How to Bake with Craft Chocolate (Plus Bar & Bean Giveaway!)

October 29th, 2013 · 57 Comments · Chocolate, Chocolate, Cookbooks, Giveaways, Recipes, Reviews, Sweet Spots

intensely bittersweet chocolate souffle

Happy (day after) National Chocolate Day! I’ve been getting plenty of intriguing new chocolate to keep me occupied – perhaps it’s a good thing I have a baby to prevent me from eating it all at once!

I was recently contacted by Bar & Bean, a new online shop for small-batch craft chocolate from around the world. Bar & Bean is dedicated to educating people about the qualities and nuances of craft chocolate, and they helpfully include tasting notes for the bars on their site, as well as detailed information about the chocolate makers.

I got the chance to meet Jasdeep, the creator of Bar & Bean, who is passionate about introducing people to the world of craft chocolate. He’s brought an impressive roster of chocolate makers onto Bar & Bean, many of whom I haven’t heard of or had the opportunity to try yet. Jas recognized that many people are either unaware of all the craft chocolate out there, or intimidated by the plethora of choices. By organizing his site with cocoa percentage and flavor profile searches, and adding tasting notes, he’s hoping to demystify the process. Jas has also developed some detailed personal notes on how to taste chocolate, which he shares in his tasting classes in San Francisco; check the Bar & Bean website for details.

As a introduction to Bar & Bean, I received a baker’s set consisting of five bars from Poco Dolce, Ritual, Escazu, and Dick Taylor. An early Halloween haul, indeed!

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{Giveaway}:Lazy Summer, Iced Tea and Peach Almond Cake

June 12th, 2013 · 78 Comments · Cakes, Giveaways, Recipes

The giveaway is now closed. Thanks for entering!

peach almond cake

With summer’s imminent (and seemingly early) arrival, I’m looking forward to festivals, fireworks, or just long, dreamy weekend afternoons.  Now that baby Isabelle is getting older and more fun, I’m eager to take her out and about and introduce her to the joys of summer.

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{Giveaway} My Pie in Pieography

February 26th, 2013 · 101 Comments · Cookbooks, Giveaways, My Books

Pieography cover1

I’m excited to announce the release of Pieography: Where Pie Meets Biography by WWC Press. As the title implies, it’s a collection of pie recipes both sweet and savory from 39 women who love food – myself included! I was approached by WWC to contribute a pie recipe and an essay that explored how this pie speaks to our life experiences and our goals.

I was happy to participate in such a heartwarming project, and my contribution to Pieography is my “I Heart Summer” Strawberry and Lemon Verbena Pie. Although it’s already a blog post on this site, submitting it for the book and having to write an accompanying piece encouraged me to re-examine the pie and articulate how it represented me and my philosophy. Also, although you can get the recipe here, there are 41 other wonderful pie recipes in the book covering an impressive range of styles – from pot pies to quiches to ice cream pies to galettes. It was also lovely to read the biographies of everyone who created all these pies – such a diverse collection of talented and creative women, and a group I’m honored to be in.

strawberrylemonverbenapie

Here’s a shot of the back cover featuring yours truly along with some other fantastically accomplished women! I’m truly proud to be part of this project with WWC. And I’m pleased to have a chance to share it with you! I am giving away two copies of Pieography to Dessert First readers!

Pieography back cover

To enter: Leave a comment below about your favorite type of pie and why. It can be sweet or savory, a fruit pie, quiche, tart – whatever holds first place in your heart. The contest will run until next Wednesday, March 6 and I’ll select two winners at random and announce them on Thursday March 7. Good luck, and I hope to read some mouth-watering descriptions in the comments!

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{Contest} Win a Year’s Worth of Chuao Chocolate

February 5th, 2013 · 14 Comments · Chocolate, Giveaways, Reviews

chuao sweepstakes 1

Hi all,

Thanks so much for all your kind wishes and congratulations. These last two weeks have seemed like a lifetime in a completely new reality. We’re learning more about Isabelle and how to be parents to her every day, and every day she seems to have grown a little more. It’s hard to believe that in another week she’ll be a month old.  We made a outing to the local baby store and a couple with a six month old in a stroller looked rather wistfully at us and said, “Enjoy her now. She’ll be big before you know it.” I can scarcely imagine. My days are measured in minutes and hours right now and six months seems unfathomably distant.

