Let me tell you my sugary secrets…

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)

5:02 pm

http://www.smallcakescupcakery.com

2315 E. Southlake Ste 106
Southlake, TX 76092

5999 Custer Rd.
Frisco, TX 75035

I remember these cupcakes as if I had them yesterday. Flash back to the last weekend in January, I was sitting by a roaring fire in a beautiful Victorian Bed & Breakfast in Hot Springs, AR without a care in the world. (Other than keeping my husband away from my cupcakes).

Smallcakes has been open in Southlake since last fall.  Now we have one less than a mile from my home in Frisco, which is kind of a love hate thing. Several more spots in DFW are slated to open this year.

I usually stay away from chain establishments for blog reviews if it were up to me, but you guys really wanted to know how this place was. Fine! I don’t mind being your Guinea pig.

So, on my way out of town for a little R&R, I decided to pick up a few Smallcakes to sample once we arrived.

We picked out a Fruity Pebbles, Caramel Crunch, Wedding Cake, and a Chocolate with Vanilla.

photo

(Top Left to Right: Caramel Crunch, Wedding Cake

(Bottom Left to Right Fruity Pebbles, Chocolate with Vanilla)

My two favorite were the Fruity Pebbles, and the Caramel Crunch.

I was thinking the Fruity Pebbles would be geared more towards children with its bright orange frosting and sprinkling of Fruity Pebbles on top. I was wrong. The whole damn cake taste like a box of my favorite cereal fell into the mixing bowl.  It’s hard to explain. The cake was light and buttery, but flecked with pieces of cereal throughout. I am not sure how that got that much Fruity Pebble flavor into the cake. I usually find when you tend to blend it up in the food processor and mix it into the batter, you cake comes out dry. Theirs definitely did not.

The Caramel Crunch had so many layers of texture that definitely lacks in your average cupcake. A rich chocolate cake topped with a gooey-stick to your teeth caramel, sprinkled with crushed pretzels and a generous helping of sea salt. The “frosting”, and I use the term loosely is what made this cupcake. This caramel is thick and rich and not a frosting at all. I have no idea how they piped it on to the cupcake since it is so thick. But whatever Houdini like powers they used, I absolutely adore this cupcake.

The Chocolate with Vanilla was rather lackluster. Overly sweet pink vanilla buttercream on top of a  straightforward chocolate cupcake.  I am sure this one appeals to the kids, and people who prefer a cupcake more on the “plain” side. It was not bad, it just was not memorable at all. If you’re going to do regular flavors, they need to be the best they can be since there is nothing about them to stand out.

The Wedding Cake was sure to be a favorite of mine because it was loaded down with deliciously almond flavor, but just like the Chocolate with Vanilla, It just did not wow me. The cake on this one was more on the dry side than the others, which makes me think it is just a quality control issue since none of the other cupcakes were dry. But, other than that the frosting was just too sweet like the Chocolate with Vanilla.

Overall, I think Smallcakes is a good choice if you’re in the area and want a cupcake. They change their menu up pretty frequently. I am pretty excited to try some of the more unique flavors they offer. As fast as they are growing, they must be doing something right.

PS. If any of you have had their cupcakes, let me know you’re favorites. I am planning ahead for my next trip!

6:09 pm

http://foodwithatwist.com

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of sampling a very simple, yet mind blowing cookie from Val’s Food with a Twist (Soon to be Val’s Cheesecakes). Normally, I would have eaten said cookie, provided feedback, told a few people whom I thought would enjoy said cookie, and move on with my week.

But no, I have had impure thoughts of this cookie all week. I would spend Valentine’s Day with it if I could. This cookie knew just one date and you would be hooked. It knows it is only a matter of time before I start texting it at all hours of the night, asking to see it, just for one bite; or asking if there is someone else. I know there is someone else. I can’t be the only one. With its unpretentious look, yet utterly satisfying and craveable flavor, there has to be others. This folks, was a Oatmeal, Bacon, and Cranberry cookie. Simple yes. Bacon in cookies isn’t new. But when it is done right, it is mind blowing. This, people, is a cookie done right.

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(Oatmeal, Bacon, Cranberry Cookies)

Normally, I wouldn’t have even thought about featuring a blog post about one specific cookie, especially when the meat and potatoes behind the company itself is cheesecake. Yet, a week has gone by and these cookies haunt my dreams.

The plain and simple truth is, I feel I would be doing a disservice to sweet/savory lovers, bacon lovers, or just plain cookie lovers everywhere if I did not make my point about just how delicious this cookie was. My plan was to sample a few bites of a cookie, and put them away for a later time. The next thing I knew, I was spending a Saturday night alone with the Food Network, in my adult onesie, eating an entire box of cookies. Because in all honesty, these cookies are all the companionship one needs.

