"Strawberry Shortcake"

"Strawberry Shortcake"
Yogurt Sponge // Whipped Vanilla Mascarpone
Seascape Strawberries Macerated in Balsamic // Strawberry & White Balsamic Sorbet
Strawberry Meringue Shards // Strawberry & White Balsamic Sauce

Textures of Pistachio & Cherry

Textures of Pistachio & Cherry
Pistachio Mousse // Pistachio Financier
Cherry Fluff // Sweet Pickled Cherries // Pistachio Brittle
Cherry Liquid Gel // Salted Ground Sicilian Pistachios

Coconut & Fig

Coconut & Figs
Coconut Sponge Cake // Bruleed Figs // Honey Ricotta Sherbet
Fig Jam // Coconut Espuma // Toasted Coconut Glass //Shortbread Crumble

Pluot & Custard Tart

Pluot & Custard Tart
Shaved Pluots // Vanilla Creme Legere // Pluot Preserves
Blackberry Sorbet // Fresh Blackberries
Thyme Syrup // Pluot Sauce // Streusel

Dulcey (Caramelized White Chocolate) Panna Cotta

Dulcey (Caramelized White Chocolate) Panna Cotta 
Salted Brown Butter Ice // Chocolate Cremeux
Spiced Almonds // Chocolate Caramel Tuile // Chocolate Crumble



Say what!?

Just after the Killed by Dessert event, I received the results from an allergy blood test...nothing serious, just something I decided to do on a whim.  I've always wanted to take an allergy test - since for as long as I can remember I've suffered from watery eyes and congestion issues.  Instead of taking the the conventional "prick" test, I decided on taking a blood test focusing on food allergies.

I was devastated when I received the results!  Compared to the others I knew who took the test, mine were off the charts!  Who would have guessed that I was so delicate!?

One of my co-workers that also took the test and I then decided to go Paleo.  She signed on for a month and I participated for the 3 weeks leading up to my vacation.  The Paleolithic Diet (Caveman Diet) cut out most of the foods I was allergic to.  After 4 or 5 days my body felt noticeably better - my allergy symptoms reduced, my skin was clear and I had much more energy!

Honestly, it's not that difficult to stick to the diet.  The hardest part was planning your meals and snacks - it is mentally exhausting!  I knew from the get go that if I was hungry and had no idea what I was going to eat, I would fail.  I did lots of grocery shopping and also made a number of Paleo-friendly snacks.  My favorite was the "Bird-Feed," a simple mixture of seeds tossed with a touch of honey and baked slightly until crisp.  Other snacks I made included kale chips, trail mix and baked potato and yam chips.

Since returning, it took me the looooongest time fully commit to the Paleo diet again.  Although I really wanted to, it was hard to find the time to do all the shopping and mental planning.  Also, I just wanted to eat EVERYTHING that I was missing out on!  Alas, I just finished day 3 - not so difficult as long as you have a game plan!


Banana Mousse

Banana Mousse
Coffee Cake // Caramelized Coffee Ice Cream 
Passion Fruit Curd // Caramelized Bananas
Milk Chocolate Feuilletine // Chocolate Glaze // Chocolate Sauce


Killed by Dessert, SF

Killed by Dessert - a sugar lover's dream...  

This exclusive dinner was served to the first 80 individuals who purchased tickets in support of Share our Strength's No Hungry Kid Campaign and featured some of America's top Pastry Chefs: Lincoln Carson, Bill Corbett, Brooks Headley, Michael Laiskonis, Michael Recchiuti, Matt Tinder, Christina Tosi and William Werner.  Needless to say, the tickets sold out quickly.  

The evening started out with a reception featuring canapés made by the featured Pastry Chefs, wine and Campari cocktails.  My favorite was the Cubano Croissants!!!  

