Latin American Dessert Crawl

A few weeks ago, after a truly delicious day of exploring the streets of Los Angeles with Bill Esparza (StreetGourmetLA), we started to talk about desserts.

And more desserts.

Eventually we started talking Latin American desserts.

A few weeks later, Bill had the brilliant idea of going on a dessert crawl. I messaged a few fellow food enthusiasts, settled on a date and time and we were ready for sweets.

We began our crawl in Huntington Park at El Carriel, a Colombian bakery. El Carriel is an unassuming small panaderia tucked away in a strip mall. The space is snug and clustered with the focal point, a glass case enclosing an array of Colombian confections, in the middle. El Carriel offers a full breakfast menu as well as pastries. The owner Myriam told us that her recipes are what she learned to make while living in Cali, a city west of Bogota. To accompany our hot fresh coffees, Myriam prepared for us Pandebonos and an Arepa de Choclo.

Pandebono is Colombian cheese bread made from cornmeal or masarepa (precooked corn flour). Shaped like a small donut, the exterior is crusty while the innards are warm and toothsome. The cheese baked within the dough imparts an irresistible nutty flavor.

Arepa de Choclo is a delicate griddled corn cake that is found throughout Colombia. The corn was sweet and buttery. The Arepa was topped with queso fresco that added a nice salty contrast.

For added indulgence we each enjoyed a Colombian version of Bunuelos.

Bunuelos are simply fried doughy balls. When cut open they are fragrant and soft. They are more like a beignet than a doughnut, very cakey and eggy. They were simply divine.

We caravanned to the next stop on our crawl, Amalia’s Guatemalan restaurant. Amalia’s is a converted house turned restaurant located on Virgil in East Hollywood. Here we enjoyed plantains served two ways, representative of Guatemalan cuisine.

Rellenitos de Platano is a mashed plantain filled with black beans and served with a side of crema. The rellenitos were tender perfection. Delicately sweet with a distinct cinnamon flavor, the black bean filling melded with the plantains and was almost indiscernible.

Next up was Platano de Mole. The mole is a chipotle and chocolate sauce bursting with sweet and savory spice. The platanos were swimming in mole and after a few bites my taste buds were burnt out. Throughout all three platano versions cinnamon seemed to be the dominant flavor.

From Amalia’s we ventured a few blocks west to Rincon El Chileno. With minimal décor and minimal crowd I was not sure what to expect, but I bite of the Panqueques Celestino and I was in heaven.

Panqueques Celestino is a Chilean version of pancakes. They are somewhere between a pancake and a crêpe and are filled with manjar, also known as dulce de leche. The dough is sweet with crisp edges. It is slathered with manjar and rolled. Dusted with powdered sugar, each bite of panqueques celestino is irresistible. This is a sexy dessert.

We were able to squeeze in one more stop on our crawl. The last stop was El Colmao Cuban restaurant. Here were sampled Flan de Guayaba and Coco Rayado Con Queso Crema.

Guayaba seems to be a favorite ingredient of Cuban desserts. Guayaba is guava shell that has been boiled with sugar. It is super sweet and grainy. The flan was smooth and pliant but to my dismay was swimming in sweetness from the guayaba. A few bites and I was well on my way to a sugar coma.

Coco Rayado con Queso Cream is grated and sweetened coconut with cream cheese. While many around me loved it, I have yet to understand or appreciate the marriage of super sweet fruit in syrup with cream cheese. Not for me.

Stop after stop, this dessert crawl was the perfect day of indulgence. I only wish we had more time or more room in our stomachs to try more desserts.

El Carriel Panderia

2405 Randolph Street

Huntington Park, CA 90255


751 North Virgil

Los Angeles, CA 90029

Rincon El Chileno

4354 Melrose Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90029

M-Sun 10am-10pm

El Colmao

2328 West Pico Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90006

M-F 10am-8:30pm Sat/Sun 12pm-8:30pm


Breakfast at the Farmers Market

Breakfast is one of my favorite meals. When done right, there is really nothing better. I love a perfectly buttered and toasted piece of bread with fresh cheese and jam. I love crispy salty bacon with a nice chewy bite. I love oily flash fried potatoes with rosemary and garlic. But most of all I love pancakes.

Sunday mornings the Gastrobus parks at the Los Feliz farmer’s market for their Organic Sunday breakfasts. This truly is one of my favorite breakfasts in Los Angeles. A bold statement I know, but having had my fair share of breakfasts in my life as an Angelino I have to say the Sunday breakfast from the Gastrobus is always inspired. I have yet to be disappointed by their seasonal fresh menu.

Today we enjoy Raspberry Pancakes with Lemon Curd and Mint.

Fluffy, tart and fresh.

This was the perfect marriage of flavors.

This was springtime in a pancake.


And The Winner Is... #51

Elle of Elle's New England Kitchen you are the lucky winner of this beautiful bottle of Macallan 10 Fine Oak Scotch. I hope you enjoy making that Scottish Honey Cake, but have a glass before you start baking!

