Doughnut Vault.

Hello doughnut altar, you’re just what I wanted to see at eight in the morning. Tangy buttermilk old fashioned, yeasty chestnut glazed, and sweet chocolate with sprinkles. Yup, this is my kind of mass.

At 400 1/2 North Franklin, in a world not so far away, is a little hole of a place. It’s a tiny box of a store front sliced out of bigger, but not any grander buildings, aptly named the Doughnut Vault. White tiles, mellow blue paint, and racks of freshly fried and glazed doughnuts. Get in line, buy a bag or box or two, and be happy you got up in the morning.


Like these CinnaBunBombs, the Ho-Ho-Ho is a recipe that’s been a long time coming. It’s a Christmas tradition in our house, at our aunt’s house, at our other aunt’s house…wherever there’s Christmas dinner, there is a Ho-Ho-Ho waiting patiently in the fridge a la Santa up on the roofs. Waiting for dinner to end, and for everything sweet to come to the table.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, the Ho-Ho-Ho is yet another punny dessert. Get it? Christmas? A giant Ho-Ho that large enough it needs another ‘Ho’ added to the title? Santa Claus’ more iconic saying? It’s a dessert that’s made for the holidays, both in name and in taste.

Like the infamous Hostess treat, the Ho-Ho-Ho is a dessert that brings smiles to one and all. Except instead of that wonderful (and it is wonderful) packaged chocolate cake, thick saccharine cream, and odd chocolate ‘coating,’ the Ho-Ho-Ho is a homemade cake. A chocolate soufflé roll, vanilla whipped cream, and rich chocolate ganache. The white chocolate ganache twizzle is simply the wink on top of the cake. (True Hostess aficionados will note that the twizzle is not traditionally of the Ho-Ho treat. It’s snack cake blasphemy, I know. But it tastes good, real good. And I like to think that if all Hostesses desserts could get together and combine in joyful union, the Ho-Ho-Ho would be the result. Tasty, taste results.)

The real beauty of the Ho-Ho-Ho is neither taste-based nor aesthetic. The secret is: the Ho-Ho-Ho is a soufflé roll that’s ridiculously easy to make. It’s practically foolproof as long as you take the requisite cooling steps with damp paper towels, and don’t over beat the eggs. Though I’ll tell you another secret. Even if the cake breaks during rolling, it’s still delicious. Just pretend you made a layer cake, the abstract interpretation of a Ho-Ho. Pastry is a great medium for abstract expression after all.

Recipe on the following page.

Almond Toffee Bark.

Some say the holidays are stressful, as any couple of weeks filled with travel, nog, and a bit of caroling could very well be. Gift-giving, the hunt for the perfect gift, or the hunt for the perfect-gift-for-right-now-before-the-store-closes, clearly can cause stress levels to rise up right around the mistletoe. So please, instead of hunting, searching, foraging, for the perfect gift, get up to your knees in toffee instead.

Toffee is a good place to be, as far as the candy-reaches of the world go. Nutty, buttery, and sweet, toffee breaks in all the right places and hits all the right flavor notes. It’s the kind of gift you’ll make, have to eat, and then be more than happy to make again.

When a gift is good enough to want to keep for yourself, you know you’re on the right track. An obvious plus—toffee is easy to make, and you can make it in your slippers. Slipper giving? Sign me up. A batch of toffee and four little gift bags later, you’ll have four presents ready to go. Three if you’re like me, and are inclined to eat a quarter of the batch.

No big deal. As always, a toffee gift is a great alternative to socks. Homemade candy,  with a little tender loving care.

Recipe on the following page.

Goat Cheese Brownies.

There are some truly irresistible combinations, pairs that are stronger than the sum of their parts. These pair are replicated both in actually life amongst people, communities, and organizations. But, more relevant to this blog and as such a little bit less serious, perfect partnerships happen frequently in food. And if you live in the lovely, slightly deluded world where food remains supreme, where the perfect combination of textures in ice cream is really the pinnacle of happiness, perfect partnerships, evolved taste pairs, and unexpected combinations are plentiful.

While killing time in an airport, I picked up a copy of this month’s Atlantic. This month, the Woman’s Dilemma was on the cover, and two-thirds of the way through the magazine in no less than 12 pages of text. This Atlantic, carried the woes of upper-middle class, intellectual white women folded in amongst pages of other worldly happenings, sandwiched between insider trading and Canadian tolerance. This opus to the single woman’s status is neither disheartening or uplifting, tired or particularly innovative. What it is, however, is a practical look at modern day coupling. Surprise, the relationship is evolving alongside society into to something new, and equally exciting if you choose to take the optimistic outlook. In parallel to food, where combinations are continuously revisited, revamped, and repaired, evolving relationships is nothing new.

Goat Cheese Brownies, for example, are something that have been done before and yet they remain unusual. My roommates, my friends, they all approached the tray of deep, chocolaty brown fudgey brownies with apprehension. “Goat cheese? In brownies?…”


And that’s the only correct response. With unexpected pairings, particularly in food, the only thing to do is to present the most visually appealing selection possible, state a couple times that, yes, there is tangy, creamy, savory goat cheese in the brownies and just wait. Give the surprising a try, chances are that you’ll like it.

