As soon as I met Lizzie, I liked her. She came into the shop at MiaBella one day, and I was there, working on orders in the kitchen. We scheduled a tasting/consultation and it was all as easy-breezy as could be.
Lizzie enjoyed a wedding reception with her husband Nick, at the Red Barn located at Walnut Grove Park in San Marcos. They were going for a rustic and beautiful feel, and they had a touch of fun in their desserts, that weddings don’t typically have. They wanted desserts that they liked best. They wanted a party! (I was all in.)
Flavors: Her dad had already had and loved my Churro cupcakes, and told her before our meeting that it was a flavor-must have. (My kind of dad!) She was totally cool with it and happy about it. Her husband-to-be loves funfetti and simple flavors, so she wanted me to create a marbled version of my Birthday Cake flavor, with vanilla-chocolate swirled buttercream and half-dipped in birthday cake sprinkles. (I loved that she just wanted him to be happy too!) She also ordered classic Red Velvet with pretty white pearls and something special for a fruity-option: Vanilla Mango, with mango reduction-drizzle. I loved how decisive she was!
I’m so glad that Lizzie and her mom took my advice to have an etiquette sign at the dessert table. It’s so helpful since anything “out” can be thought of as a buffet. It’s super important that a wedding dessert table not be touched before the bride and groom see it and before the cake cutting ceremony is complete.
They had their pre-order picked up at the MiaBella in Vista and delivered by Andi of Now That’s a Party. They borrowed my cupcake tower, decked it out and had their caterer set each one. They added touches of lace, wood and burlap.
I really love how it all turned out! I am always honored when someone has chosen me to create desserts for their special occasion, especially their wedding. It’s so nice when they take the time to share their photos with me too, because if they know me at all, they understand how much I cared about creating their desserts, just for them.
I made them a blank-canvas cake – clean and as simple as could be on the outside, since their florist would be placing the arrangement onto the cake, onsite. (I’ve asked Lizzie again, for the name of the florist, to give him/her credit!) Inside were three layers of funfetti cake: Vanilla Birthday Cake at the bottom, Chocolate Birthday Cake at the top, with a middle layer of Marbled Birthday Cake, all filled and covered in smooth, vanilla buttercream frosting. (I told you, they were fun!) The cutting cake was the perfect size (6″) for them to enjoy to themselves, for the cake cutting ceremony.
Photographers, Kaitlin Cooper and Nathaniel Kam, did such a beautiful job with the photography!
Lizzie looked so beautiful! I’ve seen Lizzie since, while working at the shop, and it is a treat for me. I love saying hi to my friends/customers, by popping my head out of the kitchen, when I’m there. I hope to make sweets for her and her hubby again, one of these days soon.
When we made plans to visit our friends for dinner the other night, I wanted to bring something special that I knew they would enjoy. I remember them mentioning how much they love cherry pie. I also knew that for the last couple of years, my friends’ husband has been avoiding all gluten products, as a health-conscious choice.
I can totally understand and respect the need and even the desire to avoid certain ingredients, and decided to give myself a baking-challenge: bake a totally gluten-free pie, with from-scratch crust. It’s what I did and as promised, if it worked out really nicely, I would share the recipe.
First, I’ll share my gluten-free pie crust recipe, that can be used for any and every pie you make. From there, I’ll share my recipe for my from-scratch cherry pie filling, that I’ve been making for my family and friends to enjoy, for the last 10 years or so.
Mili’s Sweets Gluten-Free Pie Crust Recipe
Here’s what you’ll need:
2 and 1/2 cups gluten-free, all purpose flour (I used Pamela’s Artisan Flour Blend, all purpose, gluten-free flour)
2 sticks salted butter (1 cup, cold)
1/3, plus 2 tablespoons cold water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Tools: pie tin, pastry cutter, parchment paper or silpat mat, bowl, standing mixer, rolling pin
for egg wash (optional): 1 egg white, whisked and applied with a kitchen-safe brush
Here’s what you’ll do:
Cut the butter into tablespoon-size pieces. In a bowl, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Place the butter in the bowl and and use your pastry cutter to push into the butter, cutting it into small, pea-sized pieces.
Place this mixture into the bowl of a standing mixer, and place the standard paddle attachment. Add the water and mix at medium speed until the dough completely lifts from the bowl.
Use your hands to form the dough into a ball.
Place the dough onto a silpat mat or parchment paper that has been dusted with the gluten-free flour.
With a rolling pin, roll the dough flat, until it’s smooth and about 1/4″ high.
Using the mat or paper, invert the rolled-out dough into your pie pan.