The cookie had a nice snap, but it was chewy in the places that it needed to be chewy. Nice thick chunks of bacon provided just the right amount of salt, and the tart cranberries were the perfect compliment to this oatmeal cookie. I could totally justify this as a breakfast cookie.

I know a few of you have asked me what I think about the cheesecakes after I posted the picture of the cookies. The sad truth is, I haven’t tried their cheesecakes yet. But judging by the flavors of Sweet Potato, Elvis (banana/peanut butter, duh), and the new Bourbon brownie cheesecake, I should probably invest in some new sweatpants, hire Richard Simmons for the month, or just sew my current size label into a bigger size. (No one will ever know that way)

In addition to the cookies, they also offer cheesecake balls (brilliant! Think cake ball), as well as pies and brownies. Chipotle pepper brownie anyone?

I promise to report back with a brand new blog post about the cheesecakes once I have had them. In the mean time, if you can’t wait for my feedback, the cheesecakes are available for order, or by stopping in Cedars Social, Oddfellows, or Union Bear for a slice. While you’re at it, make sure to stop by Opening Bell coffee for a Oatmeal, Bacon, Cranberry cookie. Unless you’re like me, then just go to foodwithatwist.com and order yourself a whole box.

 

2:09 pm

http://www.labella-cupcakes.com

2405 N. Main Street
Fort Worth, TX 76164

4800 South Hulen Street
Fort Worth, TX 76132

I hate it when a bakery is so spot on with some of their flavors, and yet others are completely vile and artificial tasting.

I have been sitting on this review for a while, because I just did not understand. I actually had to visit on a few occasions to make sure I wasn’t going insane with my thoughts.

La Bella

 

(Top Left to Right: Mint Chocolate Chip, Cherry Limeade

Bottom Right: Chocolate Cream Cheese)

La Bella2

(Top Left to Right: Strawberry Cheesecake, Key Lime, Cherry Marzipan,

Bottom Left to Right: Vanilla, Chocolate Cream Cheese, Almond Joy)

La Bella Cupcakes has some of the most amazing traditional flavors. What I mean by that, is their plain vanilla, chocolate with cream cheese, almond joy (chocolate/coconut), and even their mint chocolate were fantastic.  The first and only time I have craved a specific chocolate cupcake with cream cheese frosting from a particular place. It is seriously that good.

But anyone can do those flavors. Those aren’t the flavors I like to see. Think outside the cupcake, do something that will set you apart. Well, they are trying, but they fail.

The Cherry Limeade, Key Lime, and Cherry Marzipan cupcakes were some of the worst cupcakes I have ever had. I mean worst in terms of flavor. The texture and moistness of the cake were great, but the flavors were that of an Easy Bake Oven.

The vile part may be going too far. But I hate flavors that taste artificial. If you’re going to make a Cherry Limeade, let’s try to go for real lime and cherry juice. Hell, I would settle for the juice from the jar of maraschino cherries to be honest.

Sadly, the Cherry Marzipan was not any better. I love marzipan, but I got zero hint of almond in the entire cupcake. All I tasted was the same horrible artificial cherry that was in the Cherry Limeade.

The Key Lime wasn’t any better. All around artificial lime tasting. No tart Key Lime flavor we all know and love, just artificial. Wonder if they used those plastic decorative limes by mistake?

I am still baffled at how a bakery can have some of the best and some of the worst cupcakes I have ever had in my entire life.  La Bella Cupcakes is definitely the anomaly of the cupcake world.

3:21 pm

http://jraes.com
955 Foch St
Fort Worth, TX 76107
817-332-0090

I guess one would assume if you are going to have a dessert at a place with a specific dessert in the name of said store, that it would only stand to reason that would be their highlight, right?

Well, shame on me for not picking up a cheesecake when I was at J Rae’s Bakery (Formerly known as J Rae’s Cheesecakes) in Fort Worth. Or rather, shame on them for being sold out. Whoever you want to blame, I was left with only a few cookies and a couple of sad, sad cupcakes. Maybe that is why the name change; since they weren’t able to keep their name sake in stock?