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{Giveaway} minted holiday cards

December 11th, 2012 · 35 Comments · Giveaways

The giveaway is now closed. Thanks for visiting!

partridgecard

Is everyone in the full swing of the holidays? I want to say I am, but in actuality I spent much of last weekend trying to finish off the new nursery, and writing thank-you notes for the baby shower. Right after I finished the last thank-you note, I realized I had to do Christmas cards – it’s going to be one long card-writing marathon for me this week!

I thought it was serendipitously appropriate then that I was contacted by minted, an online paper goods store that features designs from independent designers around the world. I’ve actually received cards from friends who use minted, and I’ve found them fresh, unique, and well made. minted offers access to some really talented artists, a wide range of products that makes them a good one-stop shop for your paper needs – from invitations to business cards to stationery to calendars, and even the ability to customize your cards: minted designers can tweak the layout of existing designs or work with you to create a completely custom design.

northpoleform

The existing, constantly evolving selection of designs has enough choices to intrigue my non-designer self. Now that we have a dog and another family member on the way, the photo cards are looking like an appealing option for future cards we send out. And now, here’s your chance to try out minted, maybe get some last-minute holiday cards, or make some other custom card if you have some big announcement coming up in your life – like I do!

To enter: I’m happy to offer a $50 minted credit to one lucky winner.  Simply leave a comment below on your favorite design from minted’s holiday card page. The winner will be announced next Monday Dec. 17.

stockingholiday

In between bouts of card writing, I’m working in some holiday baking – look for a recipe post in a day or two. Teaser: think cranberries. In the meantime, don’t forget to enter the giveaway – good luck!

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{Giveaway} {SF} Teacake Bake Shop – In Praise of Local Bakeries

November 30th, 2011 · 65 Comments · Giveaways, San Francisco, Sweet Spots, Sweet Spots

This giveaway is now closed. Thanks for visiting!

teacake sampler

Hi all, hope you had a great Thanksgiving weekend and are getting a good start on your holiday shopping! I’m going to be posting up my annual gift recommendations in the next week, but meanwhile I thought I’d like to start off the holidays with a little giveaway!

Teacake Bake Shop is the sort of bakery I would have loved to open – it’s cute, girly, and all the pastries are sweetly sophisticated. The first Teacake opened in Emeryville (near Berkeley) while I was still in pastry school. When I found out the owner was a young female Asian entrepeneur, I thought, hey, she’s living out my dream!

A couple years later I had the opportunity to interview Agnes, the owner, for Edible East Bay, and finally had the chance to chat with one of my inspirations. There’s practically a cupcake shop on every block in the city now, but back when Teacake opened, there were only a couple around, so it’s really one of the originals, and I’m glad it’s succeeded and continued to grow. I have immense respect for all the local food producers and artisans – it’s people like Agnes who follow their dreams and open up a shop selling unique sweets, meats, cheese, jams, etc. that make the Bay Area such a vibrant culinary culture. There are four Teacake Bake Shops now, and again one of them is close to my current home. It’s always a treat to walk by and see the bakers working in the open kitchen (customers can see their cupcakes being made in front of their eyes), and there’s also a large room where they hold tea parties and classes for kids.

In fact, Jessie of CakeSpy stopped by her on her book tour! Check out her post to see some photos of the shop and of the two of us goofing around.

I’m excited to host a giveaway for Teacake Bake Shop, so you’ll get a chance to try out her goodies – or perhaps cross a gift off your shopping list! Teacake is offering up their Mini Treats Sampler, a collection of four of their bestselling cookies, including Strawberry Jam Thumbprints, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Sugar Cookies, and Chocolate Cookies Sandwiches. There are 30 cookies in the package – enough for a party, snacking during a gift-wrapping session, or to leave out for Santa.

To enter: Please note that Teacake Bake Shop will ship the prize within the continental U.S. only (not to Alaska or Hawaii). Please make sure you have an appropriate shipping address before you enter!

Simply follow Teacake Bake Shop on Facebook or Twitter, and let me know in the comments below. If you already follow them, that’s fine too – just note it in the comment! The giveaway will run through Sunday, December 4th and I’ll announce the winner on Monday December 5th.

Good luck! And if you live in the Bay Area, be sure to stop by a Teacake Bake Shop!

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