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Trendy And Festive Holiday Desserts

Extraordinary Desserts
Extraordinary Desserts
As we head into the holidays we'll look at festive deserts that are different and trendy!
GUESTSKaren Krasne, owner and executive cheif of Extraordinary Desserts, author, Extraordinary Cakes Caron Golden, food writer of San Diego Magazine column "Local Bounty" and author of blog San Diego Foodstuff.

CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm mar maneuver. The holidays are right around the corner, and we all have traditional desserts and sweets we roll out every year. What about changing things up this year and serving a festive dessert that's different, something trendy or something truly extraordinary? For this special food segment, I'd like to introduce my guests; Karen Krasne is owner of extraordinary desserts here in San Diego and author of the new book, extraordinary cakes. Hi Karen. KRASNE: Hello. CAVANAUGH: I'm going to be saying your first and last name through this, because I have two Karens on the show. Karen golden, writer of the food column, Local Bounty for San Diego magazine. Welcome. GOLDEN: Hi, Maureen. CAVANAUGH: Karen Krasne, in the introduction of your book, extraordinary cakes, you say that wherever you go, you seem to find yourself bringing a cake with you. I thought it was only for us! KRASNE: Ha, no. They seem to go everywhere with me. Every plane, train. I don't know. I think because wherever we're going, we're celebrating something, seeing old friends or I'm taking someone as a thank you or it just -- I don't know. They're always with us CAVANAUGH: What kind of an expression is bringing a cake for you? >>> Like a hostess gift. That kind of thing, maybe. Generally people -- if I don't bring something, I hear, gee, glad you came. Why didn't you bring us a cake? So it seems easier. CAVANAUGH: You brought us some things today too, Karen? GOLDEN: Did. I brought some cake pops from Michelle Coulan. So everybody's going to be very happy with this segment. CAVANAUGH: Yes. Extraordinary cakes your new book, what is the concept of it, Karen Krasne? What makes these cakes extraordinary in your opinion? KRASNE: Well, I mean, the book itself, the concept is a documentation of 23years baking here in the United States in San Diego in particular. So I thought it was time to document the work that we've done. What makes them extraordinary I think is the level of ingredients and the concept of things meshing together, making either a cake or separate leed being a dessert on their own. So if you want to make the 3-day process to make the whole entire tort, or you can extract one recipe from that and make a simple muse mousse or sauce. That's the way I was trained in Paris. Mixing and matching. And I think that's why my desserts have an unusual flare. They're not an exact recipe from any one person. They're my mixing and matches of things CAVANAUGH: The whole idea of cakes has become trendy recently. Cake balls and cake pops are big right now. First of all, what is it -- I was talking about this with people in the news room, and they said we don't know what a cake ball is. Tell us what they are. GOLDEN: As I said, I brought in some from Michelle. These are being made everywhere now. This is the next evolution from the cup cake. So if you're going to take a gorgeous cake that someone like Karen makes and then you're going to reduce it into something that is hand sized and get a cup cake, and people have long thought those were really lovely affordable treats. And now, we've got these little balls here, some of them are on a stick, and you would call them a cake pop. Some of them are without the stick, and they're being called cake balls. And you're seeing -- these are maybe 2, 3 bites sort of the Amuse bouche of dessert. And they're very cute. I don't know why they have surfaced as they have recently. And they have been very popular around the country. And now they finally hit San Diego with a bang. I think there are at least a dozen places making them now. And of course, they're making them in different kinds of quality. CAVANAUGH: Right, exactly. GOLDEN: So that's something people should be aware of. CAVANAUGH: Are they hard to make? GOLDEN: I haven't tried making them. But -- I think they are. If you're doing something the way Michelle does. And Karen, do you make cake pops at all? KRASNE: No. GOLDEN: With Michelle's, these are very laborer intensive. She is making a sheet pan of cake, and basically scooping out a ball, and dipping it in melted chocolate of some kind. Some of them she stuffs the cake with something else. KRASNE: I was going to ask that. GOLDEN: Maybe a piece of fruit, maybe a berry, soming like that. Then she will do some kind of extravagant thing, like here we've got this coconut cake dipped in chocolate, then fresh coke nut. We've got some that she has acheese cake that she does, which is a square. KRASNE: Cheese cake pop. That's really good. GOLDEN: And you can see the elaborate -- we've got gold leaf. That kind of thing. Soap these things are very elaborate. As it happened