Fall is freshly upon us, and all the fragrant spices unique to this time of year get their chance to fill our homes once again. Cinnamon, cardamom, cloves—the oven aromas bring back so many memories. This crisp nestles these fall flavors into a warm batch of apples topped with a sweet oat crumb topping. It’s the perfect way to inaugurate the new season.

The idea for this recipe began when I was visiting my family recently and saw that my mother’s apple tree was positively blowing up. Weighed-down and heavy-laden on each branch with huge juicy fruits, I immediately started thinking about what I could bake with pounds upon pounds of these beauties. The thought of making a crisp materialized pretty quickly, then the idea of an oat crumb topping got me really excited. And to shake things up a bit, I decided to infuse the topping with the flavors of chai, adding ginger and cardamom to the mix. It all worked out perfectly, and the result is the most fall-appropriate of sweet treats. Hope you enjoy!

Thank you to Bob’s Red Mill for sponsoring this post!


Chai-Spiced Apple Crisp

½ cup  +2 tbs all purpose flour

½ cup + 2tbs rolled oats

½ cup light brown sugar

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp cardamom

½ tsp cloves

⅛ tsp fresh cracked pepper

¼ tsp ginger

¼ + ⅛ tsp Sea salt

6 tbs very cold unsalted butter, cubed 

2.5 lbs granny smith & honey crisp apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1-inch thick wedges 

2 tbs apple cider

1 tbs fresh lemon juice

¼ cup + 1 tbs granulated sugar

3/4 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

½ tsp vanilla extract


Heat oven to 375° F.

Begin by making the streusel topping. Place the flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, pepper and salt into a medium bowl and mix to combine. Add the cold butter and rub it into the flour mixture until the butter is fully incorporated and the mixture looks crumbly. Cover and place in the fridge.

For the filling: to a large bowl add apple slice, cider, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla, and toss to combine. Transfer the filling to a medium oven proof dish and top with the oat topping.

Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes, or until the topping in a golden brown and the juices begin to bubble. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before serving as is, or with a scoop of ice cream.

Blackberry Buttermilk Muffins

When John and I lived in Seattle, we noticed something special about the city that’s obscure to most visitors but obvious to most locals: blackberry brambles are absolutely everywhere. And I really mean everywhere. They line the sidewalks, they’re nestled in every other garden, they’re dotted about parks, and they’re even as prevalent in the medians that divide the highways as the grass in which they’re planted. And every once in a while, I miss having access to them pretty much all the time.

So when I began developing this buttermilk muffin recipe, I decided to feature the lovely blackberry to add a juicy, sweet, and tangy highlight. Not only did this work out perfectly, it also gave expression to this muffin’s versatility. You can use this same base recipe and transform the muffins into whatever you want, whether it’s adding seasonal fruit, chocolate, oats, nuts, and more. 

I’m not sure how particular you are when it comes to muffins, but mine have to be specific. Something not too sweet, with just the right amount of fruit. I also like a light streusel topping to take care of some of that sweetness and to lend a comfortable crunch. Needless to say I’ve implemented all these preferences and the result is essentially my ideal muffin. I also tried to make sure they had a nice dome on top, and The Kitchen Whisperer held the key to this—the trick is to let the dough rest before baking, during which time some magic happens that encourages that lovely dome top to form. So if you’re looking to spend a morning with your coffee’s best pal, grab a bag of Bob’s Red Mill’s flour and follow the recipe below. Happy baking!

Many thanks to Bob’s Red Mill for sponsoring this post!

Blackberry Buttermilk Muffins

Yields 12 2 ¼ cup all purpose flour 2 ½ tsp baking powder ½ tsp baking soda ½ tsp sea salt ¼ cup +2 tbs granulated sugar ¼ cup packed light brown sugar, packed 1 tsp lemon zest 1 cup buttermilk, room temp 2 tbs lemon juice 1 tsp vanilla 2 large eggs, room temp 6 tbs unsalted butter, melted 1 cup blackberries, quartered/halved and lightly smashed


¼ cup flour ¼ cup dark brown sugar ¼ tsp sea salt ¼ cup chopped almonds 1 ½ tbs cold unsalted butter, cubed


Begin by making the streusel topping. Place the flour, sugar, salt and almonds into a small bowl and mix to combine. Add the cold butter and rub it into the flour mixture until crumble. Cover and place in the fridge.

Place muffin liners in a 12-cup muffin tin.

In a large bowl, add the flour, baking powder,baking soda, and salt, and whisk to combine.

In a medium bowl, add both sugars and lemon zest and rub lemon zest into the sugar until fragrant. Add to dry ingredients, whisking a few times to combine.

To another medium bowl (or the one used for the sugar) Add the buttermilk, lemon juice vanilla, eggs, and melted butter, and whisk vigorously until smooth.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet. Mix together with a wooden spoon until just combined. Do not over mix.

Add berries to the batter and gently fold them in. Cover the batter then place in the fridge and let the batter rest for a minimum of 1 hr. *These muffins can also be baked right away. They just won’t have as high as a dome as the rested batter does.*

When ready to bake, heat oven to 425°F.

Divide the batter evenly amongst the 12 muffin liners and top each one with and equal amount of almond streusel.

Place the try into the oven and bake for 5 minutes, then reduce the oven’s temperature to 375°F and bake for an additional 15-18 minutes, or until lightly golden and cooked through.

Let cool for a few minutes in the pan, then carefully transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Enjoy once fully cooled.

