dough and layers of butter and sugar folded in) that I have ever seen. This is my favorite of all-time.

photo(12)                       photo(11)

10) On my way to the Jardin de Luxembourg, I ducked into Sadaharu Aoki boutique where bright colors and Japanese flavors won my heart, especially this raspberry, strawberry and hibiscus cake.

photo(18)     photo(19)

11) Pierre Hermé is the benchmark of excellence in pastry. The boutique is like a jewelry store and I did not hold back here. Infiniment Vanille, Ispahan Croissant, and Carrément Chocolat were among the few that came back to my hotel room.

photo(30)    photo(31)

12) Mulot is an institution in the 6th arrondisment not to be missed. I had the most delicious cherry and coconut tart that I would go back for next time I’m in town.

photo(27)      photo(38)

photo(26)

13) Un Dimanche á Paris is a beautiful pastry shop and restaurant near Odeon with gorgeous tarts, mousses, and goodies for gourmets in a sleek and contemporary setting.

photo(21)       photo(23)

photo(25)

14) La Maison du Chocolat is a palace for chocoholics and during the heat of the summer, I was so excited to discover their ice cream verrine to go case. A verrine is a composition of alternating flavors, colors, and textures all showcased in small glass containers. I chose Verrine Tout Chocolat with layers of crunchy chocolate pralines, chocolate mousse, and chocolate ice cream. I skipped off towards the Champs Elysees with a spoon and a smile.

photo(13)

There is truly a dessert for everyone in the City of Love.

Bisou Bisou,

K –

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Summertime, When the Sweet Treats Are Easy

IMG_7804_txtHello summer!  Where could you possibly enjoy the warm months better than right here in San Diego, where the living always is easy, but never more so than during beach season?  The long days and late, slow-fading sunsets are perfect for sharing laid-back times with family and friends, on the patio, on the sand, at a picnic in the park – just about anywhere you can think to go in San Diego.  And while I always insist on entertaining in style, I take a relaxed approach this time of year.  I may put out a spread of fresh salads, cheeses and artisan breads, accompanied by my favorite wines and bubbly.  A sweet course always follows, to be sure, and while I might very well choose an 2013-06-20 11.51.54txt2elegant cake or dessert for a dinner on the patio, a beautiful selection of Extraordinary Desserts cupcakes, cookies, brownies and other deluxe small pastries are also sure to dazzle adult guests and equally delight the youngsters.

I kicked off my Summer 2013 in a particularly enjoyable way.  I had the opportunity to take my baking art to The New Children’s Museum (NCM) in downtown San Diego and collaborate with the museum’s creative minds to develop a camp that would inspire a group of 6 through 8 year-olds to become artist/bakers for a week.

I’ve had plenty of experience putting kids in touch with IMG_5740_txttheir inner cakes, but probably never enjoyed it as much as when I traveled the few blocks from my Extraordinary Desserts Little Italy location to the museum.  For five days in mid-June, the very first of the summer’s “Creativity Rules” camps brought together happy youngsters for “Sweet-Makes and Cupcakes,” a hands-on program that I nicknamed Camp Cupcake.

IMG_5708smalltxt2Camp Cupcake focused on fun, but with a purpose – which is not unlike what I do when creating a new cake for Extraordinary Desserts.  A week of creativity led up to Friday’s  “Let’s Picnic!” party, at which parents enjoyed the artworks the kids created, and ate the clever cupcakes the kids baked, decorated and shared with the unreserved delight that youngsters bring to a project.

The camp constantly challenged the kids to turn art into play. “Pin the Cherry on the Cupcake” put a sweet spin on the classic party game when the children created a huge drawing of a cupcake and attached it to the wall. Each child created an art piece inspired by a 2013-06-20 11.52.48txt2cupcake.  The camp then got into baking and decorating using cupcake recipes from my book “Extraordinary Cakes,” and the children were encouraged to use their own artistic expressions and a variety of decorative materials to come up with enjoyably eccentric creations.  The kids also used fresh flowers to create designs inspired by the decor we use at Extraordinary Desserts.