The dough is very similar to shortbread so it’s elastic and super easy to work with. You can fill in any spaces or mistakes with your hands and like magic, it comes together beautifully.
Once your pie pan is prepared with the dough, set it aside. Form another ball with the remaining scraps of dough and re-roll out the rest, that will be used for the top of your pie.
If you like to use an egg wash, for a golden-brown finish to the crust, simply take one egg white and whisk it in a small bowl. Use a kitchen safe brush to apply it onto the inside and all around the crust. It would be best if you do this just before pouring in the prepared pie filling.
Now it’s time to prepare the cherry pie filling. This is so delicious and is definitely amazing in other desserts besides pies. For example, it is over-the-top served with vanilla bean ice cream, used as a filling for cupcakes or as a topping for cheesecake. The list goes on and on. . . (I hope you really enjoy this and tell me if you do make this pie. This recipe, like all of my recipes that I share with you on my blog, is a personal treasure.)
Mili’s Sweets Cherry Pie Filling Recipe
Here’s what you’ll need:
6-7 cups (or about three, 12oz. bags) of dark, sweet pitted cherries.
1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons all purpose flour (When making gluten-free pie, I substitute with Pamela’s Artisan Flour Blend)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons salted butter (added after pie has been filled)
Here’s what you’ll do:
Please note that you can find dark, sweet, pitted cherries in the frozen fruit section of your local grocery store. There are also organic varieties. If you have the tools and the time and can pit the many fresh cherries needed for a single pie, then I am amazed! I love the fresh-frozen option and you’ll find that there are better brands than others. I honestly do not want to pit fresh cherries, in fear that I might leave a pit or two in a pie.
Over medium heat, place all of the ingredients (except for the butter) into a large saucepan, including: 6-7 cups of cherries, sugar, cornstarch, flour, salt and water.
Stir to dissolve the sugar. More water will created in the pan as the cherries start to cook. I typically use my wooden spoon to do all of the mixing for fruit pies. Bring the mixture to a boil. Once you see small bubbles forming around the edge of the pan, it’s time to continue stirring. From start to finish, it will take a total of 30 minutes to cook the cherries down to a nice thickness, perfect for pie filling.
Once it’s done, pour the hot prepared filling into the prepared pie crust. Now is the time that you’ll add the two tablespoons of butter. Make little pats and place the pieces all around the top.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Next, you’ll cover the pie with the remaining dough. You’ll notice that the dough is delicate, compared to dough that uses shortening. It will make it a little more challenging to lift strips for a lattice. You should have enough remaining dough to either cover the top completely, or to make a lattice.
Brush the top of the dough with the egg wash and if you wish, sprinkle the top of the entire pie with granulated sugar.
I placed the pie in a cookie sheet, in case some filling decided to seep out during baking (which usually happens). It helps to keep the oven clean.
Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Reduce the heat to 350 and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to completely cool before serving.
Some people (like my husband) prefer a cold pie. If that’s what you like too, then cover with plastic wrap and serve when you are ready. Vanilla bean ice cream makes the perfect pair with this dessert. I prefer to eat pie without any sides.
I topped the pie with a fake-lattice design, by simply leaving the top strands at the top, without weaving them over and under the bottom pieces. No one noticed, but of course I did. After tasting the pie, I didn’t care either. The crust is light, flakey and absolutely divine. It takes the pie to a whole other level. No one would even care or notice that it’s gluten-free. It’s that good!
Here’s a recipe re-post from exactly two years ago. Mom always knows best, so this is yet another reason why, I always listen to her!
