My day started bright and early… the alarm went off at 5 am, I had some coffee, read a few emails, and tweeted a little. An hour later I was rushing to get ready for my adventure in the Spago kitchen.

Hungry for more A day in the Spago Kitchen?


Let’s take a stroll down memory lane…

It’s a hot summer day in Los Angeles, I’m 8 years old, and my dad has just told me we are going to go out for ice cream. Woo hoo!!!

We walk down the street to the bus stop on Sunset Blvd., sit down on the bench and we wait for any bus numbered 1-4 to show up. Only a few minutes go by and a bus arrives, we hop on and take a seat.

We ride along for what seemed like 10-15 minutes, get off the bus, cross the street and enter a little Cuban coffee shop. My dad says hello to the person behind the counter who then responds with a “Paquito! Chico, como has estado…!”

There’s a little chit-chat back and forth then the man behind the counter asks us what we’ll be having, I respond and say… Un helado de mamey por favor (Mamay Ice Cream, please) and my dad says un cafecito (an espresso).

I’m handed a tasty waffle cone with a scoop of the most amazing mamey ice cream, then a tiny espresso cup gets placed on the counter for my dad.

My dad and I hang out for a while as we each savor our treats and enjoy a pleasant conversation, involving stories from back in the old days.

Good times…



Coffee Ice Cream with Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans

This past weekend my husband and I flew to Mexico to attend my Aunts 90th birthday.

Unfortunately the boys weren’t able to join us on this trip. I did however, make sure I left a little piece of me with them before I left.

To kickoff the birthday festivities my uncle celebrated mass in her honor.

Mom, Aunt, Uncle

A trio of young whippersnappers.

Jose and I with my Aunt

After mass we all headed over to the potluck party. Daughters and daughters-in-law each contributed their “specialty dish”. Everything was fantastic since they are all amazing cooks. It must run in the family. 😉

Leftovers were equally divided so everyone got to take home a little taste of everything.

Leftover distribution

She celebrated this very special day in company of siblings, sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and friends.

Some of us had longer flights than others…

Cindy & I
Ana Silvia & I

During the short visit I was also able to spend time with some of my closest friends from Elementary, Jr. High, & High school.

Friends since elementary
High School buds...

We had a great time, but we are glad to be back with the boys!

Coffee Ice Cream

Coffee Ice Cream

adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups whole coffee beans
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely round coffee
2 oz chocolate covered espresso beans, whole or chopped

In a medium saucepan warm the milk, sugar, whole coffee beans, pinch of salt and 1/2 cup of the heavy cream. Once the milk is warm remove from the stove, cover, and let it steep at room temperature for at least 1-2 hours. The longer you let it steep the more intense the coffee flavor will be.

Place the saucepan back on the stove and reheat. In a large bowl pour the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream, and place a large strainer on top. Slowly pour about half of the warm milk in a thin stream into the egg yolks while whisking constantly to warm the egg yolks. Now return the egg yolks back into the sauce pan.

Over medium heat stir the ice cream base with a wooden spoon making sure you scrape the bottom of the pan while you stir until the ice cream base thickens and coats the back side of the wooden spoon.

Pour ice cream base through the strainer and stir it into the heavy cream. With the wooden spoon press on the coffee beans held in the strainer to extract as much of the coffee flavor as possible. The coffee beans can be thrown away at this point.

Add vanilla extract and ground instant coffee, stir well to combine. Cool over an ice bath then finish chilling the ice cream base in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Pour ice cream base into your ice cream maker and follow your manufacturer’s instructions. About 5 minutes before the ice cream is done churning add in your whole or chopped chocolate covered espresso beans. Pour ice cream into a sealable plastic container and place in the freezer until throughly frozen.

Coffee Ice Cream Base
Coffee Ice Cream
Coffee Ice Cream


Caffeine Spiked Tres Leches Cake

This past weekend we were invited to a surprise bithday party for a family member who is visitng from Australia.

Let me explain a little… the birthday boy who is a native Australian married my husbands niece a few years ago, they were living here in California until about six months ago, when he received a great job offer back in Australia, and he and his family decided to move back.

While here on vacation my niece decided to throw him a surprise birthday party and thanks to the Internet she was able to plan and organize the entire party while still in Austrlia.

Once she arrived in the US there were only a few loose strings she had to take care of. All in all the party was a HUGE success!

We weren’t planning on showing up to the party empty handed of course, and decided that dessert would be the perfect gift. Something he could enjoy right away and not worry about having to lugg back or pay excess luggage fees on.

OK, now take one good look at this pretty and innocent cake and be ready to experience it’s wrath. In it’s defense though, I will say it was SOOOOO worth it!

Here is a tiny glimps of what I had to clean up. It got so bad I had to stop whipping the eggs and cover my mixer with a towel until I finished beating them into submission.