Elle said...And now following @EdenAlgie on twitter. Thanks for the opportunity to win this!MARCH 24, 2010 9:55 AM

* I chose the giveaway winner using Random.org here are a copy of the results:

True Random Number Generator

Min: 1

Max: 62



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Sweeten Up Your Day with Macallan ... and a Give-Away!

I recently attended a Macallan tasting at the W Hotel, courtesy of my lovely friend Julie. While I certainly enjoy the occasional Scotch on the rocks, I have never been too discerning of my whisky.

That has all changed.

After sampling different varieties of Macallan single malt Highland Scotch I developed a true appreciation for the nuances of a finely crafted whisky. A few drinks and I was in love. I now recognize the value of the subtle notes of flavor, the depth and richness and the smooth texture of Macallan. After talk of my other love, dessert, Macallan’s ambassador Eden Algie urged me to experiment with Macallan in my dessert adventures.

Through playful experimentation and one too many drinks I discovered that Macallan is not only lovely as a drink to pair with desserts, but it also offers a sophisticated marriage with sweets.

Scotch is either single malt - meaning it comes from one distillery - or a blend of different whiskies. Scotch lovers usually favor single malts because of their smoothness. Macallan offers a variety of single malt Scotches. The Macallan 12 is matured in Spanish sherry oak casks. The Fine Oak varieties are triple aged in European sherry oak casks, American sherry oak casks and American bourbon oak casks. The difference between the two is found in their color and flavor composition.

I tested the Macallan Fine Oak 15 and the Macallan 12 in two different desserts. Tell me what you think.

Maple Macallan Glazed Donuts

Donuts are irresistible. Doughy, sweet, fried, they are all the things that comfort me. I decided to try my hand at making donuts at home. They were easier than I thought. I made both fried donut holes and baked donuts. I found that the maple Macallan glaze paired best with the donut holes. The dense cakey texture of the baked donuts overpowered the delicate flavor of the glaze. I used the Macallan 12 for the glaze because it is sweet and distinctive. This Macallan has big vanilla and toffee characteristics that complimented the maple and the donut.

The glaze was so fantastic I could eat it alone. Bursting with a syrupy rich flavor, the subtle Macallan essence washes over the tongue. This makes for a decadent breakfast with a nice cup of tea or a nice finish to a meal when accompanied by a glass of Macallan 12.

Traditional Scottish Honey Cake with Macallan

When researching Scottish desserts, I found that honey seemed to be a prominent ingredient. I decided to make a traditional Scottish honey cake. What came out of my oven was transcendent. The edges of the cake were slightly crisp and super buttery. The cake was studded with hints of refreshing citrus. It was nutty and luxurious with a faint woozy bite. With this recipe I used the Macallan Fine Oak 15, which is light, mellow, and subtly floral. This whisky has soft notes of spice and fresh zesty elements that balance nicely with the assertive honey glow of the cake. I dusted the cake with powdered sugar and light cascade of orange blossom honey rather than the citrus butter cream in the recipe. For added pleasure enjoy this cake with a glass of Macallan 15.

Did I mention there is a give away? I have a little present for you… leave me a comment telling me which recipe you liked best or leave me a recipe you think would pair well with some Macallan and I might send you a bottle of Macallan Fine Oak 10. For another chance to win, follow @EdenAlgie on twitter and leave me ANOTHER comment letting me know you are following him. Winners will be selected using random.org. Good luck!

Maple Macallan Glaze (adapted from Gourmet)

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons whipping cream

2 tablespoons Macallan 12

6 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted

Melt butter with maple syrup and cream in heavy small saucepan. Remove from heat. Add powdered sugar and and Macallan and whisk until mixture is smooth. Allow glaze to cool until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Dip doughnuts into glaze or drizzle glaze over doughnuts.

Scottish Honey Whisky Cake


6 oz self-rising flour

6 oz butter

3 eggs

4 tablespoons Scotch

6oz light brown sugar

zest of 1 small orange

2 tsp honey

confectioners sugar and honey (topping to taste)

Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the orange zest and honey and mix until incorporates. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Scrape down sides of bowl and add half of the flour and mix. Pour in Scotch and fold into mixture. Add remaining flour and fold together.

Grease 6 muffin tins or two mini loaf pans and pour in batter. For loaf pans bake of 20-25 minutes in oven at 375 or until cake is golden brown. For cupcakes bake at 275 for 18-20 minutes or until a light golden brown. Place on wire rack to cool.


The Blueberry Pancake Shoot Out

My idea of the perfect breakfast is a stack of pancakes with hot melting butter and sweet maple syrup dripping down the edges. Throw in some juicy fresh blueberries and add some ricotta cheese and you have a perfect pancake. Slightly sweet, bursting with flavor, and light as a cloud. While nothing beats a hot fluffy pancake for breakfast, nothing is worse than going to a restaurant and ordering pancakes that taste like a thick, rubbery, bland mess. Here are a few of my favorite Blueberry Ricotta pancakes in Los Angeles.


