Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pumpkin Creme Brulee

My beauties out of the oven!

With Halloween just a couple of days away and Thanksgiving just around the corner, it seems that all I can think about these days is pumpkin! Pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, pumpkin ice cream is being sold in grocery stores, shops, and restaurants alike. Pumpkin bread is definitely my go-to "pumpkin" goodie, but I wanted to try something a little different.

I was flipping through the October issue of Bon Apetit magazine, and landed upon a recipe for pumpkin creme brulee. I had never tried my hand at creme brulee before. I usually think of it as a dessert one would order at an upscale restaurant, not the sort of thing for the home cook. This recipe sure looked good, so I decided to give it a try.

Sitting in a waterbath in the oven.

Luckily, a couple of weeks ago I had been strolling through the baking aisle in Harris Teeter when I noticed the bargain of a lifetime was right in front of me. A creme brulee set (4 ramekins and 1 butane torch) was being sold for $11.99! I thought to myself, even if the torch is total crap, at least I will be investing in some ramekins.

Mmm pumpkiny goodness.

With creme brulee set in one hand and a pumpkin recipe in the other, I set to work. The recipe was rather easy to follow. I simply mixed together sugar, eggs, pumpkin, and spices and added them to heated whipping cream. I poured the mixture into ramekins (I used four 3" and two 5") and placed them in a heavy pan, filling it with water until it came half way up the ramekins. I put the pan in the oven at 350 to bake for 35 minutes.

These little ramekins of pumpkin creme smelled delicious out of the oven. I let them sit in the fridge over night. I took them out the following evening after they had time to set. I opened up my torch to prepare to brulee them. Unfortunately, my torch did not come with any gas (no wonder this set was so cheap). :(

My mom putting them under the broiler. Don't try this at home kids! She's a professional!
I decided to use the broiler instead. After 30 seconds under the heat, the sugar began to boil and harden up. The sugar didnt have that crisp consistency that you would find at most restaurants (I chalk that up to a lack of a torch). The pumpkin creme was delicious, but not exactly the creamy eggy consistency I am used to. It tasted more like a pumpkin pie filling straight out of the oven. I altered the amounts, but kept the same rations, so I don't think that would affect the consistency. I am also wondering if I needed to cook these a little longer. I probably took them out of the oven 5 minutes before I was supposed to for fear that I would overcook them.

I am set on testing out another creme brulee recipe. Next time I will look into getting a butane cartridge for my torch.

All in all 1.5 out of 3 JAMs

The recipe follows:

Pumpkin and Brown-Sugar Crème Brûlée

Bon Appétit November 2008
by Sarah Patterson Scott

Makes 8 servings

1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin (JAM Note: I used 9 oz)

1/2 cup sugar (JAM Note: 1/3 c.)
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar (JAM Note: 1/3 c.)
5 large egg yolks (JAM Note: 3 eggs)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (JAM Note: 6/5 tsp.)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (JAM Note: 3/5 tsp.)
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (JAM Note: 1/8 tsp.)
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (JAM Note: 1/8 tsp.)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (JAM Note: 1/8 tsp.)
1/4 teaspoon salt (JAM Note: 1/8 tsp.)
3 cups heavy whipping cream (JAM Note: 9/5 c.)
8 tablespoons raw sugar or golden brown sugar

Preheat oven to 325°F. Whisk pumpkin, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup brown sugar in large bowl. Whisk in egg yolks and vanilla, then spices and salt. Bring cream just to boil in medium saucepan. Gradually whisk hot cream into pumpkin mixture.

Divide mixture among eight 5x1-inch ramekins. Divide ramekins between 2 large roasting pans. Add enough hot water to pans to come halfway up sides of ramekins. Bake until custards are just set in center, about 35 minutes. Chill custards until cold, about 6 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon raw sugar over pumpkin custard in each ramekin. Using kitchen torch, melt sugar until deep amber. (Alternatively, use broiler. Place ramekins on rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle tops with brown sugar [not raw sugar] and melt directly under broiler until deep amber.) Refrigerate 15 minutes to allow sugar to harden. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 hour ahead. Keep chilled.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Soup Wars!

I don't know about you, but with the temperatures dropping I have been craving a bowl of hot comforting soup almost every day. I have also been satisfying that craving pretty much every day at Au Bon Pain. Their homemade creations crush those canned numbers.

Talk of my daily soup consumption inspired me and Malia to compare soups available at our local lunch chains. To begin with, we will feature soups from: Au Bon Pain, Panera, Corner Bakery, and Cosi.

