Let me tell you my sugary secrets…

3:49 pm

http://www.dandelioncheesecakes.com

It’s no secret that I love cheesecake. It was the first thing I learned to bake, and where I found my first true love of dessert.

I tend to stray from cheesecake in my blog posts because I have such high standards for this creamy classic. Cheesecake was the first thing my father taught me to bake. I still have his spring form pan from the 70’s, and as busted up as it is, I can’t make a cheesecake without it.

With my father no longer around, cheesecake is the single handed easiest thing to stir up any kind of nostalgia for me.

When I was looking at Dandelion Cheesecake’s Instagram (Stalking is more like it), I could sense the passion behind the pictures. Between the creative flavors, and attention to detail, I knew I had to try them.

One rainy Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of spending some time chatting with Shannon and Scott about their business. I love seeing the light in peoples eyes when they talk about something they are passionate about.

One thing that stuck with me was Shannon talking about how people would invite her cheesecake’s places, but not her; before she turned it into a business. Meaning they wanted her to bake for a dinner party they were going to, or the like. As hurt as I would be too, I consider it a huge compliment that people would turn to a friend who bakes before something professional.

Once they realized they were on to something with their cheesecakes, it was only natural that they start a business because you can’t keep this awesomeness from the people of Dallas for too long. (We do love our sweets).

Shannon’s mom knew how fantastic her cheesecake was, because when Shannon came to her about the business, her mother sold her the recipe. Smart thinking mom, with cheesecake like this, the cheesecake itself could be used as currency. Want to buy a new car? Walk into the dealership with a few Lorraine’s Original Cheesecakes. Maybe thinking about buying a house? Walk into the closing with a Gooseberry and Elderflower cheesecake.

The next thing you know, Dandelion Cheesecakes were born.

 

Dandelion

(Top Left Bottom to top: Bananas Foster and Pistachio)

(Top Right Bottom to Top: Pumpkin Chai Spice and Lorraine’s Original)

(Bottom Top top Bottom: Ande’s Mine and Gooseberry and Elderflower)

To say it was like Christmas when we were all three sitting in a Coffee Shop off 75 while Scott was describing the flavors was an understatement. Would it be rude to shovel a handful of these tiny treats into my mouth in the middle of conversation? I mustered up all the willpower I had.

Dandelion Cheesecake offers their Tiny Cheesecakes, which are about the size of a silver dollar. Shannon and Scott were going to surprise me with some of their favorite flavors in this adorable handheld size, so I had no idea what I was getting.

Once they described the flavors that they brought with them, I was 100% sure it would going to be a tie for my favorite between the Banana’s Foster and the Pumpkin Chai Spice.

But no!! While those flavors were perfect, and I loved every bite, the Gooseberry and Elderflower were my favorite. The sweetness of the Elderflower, and the tart Gooseberries in that tiny little bite of cheesecake was perfection.

When making the Banana’s Foster cheesecake, they use Brennan’s Original recipe. If you have ever dined on the original Banana’s Foster at Brennan’s, then you will know how important this is. They did not just throw some bananas and brown sugar into a cheesecake batter. The Pumpkin Chi Spice is everything that encompasses fall in one small bite. The pistachio is loaded with that sweet nutty flavor, and topped with chopped pistachios which add a wonderful texture. The Ande’s Mint was exactly what you would except, rich dark chocolate and prominent mint flavor. And finally, Lorraine’s Original. There was nothing ordinary about this “plain” cheesecake. It is simply everything a cheesecake should be, and nothing it shouldn’t. Meaning, Dandelion Cheesecake’s does not use any kind of binder in their cheesecake.

I can’t wait to try more. There are some delightful Holiday flavors showing up on their Instagram the past few days.  I could sit here all day and talk about how much I enjoy Dandelion Cheesecakes, and how you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t place an order. But to make sure you really understand, just know that I would choose their cheesecake over my own cheesecake. This is the one dessert that I bake and have the upmost confidence in, because I have been making it the longest. While I know it is delicious, it is inferior to ANY cheesecake that Dandelion Cheesecake has to offer.