Raspberry Almond Tart

John and I have just returned from a long journey through Europe, one whose final destination is one of my favorite in the world: Paris. This beautiful city holds a very special place in my heart for countless reasons, so being back in its magic atmosphere for a week was mesmerizing. Upon entering the city we set a course to artisan boulanger Eric Kayser at once to pick up one of their glorious raspberry tarts. A delicious, salty, buttery crust is filled to the brim with the most delicate pastry cream and topped with fresh raspberries and a dusting of crushed pistachios. It’s perfection.

Now that I’m home, I’m taking the time to remember all the special moments John and I shared throughout Europe, that amazing tart being no exception. And I’m trying to bring into my life at home all the things that make me so happy when I’m away—starting with the amazing tart. I made new recipe inspired by Eric Kayser’s excellent creation, and I began by swapping the shortbread crust for an almond version that adds a lovely boost of nutty flavor. And as much as I love pastry cream, I went for a simpler approach and quickly put together a filling comprised of rich mascarpone cheese and whipped cream. After topping this with market fresh raspberries and a light dusting of powdered sugar, a little piece of Paris sitting there in my kitchen. It’s certainly an improvisation, and I’m not comfortable saying it exceeds my beloved Eric Kayser, but boy is it satisfying. I still have to figure out how to apply all the joys of life traveling to my life back at home, but at least I’ve got my dessert covered.


Raspberry Mascarpone Tart

1 cup all purpose flour - 125 g

¾ cup almond flour - 72g

1/2 tsp sea salt

¼ cup +3 tbs superfine or granulated sugar

9 tbs cold unsalted butter, cubed- 4.5 oz

1 tsp vanilla extract

8 oz mascarpone cheese, room temp

¾ cup heavy cream

pinch salt

1/2 cup +1 tbs powdered sugar

1 ½ tsp vanilla bean paste

zest of one large lemon


For the crust: Lightly grease, or butter a 14" L x 4.5" W rectangular tart pan with a removable bottom.

To a food processor add the almond flour, all purpose flour, sugar, and sea salt and process to combine. Add the cubed butter and pulse until the mixture begins to clump up a looks more crumbly.

Transfer the clumpy dough to the prepared tart pan and using your fingers, evenly press dough along the bottom and sides of the pan. Gently puncture the dough with the tines of a fork all over. This will help the crust from puffing up.

Wrap the tart pan with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. About 15 minutes before the tart is done chilling, heat oven to 400F.

Unwrap the tart and place it in the oven. Bake until golden, about 15-17 minutes. This isn’t totally necessary, but once the tart is removed from the oven, I like the press down the dough a bit if it puffed up at all. You want to make sure there is enough room for all that glorious filling. Allow the tart to cool completely.

For the filling: Whisk together mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, lemon zest and vanilla in a large bowl just until blended. 

Beat whipping cream and a pinch of salt at medium speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into mascarpone mixture. Fill tart let chill for 2 hrs then garnish with fresh raspberries.

Place the tart in the fridge for about 2 hours to chill. garnish with a light dusting of powdered sugar before serving.

Thank to Bob’s Red Mill for sponsoring this video!


Strawberry Almond Crisp


We’re in the middle of summer now, which avails us to a rich selection of seriously vibrant fruits. And among the greatest of these is the iconic strawberry—its color hypersaturated but nonetheless beautiful, its texture soft and juicy but not without form, its flavor impressively deep but never overwhelming. The strawberry is consistently satisfying, and in summer it’s at its peak.


While there are of course many great ways to employ strawberries this time of year, a crisp such as this makes especially excellent use of them. Crisps are relatively straightforward, which gives the strawberries an opportunity to shine without getting lost in a mix of other ingredients–however well they all might complement one another. Saturating them in sugar, vanilla, and cornstarch helps to thicken their juices and accentuate their flavor. Next is the topping.


The topping component to the crisp is crucial—it gives everything a wonderfully crunchy texture in contrast to the juicy, softened strawberries. Oats and almonds lend a particularly pleasant combination of flavors, enhanced by La Tourangelle’s exquisite Almond Oil. Rich, roasted nuttiness coats the crumbly topping, mixing in nicely the fragrant cardamom. With this atop a bed of scrumptious strawberries, it’s hard to wrong. Add a scoop of ice cream or two and you’re absolutely finished. Take some time to enjoy the jewel of summer in its brightest light.

Almond Crisp Topping

3/4 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup sliced almonds
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbs granulated sugar
2 tbs brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
¼ + ⅛ tsp table salt
4 tbs almond oil

Strawberry Filling

2 ½ lbs strawberries, hulled and quartered
3 ½ tsp cornstarch
2 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste, or extract
4 scoops vanilla ice cream, optional

Equipment: 1 medium bowl, 1 large bowl, 10-inch ceramic baking dish, baking sheet


Heat oven to 350 Fº.

In a medium bowl mix together the oats, almonds, flour, both sugars, cardamom, and salt until combined. Add the almond oil and mix together until incorporated into the dry ingredients and the mixture takes on a clumpy appearance. Place the streusel in the fridge until ready to use.

In a large bowl whisk together the sugar and cornstarch. Add the strawberry slices to the bowl along with the vanilla bean paste or extract, and fold until the strawberries are evenly coated.

Pour the strawberries into a large ceramic dish and top with the streusel topping. Place on a baking sheet and bake until the topping has browned, and the juices are bubbling over, about 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven and let set for about 10-15 minutes before serving with ice cream.