This will be a weekly affair in which we feature a variety of soups from one restaurant. At the end we will devote a post to the best overall soups and soup accompaniments (breads, crackers, etc).

If there are any places you feel are worthy of our soup war, please email your selection to:

With that said here's a shoutout to soup, courtesy of Justin Timberlake urrbody:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rotisserie Chicken...this isn't your storebought chicken

Smoky, meaty smells waft through the air, tempting me to your door. Oh yes, I am talking about the wonderful smells of rotisserie chicken! Every time I drive down Lee Highway, those smells beckon me to stop at Caribbean Grill, but I never do. This weekend, I made a preemptive decision to head over to Caribbean Grill to satisfy my chicken craving.

Mmm...meat on a stick.

Malia and I walked up to the small restaurant and were greeted by a rack of chickens cooking on a rotating spit. This was a good sign. We entered into a vibrant rainforest scene. Parrots and jungle plants painted the walls of the cozy eatery. (JAM Note: The Grill doesn't take credit cards, so remember to bring cash.)

I feel like chicken tonight, like chicken tonight!

Perusing the menu, we saw that they offered a variety of pork dishes, burritos, chicken sandwiches, side dishes, and of course rotisserie chicken. I knew I had to get the signature offering. The chicken can be ordered whole, by the half, or quarter. Sides may be added for an additional cost.

Sweet fried plantains.
Malia and I decided to split the half chicken with a side of fried plantains and steamed broccoli and carrots. This meal was a great bargain! All of that food for $9.50! It easily satisfied our hunger.

The chicken was tender with a salty, smoky flavor. There was a hint of garlic. The white meat was a little drier than the dark meat, which is to be expected. It was still quite tasty. The thigh and drumstick were my personal favorites. The steamed vegetables were well cooked (not overdone). Malia noted that the carrots were particularly sweet (she's not a big carrot fan and she enjoyed them!) I loved the plantains - a little crispy on the outside and sweet and creamy on the inside.

Caribbean Grill
5183 Lee Hwy Arlington, VA 22207
(703) 241-8947

This place was a solid 2 out of 3 JAMs, especially in terms of bargain, quick eats.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Green Beans with an Asian Flair!

I had made stirfry the other night, using some red bell pepper, portabello mushrooms, snap peas, teriyaki sauce, fresh ginger, and garlic. It was amazing.

The next night I decide to recreate the dish, but realized the only vegetables I had in the house were some green beans. I knew these would be tasty. My dad loves chinese green beans and I knew the sauce I had would be perfect in recreating those flavors.

I heated up some oil in a pan on medium high heat and threw the green beans in. I cooked them for about 5 minutes, so they crisped up a little on the outside. I chopped up one clove of garlic, and about half as much ginger and added that to the pan. I used 3 tablespoons of teriyaki sauce plus about 1/3 cup of water. I added the sauce to the pan, turned the heat down to medium and cooked for another 5 minutes.

Some chopped scallions were tossed on top. Voila! The beans were ready. They were crisp, but nicely cooked through. The ginger and garlic were so fresh and paired nicely together. The scallions added an extra kick to offset the sweetness of the beans and the sauce. This dish is so fresh and can be tweaked to make slightly different versions. You could add some toasted cashews, red pepper flakes, or some more vegetables. The combinations are endless.

As I am often looking for ways to add more vegetables to my diet, this is certainly one dish I will be making again.

Cupcake Break - trip to Magnolia at Rock Center

Having gone to school at NYU, trips to Magnolia Bakery in the West Village were part of my undergrad experience. Going with a bunch of friends to wait in line, staring through the windows at a few trays of vanilla and chocolate cupcake and mountains of pastel buttercream frosting goodness, and then finally getting one and downing it in about 3 minutes, resulting in a painful, sugar headche filled walk home. Now that I'm supposedly older and wiser, I wanted to give Magnolia's another go, to replace my painful yet great experience with a more civilized, one.

I found out Magnolia was opening a 3rd location right near my office (located at 49th and 6th) I rounded up some coworkers and headed out for a cupcake fix.

Amazingly, it wasn't all too crowded (though it was about 3pm on a weekday) and there were seemingly endless amounts of trays of yummy Magnolia cupcakes, meaning minimal waiting and a faster purchasing experience.

I immediately was drawn to a pink frosting and sprinkled cupcake, with a sugar breast cancer pink ribbon. While it cost an additional 50 cents (which goes to the Susan G Komen association), I felt that the $3 was warranted for no line waiting. The cupcake was so girly and cute AND it felt even better because I contribued to breast cancer research.