2:37 pm

http://yelibelly.com

Chocolate is such a versatile treat. It has the power to show someone you love them, tell someone you’re sorry, and can even be used as a sympathetic gesture. Whatever the reason to give someone chocolate, you can almost guarantee it will put a smile on their face.

While giving someone a box of chocolate is sure to brighten their day, giving someone a box of hand painted chocolate work of art, may just brighten up their entire week.

When I had the pleasure of sitting down with Yeli of Yelibelly Chocolates, I knew I was going to be sampling some divine chocolate, but I did not realize just how gorgeous these handheld masterpieces would be.

Sure, we all enjoy a factory made piece of chocolate now and then, but wouldn’t you rather have a hand dipped, hand painted box of perfection? One thing I love about small batch-artisan chocolate makers, is that you know they do it because they love chocolate. No one else in their right mind would hand dip and paint hundreds of pieces of chocolate at a time, unless they had a passion for it. I surely don’t have that kind of time and patience, but I can’t tell you how much I appreciate those that do.

Yelibelly

From the simple white chocolate shell with dark chocolate ganache, and the dark chocolate shell with mint chocolate ganache, to the resplendent habanero, or cardamom; there is something here for everyone.

Without a doubt, my favorite chocolate was the clove. It was pure perfection in a piece of chocolate. I am sure I could have devoured an entire box of clove alone. It was spicy and warm, and reminiscent of fall.

At the moment, you can satisfy your chocolate craving by picking up your order where Yelibelly’s chocolates are made in Corinth. If that is too much temptation to be around so much amazing chocolate, Yelibelly offers nationwide shipping, and even free DFW delivery on orders of $60 or more.

If you want more, Yelibelly also does chocolate tasting parties. Get together a group of people, and spend the evening sipping wine and tasting some of the best chocolate the area has to offer. Oh, but be sure to invite me.

So much more is in store for the future of Yelibelly Chocolates, I am really excited to cheer them on, and indulge in some chocolate along the way.

1:37 am

http://www.isabellys.com
200 E. Main Street
Richardson, 75081
972-803-4360

Isabelly's

(Clockwise from Top- Strawberry Shortcake, Cappuccino, Birthday Cake, Key Lime, Raspberry, Red Velvet)

 

One thing Dallas does not have a shortage of is delicious cake balls. Isabelly’s in downtown Richardson is no exception.

While cake balls are definitely the crowning jewel here, Isabelly’s also serves coffee, tea, chocolates, and a few treats made from other local businesses, such as caramel from Dallas Caramel Company.

The store itself is absolutely adorable. It is a shame the rest of that block of Richardson doesn’t have Isabelly’s charm.

Slightly overwhelmed with all of the chocolates and other goodies, I had to make myself focus. I was there for the cake balls, and cake balls only (or cake truffles as Isabelly’s calls them; which sounds much more glamorous than cake ball to be quite honest,. A pretty good variety graced the pastry case on a Tuesday afternoon, so I had no problems selecting half a dozen flavors.

I am positive my favorite was the cappuccino and key lime flavors. The cappuccino had the perfect amount of coffee flavor, without being overwhelming. The key lime had that perfect tart bite, but also did not lack sweetness. My raspberry cake truffle was almost too adorable to eat since it is shaped like a raspberry (not that it stopped me).

The only thing that I would have changed was the red velvet cake truffle; it was coated in milk chocolate. I would have preferred white chocolate, because without it, it just tasted like a delicious milk chocolate cake ball. Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious because I hardly remembered to chew it as I was eating it, just not what I was expecting

Isabelly’s also offers brownie truffles. I was dying to try a blondie truffle, but there were none in the case that day. I would be willing to bet a years supply of ball sized bites of cake that they are just as amazing as the cake truffles.

A few pieces of chocolate were added to my box just because Isabelly’s rocks. However, those are a distant memory since I am pretty sure I consumed them before I had time to back out of the parking lot.

If you find yourself in Richardson craving a small treat (or a whole dozen, I don’t judge), Isabelly’s is a must.