Happy first day of summer! I thought it would be fun to celebrate the arrival of the new season with a batch of these s’mores brownies, which practically taste like summer. Enjoy!

S’mores Brownies

¾ cup crushed graham crackers

3 1/2 tbs salted butter, melted

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1 cup granulated sugar

¼ cup brown sugar

¾  cup + 1 tbs cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder

3 large eggs, room temp

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup chocolate chips

2 cups mini marshmallows


Heat oven to 325° and set baking rack to lower third.

Lightly grease and line an 8x8x2 inches metal baking pan with two strips of opposing, overlapping pieces of parchment paper. Be sure to leave a little overhang as this helps during the removal process.with parchment; set baking dish aside

Add the crushed graham crackers to a medium bowl along with the 3 1/2 tbs melted salted butter and mix until crumbly; set aside.

To a large bowl add both sugars, cocoa powder, salt, and espresso powder, and whisk together until well combined; set bowl aside.

Place the stick of butter in a saucepan and melt over medium low heat. Once melted, allow the butter to cool slightly so that it’s not too hot, but warm to the touch.

Add the melted butter to the bowl with the cocoa powder, and whisk to combine. The mixture will begin to look like wet sand, which is what you want at this point.

Whisk the eggs, one at a time, in to the cocoa mixture. Then whisk in the vanilla extract. Add the flour, then gently fold into the chocolate batter until just combined. Add the chocolate chips, mixing a few times to incorporate.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and evenly top with the graham cracker mixture. Place in the oven for 30-35 minutes

Carefully remove the brownies, then top with the mini marshmallows. Set your oven’s broiler to high. Place the brownies about 6-8 inches below the broiler. Keep a constant eye as these marshmallow should brown very quickly. Remove once toasted, about 30 seconds. Allow brownies to cool for 15-20 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Cut into desired amount of squares and enjoy. *Tip: for clean cuts wipe knife between each cut.

Rhubarb & Raspberry Tart


I truly adore this time of year. The sun is starting to stake its claim as the dominating celestial presence in the sky and as of late I am no longer greeted by darkness in the morning. Now that spring is slowly fading into summer I am preparing myself for the new season and the wonderful changes it will bring about. Juicy summer fruits, melons bigger than my head, corn ready to eat uncooked straight off the cob—I just can’t wait. But there’s still plenty of spring produce to be enjoyed, so as a way to embrace this wonderful in-between-the-seasons time I wanted to create a dessert that represented just that.

Life, work, and family have been quite consuming lately, so when it comes to making something sweet at home I’ve found myself clinging onto simple desserts—which is exactly why I made this rhubarb and raspberry tart. Not only was it the perfect vessels to showcase the flavors of these beautiful fruits, but it’s an entirely straightforward, simple recipe.


I found the inspiration for this recipe in a used copy of a Donna Hay cookbook, and the recipe just called my name as I flipped through the pages. While I initially thought this cake was going come out dry, I was happy to find that the fresh fruit provides more than enough moisture for lovely cake with perfect texture. Plus, since the cake is a bit on the sweeter side, the tartness from the raspberries and rhubarb bring about a dynamic balance. This cake is incredibly versatile, so feel free to use whatever fruit you want!


Rhubarb and Raspberry Tart

Adapted from Donna Hay Off The Shelf

4 oz unsalted butter, softened

1 cup (superfine) sugar

Zest of 1 lemon, preferably organic

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 large eggs, room temp

1 ½ cups self-rising flour, sifted

½ cup sliced rhubarb

5 oz fresh raspberries

1 tablespoon powdered sugar


Heat the oven to 325°. Line a 9 or 10-inch (I used 10-inch ) round or tart pan with a removable base with parchment paper. Light grease the sides of the pan with a little baking spray or oil.

In medium bowl add the sugar and fresh lemon zest. Rub the zest with your fingers into the sugar until fragrant and slightly yellow.

Add the butter, infused lemon sugar, and vanilla extract to the bowl of standing mixer and beat everything together with a whisk attachment until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated. Add the sifted flour to the bowl and fold together with a spatula until just combined. Add the rhubarb, and fold just a few times to incorporate. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Top with raspberries and a dusting of powdered sugar.

Bake the tart for 1 hr, or until golden brown and cooked through. Allow the tart to cool for 10-15 minutes before removing from pan. Serve warm with fresh whipped cream or with ice cream.  



Blondies are an interesting and unique take one a classic batch of brownies. Hints of toffee, caramel, and brown sugar replace the loads of chocolate on typically finds in a brownie, but the shape and texture remains. Like filling the same vessel with a different liquid, these blondies are a buttery sweet variant of a classic dessert. Brown butter deliciously increase flavors all around, while toasted hazelnuts lend a distinctive addition to the texture and dark chocolate hearkens back to the brownies from which these are derived. The result is bliss.   

Chocolate Hazelnut Blondies

1 stick unsalted butter

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup light brown, packed

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 large egg + 1 large yolk, room temp

1 cup + 2 tbs all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

1, 3.5 oz bar of dark chocolate, roughly chopped

flakey sea salt, optional garnish


Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8x8” square baking pan and line with two strips of opposing, overlapping pieces of parchment paper. Be sure to leave a little overhang as this helps during the removal process.