From the side, it had less frosting than previous Magnolia cupcakes I've eaten, which for me was great as generally Magnolia's buttercream becomes overbearing.

Overall, the chocolate cake was just the right amount of sweetness mixed with chocolate, neither element overpowering each other. It was somewhat moist (not fudgy like some chocolate cupcakes) and it helped to balance the extreme sweetness of the frosting. The sprinkles were a nice mix of the round sprinkles with colored sugar, so there was a slight crunch to every bite, adding to the texture of the cupcake.

Eating it in the office was a tad embarassing but completely worth it. A solid 2 1/2 JAMs out of 3 simply because I loved the cake and frosting combo together but like a slightly moister cake.

JAM note: My coworker, Uptin, enjoys Magnolia so much that he purchased 4 (two chocolate frosted, two vanilla) to bring home and said that this location was less crowded than the Upper Manhattan Magnolia.

Fall Festivities - Pumpkin Bars!

In honor of my previous post for Shake Shack and the super delicious Pumpkin Pie Oh My! I knew I wanted to bake something to bring into work with pumpkin.

Not content with pumpkin pie, I settled on a recipe I found for Orange Spice Pumpkin Bars with Brown Butter Frosting. Yum! For those who have never heard of a pumpkin bar, think of it as similar to lemon bar but with a pumpkin and fall flavor profile.

My coworkers were quite happy with my end results as were Travis and me! (Which makes me think about combining them with custard to make Pumpkin Bars Oh My!) I brought about a dozen into work and they were gone pretty instantly. Everyone particularly enjoyed how moist and dense they were and the hint of citrus in the bar itself.
The bars turned out moist and dense, tasting of pumpkin pie and cake and all things fall. The frosting was thick and creamy, almost like a sweet version of cream cheese- based frosting. They are perfect both as a special breakfast (I had one with a caramel macchiato from Starbucks at work, with my coworker having one with a latte) and as a dessert/snack. Not overly sweet, these bars really hit the spot and set up a great autumn mood.

All in all, a great 3 out of 3 JAMs due to the strong pumpkin flavor, complex hints of orange and spice, and the brown butter frosting.

The recipe is below, taken from Pillsbury's Fall Baking (with only a couple of subtle alterations):

Orange Spice Pumpkin Bars with Browned Butter Frosting

Bar Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (JAM note: could substitute 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, and 1/8 tsp cloves)
  • 2 tsp grated orange peel
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (JAM note: canola works too)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
Bar Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of a rectangular baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, beat bar ingredients with electric mixer on low speed, scraping bowl occasionaly, until moistened. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping bowl. Spread batter evenly in pan
  3. Bake 23 - 27 mins or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for about an hour.

Frosting Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter (JAM note: Cannot use margarine or other substitute as they do not brown the way butter can)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 to 4 tbsp milk
Frosting Instructions:

  1. In a 2 quart saucepan, heat butter over medium heat, stirring constantly until is light golden brown. (JAM note: Here the butter is liquid and starting to turn brown)(JAM note: Here the butter is nice and brown.)
  2. Once golden brown, remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar, vanilla, and enough milk until frosting is smooth and spreadable.
  3. Immediately spread frosting over cooled bars, refrigerate for about 15 mins or until set. Cut into rows. Can be stored cold or at room temperature.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Trip to Lebanon is Only Minutes Away...

Traveling to Lebanon is a little difficult these days, and often ill-advised, due to political and religious turmoil. However, one can still enjoy wonderful Lebanese cuisine without leaving the country. Lebanese Taverna opened its doors 29 years ago in Arlington, VA. I visited this location for the first time, many years ago with my parents. Since moving to Arlington I have had the pleasure of being only 5 minutes away from the Restaurant, and its Market location. The Market offers a wide variety of Lebanese groceries, as well as sandwiches, salads, and catering options.

The kabob sandwich is really messy, so bring lots of napkins. My only qualm with takeout, is the bread can get a little soggy. (The flatbread is fairly thick and held up for the most part.)

I usually venture to the Market, and go for the platter option, where you can pick out a number of different salads and homemade goods. I usually go for the tabouleh, lebanese salad, grape leaves, hommus, and kibbeh. And don't forget the pita!

This time I decided to switch things up a bit. I opted for the Kabob sandwich - tempted by the thought of warm chunks of grilled lamb. The meat is grilled when ordered, so it comes out warm and tender. (One bite and I knew it hadn't been sitting out under a heat lamp drying out.)

