LA Bakery Tour- Part 1

If you keep up with me on Instagram or Twitter, then you might recall my recent trip to downtown LA on a quest for some amazing bakeries. Whenever I am vacationing, I do my best to seek out local bakeries to try something new. Often times, I return with some new inspiration to take back to my kitchen. Well, in the four years that I have lived in California, I have never explored very much in LA; uh, plus “LA” is an all-encompassing and huge territory to cover. I entrusted in my good friend, Erin, to take me on a bakery adventure to some of her spots.

I made the trek down on Saturday morning, drove through Hollywood, taking in “the sights” (hello, I am totally still a tourist) and met up with Erin. We had an agenda and set out for our sugar high. I am doing this a little in reverse and next week, I will take you from spot to spot on our tour. Today is all about our lunch spot; Joan’s on Third. Erin heard that Joan’s was a great spot for lunch plus they had a bakery. Turns out, I am kind of obsessed with that place.

I had no idea that Joan’s on Third was such an iconic spot to visit. It started as a catering company back in 1995. It wasn’t until 1998 that the opportunity became available for her to expand the business into a gourmet market and café.

Photo courtesy of Joan’s on Third

Fifteen years later, Joan’s on Third is a booming eatery with a full menu of soups, sandwiches and salads, a large case of fresh made deli selections and a bakery packed with muffins, cakes, pies and more. Check out the size of those cream puffs!

Upon walking into the restaurant, it was abundantly clear that this was a happening place. The tables were packed, people lined up for fresh salads at the deli counter and Prosciutto di Parma was carving fresh prosciutto samples and serving cold prosecco tasters. Have you ever had a slice of fresh prosciutto? Oh em gee.

I immediately fell in love with the décor. The bright white interior is offset with a long antique wood table for a family style dining. The bakery is stocked with a variety of cake plates and a glass wall where you can peek in at the action behind the scenes.

I headed to the bakery to seek out the goods. Eat dessert first, right? I gawked at the cupcakes and strawberry shortcake. However, I was looking for some hearty food to offset my sugar consumption. Erin ordered a Chinese Chicken Salad, I chose a pressed chicken sandwich with bacon, brie and caramelized onions on a French baguette. Oh my word, it was one of the best sandwiches I have ever had. Chicken and bacon sandwiches are a pretty stable part of my diet, but this sandwich was different.  The warm brie cheese on the toasted baguette melted in my mouth with each bite. The caramelized onions added a bit of sweet with each bite. I washed my sandwich down with fresh squeezed lemonade. I was beyond satisfied with lunch.

I had the opportunity to meet Joan herself, and gosh, is she a doll.  Since Joan is from New York, we discussed what all East Coasters discuss; our love for the fall season. Joan also introduced me to her daughter, Susie. Both of them were so sweet and made sure we were enjoying our experience. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask Joan what I should be ordering from the bakery now that my lunch was finished. She filled me in on treats they had to offer, but she raved about the specialty ice cream they served.

Joan’s on Third serves Salt and Straw ice cream. Salt and Straw is a Portland, Oregon based company who has won numerous awards for their handmade ice cream. Salt and Straw uses an all natural dairy with local and organic ingredients. Joan’s serves six flavors: Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Custard with Blueberry, Sea Salt Ice Cream with Caramel Ribbon, Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache, Chocolate with Gooey Brownies, Coffee and Bourban and Cinnamon Snickerdoodle. I wanted to dive into the case and eat it all. We decided that since it was “Salt and Straw”, we should try the Sea Salt ice cream with the caramel ribbon. It did not disappoint. Each bite was smooth and creamy with a hint of sweet from the caramel. Thanks for the tip, Joan!

No trip to LA is complete without a celebrity sighting right? While Erin and I were stuffing our faces, we suddenly heard a man belting out some tunes about three feet away from us. I instantly turned around to see Richard Simmons interacting with the staff and patrons. I was slightly shell-shocked. Susie explained that Richard often makes visits to Joan’s on Third; he seems to enjoy the opportunity to exercise his vocal cords. While I was chatting with Joan and Susie, Richard stopped to say goodbye and thanks to Joan on his way out. I shyly told Joan I was so embarrassed because I really wanted to take a picture with Richard. “Oh he would LOVE it,” Joan exclaimed. She immediately took off to flag him down while Susie watched over our seats and our lunch. Thanks so much ladies, my first celebrity photo in the bag!