It’s time to take cake and ice cream to another level, and make my favorite dessert using left overs. I’m going to tell you about one of the easiest and most beautifully-awesome ways to put it together: Baked Alaska. My mom kept telling me to make Baked Alaska. I had never had it before or made it before . . . She explained that you bake ice cream on top of cake with meringue on top. I thought, ‘How could ice cream be baked onto a cake, without it melting or becoming a hot-mess?’ I’m glad I always do what my mom tells me to do. Even when I’m in-doubt, she will always be right. xox I did some research and found that there are many different takes on making this dessert. I came up with my own simplified version. This was a test and the first time I would ever make it. It’s so fun and easy, that it will not be the last!It’s actually pretty cool. It tastes amazing, cuts as perfectly as an ice cream cake and pleases the crowd just as well. Here’s how you put it together. Give it a try and let me how it goes! Mili’s Sweets Baked Alaska Here’s what you’ll need: Cake – You can use any cake at all. In fact, you can use different cakes. I used the extra cupcakes and slices saved from when I made Peach Cobbler. (If you’d like to make this and have some extras, please link to my recipe.) Ice Cream – I bought an organic, nut-free vanilla bean ice cream. Meringue – Please find this recipe below. If it sounds familiar, you might have seen it when I posted my Lemon Meringue Pie recipe. Tools – An oven safe edged plate or pan that holds the amount of cake you have reserved, offset spatula spoon, standing mixer, piping bag and tip, oven.Here’s what you’ll do: In an oven safe dish or pan, place your extra cake slices or cupcakes. Smash them a bit to set them down and together. Next, scoop ice cream on top. Use an offset spatula to fill it in and smooth it out. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 3 hours. When you are ready to serve your dessert, it’s time to make the meringue. (It might be a day after or two weeks after you put it in the freezer.) First thing is first, preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Mili’s Sweets Vanilla Meringue Recipe Here’s what you’ll need: 3 egg whites 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar 1/4 cup granulated sugarHere’s what you’ll do: In the bowl of your standing mixer, place three egg whites, pure vanilla extract and cream of tartar. Use your whisk attachment and gradually increase the speed to 10, or the highest speed on your mixer. After about 30 seconds, gradually add the sugar, while your whisk is spinning. Be careful. You can do it this way, or add in the sugar before you start mixing. The results are similar and up to what you prefer. When the kids make meringue, I have them place the sugar in before the machine starts. When the mixture peaks and your whisk comes up, holding the meringue, it is done. It will take about two minutes.Once the meringue is made and the oven is at 500 degrees, you can finish putting the dessert together. Pipe the meringue onto the top of the prepared, frozen cake and ice cream. You might want to double the meringue recipe (above) so that you have plenty. Traditional Baked Alaska is topped with a large amount of dome-shaped meringue. However, with my square plate, and desire for easy serving, I went with piping one, nice and even layer, using a star tip. It’s probably an unnecessary step, but after it was piped, I placed the plate onto a baking sheet. Since I had never made this before, I wasn’t sure if ice cream or condensation was going to drip in the oven and I didn’t want to risk it. It baked clean, but I’m a nerd and will probably do it the same way next time. Bake for 3 minutes. That’s it! The meringue is perfectly golden and the ice cream is still melted.The chef that invented this was so smart! For a little history lesson, the name “Baked Alaska” was coined at Delmonico’s Restaurant by their chef-de-cuisine Charles Ranhofer in 1876 to honor the recently acquired American territory. Thanks Chef Ranhofer!There are so many “best parts” of this dessert! I love that it’s super easy to cut and serve. I love that it’s absolutely beautiful and takes barely any effort or time. I love that it my left overs that would have been thrown away or given away can be used for another day, when I feel like serving something special. I especially love how much how cool my kids think it is, and therefore how cool I am for making it for them. xox
I had the pleasure of catering, setting and styling a special baby shower dessert table, in a gorgeous home, tucked away inside the beautiful hills of Escondido.
The mother-to-be chose four different flavors of cupcakes, including Very Strawberry, Lemonade, Brownie Bliss and Churro. I created labeling to match the baby shower invitation.
We went with a clean and lovely look and feel with blue accents on the table, in the form of hand painted, tiffany-blue mason jars, filled with succulents. (These jars and arrangements were hand-finished by WKND PRJCT.)
I placed a set of three at each end of the dessert table.
At the center of the table, I placed a larger, box succulent arrangement with two smaller boxes to even out and fill the table with beautiful, living plants, also provided by WKND PRJCT.
I used simple, clean and modern-looking white pedestals and plating to set the cupcakes. The plates were filled with 80 all-together, on a nine foot long, dining room table.
I love that she wanted an abundance for her guests, so that they could enjoy more than one flavor at the party if they wished, or they could take cupcakes to-go, if they wished. (It’s always best to have too many than to have too few.)
I was fortunate to be able to set and cater and to stay as a guest with my daughter. It was such a lovely afternoon! The best part was seeing all of the reactions to the table and how much the ladies loved the way the cupcakes looked and tasted.
No one can deny that one of the best parts of any baby shower, is looking forward to enjoying dessert! (I love my job.)
For months now, I’ve been preparing myself and my business to transition into a new chapter, and today it happened. I’m so happy! It feels amazing to have reached this small goal. I feel like I’ve come so far and still have a long way to go. This business and I have done a lot of growing-up over these last six years as Mili’s Sweets.
The cool thing about “growing up” is that every day, I’m still becoming who I’m suppose to be. Everything put in front of me, is an opportunity to keep going, to not compromise on myself – to enjoy being myself. And I honestly don’t want to stop growing and learning until the day I’m done living.