The sandwich is essentially a kabob served on flatbread with hommus. The lamb meat is skewered next to onion, tomato, green pepper, and mushroom. The veggies are super fresh, with a slight charred flavor from the grill. The hommos is light and creamy, with hints of lemon, and nice tahini flavor.

As delicious as it is beautiful.

The tabouleh is one of my favorite dishes at Lebanese Taverna. It is how parsely was meant to be served! The dish is primarily parsely, with flecks of bulgar, chopped tomato, onion, garlic, lemon juice, and a bit of olive oil.

The flavors are so bright and fresh. I can't get enough of the stuff. Tabouleh is one of the many salads that can be packed up in a container(of various sizes) to go. This is a great option if you're hosting a dinner, or you just want to have enough to last you through the week.

Starting at bottom going clockwise: falafel with tahini, baby eggplant, kibbeh with yogurt sauce, pita, hommus, and grape leaves.

The Market isn't the only location with to-go options. My sister and I often make pick-up orders at the restaurant. Just peruse the menu, give them a call, and dinner can be ready in 20 minutes.
A couple of weeks ago, Malia, my Mom, and I ordered a bunch of their mezza(small plates) to share. We ordered the hommus, falafel (fried chickpea and fava bean fritters), grape leaves, kibbeh (fried wheat shells stuffed with meat), and makdous (spicy stuffed baby eggplants).

The baby eggplants were adorable and tasty. Stuffed with walnuts, herbs, garlic, and pomegranates, these were hearty eats in a small package. The vinagrette offered a slight tang. However these "spicy" eggplant offered no heat to speak of. Not a bad thing in my opinion.

The falafel were crispy on the outside, with a warm, soft center filled with mashed beans and herbs. If you love chickpeas you won't be able to resist these, especially with a side of tahini (a sesame seed paste) sauce.

The kibbeh are also excellent. I was first introduced to these meat filled delights by a Lebanese friend (she herself says the Taverna offers the closest thing to her mother's Lebanese cooking). Again, these were crispy on the outside with a light doughiness to the shell on the inside and stuffed with meat, herbs, and nuts. The grape leaves were stuffed with rice, parsely, mint, and chickpeas. They were tasty, but nothing special.

The hommos is creamy and light and served with a bagfull of pita (both wheat and white flour). I had to stop myself from filling up simply on warm, soft pita and hommus.

I can honestly say I could eat here everyday and be happy. Malia can testify to this.

3 out of 3 JAMs

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Not So Turkish Delight

All week a menu advertising a $10.99 all you can eat Turkish buffet has been sitting by my coworker's (Anjali's) desk and so today she decided that today would be the day to check it out.

We headed out to Kanaat for a change from our usual sandwich, soup, and/or salad options. We were given a table immediately upon arrival so we dropped off our things and went straight for the buffet.

The buffet was generous in offerings with an assortment of 14 or so dishes to choose from, including several meats, vegetable dishes, two types of rice, soup, and a few spreads.

My plate was full before I was able to grab some of each dish, requiring me to pace myself in order to go back for seconds.

All in all nothing impressive. The highlights of the meal included the hummus (smooth and creamy), the tabuleh (light and refreshing blend of cilantro, tomatoes, onion, couscous), and the salad which had a yogurt-y dressing. The soup was also good though it had a strong flavor, but was a bit spicy with bits of tomato and orzo floating in the spicy broth.Most of the hot food was ok but nothing outstanding. I had one chicken dish that had undercooked chicken and had one beef dish that was far too tough.

For $10.99, I expected better from a midtown lunch, so I give it only 1 1/2 JAMs.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fall Festivities - Shacktober Fest!

Ah fall has arrived, along with all the yummy sights and sounds associated. Immediately upon it becoming October I knew a trip to Shake Shack was in order for their annual Shacktober Fest, a Shake Shack - Oktoberfest combo of delicious burgers, brats, and fall-themed custard treats, so I gathered up my NYU friends and we headed over to Shake Shack!

Travis and I knew that the food for Shacktober Fest was good but that the Shack Burgers (1 burger with Shack Sauce, lettuce, tomato, cheese) were superior to the brats that are offered, so we went straight for burgers and fries, which were delicious as always!

