Categories
bakeries dessert reviews Southern California

Dainties Cupcakes (CLOSED)

I want you to imagine a moist devil’s food cupcake, filled with flavored whipped cream (let’s use banana for this example). Now dip it in chocolate ganache to seal it, top it with an additional flourish of banana whipped cream and then garnish it with a slice of roasted banana.

Hungry?

Dainties Cupcakes are really a misnomer…but this is a good thing. The devil’s food cake and the chocolate ganache give the cupcakes a heft (without being heavy) that you just don’t get anywhere else. It makes these cupcakes — dare I say — manly!

I think I’ve finally found my cupcake.



All of Dainties cupcakes have the same base of moist devil’s food. They differ by their cream fillings. We ordered the Creme de Menthe, Tiramisu, Maple and the Stupid Chocolate.

The best of these was the Maple…just an incredible flavor combination with the devil’s food. The Tiramisu was also excellent…the cream reminded me of the mocha frosting at Goldilocks, only denser. Creme de Menthe was a really nice, subtle mint flavor. Then there’s the Stupid Chocolate, which adds dark chocolate chips to the cake, is filled with vanilla cream, then dipped in chocolate ganache twice. It’s topped with more vanilla cream and chocolate shavings. It gets its name because it’s a stupid amount of chocolate.

The actual storefront doesn’t look like much and the main signage says Flatbush and J, the catering company from which Dainties spawned. You’ll likely be greeted by Chef Bill Dertouzos, a Brooklyn native who’s the mastermind behind these amazing creations. Bill was very cool and gets extra props for giving us a sample of the roasted banana cupcake mentioned above. He said he was very proud of that creation, and he should be. It was our favorite cupcake of the bunch.

Finding Dainties is a little challenging. The address is on Santa Monica Blvd., but the entrance is actually on the side street. The easiest way to find it is to look for Winchell’s, then walk around the corner and Dainties is right there. I went there the other day and saw that they added a new mural on the wall near the entrance celebrating being named Best Cupcake by Los Angeles Magazine, so that should help you find it also.

The extra effort it takes to find the place will be rewarded. Believe you me, you will be rewarded!

INFORMATION
Dainties Cupcakes (CLOSED)
11058 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025 map
310.312.3656
Web site

Categories
dessert reviews Southern California

MILK

MILK is one of those places in L.A. where the specialty of the house is something decadent, like ice cream, but Angelenos will go in there and order a salad. In fact, since we were there around the tail end of lunch, there were plenty of folks in there eating salads.

We went to MILK for the ice cream and were not disappointed. My wife’s Blondie sundae was great even though I’m more into brownies myself. MILK’s vanilla ice cream is excellent, probably because the butter fat content is really high, and the candied pecans and whipped cream were really nice.

I ordered the Creamsicle – a scoop of blood orange sorbet with a scoop vanilla ice cream and topped with almond brittle. The brittle was crispy but soft enough that you won’t have to worry about chipping a tooth. I loved the tartness of the blood orange sorbet paired with the vanilla, but it really didn’t taste like a Creamsicle. It was still excellent, but I think a regular orange sorbet/sherbet would have captured that classic Creamsicle flavor a lot better (if that’s what they were going for).



To go with our ice cream concoctions, we split the Media Noche, a delicious Cuban-style sandwich of roast pork, ham, manchego cheese, pickles and a roasted garlic mayo. The accompanying salad was forgettable but since we had our ice cream, it didn’t really matter. Check out the cooler as you enter for a good selection of sodas, including Mexican Coke and some old-school bottles of Dr. Pepper.

We couldn’t leave MILK without trying their famous bon bons, so I got two each of coffee toffee, chocolate mint crunch and Berrynilla. The berrynilla was okay, but both the toffee and mint crunch were incredible.

I know there’s sandwiches and salads on the menu at MILK, but do yourself a favor…make sure you order some ice cream! We managed to find street parking pretty easily, but it would be a shame if you told someone you got a parking ticket because you drove all the way to MILK for a salad, wouldn’t it?

INFORMATION
MILK
7290 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90046 map
323.939.6455
Web site

Categories
dessert Japanese New York reviews

Kyotofu

In the past, I haven’t been a fan of Japanese desserts because I always found them to be bland. What I’m realizing lately is that the blandness is actually subtlety, and subtlety is a good thing. Kyotofu offers up small, light and delectable tofu-based desserts and appetizers. The ambience is very modern, and the presentation of each dish was beautiful.

We started with the tofu and chicken tsukune meatballs. The combo of tofu and chicken sounds a bit odd, but the tofu made the meatballs soft and smooth, and they were delicious.


Tofu and Chicken Tsukune Meatballs

The otsumami, the chef’s selection of appetizers was next. Tonight’s selection was steamed veggies, a tofu quiche, namasu (pickled daikon/carrot salad), and steamed tofu. The standouts here were the tofu quiche and the namasu. I seriously could’ve eaten a bowl of the namasu.