4:19 pm

It’s almost that time again. Never mind that you still burn exposed skin on your car seat, or franticly search the car for something to touch the steering wheel with, so you don’t burn off your finger prints when you try to drive.  All that nonsense that goes hand in hand with the hottest part of the year aside, fall is just around the corner. With that comes the real reason we all love fall so much, pumpkin EVERYTHING! Slightly obsessed with pumpkin, I admit. I felt it was time to round up my favorite pumpkin desserts in the area so that you are armed and ready to go once these resplendent creations start making their way into our beloved bakeries and restaurants.

10) Cheesecake Love- Pucker Up Pumpkin Walnut Cheesecake.  While I am sad to say that Cheesecake Love no longer has a storefront, you can still get their personal size cheesecakes at Central Market. Thankfully, they understand the importance of a gingersnap crust, creamy pumpkin cheesecake, this flavor is available all year round.

9) Cafe Brazil- Pumpkin Pancakes. I admit I get a little cranky waiting on these fluffy carb clouds, because Cafe Brazil does tend to make us wait well into September (And last year, the first week in October) before we can get our hands on a pillowy perfect pile of perfection, it is worth the wait.

8) Tart Bakery- Pumpkin Whoopie Pie. Tart Bakery is good to us, they understand that the people demand pumpkin. You can usually find them gracing the pastry case the first week in September. But a word of warning though, they sell out fast, so go early in the day.

Tart Bakery

(Pumpkin Whoopie Pie from Tart Bakery)

7) Dallas Caramel Company- Pumpkin Caramel. Caramel is loved by all, it brings out the kind in us all. Thankfully Dallas Caramel Company has provided us with some grown up flavors, including a pumpkin flavored caramel.

6) Creme de la Cookie: Pumpkin Macaron. I admit that once fall starts approaching, I call Creme de la Cookie on a weekly basis asking if they have their delicious super sized pumpkin macarons yet. But I am not the only one that gets kind of antsy waiting for them to surface; it’s quite a cult following.

5)  Emporium Pies: Drop Dead Gourdgeous Pumpkin Pie: The original pumpkin dessert. Before there were pumpkin cake balls, pumpkin macarons, or cookies, there was pie. A holiday staple in any household, Emporium Pies elevates this classic pie into a dessert that is unmatched at the Thanksgiving table.

4) Rise soufflé: Pumpkin Soufflé. I love walking into Rise in the fall. Even with all of the other delicious scents wafting in the air, I can always tell when a Pumpkin Soufflé has been ordered. The entire restaurant smells spicy and fall.  Just when you think that your delicious pumpkin soufflé is as good as it gets, they serve it with a delicious side of nutmeg crème anglaise.

Rise #1

(Pumpkin Soufflé from Rise Soufflé)

3) Bisous Bisous- Pumpkin Pecan Tartlet. So many perfect things, in such a personal sized package. A perfect buttery tart shell, creamy pumpkin mousse, house made graham cracker, and candied pecans.

Pumpkin Pecan Tart

(Pumpkin Pecan Tartlet from Bisous Bisous. Picture used with permission from Bisous Bisous

2) The Hole Thing Donuts: Pumpkin Donut. Not your ordinary pumpkin donut you will find at your average chain donut shop. This donut is filled with pumpkin custard, topped with whipped cream and crushed gingersnaps.

The Hole Thing: Pumpkin Donut

(Pumpkin Donut from The Hole Thing Donuts. Picture used with permission from The Hole Thing.)

1) Trailercakes- Jack (Pumpkin Cupcake). You had me at pumpkin spiced cupcake. They don’t stop there. It’s filled with a cinnamon cream cheese frosting, topped it with a marshmallow cream cheese frosting, and add a spiced candied pecan to finish it off!

Trailercakes- Jack

(Jack from Tailercakes. Picture used with permission from Trailercakes)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9:34 pm

http://www.dallascaramelcompany.com

Do you have a special hiding place in your home where you hide things you don’t want others to find? Maybe it’s a journal for your own private thoughts, love letters from a first love, or maybe it’s a hidden safe for family jewelry. Whatever the items, you have your own reasons behind it.  Well for the first time in my marriage, I, too am hiding something. These items are precious, valuable, and honestly, too delicious not to safeguard… I am talking about fresh, gooey, buttery caramel from Dallas Caramel Company.