Coffee Three Milks Cake
from Dulce by Joseluis Flores

10 eggs
1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 tablespoons instant coffee
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup borghetti coffee liqueur

Coffee Spiked Tres Leches Cake
10 egg shells

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the eggs on high speed until they are thick and light in color, about 5 minutes. Continue beating and carefully pour sugar and instant coffee into the mixture. Beat for an additional 8 minutes, until the mixture has tripled in volume.

Sift the flour into the egg and sugar mixture, fold to combine making sure you don’t stir or beat, to prevent the eggs from deflating.

Grease a 13 x 9 inch baking pan and pour batter into the pan. Bake for 40 – 50 minutes. Cake is done when the cake springs back when lightly pressed, and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let the cake cool, with a toothpick or skewer pierce the cake over the entire surface, this will allow the milks to be soaked in throughout the cake.

Coffee Spiked Tres Leches Cake
Whisk the milks, heavy cream and coffee liqueur together. Pour slowly over the entire cake. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until the liquid has been completely absorbed. The cake will keep for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

1 cup heavy cream
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
8 ounces mascarpone cheese

Warm heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Once warm remove from stove and pour chocolate chips, whisk until chocolate chips have melted and place in the refrigerator to chill.

Whip mascarpone on medium until soft peaks form, be carefull not to overwhip. Carefully fold the chilled heavy cream and chocolate mixture into the mascarpone.

Coffee Whipped Cream

1 teaspoon gelatine
2 tablespoons hot water
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons instant coffee powder
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon coffee liquoure (such as Tia Maria)

Combine the hot water and gelatine, still well, and let it cool.

Whip heavy cream until soft peaks form. Pour cooled gelatine into the heavy cream mixture and whip to combine, then add the instant coffe powder, powdered sugar and coffee liquore. Whip until stiff peaks form.

Cake Assembly

Coffee Spiked Tres Leches Cake
Coffee Spiked Tres Leches Cake
Carefully slice cake in half lengthwise place one slice over a serving platter. Pipe or with a spatula layer the chocolate mascarpone mousse over the top of the cake. Place the second layer of cake on top. With a spatula cover the cake with the coffee whipped cream.

Coffee Spiked Tres Leches Cake
Coffee Spiked Tres Leches Cake
Coffee Spiked Tres Leches Cake
Sorry I wasn’t able to take a better picture of the sliced cake, I quickly slid in to take the shot while it was being sliced.

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This month’s Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Cat from Little Miss Cupcake.

I can’t tell you how excited and freaked out, I was when I logged into the The Daring Kitchen website to see what the Daring Bakers’ challenge was going to be for the month of May and found out it was going to be Croquembouche.

Some people find macarons intimidating… well, I found this challenge completely and utterly intimidating.

For starters up to this point I had never made Pâte à choux (Choux pastry) and the thought of having to make close to 100 profiteroles in order to create a decent size Croquembouche sent shivers down my spine.

Nonetheless, deep down inside (way deep…) I’ve always wanted to make one, and now thanks to Cat… the perfect opoortunity presented it self.

Up to this point you might be asking yourself why in the world would the title of this post be Pièce Tombée (fallen piece) if the top most pictures look like it’s well put together?

So, I will try to explain my adventures in Croquembouche making using the Cliff Notes version.

  • Started making cream puffs about a week and a half ago
  • Stored them in freezer
  • Made coffee flavored pastry cream
  • Thawed puffs and filled them with pastry cream
  • Made Caramel Glaze and started putting together the Croquembouche
  • Took a couple of pictures Wednesday night ( the two you saw above)
  • Had plans to drizzle Croquembouche with a dark chocolate glaze and take final pictures for post the following morning
  • Thursday morning ran into pantry looking for chocolate, and realized I had none
  • The night before I went to the store and was going to pick some up; decided I shouldn’t because I was certain I had plenty at home
  • Dissapointed in my lack of memory I got ready, left for work and decided I would continue working on it once I got home
  • Once I got home, I was informed by my husband that when he got home he found a bunch of “those things from the dessert I was working on” on the floor

So there you have it… THE END.

PS: This isn’t the last of battle Croquembouche, you can bet there will be a rematch!

Just in case you want to attempt this little battle yourself below are a few recipes that you might find useful.

Oh, and if you are in need of a little Culinary challenge be sure and visit The Daring Kitchen for great cooking and/or baking adventures.

Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28)

¾ cup (175 ml.) water
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Preparing batter:
Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.

Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Butter & Water
Pate Choux
Pate Choux
Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly. Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny.

Pate Choux
Pate Choux
As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes. It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.

Pate Choux

Pate Choux

Pate Choux

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.
Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top.


Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.

Coffee Crème Patissiere (Half Batch)
1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla
1 1/2 Tsp. instant espresso powder disolved in 1 1/2 Tsp. boiling water

Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.

Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.

Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.

Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla and disolved instant espresso powder.

Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.

Coffee Pastry Cream

Hard Caramel Glaze
1 cup (225 g.) sugar
½ teaspoon lemon juice

Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately.

Caramel Glaze

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