Otsumami - Chef's Selection

The four-course Kyotofu dessert KAISEKI tasting menu featured their signature sweet tofu topped with Japanese black sugar syrup and a piece of dried apricot, which was creamy like panna cotta (excellent); ginger-infused japanese rice okayu, a rice pudding with sour cherries, kuromitsu whipped cream and ginger candy (excellent), a creamy toasted walnut tahitian vanilla parfait (good), and a tofu-based warm chocolate cake that was rich and light and so good my wife ate most of it. There was also a serving of kinako cream, which was like peanut butter smeared on the plate (very good).

KAISEKI tasting menu

My wife ordered the ichigo strawberry anmitsu, which was a lot like Japanese halo-halo. It had gelatin, strawberry mochi bits, strawberries and azuki (red bean) sauce and a quarter-sized dorayaki pancake. This was so refreshing, especially after all of our other food.

Next up were two miniature cookies…kuro goma (black sesame) and an okara cookie dipped in green tea frosting. I think overall, food with black sesame looks cool, but the flavor is just okay, and that’s how I feel about the kuro goma cookie. Okara is a high-fiber byproduct of tofu or soymilk and is used as the base for the cookie. I didn’t think you could really taste it, but the green tea “frosting” was really nice.

As a palate cleanser, they brought us lychee jelly cubes to end our meal.

Now this might sound like a lot of food, but the portions are really, really small. Considering all the eating we had done throughout the day, it was actually a perfect place to end day one of our NY vacation/eating excursion.

INFORMATION
Kyotofu
705 9th Ave
(between 48th St & 49th St)
New York, NY 10019
212.974.6012
Web site

Categories
Best of Inuyaki dessert Filipino recipes

Mom’s Famous Leche Flan

Leche FlanI never thought I’d get permission to post this recipe, but here it is! My mom’s leche flan (literally milk custard) is famous in our hometown Filipino community. It’s the one thing people always expected or asked her to bring to parties. It’s thicker and denser than Mexican flan, which I always find bland and disappointing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

INGREDIENTS
8 egg yolks
2 cups evaporated milk
1 tsp. lemon extract or lemon zest
1 cup sugar
Extra 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar to caramelize before adding the rest of the mixture

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place all ingredients in a bowl and use a hand or stand mixer to mix the custard together. To ensure the smoothness of the custard, you should strain the mixture while before pouring it into the baking dish or mold.
  3. Place extra sugar in a small pan and heat it over medium heat until the sugar melts and browns.
  4. Pour melted sugar into your baking pan or mold so it coats the bottom.
  5. Add custard mixture to your baking pan or mold on top of the carmelized sugar.
  6. Cover the baking pan or mold with foil and place it into a water bath (i.e. a bigger pan with about 1/2 inch of water in it). This is essential for cooking the leche flan properly.
  7. Bake at 375 for approximately an hour.
  8. Check with a toothpick or nudge the pan to see if the mixture is almost solid.
  9. Remove the foil and cook uncovered for 20 more minutes.
  10. Remove from oven and let cool on the counter. You can also refrigerate the leche flan after it reaches room temperature if you’re making this a day ahead of time.
  11. When you are ready to serve, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the flan.
  12. Place a serving plate on top of the pan and invert it quickly. Be careful not to spill! When properly executed, the flan will be golden brown on top and yellowish on the bottom.
  13. Enjoy!
Categories
dessert Filipino recipes

Bibingka (Philippine rice cake)

Here’s an easy recipe for bibingka. It’s the one my mom used to make and it’s an interesting mix of flavors.

INGREDIENTS
1 cup Japanese sweet rice flour (Mochiko is the preferred brand)
1 cup sugar (you can reduce this amount if you want)
1 cup evaporated milk or coconut milk
1/2 stick butter (at room temperature)
1 tbsp baking powder
5 eggs
Parmesan cheese or fresh grated coconut (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place all ingredients in a bowl and use a hand or stand mixer and mix thoroughly.
  3. Add mixture to a baking pan.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes. Insert a toothpick to see if the cake is done.
  5. If you want, sprinkle Parmesan cheese or grated coconut on top of the cake about 10 minutes before it’s finished cooking.
  6. Remove from oven and let it cool to room temperature before serving.
  7. Enjoy.
Categories
Best of Inuyaki dessert recipes

Sweet Potato Pie

When I was in college, I had a sweet potato pie at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles that was so bad it compelled me to learn how to make my own. It was one of my first culinary epiphanies.

I’ve been using this sweet potato pie recipe for years. I found it on the Web a long time ago, so I’m not sure who I’m supposed to credit, but here it is:

INGREDIENTS
2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 (9 inch) unbaked deep dish pie crust (Dough/crust and I don’t get along. Mrs. Smith’s is my favorite store brand)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and place the rack in the middle of the oven.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the sweet potatoes, eggs, evaporated milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. For a lighter, fluffier pie, assemble this mixture in a blender and give it whir for a minute or so to incorporate some air into the mixture.
  3. Pour the batter into the pie crust and place the pie directly on the oven rack.
  4. Bake for 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let the pie cool for a bit before serving.

For variety, you can top with 1 cup of toasted pecans and then drizzle the top of the pie with a little maple syrup before placing in oven.

(Picture courtesy of The Green Cutting Board.)