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I was lucky enough to get to sample all of the flavors they had to offer. It’s hard to pick a favorite, because they are all so delicious in their own way. The pumpkin is full of creamy fall flavor that does not overpower the caramel, the orange is bright and citrusy, and the drunken nut tastes like the best part of a praline candy with a lovely addition of Whiskey.

But if you locked me in a room and deprived me of carbs, I would have to say the chai caramel is my favorite. Somehow, you are still able to taste the buttery caramel in all of its glory, but all of the spices in chai are discernible as well. From the cardamom, to the cloves, and the cinnamon, it is all there.  I am not alone in this vote either, the chai caramel has just won Top Luxury Caramel from the Best Chocolatiers and Confectioners in America Award.

I was chatting with a friend over the weekend who has also had the pleasure of indulging in these sinful treats, and we gabbed on about the endless desserts that you could incorporate Dallas Caramel Company’s caramel into. The possibilities are endless really. However, realistically, I am not sure they would make it into an actual dessert, because I am likely to eat them all before I even pre-heat my oven.

If your idea of good caramel is Brach’s caramel squares in the candy isle of your grocery store, do yourself a favor, and graduate to an adult caramel.  Caramel is all grown up now, and moving on to big and better things.

2:43 pm

http://www.getamazeballz.com

1881 N. Central Expwy #200
Plano, Tx 75075
214-223-8044

I have always loved the concept of cake balls. Most people see it as forced portion control; a nice little treat after doing good all day. A little something that you can’t feel too guilty about. I see it as an opportunity; an opportunity to satisfy my every craving. Sure, I can go into a cupcake shop and order a dozen different cupcakes. But let’s be honest, that would even upset MY stomach.  So, I can indulge (some say overindulge, whatever) in a dozen different delicious flavors of cake ball flavors, and still not hate myself in the morning (too much).

So, when I found out there was a new cake ball maker in town, I HAD to try them! I met up with Jaime at the Craft Kitchen in Plano where she bakes AND sells her delicious creations. We hit it off great, chatted about our love for sweets, and how to balance fitness. I could tell she loves what she does. There is no doubt about that.

I had Jaime pack up a dozen assorted flavors of whatever she had laying around. I even got to sample a couple of her Boozeballs (Yeah, they are EXACTLY what you think they are. Cake and liquor, two of the life’s best creations).

I took these cake balls with me on a trip to LA last weekend, so I could sample them throughout the weekend, and write down my thoughts. I had a couple in the airport, a few in the plane, even saved a few for the hotel room.  You don’t know satisfaction until you’re enjoying something as delicious as an orange creamsicle cake ball on an airplane, while everyone else is eating stale airplane snacks and giving you the eye.

I prefer my cake balls room temperature, so they taste almost gooey. I know some people prefer them cold. Either way you want to eat your Amazeballz, you can’t go wrong.

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(Top Left to Right: Chocolate Covered Strawberry, Pine Colada: Boozeball, Birthday Cake, Orange Creamsicle

Middle Left to Right: Carrot, Amaretto Cherry Bomb: Boozeball, Salted Caramel Brownie, Red Velvet,

Bottom left to Right: Chocolate Peanut Butter, Oreo, Key Lime, Rocky Road)

If you find yourself in Plano, head on over to the Craft Kitchen. There is always a well stocked variety of cake balls to choose from if you don’t want to place an order.  Also, if you find yourself at Taste of Dallas this weekend, Amazeballz will be there with a delicious assortment!

Amazeballz offers and endless variety of flavors, but they are also open to requests if you have something specific in mind and don’t see them. Each little cake ball is like a work of art.  They each reflect the personality of their flavor, and of their creator. I can’t help but smile when I bite into one.

 

4:01 pm

http://www.joymacarons.com

 

My love for this delicate Parisian pastry goes so deep that I have been know to tear up when I bite into the perfect macaron.  Just the right amount of crunch on the outside, but pillowy soft on the inside.  Furthermore, I require the perfect meringue to filling ratio, innovative flavors; and even more importantly, freshness. There are few things I hate more in life than sitting down to an expensive box of macarons only to find they have far exceeded their shelf life. This finicky pastry can excite and disappoint me all at the same time.