My experience at Joan’s on Third was nothing short of amazing. From the atmosphere to the food to the company, it felt like a once in a lifetime experience. I enjoyed every minute and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to speak with Joan and Susie. I only wished I lived closer so I could eat that sandwich on the regular.  I wanted to take the whole bakery case home with me, but I still had many visits ahead of me. Thanks to Joan, Susie and the rest of their staff for showing us such a good time. Stay tuned next week to hear about the rest of my trip.

Photo courtesy of Joan’s on Third

Rice Krispie Treat S’mores

Rice Krispie Treat with S'Mores filling

I have kind of been on a Rice Krispie kick lately. Last weekend, I somehow decided it would be a good idea to make a frosting with Rice Krispie Treat Frosting, which hello, is totally necessary in life. At the same time, I have suddenly found myself obsessed with S’mores. As such, I have been racking my brain trying to come up with a variation of a S’mores dessert.

Rice Krispie Treat with S'Mores filling

I made a stop at a local bakery recently and they had this awesome ginger snap S’mores cookie that was half dipped in chocolate. I knew I wanted to try something similar at home and poof! The Rice Krispie Treat S’mores were born. Does it seem a little redundant to have marshmallow filling inside a rice krispies treat, since said treat already contains marshmallow? The correct answer is no; it’s actually amazing.

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Deep Fried Apple Pie Bites

Deep Fried Apple Pie

As September gets closer, I get more and more excited for fall. Beyond apples, changing leaves and cooler weather, it is also really the start of snowboard season. In September there are video premieres, new products start shipping and  pre-season contests are in full swing. What does that have to do with desserts? Absolutely nothing, except that I have multiple reasons to look forward to September that aren’t just dessert related. Fall is my favorite season, although fall on the west coast is so different from the east coast. But one thing is the same; fall means apple season.

Deep Fried Apple Pie

I recently heard about a contest hosted by one of my favorite bloggers, Ashton from Something Swanky. She teamed up with Lucky Leaf for recipe contest featuring their pie filling. I love pie, and I love small sized desserts, so I decided to create bite-sized Deep Fried Apple Pies. These mini “dumplings” are a pie crust, filled with apple pie filling, deep fried and rolled in cinnamon sugar. Oh my gosh are these delicious.

They are packed with some of my favorite flavors including maple and cinnamon. I always add a little maple syrup to my recipes. I used a deep fryer to make these, but you can easily cook these on the stove. This recipe is so easy because you can use prepared pie crust and Lucky Leaf’s apple pie filling.

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Peanut Butter Cake Bars

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake Bars

Does anyone recall my love for Jif Whips? I made this Whipped Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting and immediately posted it the following day. Jif Whips are what I call a “yellow light food”- which means I need to approach it cautiously, because overindulgence is absolutely going to happen. So I first used it in a frosting and now I am using it for a Peanut Butter Cake Bar.

I adapted this recipe from one of my favorite bloggers, Dorothy at Crazy For Crust. She did a brownie version of this bar. I changed it up using a cake mix base, added some Jif Whips and used crumbled brownies on top. The crumbled brownies were really just a way for me to allow myself to finish the brownies left over from the previous project. There is no guilt in eating brownies that are baked into a cake bar, trust me! Head over to My Cooking Spot for the recipe!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake Bars

Chocolate Peanut Butter Magic Bars

For more peanut butter goodness you might like:

Whipped Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting

Funfetti Poke Cake

Cake Batter Poke Cake

Did you all have a good weekend? I sure did! I went down to LA with a friend and she took me on a bakery tour. I can’t wait to tell you guys about it later this week. I saw some pretty amazing flavors and desserts. It gives me some inspiration to get back in the kitchen and get to work.

While I was in Bass Lake this summer, I discovered Birthday Cake Oreos. Umm what? I have been living under a rock? These things are amazing. I knew I wanted to make some sort of dessert with them. So I used them in this Funfetti Poke Cake. What is so amazing about this cake? It is topped with Cake Batter Whipped Cream and Birthday Cake Oreos. This cake is sprinkle overload and I am in love.

Cake Batter Poke Cake

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