Gosh. It's been two whole weeks since my last blog post and honestly, I don't know how time got away from me.

Well, yes I do.

I've been building sand castles with ice cream here, and doing all kinds of fun things with sugar here. I've also been testing this cheesecake recipe for a solid week. It was tricky making my Butterfinger-cheesecake dreams come true, and finally (after four-ish tries) a result was earned that I so ardently desired.

Before we talk about love and cheesecake (because those two things always go together in my vocabulary) I have some news to share!

I've accepted an offer from Running Press to write a second cookbook! We're still working through all the details, so I don't have many specifics to share, but I can tell you that it will be a little different from my first book. You can also expect a photo for every recipe and in addition to American measurements, metric will be provided.

I'm so grateful to have this opportunity again. My heart is so happy it's bursting at the seams! And I'm truly thankful to everyone who's supported my first book. Love and love and love to you!

I've been having disorganized pantry shame for a few months now, so last Friday I decided to do something about it. I went in armed with a roll of garbage bags and an indiscriminate attitude (let's get rid of it all!), but soon found that my pantry was more like an archaeological dig into the past two years of my life.

Cake boards and tuile stencils (once lost) were found flattened against a wall. A binder of dessert sketches and scribbles lay open with bent pages under a pile of cookbooks. A grocery bag held gold plastic eggs for an Easter post that never happened. Flattened cupcake papers would surface every now and again, along with stocking stuffers that never made it to the mantel at Christmastime. Last unearthed, a box of miscellany; cookie cutters, ribbon, rock candy and chocolate transfer sheets.

After everything was considerably more organized (though not much diminished), I pulled out a chocolate transfer sheet that had caught my eye. The delicate pattern was almost indistinguishable with airy spirals and green flecks... but what I managed to see reminded me a little of mushroom spore prints - an art-slash-science project I'd had fun with as a kid.

That's all it took. I spent the rest of the day with my head in the clouds. I was dreaming of my own species of mushroom (Boletus saccharo - sugar mushroom?) and sketching ideas for a cake teeming with them.

Friends, I know it seems like I'm always saying "[...] is one of my all-time favorite desserts", and before those words lose their polish, I'd ask you to hear me out once more. Panna cotta is (truly) one of my all-time favorite desserts. In fact, I think it's just about the most perfect sweet thing for summer. It's rich but not heavy. It's cold and refreshing, and you don't have to do much work aside from stirring a few ingredients together on the stove top.

This version is served in shot glasses and topped with schnapps-spiked peach puree (yu-um!). I finished the shots with fresh mint leaves and beautiful little spheres of gourmet sugar from Chambre de Sucre.

Happy July 4th, friends!

It's shaping up to be a rainy holiday, so our fireworks-watching will have to wait. No matter. We'll save the barbecuing for later and carry on indoors with a big slice of red velvet bundt cake! It's a little less literal than my red + white + blue concoction from last year's 4th, but silver crystal sugar on dark chocolate ganache will always remind me of fireworks against a night sky.

The usual topping for this cake is made with cream cheese (no surprise there, right?), but this time I decided to break tradition and completely enrobe the cake in dark chocolate ganache. I can never leave well enough alone, so on went a crown of whipped cream and bunches of chocolate curls (and that's the royale part!).

This past Saturday I had a house full of food, family and little dogs running around in mini sombreros. It was a real hoot! My honey's birthday fiesta turned out to be one for the books! We enjoyed a catered nacho bar and for the first time ever I put birthday candles on flan - which is not something I'd recommend because they immediately start wobbling to-and-fro (and that will make for a very fast rendition of "Happy Birthday To You").

I whipped up baked churros with Biscoff and caramel dipping sauces, flan, and margarita pie cups. I'd also planned to make this fried ice cream layer cake, but ran out of time because I completely lost myself in a box of party decorations. Now, after making this cake, I'm lamenting my short attention span. I wish I could've shared! It's so delicious and tastes just like the fried ice cream I remember eating as a kid.

This confection (from the bottom-up) begins with a moist cinnamon cake layer. It's topped with a layer of vanilla ice cream and both layers are coated in a generous amount of dulce de leche. Crushed cornflakes and brown sugar are "fried" in a skillet with butter for a crunchy coating. It's finished with drizzled honey, whipped cream and cherries on top, which is how it was always served at our favorite Mexican restaurant.

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