The burgers are amazing - freshly cooked, they come piping hot with melty cheese, just the right amount of crisp lettuce and tomato, Shack Sauce (some sort of tangy combo of possibly ketchup, mustard, and mayo) and delicious, slightly garlickly warm buns. The fries were super crispy and salty (my vegetarian friends are willing to wait in line, sometimes for 30+ mins, just for the fries and shakes) and a great palate cleanser in between juicy bites of burger.

Typically I get some sort of custard dessert, whether it be a namesake shake (thick and creamy) or just a custard-based dessert, but this time, while waiting in line, I saw a sign advertising for $6.75 a "Pumpkin Pie Oh My"offering, which was a blend of real pumpkin pie with vanilla custard and whipped cream! YUM! I obviously added it to my order and rather than hold it (Shake Shack gives you the option to hold your dessert until you are ready, which can be good but also might mean they could run out of the flavor you ordered) got it with my food. Needless to say it was divine....real chunks of pumpkin pie (with great bites of crust) mixed in with vanilla custard and topped with a huge dollop of whipped cream. I would order it again in a heartbeat.

Travis got the Shack Stack, which consists of two burger patties in between which is nestled a fried, cheesy, mushroom. He also thoroughly enjoyed his burger, fries, and Pumpkin Pie Oh My.

All in all, a very outstanding 3 out of 3 JAMs for Shake Shack! I will definitely be coming back here for more fall treats soon.

Ladies Night!

Oh yes it's ladies night, and the feeling's right. Oh yes it's ladies night, oh what a night (oh what a night)! A couple of weekends ago we had a JAM reunion with a goal to go out dancing and perhaps find a few cute guys to buy us drinks. In order to make ladies' night (I started calling it girls' night out, and Jenny quickly corrected me that we are no longer girls, but grown and sexy women) a bit more special. Ariel and I decided to take Jenny and my roommate Natalie out to a new hot spot in DC for dinner. We had heard great things about Co Co Sala, and what better place to start off our ladies' night than eating at a restaurant that focuses on chocolate themed food and desserts!

When we arrived at the restaurant we were all immediately struck by the beautiful, hip, sexy vibe of the interior. The restaurant feels very warm with dark red and brown tones. We loved the tiled wall behind the bar where we were seated. Once we got settled at our table we decided to start with drinks while we perused the menu. Natalie ordered a lychee cocktail that was sweet but not cloying, which matched the light pink hue of the drink. I ordered a pear cocktail with amaretto, vodka, pineapple juice and pear puree. It was fruity and refreshing. Ariel and Jenny ordered Co Co Sala's signature cocktail, the "cocojito" which is their chocolate version of the mojito. This drink was divine! The cocktail had all the qualities of a regular mojito with mint, lime, simple sugar syrup and club soda, but the twist was the chocolate infused vodka they add, as well as chocolate shavings. This drink was so chocolaty and minty, it was the perfect combo. We all agreed we could have just drunk the cocojitos all night and been perfectly content.

The heavenly cocojitos

Later on in the evening, in between dinner and what was really the main course, dessert, we ordered a couple more cocojitos. We really couldn't get enough!

Sippin' on cocktails

Ariel and Natalie are REALLY enjoying their drinks!

When deciding on what food to order, we were directed by our extremely helpful waitress to each order two or three of the small bites, which are very similar to tapas. Natalie and I both immediately eyed the crabcakes on the menu and knew we had to order them. Ariel will tell you how much I love crabcakes ever since I was a little girl. If you love crabcakes like I do, you won't be dissapointed by these. Natalie chose the spicy Louisiana, while I went with the coconut version. The ratio of crab meat to filling was good and the exterior was crunchy while the interior was sweet and creamy. Mine was deliciously coconutty with a hint of basil and came with a chocolate mayo and a side of baby greens. The Louisiana had a kick to it from the chipotle chocolate tomato glaze, and came with a mango salsa and avacado cilantro emulsion. If you love crabcakes like I do you won't be dissapointed.

Louisiana Crabcake and Bleu Cheese Beef Burger

The sliders on the menu are equally good. Natalie and Jenny both chose the Bleu Cheese Burger, altho Jenny got hers sans mushrooms since she's not a fan of them. The beef was tender and well spiced. They are slightly more well done than a regular burger because of their small size, but they don't lack in big flavor. The bleu cheese paired nicely with the beef, and the mushrooms and spinach lent a nice earthiness. The co co mole sauce added a richness to the burger. The brioche bun was soft but hearty enough to hold up to the burger. Ariel and I chose the more exotic sliders. I love fish, so I had to go for the Spicy Moroccan Swordfish, while Ariel satisfied her love of Indian food with the Tandoori Chicken Patty. The swordfish was really nicely seasoned and had just enough heat to it. The pecorino cheese mellowed the spiciness of the fish and the fennel shavings added a nice texture and crunch. This slider was topped with a cheesey brioche bun for another layer of flavor. The chicken patty was moist and tasted very strongly of cardamom, which I loved, but if you aren't a fan of it I wouldn't reccomend it. It was served on a brioche bun with carrots and greens.

