{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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{Cookbook Review}: 2012 Baking Cookbook Roundup

December 19th, 2012 · 5 Comments · Cookbooks, Reviews

simplysensational

Thanks to all who entered the minted giveaway! The winner, chosen by random number generator, is:

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{Cookbook Review} ‘Tis the Time for Better Nutter Butters

December 3rd, 2012 · 11 Comments · Cookbooks, Cookies, Recipes, Reviews

Homemade Nutter Butters on dessertfirstgirl.com

Happy December! Hope you had a good Thanksgiving holiday!

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Apples for Autumn: {Cookbook Review} More From Macrina

September 21st, 2012 · 9 Comments · Breads, Cookbooks, Recipes, Reviews

apple cinnamon brioche 1

Thank you to all of you for your well-wishes and e-mails. It means a great deal to me to know there’s so much support coming from all over the web. I go between excited and nervous, often within the space of minutes, and oftentimes simultaneously, so it’s definitely never dull here. I also didn’t mention that while I haven’t been able to report any outlandish food cravings, my sweet tooth has really diminished! Which is weird and disconcerting, and of course not the best news for a dessert-themed blog. I still want to bake, but many times I just don’t know what I want to make. Maybe it’s nature’s way of telling me I’ve already accumulated enough sugar in my system over the years and I need to put some other foods in it?

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{SF} {Palo Alto} Chantal Guillon’s New Store

August 27th, 2012 · 6 Comments · Reviews, San Francisco, Sweet Spots, Sweet Spots

chantal guillon boxes

While the macaron craze may have have subsided slightly in the blogosphere, they’re still popular here in the Bay Area – no self-respecting patisserie would be without a rainbow-hued selection of these little sweets. My choice for satisfying my macaron cravings is Chantal Guillon – a little shop tucked away in San Francisco that featured some of the most elegantly formed and decorated renditions of this French confection. I loved her version so much I even had ordered them for my wedding reception, a highlight I still remember fondly.

So I was thrilled to receive notice that Chantal Guillon had opened a second store down in Palo Alto, and even better, I was invited to visit the shop and chat with Mme Guillon herself! I sped down the Peninsula on a sunny Friday afternoon get a look at the brand new store.

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{Cookbook Review}: Alice Medrich’s Sinfully Easy Desserts

July 9th, 2012 · 10 Comments · Cookbooks, Fruit, Recipes, Reviews

balsamic cherries 2

When a great deal of your personal and professional life revolves around baking, you forget how much of the vernacular you’ve absorbed over time. When I taught a few enthusiast classes at Tante Marie’s, it was a reminder of how easy it is to take all I’d learned in pastry school and over the years for granted. That you need to have butter at room temperature before attempting to cream it. That you use the beater attachment for creaming and the whisk attachment for whipping (doesn’t sound quite as obvious when spelled out that way, does it?)

Although I try to gear most of the material on my site towards home bakers with at least some baking experience, it’s always good to have a reminder to look at the craft through a neophyte’s eyes, and refresh my perspective. Sometimes I get asked how I come up with the recipes for my site. Well, of course, when I started, I made recipes straight out of cookbooks I admired. It wasn’t until I became more confident in my baking skills that I became brave and curious enough to experiment. To me, if a recipe is tricky or difficult, it doesn’t necessarily turn me off. It means it’s a challenge to see if I have the skill to execute it. But I realized for many people who aren’t perhaps as baking-obsessed as me, that baking can seem like a stressful, dry venture where if you don’t have your ingredients in exactly the right amounts or the oven at the right temperature, you’ll end up with a flat cake, tough crust, burned custard – or worse. Being creative? Who knows if you add that extra ingredient to a cake, that it won’t deflate? or explode?

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