I wouldn’t even try to count how many sticky fingers got licked during the camp.  It was fun for the kids and a sweet treat for me.  Happy Summer!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Baker’s Dozen of Ways to Say “I Love You” to Mom

As a mother, I think the most precious gifts children can offer on Mother’s Day, which this year is May 12, is to say “I love you, Mom” and “Thanks for all you do, and for loving me.” There are acres of roses in both phrases, and no mother can hear them too often.

Having said this, I think it’s very important to treat mothers to special gifts that also say “I love you,” but sweetly, and with the emphasis on style and sophistication that I like in every aspect of life. Extraordinary Desserts offers a range of memorable ways to gift mom tastefully and affordably with presents she’ll truly enjoy but here’s a baker’s dozen of my top picks.

finds_fionas captionSimply Sweet – Fiona’s Sweetshoppe candies are adorably packaged, and flavored to offer mom a nostalgic taste of her childhood. The selection includes licorices and sour hard candies that are reminiscent of sweets from the 1970s, but are presented in contemporary flavors and with a modern edge. A super-sweet and thoughtful gift for any mom with a sweet tooth, Fiona’s candies are irresistible when tucked into a lovely porcelain box, like those in our home collection that I truly treasure. Arrange some fragrant rose petals in the box to make it all the prettier, and show mom you appreciate all the details she fussed over when you were growing up. Buy these special candies at both Extraordinary Desserts locations.

Room Service CaptionRoom Service with Extraordinary Gourmet products and North Shore Goodies from Hawaii: I can’t think of any better way to treat Mom to an Extraordinary breakfast in bed than by putting together an artfully arranged tray of a cup of our gourmet tea or coffee, along with our rare and wonderful jams and jellies, and delicious products from North Shore (offered at both Extraordinary Desserts locations), like Coconut Peanut Butter spread on toast or a bagel, unique pancake syrups and, of course, a scrumptious pancake mix that cooks up into delicate, fluffy flapjacks – just like Mom always made. Now it’s your turn to get in the kitchen, flip some pancakes and show you love her as much as she loves you.

brunch captionThe Very Best Sunday Brunch, Just for Mom – This relaxed mid-day meal is always a favorite with mothers. On May 12, Extraordinary Desserts Little Italy will offer a “special edition” of the regular weekly brunch, which always is a lavish, lively and lovely affair. Highlights of the special Mother’s Day brunch range from mom-inspired desserts (and moms inspire nothing but the best), glamorized by beautiful floral decors that will delight every mom. Reservations can be made, and are recommended, by calling 619.294.7001 ext. 103.

cookie doughs captionFreshly Baked Love – Remember how when you came home from school, Mom would be pulling a tray of cookies out of the oven just as you walked through the door? Even if this was just a fantasy and never a reality, now it’s your chance to show such love by baking batches of our trio of rich and satisfying Extraordinary Desserts Cookie Doughs. That the house will smell delicious is the wrapping on the gift when you treat her to these decadent cookies hot from the oven. Flavors such as Triple Chocolate, Simply Chocolate Chip, Vegan Cherry Chocolate Chip, and White Chocolate Granola are composed as only Extraordinary Desserts can do.

Made with Love and Extraordinary Expertise – Our new Gourmet Cake Kit and gorgeous cake stands and slicers let you bake for Mom like the professional SHE is. Paired with some fine baker’s tools, the cake kit allows you to bake a delicious Dark Chocolate Truffle Banana Cake with Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache Frosting like a pro. When you pair this amazing cake with some fine baker’s tools, you’ll gift Mom in Extraordinary fashion.

luxe captionLuxe Packages – We’ve had fun designing elegant and one-of-a-kind gift packs that are perfect for the mom who thinks she has everything. These tasteful new packages are the ultimate in luxury and include freshly baked cookies, a gorgeous cake and loads (and loads!) of Extraordinary Gourmet items. Prices range from $150 to $400.