this morning on my e-mail, I got a spam message from some vendor selling sort of the tools to make cake pops, which I thought was funny. And I actually clickod this thing to see what the heck this was. Instead of using a cake sheet, what they're doing they're making pans that have holes in them. CAVANAUGH: Ah, like cupcakes. GOLDEN: Like half circles. And a second pan also with half circles. So what you would do is fill up the pan with all of this, and then cover it, and bake it. And in theory, I guess you get a ball, then they send you sticks and all sorts of things. CAVANAUGH: Funny. GOLDEN: They couldn't be that difficult to make in theory. The question is how good are you at doing it? CAVANAUGH: Now, Karen Krasne, that brings me to part of your book that is all about what you need to make extraordinary cakes. You go into quite some detail on there are just some things you actually have to have in order to really produce a quality cake. GOLDEN: Well, I think for this book, yes; you do. And I think for the recipes to turn out properly, it's important to have the right mould. We found that testers making these cakes didn't really acknowledge that we said it needed to be exactly this. Then they had difficulty because they had a leftover product. So we do spell it out pretty clearly what you need so that it does turn out like the picture shows CAVANAUGH: And you also have cakes for every season in this book. What do you highlight for winter? KRASNE: Well, one thing that we did for winter was the you'll log that we do at the store. And if you don't want to have that look of the cake, you can cut them into miniature brownies. So there's different options that you can do with every cake. They could be little petty fores instead of being a large you'll log. . It was difficult getting to winder because I think for San Diego as I baker, there's a lot of summer. CAVANAUGH: Right, exactly. KRASNE: For winter, it's either dense chocolate or something that's very healthy. GOLDEN: You've got citrus available and certainly apples, pears. KRASNE: But pears are not a big seller in our store. So to me, to make a book with pears in it, I didn't feel like it was necessarily going to be someone's favorite thing to make. We do an apple and chocolate idea. And that does come up in autumn. And our citrus, we save for summer, because the look of everything was photographed. We went into detail, five shoots, maybe 12hours a day. So they really had looks of summer, looks of winter. So we put the citrus typically throughout, like, May, June through August in there. CAVANAUGH: One of the things that really struck me about this book, I'm not a big baker by any means, but you advised people to make some of the more elaborate cakes in this book over a series of days. I've neverheard that advice before. KRASNE: Well, that's typically how -- before I had employee system how had I would do them. At the restaurant. When we just had the original store. And I think even as a cook at home, if I'm going to make an elaborate dinner party for 8 to 10 people, I'm not going to make it all in one day. I'm going to do a mise en place, and say I need this for the salad, I'm going to buy all the products, then one day I'm going to make the sauce CAVANAUGH: I know assembling a menu that way. But actually creating a cake that way was a new concept for me. KRASNE: Yeah, it seems you extreme low organized. It takes the frustration out of baking because it doesn't put all the emphasis of having to put it all on one day and being rushed and waiting. And as a professional, I know what to make first and how to time it and what I can be doing in between all that. But as a home person, you have the phone ringing and people need you. So I think it's better to space it out and go into it. Then the last day, you get to just decorate it and enjoy it. Upon it's not like you hate it by the time it's coming to the table CAVANAUGH: Is that I new concept for you, Karen golden? Make a holiday dessert over a number of day it is? GOLDEN: Oh, God, no. I love making pies, in fact. And pie crusts definitely -- KRASNE: You're right GOLDEN: Make the crusts in advance, and then basically put it all together, you know, the day of and bake it off. And a lot of things. If I'm doing something that's going to involve ice cream, and I'm making the ice cream, I'll make it in advance and put it in the freezer. Anybody who entertains and does it regularly knows that you don't want everything to have to be done the day of or you're going to go insane and be sleeping while your guests are eating. CAVANAUGH: You're right. Could you describe, Karen Krasne, the treats you brought in first degree? KRASNE: Oh, that's the citrones from the book, it's a lemon meringue cheese cake. It's got a thin Graham cracker crust, then a creamy New York style cheese cake. And then there is lemon Kurd folded through it. And then it's topped with meringue. That 3-day process is your crust and interior. But you needed to make the lemon Kurd. And then upon serving, you'll have to make the meringue. So it too is a cheese cake. It probably could be a 