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Desserts

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Karen Grill's Holiday in the Sun - SASSAFRAS SALOON
  • Sassafras Saloon
  • Karen Grill's Holiday in the Sun
Without sugar, there would be no alcohol. This is, of course, a bit of an oversimplification, but the fact is that, during fermentation, yeast breaks down sugars to produce the beer, wines and spirits we drink. So, it's not much of a leap of faith that we would pair sweets and booze.

At the L.A. Weekly's holiday shopping, dessert and cocktail party Sips & Sweets this weekend, you can partake in both sugar and alcohol, either separately or together. We already profiled six of the sweet pastry chefs who will be cooking up special treats for the event. Now here are some of the bartenders to look out for, as well as their featured concoctions.

Take note: We may count down to No. 1 here, but these are alphabetical in order — it's impossible to choose a favorite.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

Baking

6 Great Pastry Chefs Not to Miss at Sips and Sweets

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Fri, Nov 14, 2014 at 11:26 AM
Huckleberry - AMY SCATTERGOOD
  • Amy Scattergood
  • Huckleberry
In case you haven’t noticed the tinsel and silver balls for sale at your local drugstore, or the carols already on repeat at every big retail shop, the holidays are upon us. But there is no need to panic — thanks to us.

LA Weekly
’s first-ever Sips and Sweets event, being held Dec. 7 at the Majestic and the Reserve downtown, is about to make your holiday season a lot easier. If you’ve ever had to miss out on a holiday party in order to finish your shopping, this time you won’t. Because we have combined the ultimate trifecta of holiday inclinations — booze, sweets and shopping — into one epic party.

If you have a sweet tooth, this event is a must. All of L.A.’s best and most talented pastry chefs and bakers will be in attendance. And for a city whose population is stereotypically health-conscious, carb- and gluten-free, we sure do have a lot them. So many that several have published cookbooks in recent years, received James Beard Award nominations and, most important, kept Los Angeles a happier and sweeter place to live. Here are six reasons why you won't want to miss the merriment on Dec. 7.

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VITELLO'S
  • Vitello's

You might think pear-spiced bread pudding with white chocolate with a graham cracker salted caramel crust and pop trio Wilson Phillips have nothing in common.  However, you're wrong, as the former is just one of many desserts made by Carnie Wilson, the singer/baker who is currently the dessert chef at Vitello's Restaurant in Studio City.

The 46-year-old Wilson — who, oh yeah, just happens to be the daughter of Beach Boys singer-bassist-producer–musical genius Brian Wilson — has been making desserts such as raspberry almond cheesecake, peanut butter pies and peach apricot streusel bars for about a year, but her love of baking began a decade ago after she traded booze and drugs for spatulas and mixing bowls. During those 10 years, Wilson also worked on creating a brand called Love Bites by Carnie, currently found exclusively at Vitello's.

Wilson cooks "six days a week" for her family but her experience doesn't end there, as she has also appeared on Food Network's Chopped three times (winning once) and Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off and co-authored a cookbook in 2005 called To Serve With Love.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Owner Denise Assad slices pumpkin pie. - C. SOUDRY
  • C. Soudry
  • Owner Denise Assad slices pumpkin pie.
At Bountiful Bakery in Montrose, owner Denise Assad is no stranger to early mornings (if you can even call them that): She wakes up at 3 a.m., makes her way to some Stumptown coffee and then heads to the kitchen where hours are spent kneading, twisting, stirring, pounding. The real fun begins around 9 a.m., when that buttery sweet aroma fills the air and customers trickle in to sample the goods.

"I try to bring back the time in my life when I was baking with my grandmother. Whatever I bake, that’s what I remember," says Assad. She stays true to tradition. Nothing is too sweet; there's lots of spice and lots of butter. "Butter satisfies the soul," Assad adds, "It's a taste of your youth, your family. That’s what I do. I bake to remember."

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday, October 20, 2014

Desserts

Pastry Chef Melts Chocolate on His Day Off

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Mon, Oct 20, 2014 at 7:00 AM
Alex de Leon - JENNIFER CACICIO
  • Jennifer Cacicio
  • Alex de Leon
Alex de Leon first arrived from Tijuana at age 14. A decade later, at the ridiculously young age of 24, he runs the pastry program for a trio of stylish and very successful Eastside spots — L&E Oyster Bar, Bar Covell and the newly opened El Condor. We met in the L&E kitchen on a Thursday — his day off — where de Leon was melting chocolate over a water bath, clad in his blue apron atop the also blue, Dodgers-esque L&E tee sported by the entire staff.