The Caffeinated Mom –  Perfect for moms who appreciate a truly good cup of coffee, package up an Extraordinary French-press pot, coffee cups from our home collection and a bag of our signature gourmet blend to create a luxurious, thoughtful and “buzz” worthy gift just for her. If she’s a fan of the flavor but not the caffeine, create a decaf version that is sure to be equally treasured.

Napoleon captionA Sweet Celebration for Mom – We’ve put together a decadent and convenient Mom’s Day Dessert pack that includes four Napoleons, ribbon and rose petals for $42.95. An enticing way to celebrate Mom in the comfort of home, it’s as pretty as a picture and twice as good to eat.

For the Globetrotting Mom – A thoughtful gift to please every mom who loves exploring new places, how about creating a lovely gift with one of our exotic picture frames, a piece of stunning jewelry and one of our many travel-oriented books, all beautifully illustrated and all inviting Mom to make a journey of her own.

catering caption3Celebrate Mom – Pickup Extraordinary catering platters and celebrate mom among friends and family with an exquisite feast at home. The choices are varied, tempting and gorgeous, including artisanal cheese trays with fine jams and chutneys, nuts and dried fruits and breads. Petit paninis offer delicately satisfying combinations of fillings (I love the goat cheese with pesto genovese, Portobello mushroom, avocado and tomato), colorful and creative salads and gracious platters of assorted dips and spreads, with fine breads to accompany them.

The Chocoholic Mom – If Mom loves chocolate, she’ll be pleased for weeks by our pack of five signature chocolate bars, each designed to capture the memorable flavors of our most popular cakes. Great for sending a bit of Extraordinary love (and tastes!) to out of town moms.mom's day cake special caption2

Treat Mom to the Best – She’ll treasure the special Mother’s Day edition of one of our most popular cakes – Shangri-La. White chocolate mousse, guava mousse, fresh strawberries and whipped cream are layered between vanilla cakes moistened with kirsch. Complete with dazzlingly eye catching decoration created especially to delight mom, the beautiful 6” cake will include a tag filled in with a special Mom’s day sentiment. $50 each with limited availability at both locations. Pre-order recommended.desserts cropped

Inspired by Mom, Too –  New “Mom-inspired” desserts will be unveiled at both of our Extraordinary Desserts locations in honor of all moms.

There you have it: A Baker’s Dozen of Extraordinary sweet ways to say “Happy Mother’s Day!”

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Karen’s Picks for Must-Try San Diego Dishes

With the holiday season and Valentine’s safely behind me, I can dig into the best fare offered by local restaurants without any weighty worries.  Let me tell you, there’s so much must-try food around the city and county that my following list of 10 “Must-Try Dishes” doesn’t do full justice to all that’s available.  It’s a good starting point, though, and you’ll want to move these plates from the “Must-Try” column to the “Wow, that was good!” list as fast as you can.

“Little Gems” Caesar Salad at Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizzeria

“Little Gems” Caesar Salad at Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizzeria

  1. At Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizzeria in the cute and cozy Lumberyard center in downtown Encinitas, the “Little Gems” Caesar Salad is good enough to die for – although I’d rather stick around and eat it again and again and again.  Composed entirely of top-grade ingredients, including an especially delicate and flavorful type of Romaine lettuce, this salad soars thanks to its imaginative toppings. Instead of the big, sometimes tooth-threatening-hard croutons many restaurants serve, Chef/owner Wade Hageman came up with the idea of sprinkling garlicky bread crumbs generously over the salad. The crumbs, joined by grated real, genuine, nutty-flavored Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (there is no better Parmesan), make the greens so delicious that when I hit the bottom of the bowl, I always wish there was a little more.