BLD serves up a heaping stack of pancakes ($13). The serving is truly more than you could ever eat so here is a little tip: you can order just one luscious blueberry ricotta pancake, and that is precisely what I did ($6). One giant pancake later and I was bursting at the seams. The pancake at BLD is dreamy. It is golden and thick with blistering blueberries throughout. The syrup is warm and rich. Forkful after delicious forkful you will be sighing over each bite.

7450 Beverly Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 90036

Little Dom’s

These pancakes are perfection ($8). Just the right amount of pancakes that yield easily under the fork. The ricotta creates a light-as-air texture and the blueberries offer a vibrant burst of flavor. These pancakes had a nice delicately crisp and buttery exterior. While I was full after three little pancakes, they were so good I was left wanting more.

2128 Hillhurst Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90027

The Gastrobus

For a cheap and quick breakfast I visit the Gastrobus. The Gastrobus offers a seasonal menu of market fresh ingredients. On a recent visit they featured blueberry pancakes with lemon curd($4). The pancakes were delicate and light, enlivened by the thick, puckery topping. It was the perfect balance of sweetness to acidity. The thick lemon curd was a pleasant change from the tradition maple syrup accompaniment to pancakes.

* you can follow the Gastrobus on Twitter to find their location*


Pudding for a Rainy Day

It seems like lately just about every weekend here in LA has been rainy. While I love the rain, I do miss the California sun. Rainy days make me crave comfort and warmth. I love to curl up on the couch with a warm blanket and a creamy pudding and listen to the rainfall. Here are a few pudding recipes to get you through those rainy days.

Salted Caramel Pot de Crème

I love caramel. To me, heaven is a salted caramel pot de crème. Each bite is velvety and rich. I dotted this pot de crème with a soft Australian River Salt that melts in your mouth. The salt was delicate and flaky and perfectly complimented the buttery caramel. This dessert is the embodiment of simplicity.

Recipe from Bon Appetite January 1998

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/4 cup water

1 3/4 cups whipping cream

1/2 cup whole milk

6 large egg yolks

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325°F. Place six 2/3-cup soufflé dishes or 3/4-cup custard cups in large roasting pan. Combine sugar and water in heavy large saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring until deep amber, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan, about 6 minutes. Gradually whisk in 1 1/2 cups cream and milk (mixture will bubble vigorously). Stir until caramel dissolves, about 2 minutes.

Beat yolks in large bowl until foamy. Gradually whisk in warm caramel. Strain into 4-cup glass measuring cup. Divide among dishes. Pour enough hot water into pan to come halfway up sides of dishes. Cover pan with foil. Bake until custard is just set at edges but still moves in center when shaken gently, about 1 hour. Remove from water; cool on rack. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; keep chilled.)

Beat 1/4 cup cream in small bowl until soft peaks form. Spoon cream into pastry bag fitted with large star tip. Pipe 1 rosette in center of each custard. Serve chilled.

Café Au Lait Pudding

If you love coffee like I do, this Café Au Lait pudding is for you. It is tantalizing and creamy. Not cloyingly sweet like some puddings tend to be, this pudding is just dreamy. The delicate coffee flavors linger on the palate. Milky, rich and understated, it is everything a pudding should be.

Recipe from Gourmet November 2009

2 cups whole milk

3 tablespoons instant coffee granules

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoon cornstarch

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoon sugar, divided

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Cinnamon or nutmeg for sprinkling

Whisk together milk, coffee granules, cornstarch, 1/4 cup sugar, and a small pinch of salt in a heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, then boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Transfer to a metal bowl set in an ice bath and cool, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Pour into cups or ramekins and chill, uncovered, 20 minutes.

Beat cream with vanilla and remaining 2 tablespoon sugar using an electric mixer just until soft peaks form. Spoon whipped cream onto puddings and dust cream lightly with cinnamon.

Panna Cotta with Citrus Compote

Panna cotta is so simple to make, I can’t believe I have never made it before. It takes only five minutes to cook the cream and mix it with the gelatin. The mixture sets in the refrigerator for about four hours and the panna cotta is ready to be served. It is silky and lush. It has a delicate vanilla flavor that pairs harmoniously with a number of toppings. Since citrus is abundant at local farmers markets right now, I decided to make a citrus compote with mandarins and blood oranges. The contrast of sweetness from the mandarins and a nice zesty tang from the blood oranges was the perfect accompaniment to the panna cotta. This dessert is a dense mouthful of bright luscious flavors. Snuggle up, dig down, scoop up and savor each bite.

Recipe from David Lebovitz

4 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean

2 packets powdered gelatin

6 tablespoons cold water

1. Heat the heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan or microwave. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.(If using a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from the bean into the cream and add the bean pod. Cover, and let infuse for 30 minutes. Remove the bean then rewarm the mixture before continuing.)

2. Lightly oil eight custard cups with a neutral-tasting oil.

3. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.

4. Pour the very warm Panna Cotta mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.

5. Divide the Panna Cotta mixture into the prepared cups, then chill them until firm, which will take at least two hours but I let them stand at least four hours.

6. Run a sharp knife around the edge of each Panna Cotta and unmold each onto a serving plate, and garnish as desired.

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