With that said, I have tasted some of the most amazing macarons that our world has to offer.  From Ladurée and Pierre Hermé abroad; to Bouchon and François Payard in the US.  Now, I have also had some utterly disappointing macarons in my time.  So I honestly never know what to expect when I am presented with a new box of silver dollar sized beauties.  I just close my eyes and hope for the best.

Liz, owner and baker stopped by my office one afternoon to drop off this resplendent box of treats. I was more intrigued than scared because of the flavors that I had ordered. While my box did include the typical Almond, Vanilla, Coconut, and recently popular salted caramel; I also had Lemon Fleur de Sel, Chocolate Chip, and Italian Cream.

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I hate to use the term “Game Changer.” But seriously though. The Chocolate Chip macaron is just that. Take a Classic American sweet and breed it with my favorite Pretentious Parisian treat. Who does not love cookie dough? The filling is just the right amount of butter and brown sugar, sprinkled with chocolate chips. Don’t worry about pesky Salmonella here.  Eat all you want, because there are no eggs in the filling.

The Lemon Fleur de Sel was a second favorite. Very tart and lemony with a surprise kick of salt.

They were all spot on in my opinion. The almond did not lack the strong almond punch I enjoy. The vanilla was smooth and subtle.

I know, you’re done listening to me rant on about how delicious they are. You would rather be reading about them WHILE eating them. I get that. As of right now, you can place an order through the website. You can also find Joy Macarons at the White Rock Local Market and the Little D Market at Trinity Groves.  If we are lucky, maybe there will be a permanent retail location in our near future.

7:18 pm

http://www.missnaughtybrownie.com/

 

I took and instant liking to Rana, baker and proprietor of Miss Naughty Brownie. We share the commonality of food memories. Growing up for me, my fondest memories are centered around food and baking.

Whether it was my grandmother baking her famous lemon chiffon cake, or my father with his top secret cheesecake recipe, there was always a sugary sweet aroma filling my childhood.

To say I was in heaven when the time came to sample the Very Naughty Brownie was an understatement. I should have given myself time to breath in between layers of crumbly chocolate chip cookie, perfectly blended in Oreos, and chewy, fudgy, insanely chocolatey brownies. However, I am never one to do things small. Go big or go home, right? (By big, I mean up another dress size)

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(Original Naughty Brownie)

I guess what you want to know is was it worth it? Yes, absolutely. I am now on a juice cleanse and every gulp of Kale I take, I think back to the luscious brownie that I warmed in the microwave, or the one I added a generous scoop of ice cream too, and remember the quality time we spent together.

As if this brownie is not enough, Rana takes it up to another level and offers a Naughty Brownie with peanut butter, Naughty Brownies exploding with my favorite salted caramel, or Naughty Brownies loaded with your favorite candy bars! If chocolate isn’t your thing, (then we can’t be friends) there is also a Naughty Version that is a blondie. So, while you still get to indulge in a little bit of chocolate from the Oreo and the chocolate chip cookie dough, It is more subtle than it’s original counterpart.

Whatever your brownie pleasure, pick one, or one of each (we know you want to.) Don’t worry, we won’t judge you (unless you don’t share.)

4:10 pm

http://www.icreamcafe.com

9250 Dallas Parkway
Frisco, TX
(214) 618-2343

A friend of mine and I have been talking about visiting the new ice cream shop in Frisco for months. However, having just returned from eating my way through San Francisco, I was not particularly thrilled with what more cream and sugar would do to my already pudgy thighs. However, I remembered, iCream is completely customizable down to the milk and sweetener used. I could be as healthy or as sinful as I felt necessary.

So basically, you pick ice cream, yogurt, shake, or hot pudding. You can select your flavors, your milk, and even your sweetener. Splenda instead of sugar? They even offer agave nectar if you want to lower the calories, but want to stay away from artificial sweetener. If regular dairy milk does not do it for you, how about almond milk, or soy even? Then you pick your toppings/mix in’s and then watch the liquid nitrogen magic happen.