  2. One of the reasons I choose a primarily vegetarian lifestyle is because vegetarian cuisine can be so amazing.  Sometimes I think that nobody does meat-free cooking better than the Italians, and in this part of the world, few restaurants surpass some of the options offered by Davanti Enoteca in Little Italy and Del Mar.  One dish I just love is the Focaccia di Recco (on the menu it’s listed under the heading “Per la Tavola,” which means “for the table”), a freshly-baked, Ligurian-style bread that has wonderful “bite,” a chewiness that a baker like me really appreciates.  What makes it such a flavor-packed starter – and perfect with a good glass of wine – is the garnish of soft, fresh cow’s milk cheese and honeycomb, a wonderful combination of creaminess and sweetness that makes my tongue want to dance.

    Edamame Dumplings at True Food Kitchen. Photo by Mar Yvette for MarPop.

    Edamame Dumplings at True Food Kitchen. Photo by Mar Yvette for MarPop.

  3. Does it seem like I have a weakness for starters?  I do.  They’re not called “appetizers” for nothing, since they get the ball rolling, the show on the road and the whole world humming in harmony, especially when there’s some really good wine on the table.  The new True Food Kitchen in Fashion Valley is oriented to vegetarian and light fare and does both well.  The starter I love best is the plate of Edamame Dumplings.  Dressed with tangy daikon sprouts and drizzled with intoxicatingly pungent truffle oil, these dumplings derive a unique flavor from the special Japanese beans, and I really love the creamy texture.

    “R U Kidding Me?” Roll at Azuki Sushi

    “R U Kidding Me?” Roll at Azuki Sushi

  4. I find a party in each bite of the amazing “R U Kidding Me?” rolls at Azuki Sushi, the cute little place in Bankers Hill that out-sushis a lot of bigger, fancier and better-known places.  Listed as a specialty, the r u kidding me’s are expensive, but when you divide the price by the pleasure quotient found in every bite, they’re an affordable taste of heaven.  A rich and deluxe assortment of ingredients goes into these treats, including snow crab, diver scallops, tempura-fried asparagus and aioli.  Once the basic roll is built, it’s topped with seared tuna and white truffle oil, and finished with mixed greens, garlic ponzu sauce and flash-fried leeks.  It’s unforgettable.  Would I kid you?

  5. When I decide to go all-out vegan, which I do to get my system totally re-booted, one place where I like to eat is Hillcrest’s Evolution Fast Food, which is 100% vegan and offers 100% delicious meals.  My favorite here is the Raw Tacos, a “must-try” dish that is a great, healthy play on regular tacos and makes you feel both full and refreshed.  It’s such a simple idea, but so good – Evolution piles Napa cabbage shells with a raw, hearty filling that just couldn’t taste better or be more satisfying.

    Anson Farms Farro Salad at George's Califonia Modern Ocean Terrace

    Anson Farms Farro Salad at George’s Califonia Modern Ocean Terrace

  6. One of the privileges of living in San Diego is getting to dine with an ocean view once in a while, and if you can ask me to name a spot with a more beautiful view than at the rooftop Ocean Terrace at George’s Califonia Modern (I still call it George’s at the Cove), well, I probably can’t.  What I really, really love is the Anson Farms Farro Salad, which is just so fresh and light, and fits perfectly with the ocean setting.  The farro grain makes a wonderful base for a colorful jumble of good things like grilled zucchini, roasted cauliflower, radishes, creamy California avocado and cherry tomatoes.  Do the rich, pungent Kalamata olives and sharp, marinated Feta cheese shoot the other flavors right up to the sky?  They do.

  7. If I have to say it twice, fine: Nobody does vegetables better than the Italians.  I love Monello in Little Italy, which is right next door to the long-running and really popular Bencotto.  This place is devoted to Milan-style street food, and while I don’t know that I buy the idea that the Bietole All’Aglio, which is a deliciously pungent saute of Swiss chard and garlic streaming with ribbons of melted Parmesan, is really something you’d find on the street, I’d be glad to eat it anywhere.