Part of the awesomeness of being myself is focusing on what is important to me. Focusing on my priorities and doing whatever it takes to be sure I get done, what I said I would for my family, for my faith, for myself, and even to fulfill the promises I make through my business and to my customers, all rule my daily schedule. I care a lot about these things. They are all incredibly personal because they involve my time, love and life.
I am who I am, because I am part of my family. Here I was behind the scenes with my mom in the kitchen last weekend and today, at my free sampling event, with my daughter. There’s a lot of hard work, dedication and love going on when we are together. We laugh and talk a lot and we take little breaks for a hug and kiss. This is precious to me. I am blessed to have these wonderful people by my side and as long as they are proud of me, I’m good.
Many of you have been friends with me and have followed me on this Mili’s Sweets journey since day one, so some of this is new and some of this is old news for what I’ve done to switch things up.
So, last night, my husband and I took down my custom bakery case from the dessert shop counter, bringing my daily-retail to an end and bringing my updated pre-order /catering/custom dessert business back to the center of what I do. It was liberating and yet another note-worthy moment for my business.
It was January 2015, when I first dove into selling exclusively at retail with my friends at MiaBella Yogurt & Desserts. It was fun, exciting and crazy-challenging. I never had employees before. I have never been so busy, trying to fulfill all of those things on my priority list and taking care of the extras that always come along (this past year has been wonderful, but has come with life-challenges, especially being by my side with my dad during treatments for his cancer).
I’m thankful for my current employees – Maria and Esperanza. They are a blessing too. I care a lot about them and consider them a very important asset to what we do each day. And of course, I can’t stop constantly thanking my dear friends, Marty and Amy Clow, for letting me into their kitchen and giving me this amazing opportunity in the first place. They are incredible on so many levels. Their MiaBella employees behind the counter and behind the scenes are great too. This is an awesome and truly loving, family-run/local business.
Today I celebrated my updated business model, by offering free samples to anyone who came into either MiaBella shop. It was so great! Here was the sampling table in Vista. I made hundreds of mini cupcakes and lots of cookies for the Vista and Escondido MiaBella shops. I had classic, vegan and gluten free options, like I always do. It was fun and I loved stopping to speak with everyone who came by.
So now that I’ve taken the step, here is the deal for how my updated business-model will work going forward:
Since the day I started the exclusive partnership with MiaBella, I always wanted most of my business to be pre-order since my core strength is making desserts for my customers, exactly how they like them and according to their dietary preferences, so that no one misses out on dessert. It has always been my mission since I decided to make peanut and tree-nut free desserts because of my son’s severe allergies. However, at the end of the day, I was missing the personal interaction I had with friends and customers when a majority of my time had to be focused on daily retail sales. I couldn’t give that personalized and custom aspect of my business the time that I wanted to, as there was simply not enough time in the day. I had to take the leap and work it out, so that I could do this my way and get back to my core business.
The cool thing is that now that I am all pre-order, customers can get exactly what they want, when they want it. No more disappointment when I sell out of a flavor that a customer came in for and really wants. I’m a small operation on purpose because I really love the quality control of small batches, so I don’t think I could ever do what big bakeries do. Customers can pre-order as few as 4 cupcakes, and I’ll have it waiting for them at either MiaBella counter! If they want more services, I offer delivery and full dessert table setting and styling services too.
Another cool thing is, in a way, I’m still at retail! Most every Friday, I’m offering my catering-extras at MiaBella for only $1-$2 each. It’s a crazy-awesome offer because I don’t want anything to go to waste and I do want to give my wonderful customers who just want to come in, something to look forward to most every Friday. I’m excited about it and most of all because it’s the best of both worlds for me. (To see my calendar of events, availability for catering, set pre-order menu, and when I’m offering my discounted extras, please go to milissweetstogo.com, and visit my calendars.)
Through all of this I can be proud of nothing but progress: I gained the experience of running my business at retail, I gave myself the gift of insight to stop, sit down and analyze my life and goals to do what is best for me, and I gained a lot of new and wonderful customers who have come through the two MiaBella locations over these many months to enjoy my desserts.
My friends and customers have been asking me to come back to catering, setting and styling dessert tables and so I am back to that too. Many of the new customers who have come through the doors of MiaBella for a treat, have no idea about the services I have offered and now offer, so I created a look book to be viewed in the shop and online, via my pre-order website.
Here a link: Mili’s Sweets LOOK BOOK
There you have it! This is how it has all come together. I’m beyond thrilled and now I feel like I can take a deep breath and then the next deep breath. I appreciate you, and my awesome friends and customers for being present, allowing this dream-opportunity (for me to be able to bake for you and share with you) to be a reality.
If you have questions, comments or notes for me, please feel free to email anytime: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you and take care, Mili