I decided to go the healthy route and use non fat milk and Splenda. This made my medium sized ice cream roughly 100 calories. That I can live with. Basically, your calories are only coming from the milk. They use high quality natural extracts that blew my mind. You mean to tell me the only ingredients in my ice cream are milk, Splenda, and extract? I am sold. Why am I wasting calories adding milk to my coffee every morning, when I could be indulging in one of these?

I decided red velvet and cake flavors would be delicious! It was. Since I went with skim milk, it was of course more of an ice milk consistency. Feeling particularly proud of myself for only speeding 100 calories, I naturally justified it with ordering another.  This time I went with cinnamon and toasted marshmallow. My favorite of the two. I could have eaten a gallon.

Luckily, it was a Monday afternoon and not busy at all. I was able to spend a fair amount of time chatting with Heidi, the franchise owner. The original store is based out of Chicago. This is the first location in Texas.  Heidi convinced me that as delicious as the low calorie options were, I should give a fully calorie loaded option a try.

Thankfully, the tiny sample I indulged in did not fill me with guilt. It did, however, fill me with much happiness. I sampled one of their signature PBOMG. Full fat vanilla ice cream, peanut butter, chocolate, peanut butter cups, and cream cheese.  Now this is what ice cream should taste like.

I also sampled a sorbet, which you can believe I will be all over when it is 105 degrees outside and I want something cool, but the thought of a belly full of cream does not do it for me. I went with pineapple and orange. Bright and fruity, it was the perfect refreshing treat.

My friend ordered a couple of hot puddings. I could definitely see indulging in one of these in the winter months. While curry is not on my list of favorite food items, I was slightly put off by her choice in a curry hot pudding, but with the additional sweetness, it was surpassingly pleasant. She also ordered a toasted marshmallow pudding and added chocolate and graham crackers. Move over hot coco, hot pudding is what I am going to crave on a cold day.

One of my first experiences with liquid nitrogen ice cream was from Smitten ice cream in San Francisco several years ago. I adore the concept. You can’t get anything fresher than this. It gives the whole small batch ice cream and whole new meaning. From what I can tell, DFW is embracing the liquid nitrogen ice cream movement with iCream, and I only see if getting better from here.

1:04 am

http://www.kesslercookies.com

1129 North Beckley Ave
Dallas, TX 75203

Have you ever wanted something for so long that your expectations were so high because of all of the awesome things you’ve heard, and you were sort of scared to try said item because it would be awful if they did not live up to the expectations you’ve set for them? Well, that was the case with Kessler Cookie Company. For years, I have stalked their site, drooled over their tins on Artizone, and even tried to pay off a woman in Bolsa Mercado for just one of her cranberry walnut biscotti’s.

For one reason or another, these cookies have been just out of my reach. I know, I can order a tin on their website. But, in all honesty, I was scared. That is a huge commitment. A whole tin of one type of cookie. What if I didn’t like it? What if they were dry? What if I made the wrong decision and got Double Chocolate Espresso when I should have gone with Honey Roasted Peanut Butter? So many unanswered questions.

Well, now I feel like a fool. A fool who has wasted several years of her life without a Kessler Cookie. I have lived a life void of perfection known as a vanilla sugar cookie. Wandered aimlessly through life completely unaware that massive plump cranberries sprinkled throughout the perfect oatmeal walnut cookie are within my reach.

If you too have that fear, let it go. If you are not ready to make that step, there is some good news. Kessler Cookie Company opens the doors of their baking studio for select hours and days (Check Face Book) and sell Texas Sized cookies (and sometimes some other goodies) for people like me with a fear of commitment to one flavor of cookie. But if you think you will go in and just pick up one, you are sadly mistaken. Do yourself a favor, and get a few. I am only looking out for you. I know that as soon as you get into your car, buckle up and start digging into that cookie on your way back over the Margret Hunt Bridge, you will be mad because I did not warn you as you turn your car around to go back and get more.

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(Vanilla Sugar, Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Cranberry Walnut)