Top Left (clockwise): Asparagus in a Lemon Black Pepper Chocolate Shell (Recchiuti), Cubano Croissant - Roasted Pork, Pickle Puff Pastry, Mustard (Tosi), Smoked Sturgeon, Avocado, Seeds & Sprouts (Tinder), Artichoke Confit, Black Garlic Puree, Zimbro, Preserved Lemon (Corbett), Bacon & Egg (Carson), Duck Confit Tart, English Peas, Cauliflower, Cocoa (Laiskonis), Croissant, Foie, Nutella (Werner)

Had a great time hanging out with new and old friends (Joana's behind the camera!) and playing with the Fun Spinner!

Finally, it was time to sit down for the meal of a lifetime... we were definitely in for a treat!  The dinner started on a lighter note and progressed to the richness of chocolate desserts toward the end.  My favorites were the Whipped Coconut, the much needed savory Veggie Burger (I wanted more!) and both of Michael Laiskonis' desserts.  

Strawberries and Stracciatella (Brooks Headley)

Whipped Coconut, Olive Oil, Rhubarb, Orange, Borage (Matt Tinder)

"An Old Dog" - Cornbread, Apricot, Mulberry & Vanilla (Lincoln Carson)

"May 12, 1936 - in Memory of M. Maillard" (Michael Laiskonis)

Strawberry Sorbet, Celery Root Ganache, Ritz Cracker Crunch (Christina Tosi) 
Goat Cheesecake, Candied Kumquats, Candy Cap Puff Pastry Shards, Cajeta (Bill Corbett)

Intermezzo: Veggie Bruger (Brooks Headley)

Cereal Milk Panna Cotta, Avocado Puree, Chocolate Hazelnut Thing (Christina Tosi)

Butterscotch Semifreddo Tony Style (Brooks Headley)

Blueberries, Silken Milk Chocolate, Baguette, Cocoa Praline (Matt Tinder)

"A New Trick" Douglas Fir, Chocolate, Pine Cone (Lincoln Carson)

Antonio Bazzarini's Theoretic-Practical Plan (Michael Laiskonis)

German Chocolate Cake, Vegan - Coconut, Pecan, Caramel, Chocolate Cake served with Chocolate Beer (Bill Corbett)

Mignardises by Michael Recchiuti & William Werner

You may have noticed Laiskonis' dessert descriptions, or lack there of.  The back story and the extensive thought process behind each one made the desserts all the more impressive.  Here's a little more detail for inquisitive minds:

"May 12, 1936 - in Memory of M. Maillard" - In 1912, French Chemist Louis-Camille Maillard wrote a paper outlining the Maillard Reaction, a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar usualy requiring heat.  The result is nonenzymatic browning, or to the most of us, caramelization.  Caramelization is of course very important to anyone in the food industry, especially a Pastry Chef.  Who would want an underbaked an pale croissant if they had a golden brown and delicious one to choose from instead?

Maillard passed away May 12, 1936 and by chance Killed by Dessert SF was held on May 12, 2013.  Laiskonis' first dessert featured components highlighting the Maillard Reaction, one example being the usage of caramelized white chocolate.

"Antonio Bazzarini's Theoretic-Practical Plan" - To be honest, I found very little information about Antonio Bazzarini on the internet.  However, from Chef Laiskonis' description, after the Italian Renaissance, there was a shortage of chocolate and coffee in Italy.  Bazzarini's Theoretic-Practical Plan was a pamphlet entitled Substitution Plan for Chocolate and Coffee.  It explained how to strech chocolate by mixing it with nuts.  Those of you familiar with Italian desserts should be very familiar with Gianduja, the slightly sweetened mixture of Chocolate and Hazelnut Paste.  Or if you're not, how about the all-popular Nutella?!  Laiskonis' dessert featured gianduja highlighted with citrus notes.  

Just a few of the night's libations - including a delicious Chocolate Beer and Yamazaki 18 over a hand-chipped sphere of ice

The event combined with the previous day's bake sale raised an estimated $20,000 - all the fun was for a good cause after all!  Although this is a once in a lifetime type a meal and I was in a near sugar coma toward the end, I'm tempted to attend the next one.  Yes, I've heard from a reliable source where the next one will most likely be held.

I leave you with some great action shots taken by my friend Joana - Chef's hunched over their workspace of course!