J Rae's

(Top left to right, Snickerdoodle, peanut butter, and iced sugar cookie

Bottom Left to Right: Carrot Cake Cupcake and Coconut Cupcake)

The cupcakes were a disaster. That is in fact the only way I can describe them. I had a carrot cake cupcake and a coconut cupcake. The cake was dry on both. The carrot cake cupcake almost resembled a fruitcake with its density. Then, when sometimes the frosting can partially redeem a bad cupcake, it is loaded with the horrible edible glitter. Why do places feel the need to add edible glitter to their cupcakes? It changes the texture of the frosting and makes it seem grainy. Oh no, “it’s ok to eat.” I am always assured. That is what they said about paste in grade school. Just imagine what my digestive system is doing. Pretty sure that is a Mardi Gras float going down my digestive track complete with J Rae’s edible glitter. The coconut cupcake wasn’t any better. Take an already dry cake, add dried coconut flakes to the batter; you get my point.

The only redeeming thing about this visit was the iced sugar cookies. The cookies were chewy, yet firm and loaded with some delicious butter cream. It didn’t hurt that they were cut out in whimsical shapes like cupcakes. And no, not a stitch of edible glitter to be found. The Peanut Butter and Snickerdoodles were passible, but could definitely not hold a candle to the iced sugar cookies.

What lessons have we learned today?

1) Edible glitter should never be used… Unless you’re a stripper, or you’re Katy Perry and are actually wearing cupcakes.

2) You really can’t go wrong when you take a buttery sugar cookie and load it up with frosting (unless you add edible glitter to it.)

3)   If you go into Bob’s Big Buns and leave with anything else other than one of his Big  Buns, you will probably be disappointed.

2:11 pm

http://www.sugarraysbakeshop.com
4021 Preston Rd Suite 624
Plano, TX 75093
972-403-9200

It is no secret that I have been in love with Sugar Ray’s since myself and the rest of the judges at the 2012 Cupcake Camp crowed them a winner with their Lemon Ricotta Cupcake! So once news broke that a storefront was finally in the works, I knew that The Cupcake Gods have been listening to my sugar induced prayers.

Sugar Ray’s Bakeshop has not even been open a month and already selling out every day. The reasoning is pretty simple, the cupcakes are awesome. Add to the awesome cupcakes with a stellar location (just right off Preston between Parker and Spring Creek in Plano at the shopping center that includes Bread Winners and Sur La Table.) Or maybe it could be because the mastermind behind these cupcakes, Rachel, is adorable and as sweet as her cupcakes.

Every day there will be different flavors. They are usually pretty good about posting them on Face Book, but you can always call in advance if you want to know what kind of cupcakes they are slinging that day.

The day I went, I sampled one of everything. They all looked too good to narrow down my choices. The daily selection was Red Velvet, Pumpkin Spice, German Chocolate, Chocolate Samoa, Blackberry Buckle, Boston Cream Pie, and a Caramel Apple.

SugarRays

(Top Left to Right: Samoa, Pumpkin Spice

Middle Left to Right: German Chocolate, Red Velvet

Bottom Left to Right: Blackberry Buckle, Caramel Apple)

Sadly, my favorite cupcake of the bunch did not make it into the picture. It might be because I decided to sample it on my way home. I mean, it was a Boston Cream Pie cupcake. It is such a portable cupcake since it is topped with ganache instead of frosting. It would have almost been a disgrace to not enjoy this cupcake on the drive home. I have been lucky enough to enjoy Boston Cream Pie from it’s birthplace at the Parker House Restaurant in Boston. It was founded in 1855 and has varied a lot from state to state, but Sugar Ray’s was as close to the original as I have found. A lot of places make the mistake of being way to heavy handed with the ganache. This covers up the flavor of the custard, which is the star of the dessert in my opinion.

The BlackBerry Buckle was another favorite; blackberry coffee cake meets cobbler.  Seeing as how it is not blackberry season, I was amazed how delicious the blackberries tasted. I hate baking with frozen fruit because of what the water content does to the cake. Maybe Sugar Ray’s found a secret blackberry farm somewhere and are keeping it to themselves.

The Chocolate Samoa tasted just like my favorite Girl Scout Cookie and had me wishing it was time for those adorable little girls to come knocking at my door.

As always, you can’t go wrong with Pumpkin Spice and Caramel Apple. Those are both two fall staples in my book.

But to be honest, they were all amazing in their own way. Even the Red Velvet stood out and did not taste like every other Red Velvet. I am happy to have yet another awesome cupcake shop that is in the ‘burbs. Just remember, go early; because there is nothing worse than having your heart set on a specific cupcake only to find they have been gobbled up by someone else.

 

3:26 pm

http://www.wolfgangpuck.com/restaurants/fine-dining/3917

300 Reunion Blvd
Dallas, TX 75202
214-741-5560

The Dallas fine dining scene has disappointment me a lot when it comes to desserts. I have said on numerous occasions that I hate when restaurants put so much thought and attention into their food, but leave the desserts as an afterthought.

Well, I am no stranger to Wolfgang Puck’s cornucopia of dining. Whether it be his fine dining or his more casual concepts. Since it doesn’t get better than Cut or Spago in my opinion, going to 560 at Reunion Tower hasn’t been at the top of my list.

However, some friends of ours just got married, and as a celebration, we opted to treat them to dinner at 560.

In all honesty, the food was sort of a let down. It was good, but not memorable. Add to it the 1.5 hours it took to get our main course, and I was close to eating cocktail garnish for nourishment.

However, once the desserts came, my mood instantly improved. These were by far some of the better desserts I have had at any of Wolfgang Puck’s establishments.

Our dessert choices included Baked Alaska, PBJ Cheesecake, Blondie Sundae, and Fresh Baked Cookies.

Diptic

(Top Left to Right: PBJ Cheesecake, Baked Alaska

Bottom Left to Right: Blondie Sundae, Fresh Baked Cookies)

Once we dug in to the small square of PBJ cheesecake, with a grape glee center, it was a stand off across the table. We were all determined to eat as much as we could before it was gone. I was willing to do whatever it took to distract my husband and friends so I could get to the next bite before them. Since in my nostalgic childhood expertise, I am convinced that the only jelly that should be included in a PBJ is grape, I was on cloud nine. The sorbet was delightful because it tasted just like concord jelly, but a frozen sorbet version.

My two favorite things from the 70’s are Baked Alaska and Fondue. (No, not shag carpet and bell bottoms.) So, to see a Baked Alaska on any dessert menu has me wanting to break out the silver disco shirt and sing some BeeGee’s. This Baked Alaska was all fall, with a creamy pumpkin ice cream and a buttermilk cake that was surrounded by perfectly toasted meringue and an apple caramel sauce.

I love Blondies, but you don’t see them as often as their every popular chocolate counterpart. So, if I see one somewhere, I must have it. The Blondie Sundae was good, but couldn’t hold a candle to the other two. The blondie itself was so sweet that the vanilla bean and butter pecan ice cream it was topped off with seemed flavorless, which it wasn’t when eaten alone. Add to it the toffee sauce, and you have sweet, layered by sweet, layered by sweet.

So, maybe most people wouldn’t pay $14 for three fresh baked cookies, but those people settle for Chips Ahoy or stale vending machine wafers. The plate consisted of a Peanut Butter, Oatmeal Raisin, and a Chocolate Chip. All I have to say about the cookies itself is that there were 4 of us, and 3 cookies. I may or may not have pointed behind my friends and said “Look, there is Wolfgang Puck!” while I hurriedly shoveled warm cookies into my mouth.

Overall, I would highly encourage you to go for cocktails and dessert, or better yet, sit at the bar and enjoy some pork buns and follow it up with the entire dessert menu. You won’t be disappointed.

2:42 pm

https://www.facebook.com/WhatsDaScoop/info

Let’s be honest, we are getting to that time of year where you pack on several layers of clothes to hide the “winter bulge.” And don’t lie about shaving. We all know November 1st was probably your last leg shave of the season. We won’t even talk about your bikini line.

So with that said, I think fall and winter is the perfect time of year for ice cream. I am an anomaly and only crave ice cream when it is too cold to feel my fingers. I heard somewhere that your metabolism works better when you’re cold…or something.

Seriously though, what better time to chow down on a pint (ok, or a gallon) of ice cream than when you can hide your newfound love handles with thick ass sweaters?

So, now that I have made it easier for you to justify your gluttony, you should find the What’s Da Scoop? truck and have them dish you out a few scoops.

I have tried more of their flavors than I care to admit, but my favorites have to be the Blue Moon and Fat Elvis.

Because I am mentally 12 years old, I love the Blue Moon because it tastes just like Froot Loops. Don’t lie, everyone likes Froot Loops.

What's Da Scoop1

(Blue Moon Ice Cream)

Fat Elvis is one of those flavors that I would eat off the ground. Not that I have dropped my ice cream on the ground in the Dallas Arts District and picked up the scoop before it melted…. Fat Elvis has banana Puree, a thick peanut butter ripple, and chocolate, lot’s of chocolate.

What's Da Scoop2

(Fat Elvis Ice Cream)

Listen, the Holidays are coming so you should start prepping now. Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away and it is not holiday one should take lightly.  The more you start packing away now, the easier it will be to finish off that whole pie by yourself.  Don’t worry, I won’t judge you for it.