Wait for that first, complex, confusing bite where the play of the earthy, slightly sour goat cheese resonates in perfect harmony with the sweet, endlessly rich bittersweet chocolate brownie. Unexpected and perfect. The Goat Cheese Brownie, although odd, is greater than either two components separately. But that’s not to say goat cheese and a brownie are individually inferior. It’s just a different sort of taste, for a different sort of time and place.

Recipe on the following page.

Chocolate Dipped Cinnamon Donuts.

Here’s the thing about donuts, they’re perfect. Truly, completely, perfect bits of fried dough. That they’re fried should tip one off to their perfection. And glazed, and occasionally filled. Whether yeasted or cake, donut I love you. It’s an unhealthy feeling, yes, to love such a thing. But have you ever tried one?

It’s America after all, if you’ve reached the point in life of literacy, you probably have encountered a donut.

But here’s the thing, Krispy Kreme donuts are not the superior donut of which I speak. Neither, unfortunately, does Dunkin’ Donuts fits the bill, although their coffee is my guilty go-to in the face of dearth of cafes. Donuts from small, ma and pa shops are the way to go. If you’re in the proximity of a Happy Donuts or an All-Star Donuts, (the favored donut shop name I’ve concluded after years of research), go. Go immediately. Get a cinnamon stick, a chocolate old fashioned, a chocolate custard donut, and donut holes.

In Los Angeles, specifically in Westwood, there is a corner store name Stan’s Donuts. Oddly, Stan’s shares a storefront with a Korean rice bowl place, but don’t worry, they’ve yet to collaborate on a Kim Chi donut. Which, to be honest, if they did, I would try. Because I love Kim Chi too. But that’s a love poem for another time.

Stan’s Donuts, of peanut butter chocolate, custard filled fame. It’s an exercise in self-control to even wander down into the neighborhood. But look what happens when I restrain myself from purchasing the perfect little fried and lazed circle of bliss?

I make my own. Because, as it turns out, a decent cake donut is a bit of flour, an egg, and a chocolate dip away. Throw on some sprinkles and it’s a rainbow party. Who needs Stan’s Donuts? (When you can make your own…)

Recipe on the following page.

Giant Chocolate-Toffee Cookies.

Right off the bat, this post is lying to you.  Because, dear readers, these cookies are not giant.  What happened, quite unfortunately if you opened up this page with the hopes of reading about and in approximately two hours consuming said Giant Chocolate-Toffee Cookies, is that about two giant scoops of cookie dough in, I realized that not only did I not want 18 Giant Chocolate-Toffee Cookies, but what I really want was 32 smaller cookies and a glass of milk.  That and after about one and a half giant globs of cookie dough in, I realized each cookie, BB—before baking—weighed approximately 1.2 pounds each.*

So where does that leave the recipe and perhaps more importantly, the Giant Chocolate-Toffee Cookies?  Well, the result is 32 cookies somewhere between medium and large, with just enough surface area to contain both a chewy, slightly crispy rim and a dense, brownie like center.  Add in the nubs of toffee and toasted pecan and what you’ve got is a brownie in cookie form, complete with the hallmark of all Good Brownies- the dry-cracked, delicate cocoa-rich top.  These cookies beg for a glass of milk, they’re absolutely begging for a little dip in the tall-drink variety of a milky pool.

Why keep the name?  Say it out loud: Giant Chocolate-Toffee Cookies.  Now try: Medium-sized Chocolate Toffee Cookies.  More than just a mouthful, and pretty much a letdown, an anti-climactic title for such a devilishly luscious cookie.  And while these smaller cookies adhere to the don’t-eat-anything-bigger-than-your-head rule—a rule one should pay close attention to when trying to avoid the cemented-stomach, burrito-blockage type of feeling—it’s still nice to recall that these more midgeted cookies had larger, more aspirational origins.  They’ve simply evolved to a more streamlined, efficient point.  These chocolate-toffee cookies are so close to perfection in fact, that if you dare, you could, say, sandwich them together with a little chocolate ganache and still avoid the requisite couch-break after consuming just a morsel too much.  And if these cookies prove so delicious that you eat not two, but three or four, chances are you won’t collapse and have to be excused for overambitious chocolate consumption.  Granted, you’ll most likely have chocolate gumming up your teeth, but you’ll be functional.  Always a good thing.

So travel off to cookie land, but take into account that with cookies on the slightly smaller end of the spectrum, not only will the end result be approximately 1.5 times more numerous, but you can actually eat more cookies than if you had simply one Giant Cookie.  The only downside of which, perhaps, is that the more cookies you have, the less likely your fellow cookie consumers will feel guilty asking if they too could, please please, have a cookie and a glass of milk.  A good way to get out of this is, of course, to say the milk’s all gone whilst blocking the fridge door.

*Another lie, but this one at least has thematic aims.

 Recipe on the following page.