Killed by Dessert Bake Sale SF

Killed by Dessert was founded by six renowned Pastry Chefs - Lincoln Carson, Bill Corbett, Brooks Headley, Michael Laiskonis, Francisco Migoya and Christina Tosi.

Their Mission:
"We seek to create an intimate atmosphere, to encourage
interaction, and to remove the typical barriers between those who cook and those who eat. Most of all, we simply like the idea of getting together, doing the thing that we like doing most. All proceeds generated from Killed by Dessert go to Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign."

After events in NYC and Austin, Killed by Dessert made it's way to San Francisco in May.  It kicked off with a bake sale that was open to the public.  Held at the new San Francisco Cooking School on Van Ness, foodies and industry-folk alike were anxiously lined-up before the doors opened to get their sugar fix.

I stopped by on the way to work with one of my co-workers.  The event was well organized and offered countless goodies from not only the founding Pastry Chefs, but also some well-known local ones.  The photo above is the loot we walked away with - don't worry, we shared!

Porcini S'mores

Olive Oil Financier - Lemon Curd & Pistachio

The following night was a "15-course Dessert Dinner" - a detailed post to follow!


Radio Silent.

I have a good excuse...kind of.  I recently went on my first 2+ week vacation in...well, in as long as I can remember.  Leading up to it of course was quite the chaotic mess.  I spent long days prepping out as much as I could at work, getting ready for the trip and spending some time celebrating birthdays and enjoying some sweet events.

Needless to say, I have a lot to catch you up on - my next few posts will include vacation highlights and  posts on the Killed by Dessert event I attended in late May, turning 30... and maybe even a post on going Paleo.  *gasp*

Below is a picture of the illusive "Cronut" from Chef Dominique Ansel in NYC - just one snippet of an amazing trip.

Lemon Maple Cronut - Dominique Ansel Bakery, NYC

Besides promising to dedicate more time to my blog, I'm also working a new dessert menu at work.  Lots to do, but ready to refocus my energy and get down to business!


Project Open Hand's Dessert First!

♥ My display! 

I can't believe that this was my 5th time participating in Project Open Hand's Dessert First - time really does fly!  Not only is it very rewarding to take part and contribute in raising money for a great cause, it's also amazing to be a included in an event that features sweets.  This year's Dessert First was held on Cinco de Mayo and and took place at the Four Seasons in San Francisco - such a beautiful property! 

My Menu

Chocolate Cinnamon Marshmallows

Mango Chili Lime Macarons

Chèvre Mousse
Apricots, Cardamom, Pistachio

My amazing support system - Chef Corey, Assistant F&B Director Max and BFF Annie!

My favorite sweet from the event... Urban S'Mores from Salt House

Last but not least - one must always make time to have a little fun and enjoy good company!

DIY Mustache Cookies:

Photobooth Fun:

Flip Book Fun:

I'm already looking forward to next year!


EGGcelent Easter Eggs!

I had some fun indulging my inner child with the BFF as we dyed some eggs for Easter.  She managed to master the "Dinosaur Egg" look, while I spent my afternoon trying to perfect the random stripe look. Many do the stripes with rubber bands, but I didn't have very many rubber bands on hand.  I decided instead to actually use my Japanese Washi Tape for something, albeit only the skinniest of them...


Small Bites

Beet Buttermilk Sherbet 
Marinated Beets, Pickled Radish

Carrot Papaya Sorbet
Heirloom Carrot Threads, Cocoa Nib Crumb


Mascarpone Cheesecake v2.0

Mascarpone Cheesecake
Blueberry Confit // Roasted Blueberry Sorbet
Blueberry Meringue Sticks // Streusel Crust
Blueberry Espuma // Mascarpone Cream

*My most popular dessert revamped for Spring!*


Chèvre Mousse

Chèvre Mousse
Pistachio Sponge // Apricot Sorbet
Cardamom Infused Apricot Preserves // Sicilian Pistachios


Basil Panna Cotta

Basil Panna Cotta
Rhubarb Sorbet // Compressed Rhubarb // Macerated Strawberries
Strawberry Paper // Basil Powder // Strawberry Liquid Gel