Begin by browning the butter. Put the stick of butter in a skillet set over medium heat. As the butter begins to melt, swirl the pan around to help the butter cook evenly. Allow the butter to cook until it begins to smell nutty, and takes on a lovely brown color. Immediately transfer to a small bowl and let cool.

Add the flour, salt, and baking powder to a small bowl and whisk to combine.

To a medium bowl add the warm browned butter and both sugars and whisk to combine. The mixture will look like wet sand.

To the same medium bowl add the egg, yolk, and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth.

Fold the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined. Add in chopped hazelnuts and chocolate, folding just a few more times until just mixed in.

Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake at 350° for 23-25 minutes. Once out of the oven, sprinkle the blondies with a bit of flakey sea salt. Allow the blondies to cool in the pan for about 10-15 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Cut into 9 large squares and enjoy!


Savory Chorizo Crepes


Much of my love for food can be traced back to the way my mother raised me. She has a rich Mexican heritage that pretty much totally saturated the culture of my home growing up, reinforced by frequent family trips back to her charming, dirt road rural Jaliscan hometown. And the strongest cultural expression of this heritage was the cuisine—a constant flow of rice, beans, tortillas, and salsas of all kinds in every imaginable combination.

It was through family recipes for dishes like chile relleno and various enchiladas that my mother imparted to me a distinctive way of approaching food that went beyond merely trying to make something to eat. Meals weren’t a problem to be solved, from going to the closest drive-thru to microwaving a frozen package, but an opportunity to be enjoyed. My mother’s cooking was neither perfect nor consistent, but her spirit of making meals for the whole family from scratch sparked in me a love for food that continues to this day. For this I’m so thankful for her, atop all the other reasons I have to have thankful for her.


So these chorizo crepes are inspired by my mother and the heritage she’s passed down to me. However, the crepe aspect might seem a bit out of place from the expected tortilla. This is because my other passion in life, aside from cooking, is travel—and my mother encouraged me to go on trips which eventually gave rise to this passion. The most memorable of these was living in Paris, where the pleasure of enjoying crepes is essentially inescapable. I decided to combine my love for Mexican and French culture in this dish as an ode to my mother and an expression of my gratitude. And trust me, the combination works very well.


The chorizo I used is Mexican-style as opposed to Spanish-style, whose spicy and herbal flavors are enhanced by jalapeno and cilantro. Sour cream and queso fresco add a tangy, satly aspect that complement the eggs in which the chorizo is scrambled. When all this is combined with a buttery, silky crepe, it all comes together so well. And alongside this dish I enjoyed some of La Crema’s Monterey Pinot Noir Rose—the perfect Mother’s Day brunch wine. Notes of grapefruit and guava move into a powerful but refreshing minerality. It’s vibrant and crisp, and pairs great with these savory chorizo crepes. And about those crepes—you can head over to La Crema’s blog for the recipe.

I hope you all enjoy a delightful Mother’s Day. Whether it’s through making this recipe or something else entirely, make sure you show her how much she means to you!

Thank you to La Crema Wines for sponsoring this post. As always all opinions are my own.

Brown Butter Banana Bread

I’ve been an admirer of banana bread for years but have never made my own recipe for this delightful treat—until now!  I wanted to create a loaf packed with serious flavor, and I think my combination of ripe bananas, brown butter, and hefty doses of cardamom and cinnamon did the trick. It’s straightforward and delicious—but there’s one catch. The bananas you need to use have to be really ripe. I’m talking very-dark-and-spotty-we-need-to-throw-these-out-immediately ripe. These are loaded with concentrated sweetness and overflowing with flavor, so make sure you get some if you want to make this loaf. Check out the discount section at your local market or simply wait for your current bananas to ripen. Trust me, you’ll be happy you did so.

Happy baking!

Brown Butter Banana Bread with a Maple Glaze

Yields 1, 9x5 loaf

1 stick unsalted butter

1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup spelt flour

1 tsp baking soda

¾ tsp kosher diamond salt

¾ tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cardamom

3 ½ very ripe bananas—measures out to 1 ¾ cup mashed

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup light brown sugar, 100g

2 large room temp eggs, beaten

2  tsp vanilla extract

4 tbs plain yogurt

For the Glaze

½ cup plus 2 tbs powdered sugar

Pinch salt

1 tbs maple syrup

1 tbs whole milk


Heat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with baking spray, and line with a piece of parchment paper, leaving some hanging over the sides.

Begin by browning the butter. Put the stick of butter in a skillet set over medium heat. As the butter begins to melt, swirl the pan around to help the butter cook evenly. Allow the butter to cook until it begins to smell nutty, and takes on a lovely brown color. Immediately transfer to a small bowl and let cool.

For the batter: Add the all-purpose flour, spelt flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom to a medium bowl. Whisk everything together until well combined and set aside.

Add the bananas to a large bowl and mash with a fork. Add both sugars, vanilla extract, eggs, and yogurt, and whisk to combine. Add the cooled browned butter, whisking again until fully incorporated.

Add the dry ingredients to wet, and mix until just combined. Fold in the walnuts, mixing a few times just until incorporated—do not over mix the batter.

Pour into prepared pan and top the batter with a few extra walnuts if desired. Place the pan into the oven and bake for 55-65 minutes. I would suggest to start checking at the 55 min mark. Remove the loaf once a tester inserted into the center pulls out clean.

Let the bread cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Once cool, whisk all of the glaze ingredients together and drizzle over the loaf.



