sugar britches

one day in international, i made curried shrimp. it was delicious and there is not photographic evidence of it.  there was, however, evidence all over my pants. I managed to get curry powder….everywhere. Including my hind quarters, and it wasn’t long before the nickname Curry A$$ was born.

after advanced dining room, we went to advanced patisserie (because i’m soooo advanced now), where on day 1 we made all kinds of fruit coulis. I made a delightful cherry coulis. and got it on my pants. enter Coulis A$$.  not nearly as catchy.  BUT i actually have pictures of what my hard work and soiled britches produced (props to our chef who required pictures of every plate in our final project).

our chef was awesome. cool, calm, and collected (as most pastry chefs are) and not afraid to beat into the teenagers’ heads the importance of taking care of your body in this industry–with both food and exercise.  only healthy snacks were allowed during lecture (i’m continually shocked by the amount of soda, cookies, and fast food consumed for breakfast here) and we all had to tell her what we do to keep ourselves fit.  Ironic in a lab full of cream, butter, and sugar, but that made it all the more necessary.

So–the treats! We worked in groups the first few days, with one person directing the plate design, then the last days we worked together for production, but plated our own desserts.  All these (well, the decent looking ones) went to the Advanced Dining Room for lunch service.

chocolate mousse with a tuile cookie, chocolate piping, and assorted fruit coulis

almond financier with red-wine poached pineapple, chocolate straw, lace spiral, and piping/sauces. (my plate design–chef said best of the day!)

lemon basil bavarian cream on a phyllo nest

fresh fruit tart with coconut cream

pear tatin with lace cookie (that awkward open space on the right side of the cookie is for ice cream). first dessert plated totally on my own!

lemon-scented cheesecake on a chocolate cookie with fresh raspberries and a sugar spire (sugar work is now my sworn enemy).

hand-pulled apple strudel with a cookie cup for ice cream and demerits for the fresh fruit because it didn’t go with the fall flavors of the strudel. whoops!

and my final! chocolate lava cake with (now tremendously melted) raspberry swirl ice cream. also imagine a beautiful piece of chocolate placed right through those delicately cut holes in the lace cookie. rough day, but i still made an A!


pumpkin spice cheesecake

What started it all–my first perfect, crack-less, non-runny cheesecake. It was a thing of beauty, and tasted like autumnal bliss. Co-workers asked to pre-order my cookbook, my boss told me for the 100th time I need to quit my job and go to cooking school. The ladies said, in between bites, simply ‘…god.’

And by the time the idea for this blog was born, this was all that remained:


And so, with the end of this cheesecake, a beginning:

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake

Recipe from the “What Can I Bring Cookbook” by Anne Byrn


For the Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from 12 whole graham crackers)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted

For the Filling

  • 4 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, at room temperature (room temp is crucial)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs


  1. Make the crust. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Place the graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 c cup sugar, and butter in a small bowl and stir with fork until the crumbs are thoroughly moistened. Press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Bak the crust in the oven until it is slightly browned around the edges, about 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool but leave the oven on.
  3. Make the filling: Place the cream cheese and 1 1/4 cups of sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth and creamy, about 1-2 minutes (I did this by hand…hence the importance of the room temp. cream cheese). Add flour and beat until combined, then add pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla, beating only until just combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating only until each one is incorporated. Place the springform pan on a baking sheet and pour the filling into it, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula.
  4. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 and bake the cheesecake for 45 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in it for 2 hours. Do not open the over door. (If you are like me and do not have a window in your oven, this will be sheer torture. stay strong.)
  5. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let cool 1 hour. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours. Serve with whipped cream

I let my guy chill for a full 24 hours before consumption (only because that’s when I had time to make it. 4 hours should do yo just fine).