De Leon began working in restaurants at 18, after he finished high school. He landed a job washing dishes at Café Stella in Silver Lake, where his uncle is the pastry chef (and, incidentally, his roommate in Montecito Heights). It wasn’t long before de Leon began moving up: He worked pantry and breakfast, and tried his hand at the grill. One day his uncle taught him how to make the profiteroles baked daily at Stella.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Baking

10 Best Red Velvet Cakes in Los Angeles (VIDEO)

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Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 7:00 AM

How to Make a Crazy, Amazing, Easy Red Velvet Cake by Chef Terri Wahl from Voice Media Group on Vimeo.

Thanks to the resurgence of traditional American cooking and so-called comfort food in the last decade or so, red velvet cakes have grown, and grown a lot, in popularity. It's easy to see why: They're gorgeous, delicious and just a little weird. Considered by many an example of traditional Southern baking, and traced by others to New York's famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, the cake is most likely the product of Depression-era cookery and then World War 2, when cocoa was rationed  — and red food coloring wasn't.

Regardless of the particulars of its distinctly American origins, red velvet is not a chocolate cake but a buttermilk cake, with a surprisingly subtle flavor. There's a little cocoa, lots of buttermilk and a gargantuan amount of red food coloring. Which makes many purists cringe but also makes the cake a fabulous showstopper, particularly during the holidays. Halloween, say. The blood-red crumb and even more scarlet cake batter is fun to play with  — and you can always use the rest of the food coloring for fake blood. 

Because of this, and because there are some fantastic iterations of red velvet cake (and cupcakes!) around town, we thought we'd sort them out for you. Here are our 10 favorites. 

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Chocolate

Now You Can Eat Your Birthday Cake and Its Candles, Too

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Thu, Oct 9, 2014 at 8:00 AM
chocolate candle - CHOCOLATE CANDLE FACTORY
  • Chocolate Candle Factory
  • chocolate candle
You know the drill: You bake a birthday cake, or have somebody else bake one for you, then you populate its surface with candles, light them, watch them get blown out, then separate the inedible melted wax from the frosting you do want. Depending on the candles and how many of them there are, this is not necessarily an easy task. You've also probably wondered, maybe every time you do this, why somebody didn't just make edible candles. If they can make edible underware, then why not edible birthday candles, right? 

Well, now somebody has. Husband-and-wife team Jonathan Steiner and Cristina Diaz-Steiner recently started the Chocolate Candle Factory to make, you guessed it, chocolate candles. All we can say is thank you; it's about time. 

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Desserts

Help Save the Dessert Hearse

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Thu, Oct 2, 2014 at 6:00 AM
the Dessert Hearse - DEB DAWSON
  • Deb Dawson
  • the Dessert Hearse
Imagine a food truck operated by the folks at Six Feet Under — or maybe Tim Burton, or Evelyn Waugh. (You pick.) This is probably the best way to describe Deb Dawson's mobile catering company, Desserts to Die For, which the Ventura-based baker operates out of the back of a 1967 Cadillac hearse. 

Dawson started her baking business after retiring from a 33-year career with the U.S. Postal Service. The San Fernando Valley native says she grew up with the Helm's Bakery trucks, and imagined her hearse as a kind of spooky version of the old trucks, albeit with pastries instead of loaves of bread. So Dawson got her cottage food license, found a hearse on eBay, started baking rustic pies and ta-da. 

But Dawson's near-fifty-year-old hearse is not in the greatest shape, and she says she's staring a Kickstarter to save the vehicle — and her business along with it. 

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bulgarini Gelato - TERRENCE RORIE
  • Terrence Rorie
  • Bulgarini Gelato
Every year, we wander through this town, cataloging the best stuff we can find — taco trucks and gelato shops and espresso served in unlikely places — and then publish a whole big list in our annual Best of L.A. issue. Because it's fun, and because even though some of these won't surprise you, many of them will. Here are ten of the best and sweetest things you'll find in Los Angeles dessert kitchens — from ice cream dishes to bakeries to the pastry chef herself. 

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Desserts

Come to Sips & Sweets, a Holiday Dessert and Cocktail Party

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Tue, Sep 30, 2014 at 7:00 AM
Mozza's butterscotch budino - ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Anne Fishbein
  • Mozza's butterscotch budino
Believe it or not, the holiday season isn't that far away. A few months may seem like a long time, but if you're an event-planner or a baker or pastry chef or candy-maker or chocolatier, it's really not. Which is why we're already inviting you to a holiday party. This year we wanted to have a different kind of food and drink event, one that showcases and celebrates our town's best bakers and pastry chefs and bartenders, while at the same time having a party where you can buy holiday gifts AND we can raise money for a worthy cause. 

So this December 7, on a Sunday afternoon in The Majestic and The Reserve downtown, we're having a holiday dessert and cocktail party, to which you're invited to come and eat cookies and drink holiday cocktails, buy some new cookbooks by local chefs and shop for gifts and give some money to Food Forward, which will also make sure that no cookie gets left behind. Called Sips & Sweets, you can even bring your kids to this one. Happy holidays — a few months early! So who's coming?

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