Meyer Lemon Upside Down Cake


You know you’ve made a Meyer Lemon Upside Down Cake right when it comes out of the oven looking like a sparkling wheel of gold. Save the occasional rimside browning, the whole cake turns into a glossy amber of uniform saturation. And trust me, it tastes as good as it looks. This is one of my favorite cakes to make, and I’ll baking tons of them as long as I can get my hands on meyer lemons.


Something this cake does very well is striking a balance between moistness and fluffiness. Too moist and a cake becomes dense and heavy, too fluffy and a cake becomes dry and crumbly. I have La Tourangelle’s Coconut Oil to thank in making the balance between these two so easy to achieve in this cake. And while you can certainly use standard lemons, I love the meyer variety for their uniqueness. Meyer lemons obviously have the acidic bite one would expect, but this is buttressed by a pleasant sweetness—and that sweetness is crucial in this recipe. Plus, they feature a smaller pith beneath the rind, which is also crucial in this recipe. I prefer leaving the pith and rind intact for this cake, whereas you could always remove them and keep only the pulp. I just find that extra bitterness to provide more depth to each bite, and with meyer lemons the bitterness isn’t overwhelming at all. In the end, this all comes together to make a very delicious cake.


Thank you La Tourangelle for sponsoring this post. As always, all words and opinions are my own.

Meyer Lemon Upside Down Cake

For the lemon layer

3 tbs unsalted butter

1/3 cup granulated sugar

pinch kosher salt

1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

4-5 meyer lemons, sliced paper thin and seeds removed

For The Cake

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 cup + 2tbs granulated sugar

1 tsp meyer lemon zest

2 eggs room temp, beaten

1/2 cup +1 tbs melted coconut oil

3/4 cup buttermilk, room temp

1 tsp vanilla extract


Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 8x2-inch circular cake pan.

Add the butter to a small sauce pan set on medium-low heat. Once melted, add the sugar and cook for about 1 minute, stirring often. Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the vanilla bean paste.

Pour the sugar mixture into the cake pan. Swirl a bit as needed so that an even layer of melted sugar coats the pan. Lay the lemon slices over the sugar mixture in a circular pattern. Begin with one slice in the middle of the pan, then create a small circle around that first slice. Follow this process, a few more times until the bottom on the pan is totally covered with lemons. Set the pan aside.

For the cake: Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl add the sugar and lemon zest. Rub the lemon zest into the sugar with your hands until fragrant. Add the oil and the eggs, and whisk until smooth. Add the buttermilk and vanilla, and whisk until well combined.

Add the dry ingredients into the wet and gently fold until just combined. Pour the mixture into the cake pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Place the cake on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Carefully invert the cake onto a plate or cake stand. Serve warm.

Guava Cake


Recently, my sweet friend Alana Kysar invited John and I over to celebrate the release of her book, Aloha Kitchen. But whereas one might expect an event such as this to be held at some public venue in a media-friendly environment focused solely on promotion, Alana decided to do something totally different. She invited us into her own home alongside several close friends, each of whom had brought a home-cooked meal from her book to share with everyone. It was an authentic Hawaiian potluck, an expression of one of Alana’s most deeply-held values—establishing genuine connection with others in the spirit of aloha, the coordination of mind and heart that loves unconditionally without expectation of return.


While I made something savory for the potluck, I wanted to dive into Aloha Kitchen’s sweets for this post. Alana describes her guava cake as light as air and not too sweet, which is exactly what I like. It refreshingly combines the powerful flavors of fruit alongside the fluffy texture of cake for something truly special. It’s simple and straightforward, but amazing precisely because of this—it aims for one thing, a guava-heavy treat as light as a cloud, and completely succeeds.


Aloha Kitchen is filled to the brim with creations like these—85 recipes from the heart, imbued with a mark of Hawaiian distinction that makes each of them feel intimate and familial. I highly recommend you pick up a copy and enjoy Alana’s consistent display of surprisingly unique yet totally accessible dishes. You’re sure to love them all!

Guava Cake

For the Cake

2 ½ cups cake flour

2 ½ tsp baking powder

¾ tsp kosher salt

½ cup unsalted butter, room temp

1 ¼ cups sugar

6 large egg whites

¼ cup neutral oil

1 cup whole milk

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup guava puree

3 squeezes of red gel food coloring

For the Frosting

1 cup heavy whipping cream

8 oz cream cheese, room temp

½ cup sugar

Pinch of kosher salt

2 squeezes of red gel food coloring

½ cup guava puree

Makes 24 pieces


To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with parchment, leaving some overhang on the long sides. In a bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder, and kosher salt, whisking until combined. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar and beat on medium speed until well combined, about 3 minutes. Add the egg whites, in three additions, beating each addition until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the oil and mix until combined, about 1 minute more. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, vanilla, guava puree, and food coloring (if using). On low speed, alternate between adding the wet and dry ingredients, mixing each until combined before adding the next addition.

Pour the mixture into the parchment-lined pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until frothy. Gradually increase the speed to high and whip until it's light and fluffy with stiff peaks, another 2 to 3 minutes. Don't over whip! Transfer the whipped cream to a bowl. Replace the bowl on the stand mixer and fit the machine with the paddle attachment; there's no need to clean the bowl. Place the cream cheese in the bowl and mix on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until smooth. Add the sugar and kosher salt and increase the speed to high. Beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add the food coloring, if desired. Gradually pour in the guava puree in four additions, making sure the puree is fully incorporated after every addition. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula after the second and the final addition. Increase the speed to high and beat until smooth and well incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the stand and, using the spatula, fold in the whipped cream in three additions, incorporating completely after each addition.

Spread the frosting on the cooled cake, using an offset spatula to smooth it over the edges. and chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Cut into twenty-four pieces and serve immediately.

Olive Oil Citrus Cake

Olive oil is a surprising but amazing substitute for butter in baked goods. It achieves a level moistness that only gets better the longer it sits—and this is because olive oil is naturally in liquid form at room temperature. Combine this with almond meal and citrus and you have a dreamy creation on your hands. This is a supremely moist, spring-appropriate cake bursting with excellent taste and texture. Follow the recipe below to usher in the season right.

Olive Oil Citrus Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour

¾ cups super fine almond meal

1 ¼ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp kosher salt (I used diamond crystal-see note below)

¾ cup + 1 tbs, divided, granulated sugar

2 tsp orange zest

2 tsp lemon zest

3 large eggs

½ cup fresh orange juice

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ cup + 1 tbs olive oil, plus an extra 1½ tbs for drizzling

orange slices, optional garnish


Heat oven to 350°F and grease and line a 9x2” cake pan with a round piece of parchment paper.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. *NOTE if not using Diamond kosher salt only add 1/2 tsp of kosher salt.

To a medium bowl add ¾ cups sugar, orange, and lemon zest. Rub the zest into the sugar with your hands until fragrant and until the color of the sugar begins to turn orange.

To the sugar add the eggs, orange juice, olive oil, and vanilla and whisk together vigorously until fully combined.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together with a wooden spoon or whisk until combined. Don’t worry if the batter looks lumpy, that’s totally fine!

Sprinkle the top of the batter with the remaining tablespoon of sugar and place in the oven. Bake the cake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Place the cake on a wire rack and let cool for 15-20 minutes. Carefully remove the cake and place on a serving platter. Using a toothpick, poke holes all over the cake and drizzle with 1 ½ tbs of olive oil. Let the cake cool completely before serving.

Top cake with citrus slices and enjoy right away. If serving later, simply add the orange slices right before you plan to serve it.


Key Lime Cardamom Tart


Happy New Year! The holidays are finally behind us, which means citrus season is in full swing. Here in California the citrus is absolutely amazing—just this morning I was perusing several varieties of grapefruit bursting forth with flavor, color, juiciness, and delectability. The light, bright tastes and textures of citrus really are a welcome relief from the decadence of recent seasonal meals and desserts.

With all this in mind, a key lime pie seemed like a perfect way to introduce the fresh citrus of the season. Key limes feature a more concentrated flavor in comparison to standard limes, and their zest is very potent. They’re also much more aromatic, which gave me the idea of including cardamom, itself a very aromatic, citrusy, and floral spice. This combination might be a little surprising at first, but these two flavors work together very well, with impressive flavors and aromas to spare. All this atop a graham cracker crust basically equals the best of desserts. So if this pie is calling your name, go ahead and follow the recipe below.

Key Lime Cardamom Tart

Yields 1, 9-inch tart

2 1/4 cups graham crackers, finely crushed

6-7 tbs unsalted butter, melted

3 large egg yolks

1 scant tbs key lime, or lime zest

1 can sweetened condensed milk

½ cup + 2 tbs key lime, or lime juice

1 ¼ tsp cardamom

Lightly sweetened whipped cream, for serving

Equipment: Hand held or standing mixer, 1, 9.5 x 1 inch Tart pan with removable bottom, large baking sheet


For the crust: Heat the oven to 350°F. Add the crushed graham crackers to a medium bowl, along with 6 tbs of melted butter. Stir everything together with a spoon until it begins to look like wet sand. If the mixture seems a bit dry, add the additional tablespoon of butter.

Add the mixture to a tart pan and press the crumb mixture firmly onto the bottom and up sides of the tart pan. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove the crust from the oven and set aside to cool. Reduce oven’s heat to 325°F

For the filling: Add the 3 egg yolks + lime zest to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high for about 4 minutes.

Stop the mixer and add the condensed milk to the yolks and beat for 4 minutes. Add the lime juice and cardamom, whisking by hand until combined.

Pour the filling into the cooled crust and place in the oven. Bake the tart for about 25 minutes. The tart is ready when the edges are set, and the center still jiggles ever so slightly.

Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool to room temperature before transferring to the refrigerator. Store in the fridge until fully chilled. Garnish with whipped cream before serving.


Blood Orange Cheesecake Bars

These blood orange cheesecake bars are a perfect way to make use of some of the wonderful citrus currently in season. They’re a delicious treat combining a smooth creaminess alongside striking citrus, made all the better by the contrasting silky and crunchy textures. I absolutely love them.


Blood Orange Cheesecake Bars

1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour

1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour

1/4 Tsp Sea Salt

3/4 Tsp Cardamom

¼ Cup Brown Sugar

⅓ Cup Solid Coconut Oil

1, 8 Oz Package of Cream Cheese, room temperature

1, 7.5 Oz Package Crème Fraîche

1 Cup Powdered Sugar

2 Large Eggs, room temperature

2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Zest of One Large Orange

6 Tbs Fresh Blood Orange Juice


Heat oven to 350°F. Line an 8x8” baking pan with tin foil, making sure to cover the entire bottom and sides.

For the crust: To a medium bowl add both flours, the kosher salt, cardamom, and brown sugar, and whisk together until combined. Add the coconut oil and rub it into the flour until it’s combined and the mixture resembles wet sand.  

Pour the crust mixture into the prepared pan and press down evenly on the bottom of the pan. Place the pan in the oven and let the crust bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

For the filling: Reduce the oven’s temperature to 325°F. Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Set mixer to medium-low, and cream the cream cheese until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the crème fraîche and powdered sugar. Mix everything together on medium-low speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Next, mix in the eggs on low speed, one at a time, until just combined. Add the vanilla, orange zest and juice, and mix on low until just combined. Pour the batter into the cooled crust and place in the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the edges are set and the center jiggles ever so slightly.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely, then place it in the fridge until fully chilled. Cut into 9 equal sized squares and enjoy!


Olive Oil Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes


Who doesn’t love a classic chocolate molten lava cake? As a little kid, my parents would occasionally let us order a dessert after dinner to share, and if there was a molten lava cake on the menu, we’d get it every time. I love this dessert so much because while at first glance it can look like a pretty boring, standard cake, the gooey warm chocolate center that’s unleashed upon the first bite reveals a dessert of seriously pure bliss.

Traditionally you’ll find that most lava cakes are made with butter, but for my version I wanted to use this wonderful Extra Virgin Olive Oil from La Tourangelle. Their olive oil is rich and delicate, which works perfectly in this recipe as it imparts a lot of flavor.


This recipe yields two servings, so if you want to make this for a crowd (and you definitely should) then just double or triple the recipe to fit your needs. Luckily, this recipe is deceptively easy to make—it’s all made in a single bowl, ready for the oven in under 10 minutes.


So whether you want a stunning treat for the romantic occasion of Valentine’s Day or for no particular occasion at all, this couldn’t come more highly recommended. This is basically the reason chocolate cravings exist, and you won’t be disappointed.

Thank you La Touragnelle for sponsoring this post. As always, all words and opinions are my own.


Olive Oil Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes

3 oz Dark Chocolate Baking Bar, at least 60%

4 tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil

½ tsp Vanilla Extract

¼ +⅛ Espresso Powder

⅛ tsp Fine Sea Salt

4 tbs Light Brown Sugar

1 tbs +1 tsp Flour

1 Large Egg +1 Large Egg Yolk, room temp

Cocoa Powder, for dusting

Baking Spray, for greasing

4 tbs Whipped Cream, for garnish

3 tbs Toasted Hazelnuts, for garnish

Equipment: 2, 6oz Ramekins, medium bowl, knife


Heat oven to 425°F and spray the two ramekins with baking spray, then lightly dust with cocoa powder and tap out the excess.

Roughly chop up the chocolate and add it to a medium bowl. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or over a double boiler.

Once melted, whisk in the olive oil, vanilla, espresso powder, and salt until smooth. Next, whisk in the brown sugar and flour, followed by the egg and yolk; whisk again until smooth.

Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared ramekins and bake for 13-14 minutes. I recommend 13 minutes if you want a truly molten center, or you can bake it for 14 min if you want it a little more cooked.

Let the molten cakes rest out of the oven for 1 minute. While you are waiting, run a knife around the edges to loosen. Carefully invert the cakes onto a plate, top with whipped cream and toasted hazelnuts and enjoy a little bite of heaven!

Chicken Lettuce Cups


These chicken lettuce cups are a wonderful fusion of refreshing and fulfilling–the richness of comfort food with the rejuvenation of fresh veggies. This is a dish that walks the line between sweet and savory and is all the more complex and enjoyable because of it.

It all begins with the sauce. Hoisin and minced ginger provide a sweet, spicy, barbecue-inspired set of flavors enhanced by the herbality of cloves. Soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, and rice vinegar mount a fleet of savory notes to which sesame oil adds its signature toastiness.


The chicken follows suit, introducing more garlic and ginger to enhance the dish’s sweet and savory profile. Scallions provide a pleasant bite while water chestnuts lend a crunchy texture. As the chicken and the sauce come together, flavors of salt, herbs, spices, and more evoke a sweet and savory profile that’s overwhelming in the most enjoyable of ways. The lettuce and carrots help keep the richer elements fresh and lighten up otherwise heavy direction of the dish.

La Crema’s 2016 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay mixes surprisingly well with this dish. The wine’s natural oakiness and spice work well with the savory aspect of the dish while its notes of fruit go along well with the sweet aspect of the dish. If you’re looking for a good excuse to make this dish, the Chinese New Year is actually coming up in a couple weeks. Make sure to head over to La Crema’s blog to grab these recipe for this delightful dish. Enjoy!


Thank you to La Crema Wines for sponsoring this post. As always all opinions are my own.

Cardamom Jam Sandwich Cookies


Not sure if you agree with me, but these cookies basically look like Christmas contained in a batch of baked goods. The stars and hearts cutouts, the rich colors, the snowfall powdered sugar—it all invokes the inescapable joy of this time of year. And these cookies certainly contribute to that joy, and in a thankfully straightforward way. You need about half an hour, ingredients you likely already have in your cupboards, and your favorite choice of jam, and these cookies will be a reality in a snap. Happy holidays and enjoy!


Cardamom Jam cookies

Yields about 22 cookie sandwiches

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp sea salt

16 tablespoons 2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed and softened

1 tbs vanilla extract

1 ½ tsp ground cardamom

2 tablespoons plain or vanilla bean crème fraîche, room temperature

about 1 cup jam of choice—I used strawberry and lemon curd

Confectioner’s sugar for dusting optional

Equipment: Standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, baking sheet, parchment paper, and cookie cutters—I used these.


In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, and salt together for a few seconds until combined.

With the mixer on low, add the butter, a small piece at a time. Add the crème fraîche and the vanilla and continue mixing until a cohesive dough begins to form. Divide the dough in half and wrap with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge and chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 375°. Roll a disk of dough on a lightly floured surface until about 1/8 thick. Cut out as many cookie tops and bottoms as you can, re-rolling the scraps as necessary. Carefully transfer the cookies to a baking sheet that’s been lined with parchment paper, making sure to space them about 1 1/2 inches apart from one another.

Bake the cookies until their edges take on a light golden brown color, about 9 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time. Leave the cookies on the baking sheet for 1-2 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Repeat this process with the second round of dough.

To make the sandwiches, spread choice of jam ( spread only use a small amount since these cookies are already sweet) on each cooled cookie bottom and top with a cut out cookie top. Dust the cookies with powdered sugar and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from If you give a blonde a kitchen.

Gingerbread Waffles

The very essence of gingerbread is emblazoned with the spirit of this season. It’s so uniquely tied to the wintry spices of this time of year that its uncommonality keeps its state of being persistently special in seemingly suspended animation. This year I’ve decided I just might try to carry this over to Christmas morning itself—for which these waffles are utterly perfect. Buttery, rich, full of sweet molasses and spicy ginger. They’re a treat not soon to be forgotten. Enjoy the video and follow the recipe below for a dish of delicious holiday morning treats.

Gingerbread Waffles

Makes 2-3

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

½ tsp fine sea salt

2 tbs dark brown sugar

1 ¼ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp allspice

½ tsp cloves

¼ tsp cardamom

¾ tsp cinnamon

2 large eggs

1/2 cup milk, warmed

4 tbs unsalted butter, melted

3 tbs sour cream, room temp

5 tbs molasses

1 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat belgium waffle iron. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices in a large bowl.

Beat the eggs in medium bowl with a whisk or hand beater until fluffy. Whisk in the milk, melted butter, sour cream, and molasses until smooth. Add egg mixture to flour mixture, and whisk until just combined.

Spoon about 3/4 cup batter into each mold, and cook until golden brown. Serve warm waffles with whipped cream and a little maple syrup.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Sweet potatoes today, buttery fluffy breakfast sandwiches tomorrow. I’m putting all those extra sweet potatoes in my kitchen to good use by turning them into the most delicious biscuits. Follow the recipe below and you’ll have yourself one tasty meal in the morning.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

2 (250g)cups all-purpose flour

1 tbs +1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp fresh crackedpepper

1 tbs +1 tsp maple syrup

8 tbs very cold unsalted butter, cubed

¾ (150g) cup sweet potato puree, chilled* see note below

½ cup low-fat buttermilk, plus extra for brushing  


Heat the oven to 415F°.

Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper to a bowl and whisk to combine.

Add the cubed butter to the bowl and using a pastry cutter (or your hands) cut the butter into the flour mixture until butter becomes the size of peas.

Whisk the buttermilk, sweet potato puree, and maple syrup together in a bowl or measuring cup until smooth, then add to the flour mixture. Mix everything together with a spoon until a shaggy dough begins to form.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it into a rectangle. Fold the two edges so that they meet in the center. Rotate the dough, gently roll out and repeat the same folding process. Rotate the dough, gently roll it out again and repeat the folding process one last time.

Pat the dough until it’s about 3/4-inch. Punch out as many biscuits using a 3-inch biscuit cutter. Re-roll scraps and cut out the remaining biscuits, you should end up with six.

Place the biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush the tops with some additional buttermilk. Bake the biscuits, rotating once, for about 18 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Cool on wire rack.

Use a serrated knife to cut each biscuit. Spread mayo on both sides of the biscuit, then fill with a slice of cheese, some arugula, a few pickled jalapeños, and a fried egg. Enjoy while hot!


To make the sweet potato puree: Place one large sweet potato that’s been peeled and cut into three-inch pieces in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, let cook until fork tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and puree until smooth. Store in the refrigerator and use once chilled.  

Bourbon Butterscotch Sauce


Butterscotch is so good—from being the hard candy you snatched from grandma’s crystal jar to chocolate’s sworn enemy on the battlefield of adorning sundaes, it never disappoints. So I thought it would be fun to create some for the holidays, since a butterscotch-slathered sundae is impossible to resist and because some people don’t prefer pie at their Thanksgiving dinner. I mean, I don’t understand those people, but I respect their decision and I got their backs. This butterscotch recipe is pretty straightforward and simply delicious. So whip some up if you wish and enjoy Thanksgiving!


Bourbon Butterscotch

makes about 1 cup

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup + 3 tbs dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon large kosher salt, or more if needed 2 tbs bourbon, this is optional


Melt the butter, sugar, heavy cream, and salt in a wide saucepan or skillet. Gently stir everything together until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth.

One smooth, allow the sugar and butter mixture to come up to a heavy simmer. Let simmer undisturbed for 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and mix in the vanilla extract and bourbon if using. Carefully taste the butterscotch and add any additional salt or bourbon if needed.

Transfer to an airtight container and let cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator. This sauce will keep for up to 2 weeks. This sauce is best served warm.