  8. If you’ve never had Japanese Robata cooking, get yourself downtown right now to Katsuya.  There is a large selection of vegetables cooked in the robata and I like all of them.  Each is so artistically presented, and the flavors are so bold and unique.

  9. When I go to Monello, I’m always reminded that I need to get back to Bencotto, too, and here’s why:  the Pasta Fresca alle Noci, Other local restaurants serve this dish, but not as well.  Their homemade pasta is tossed with a delicious walnut and Gorgonzola cheese sauce that is a creamy, lick-the-plate-clean dream.

  10. Of course my list of “must-try” San Diego eateries has to include a Mexican restaurant, and Little Italy’s El Camino offers Sweet Potato Flautas, which put a great Mexican spin on my all-time favorite veggie.  When I want sweet potatoes South-of-the-border-style, I just zip over to El Camino and have a memorably good time.

I’ve kept something secret ’til now.  Call it a nod to my profession but my “Top 10 Must-Try List” is actually a Top 13, or baker’s dozen, list, since there are three other dishes that definitely are must-tries for everybody who craves fine cooking.  No surprise that one of the three is served at Davanti Enoteca, which not only offers great fare but the kind of plush, sophisticated mood I really enjoy when dining out.  For an appetizer that is an especially tasty building block of a vegetarian meal, I really love Davanti’s Roasted Cauliflower.  It’s not a particularly complicated dish, but it includes as much flavor as seems possible.  Roasting makes the cauliflower taste especially sweet, kind of sensuous and ready to be  remarkably accented by the garnishes of Sicilian green olive tapenade spiked with piquillo peppers (piquant, but not too), preserved lemon vinaigrette and crispy ceci beans.  It’s a winning way with vegetables.

Shrimp Flatbread at Bo-beau Kitchen and Bar

Shrimp Flatbread at Bo-beau Kitchen and Bar

And there’s no surprise that my 12th must-try is at Monello.  This time, it’s not a vegetarian dish that delights me, but a very special seafood presentation of octopus called Polipo Alla Griglia.  A full-sized entree that shares very well, the dish finishes grilled, tender octopus with vegetables that both challenge it with tartness – arugula and fennel play these roles – and provide sweet notes, as do celery and tomatoes.  Taken any way you like, it’s a definite must-try!

Flatbread is easier than pizza, cleaner on the palate than pizza, and just plain more pleasing to me (most of the time), especially if it’s one of the creative flatbreads at Bo-beau Kitchen and Bar in Ocean Beach.  My 13th, last but certainly not least pick is Bo-beau’s Shrimp Flatbread with avocado, garlic-lime aioli, almonds and ancho chilies.  It’s divine, and a great light entree after one of their tasty salads, too.

Now that I’ve shared some of my favorite dishes with you, I hope you’ll share some of yours at our restaurants with me.  Every March on our Extraordinary Desserts Facebook page, we play Dessert Madness.  Just like March Madness, Dessert Madness starts with two brackets of Extraordinary Desserts’ cakes and desserts.  We ask our Facebook fans to vote daily on which desserts should move up throughout the month by pairing two desserts from each bracket with the winner moving on to the next round.  Eventually, we narrow it down to one, the ultimate winner.

So, now that I’ve given you my “Must-Try” picks for dining exceptionally in San Diego, I’d like you to give me your dessert picks for Dessert Madness.  It’s a sweet deal, don’t you think?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Extraordinary Evening at the NAT with Karen Krasne

nat banner2

Extraordinary Desserts Lecture, Reception & Book Signing with Karen Krasne at the NAT

Please join me for an extraordinary evening at the San Diego Natural History Museum on Wednesday, January 30th.  In honor of the museum’s limited-time Chocolate Exhibition, I will be offering a lecture about my book, desserts and restaurants followed by a special reception featuring a sampling of some of my most popular chocolate creations.