Spicy Shrimp Mac N' Cheese and Tandoori Chicken Patty

Ariel's second dish was the spicy shrimp mac n' cheese which really rich and creamy with nice chunks of shrimp. The creamy monteray jack and cheddar cheeses play nicely with heat from the jalapenos and garlic. Ariel especially enjoyed the big, whole shrimp that was served skewered atop the mac. Jenny's second dish was on the lighter side, a maine lobster salad. This dish had crushed avacado, greens, chunks of lobster, a lemon aioli and a passion chocolate vinagrette served with a side of corn bread. It was very fresh and the avacado and lobster gave it a heartier feel without being too heavy.

The first courses: praline soup...

After eating our small bites, we moved onto the real main course...dessert! We were all so excited to try everything on the menu. The desserts are set up so that you can order things individually, such as gelato, hot chocolate, truffles, sorbets, etc or you can enjoy a number of desserts at once in a "flight" of your choice with a global theme. We decided to share three flights, which we soon realized was more than enough for the four of us. We chose the Italian Voyage, Aztec Experience and Childhood Favorites. Each flight comes with what they call an "amuse", "main course" and "petit fours". The main course is substantially larger than the first and last courses. The first course was the chocolate praline soup with vanilla panna cotta, churros with dulce de leche and a mini boston cream doughnut and cappucino panna cotta.


The churros were probably my favorite because the of the dulce de leche. This sauce is rich and creamy with milky caramel flavors. The churros were thin, but still crisp on the outside and warm and chewy on the inside and they were perfect for dipping in the dulce de leche. We didn't finish all the sauce, but we kept it around for eating with a spoon. Yum! The boston cream doughnut was a little hard to share, so we split it in half and then Jenny and I just bit into it a la Lady and the Tramp. Natalie and Ariel did too. Sorry there aren't any pics! Haha. The doughnut was soft and pillowy and the cream filling was smooth and sweet. The praline soup had a nice creamy caramel flavor, but was a little sweet for my liking. I guess I'm more of a savory soup kind of girl.

Main courses: Tiramisu trio, spicy molten chocolate cake...

We were barely finished with the first course, before the main courses arrived--all glorious three of them. We had a trio of Tiramisus, a hot chocolate souffle, and a peanut butter mousse with bananas fosters and a mini cupcake. Each of the main courses was very decadent. We all agreed the tiramisu was the favorite. There was a "frais de bois", chocolate and classic versions. The frais de bois had fresh strawberries and a moist spongy cake with a delicate cream. It was sweet and fruity, but not too rich. The classic stays true to form and the chocolate was very, very chocolaty. The dark chocolate was great for an extreme chocolate lover. The hot chocolate souffle is very similar to many of the "molten" chocolate cakes being served at restaurants in abundance these days, except that the interior melted chocolate center had a spicy kick to it. The cake center actually was much more cakey than we would have liked, probably because it is such a small cake and baking may be trickier. The peanut butter mouse had an intense peanutty flavor. It was very dense and creamy, it almost had the feel of ice cream. It came with a chocolate sauce and a side of bananas fosters for a delightful play on peanut butter and banana combinations many experience as kids. I personally love banana and peanut butter sandwiches, but I thought it was a little too sweet and the mousse was so dense it was hard to eat a lot of it. We all thought of our other friend Jenny while we ate because she makes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day for lunch. If you are a PB fanatic this is the treat for you.

Peanut butter mousse

The final course of petit fours was ricotta bite and dipped amaretti, a mexican cookie and a chocolate infused "horchata" drink, and a chocolate chip cone with a cheesecake "lollipop". None of us were that impressed by the last bites, although the mint chip cone and the lollipop were very cute. We loved the chocolate covered strawberry cheesecake pop because it was sweet and creamy and it was covered in pop rocks! Yes those little firecracker candies we grew up with. I just love the way they snap, crackle and pop in your mouth. We all had a lot of fun eating that dessert. After we were stuffed full of chocolatey goodness we lingered a while sipping on those cocojitos before heading out into the night for our DC quest for dancing and fun. All in all a very sweet ending.