2-day. CAVANAUGH: Probably a 2-day project. I wanted to also talk about -- these are cakes, I think that probably people have not seen before in other kinds of cake books. Are these all your creations? KRASNE: Yes, they are. And some are the most popular at the store. And some are my personal favorites. And some were born for the book. In documenting our working there were certain things that I felt need said to be talked about, whether at this point in in desserts we are talking about salt in things, which has been going on for quite a while. It's not that it's a new thing anymore, but I think it's a trend here to stay. So I felt it was important to talk about that at some level. And I think it was important to talk about rose in a product, which is not something most of us are familiar using. And it can be a difficult product to find. But I do tell you where you can get it, and I do think it's a great addition to a cake for a baby shower, a bridal shower, and just ethnically driven kind of ingredient CAVANAUGH: Let me -- speaking of ingredient, Karen golden, lots of people have food allergies, and they can look at these wonderful cakes but sometimes they have to make some changes. They can't eat gluten or perhaps they have a problem with sweets. What does that mean to ONE'S enjoyment of holiday desserts? GOLDEN: Today, not a lot. I think if you were to ask me 1 or 2years ago, I would say good luck to you. Make some meringue with some Splenda and have it, you know? But today, I am astonished as how many bakeries are making very delicious gluten free products, pastries in particular. And even some sugar-free products. And I'm particularly interested in the sugar-free since I've got diabetes. So I'm trying to keep that down. The gluten has been interesting for me to discover. I'm not gluten free. Will I am happy to eat gluten. But when I write about it, I've got to be tasting things CAVANAUGH: Right, yeah. And a couple years ago, I did some pieces on gluten free product, and they were pretty awful when you're talking about baked products. Things have gotten much more sophisticated since then. And I've discovered a few places that have absolutely delicious desserts. And you would never know that they did not have gluten CAVANAUGH: You want to share? GOLDEN: Sure. One of them is called olive oil. And olive oil organics. And they're a little place in imperial beach. But they are at half a dozen farmers' markets. And they -- I sampled a variety of different things. Some of them are quite obvious. Gluten free things made with coconut and that kind of thing. But they did a cup cake. I was doing most recently treat enforce Halloween. And I was told to try their cup cakes. And I am not all that fond of most cup cakes anyway. So I was particularly apprehensive about trying a gluten free cup cake. And it turns out they use some bean flour, that apparently is fava and garbanzo bean flour that keeps the cake really lovely and moist. And that is always -- and light, also. And that's always a problem. You've got heaviness and you've got moists. So there's someone definitely, if you're at, like, the PB farmer's market, imperial beach, Little Italy, Hillcrest, they're in a number of places CAVANAUGH: Did I run interest a recipe in your book that's vegan? KRASNE: Yeah, we actually have a vegan cake in here, then we have four gluten free options here CAVANAUGH: Ah, ha. Okay. So you have something really ambitious to choose from. GOLDEN: And a lot of conventional bakeries are always offering gluten free, and vegan, and sugar-free options Everyone is recognizing if they are going to appeal to as many customers as possible, you've got to offer as many options as pol. It's a little tricky if you are a regular conventional baker and trying to keep the gluten out of your products because there are people who really are seriously ill when they get them and that could be an issue CAVANAUGH: Exactly. You have to be very careful about that. I know for extreme sensitivities. Wee kind of out of time, Karen Krasne, but your book is really ambitious. I mean, I look at it and I say wow! I don't know if I could ever make a cake like that. What would you like people to take away from this book? Would you like them to get adventurous? KRASNE: I think use their imagination and use bits and pieces of certain recipes. Or certain cakes are really easy to do just as a single recipe. So yeah, I think just to enjoI it, because it is very different from whatever else is out there in terms of cake books CAVANAUGH: Karen Krasne will be signing copies of her book, extraordinary cakes, at an event called cake Couture at blooming daily's in fashion valley this Saturday from noon to 2:00. And I'd like to thank my guests. Of thank you so much for speaking with us GOLDEN: Pleasure. KRASNE: Thank you.

The Holidays are, as they say, right about the corner. We all have traditional desserts and sweets we roll out every year. But what about changing things up this year and serving a festive dessert that's different, something trendy...or something truly extraordinary to thrill and amaze your holiday guests.