Wednesday, January 30; 7-9 PM
$35 Nonmembers
$30 Members

Ticket price gets you: Lecture; admission to Chocolate; four dessert tastings; one wine ticket (for guests aged 21+); soft drinks; a discounted price of $32 on my book (with book signing); and the opportunity to purchase Extraordinary Desserts’ new Gourmet Cake Kit and Signature Chocolate Bars at special pricing.

Advance purchase required. Call 877.946.7797 to register by phone. First come, first served!

Click here for more information or to register online

Choc 2-color logo w-box

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

‘Tis An Extraordinary Season!

When the days shorten and the weather turns cool, I see and feel the arrival of the holidays, and inevitably get in the mood to make everything festive, merry and bright. More than any other time of year, the season is meant for sharing, and I’ve been cooking up a storm at home. One of my family’s new favorites, inspired by a dish we tasted on a recent trip to Paso Robles, is Hearty Vegan “Meatballs” served atop gorgeous homemade pasta, just perfect when there’s a bit of a nip in the air. At my house, dessert always is important, and my daughter Sahara and I invented a new version of the Traditional French Fruit Clafoutis (a rich, eggy, batter cake that you eat with a spoon), and have concocted the yummiest smoothies using blueberries, coconut water and pomegranate juice. Tart, sweet, sophisticated and refreshing, they have equal appeal for adults and kids.

Extraordinary Yule Log

Extraordinary Yule Log

December is definitely a time to gather my family, especially since Sahara and my husband, Jamie, both celebrate birthdays this month. December 24, Sahara’s birthday, is always my favorite day of the year. I love making her an extra-special cake, but even better is just spending the whole day close to her and celebrating our lives together. There are seasonal family traditions that I honor, and as a Mother, I want very much to pass these along to Sahara. We light the candles on the menorah, and while we open presents on some nights, on others we discuss all the many things for which we are thankful. Best of all, perhaps, is when we fry crisp potato latkes with Sahara’s grandmothers and share them with our extended family.

I very much enjoy that December is traditionally a time to give gifts, since the act both extends love and reminds to feel grateful for life’s many blessings. This is the time that I focus on giving to family, friends, staff and those in need. Extraordinary Desserts always makes community donations that support homeless shelters, programs for the elderly, the oceans and other causes.

Cake Kit Vertical

New Gourmet Cake Kit
Dark Chocolate Truffle Banana Cake with Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache Frosting

At Extraordinary Desserts, you know we go all-out to make the season extraordinary. One new item that is perfect for holiday gift giving and makes a wonderful hostess gift is our Gourmet Cake Kit, a beautifully packaged kit that makes it easy, affordable and enjoyable to bake a delicious Dark Chocolate Truffle Banana Cake with Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache Frosting at home. Over the years, we’ve received so many requests to ship our cakes all over the country. Now we can! Priced reasonably at $28.95 and available at both of our stores as well on our online store, the kit includes nothing but top-of-the-line items, like imported chocolate, professional baking tools, an elegant doily and even a special ribbon. All that the home baker needs to add are small quantities of butter and eggs, some bananas, and – to supply the rich décor typical of my cakes – a fresh rose, if desired. The result feeds eight to ten and will always win raves.

For personal gift giving, one favorite is to present exquisite baked goods in elegant boxes or wrapped in sensational holiday papers or felt, with a gift tag attached with yarn or twine. I also like to gift Mason jars filled with homemade pesto or salad dressings from the restaurant. Baskets packed with homemade pesto and bags of artisan pastas or crackers make great-looking gifts. I also like to fill small crates with a jar of Caesar salad dressing, a bag of homemade croutons and a head of gorgeous, organic Romaine lettuce. These make easy and first-class first courses that are much appreciated by busy friends.

For me, December is both a time of spiritual renewal and a time of reflection as the end of the year draws near. It’s also an exciting time as I anticipate what the New Year will bring to my family, friends and restaurants. I wish you a holiday season full of love and joy and delicious sweets!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment