Browsing Tag



Take-n-Bake Molten Chocolate Cake in a Mason Jar

molten chocolate cake in a mason jar

hot cakes in a mason jar

I am surprised that it took me so long to discover this fabulous ready to bake cake by chocolatier Autumn Martin of Hot Cakes. She started making them in 2008. Since then, the dessert served in a Mason jar has exploded. If a molten chocolate cake is not a novelty, why do I write about it? In a word: convenience!

molten chocolate cake in a mason jar

What I like most about her product is that you buy it ready to bake. Others will appreciate that it is organic. Personally, I simply imagine the smell in my house before serving dessert to my guests. Many people prefer to buy desserts when they have friends for dinner. I do! The reason that I buy the dessert is to have more time to cook the rest of the meal. Once in a while, I will make my own dessert.

Until now,  Hot Cakes did not have a brick and mortar shop.  They sold at farmers’ markets, at their online store and through indie shops in the state of Washington. Last weekend, they opened their first brick and mortar shop called Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery with a partial funding round on Kickstarter.

Since I doubt that Hot Cakes are shipping to Montreal, I will have to experience with my own molten chocolate recipe. Did you ever bake your own molten chocolate cake in a Mason jar? Do you have any advice for beginner bakers?

Dark Decadence Take-n-Bake Molten Chocolate Cake in a Mason Jar $8 USD at Hot Cakes



Alternative Ideas to Requesting No Gifts and a Giveaway

no gifts please at kids parties

no gifts please at kids parties

I am glad to introduce the first guest blogger who gave me an hand during my trip in Japan.  The first one is Lisa Kothari of Dear Peppers and Pollywogs. Lisa is an author who runs a kids party planning business since 2005. Lisa provides practical solutions and good planning advices to parents.

Today, more and more parents are opting to request No Gifts on their kids’ party invitations.  It often doesn’t work out very well, as some people adhere to the guideline while others ignore it altogether and bring a gift.  The fact is people want to bring something to a child’s party, as a result, to get around embracing the concept of traditional gifts or no gifts at all; there are creative ideas that offer an in-between the two options:

  • Host a book exchange and organize it in a few different ways:
    • Guests bring a wrapped gift and everyone takes one home.
    • Some open the books on the spot; others wait until the kids have gone home.
  • Give your child an experience rather than a party. If you allow friends to be invited, let the experience be the celebration, not the stuff.
  • Hold an inexpensive gift exchange (under $10) so that every child receives a gift.
  • Request art supplies and donate them to a shelter.
  • Hobbit Practice – Better to Give than to Receive! Each child receives a gift, although they do not bring one.
  • Request a donation to a great organization like
  • Contact a charity that is a favorite and ask for a Wish List, i.e. a list of stuff the organization really needs. As an example, the humane society may need leashes, collars, toys, etc. Request guests bring these items in lieu of birthday gifts to donate and make the wishes come true!

Whatever donations are brought to the party for a favorite charity, have the birthday child deliver the donations to his chosen charity.

This is a great round-up of ideas that are alternatives to traditional party gifts.  Also, keep in mind if you are concerned about the amount people will spend on a party gift for your child, it is appropriate to write in your invitation, Gifts under $__ would be appreciated.  Putting a price limit guideline on the invitation can help to keep gift-giving budget friendly.

Happy Gifting ─ or not!


dear peppers and pollywogs book written by lisa kothari

Lisa Kothari is giving away a copy of her book, Dear Peppers and Pollywogs…: What Parents Want to Know About Planning Their Kids’ Parties in which she answered non obvious questions that many parents will face. She sent me a copy two years ago and I found that it is an excellent resources for parents.

To enter this giveaway, simply share what is the best kids party theme you ever saw? Write your answer by commenting on this post. The winner will be determined by a random draw of all the answers received before noon ET on Wednesday, April 21st, 2010.

Update: The winner of the giveaway is #8 Kim – The TomKat Studio. Read more about the random draw.


Elevating the Soda to a Taste of Refinement

 dry soda gourmet flavors and tasting room

As an hostess, I am always on the lookout for non alcoholic drinks to serve to the pregnant women, teens and any guests who do not drink alcohol. Could DRY soda be it?

Seattle-based Dry Soda Company has more than a refined bottle design. The brand keeps a modern tasting room in their headquarter located in Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square neighborhood. They create their lounge version of the winery tasting room.

The gourmet flavors of their all-natural, lightly sweet sodas are unique. DRY produces lavender soda (sweet taste), lemongrass soda (dry taste), rhubarb soda (bold taste) and kumquat soda (fruity taste). In January, they are introducing two new flavors: Vanilla Bean and Juniper Berry Dry.

I googled DRY soda to find reviews from people who drank it. Viv of Seattle Bon Vivant first experienced the soda in a Champagne flute. She was impressed. I am craving for some since I read her tempting description. Her readers all seem to agree with her review.

Soda and Food Pairing

dry soda cocktail recipes and food pairing

You will find on the Web site of DRY Soda several recipes for appetizers, main courses and desserts paired with a soda suggested by real Chefs. You get a Dungeness Crab Salad with Garlic, Roasted Shallots and Pomegranate Vinaigrette paired with Rhubarb DRY Soda. Chef Dustin Clark pairs his Mini Muscovy Duck Burgers with Sharp Cheddar, Caramelized Onions and Huckleberry Ketchup with Lavender DRY Soda

DRY soda can be used to concoct tasty cocktail drinks. You will find recipes from each of the 6 flavors.

Dry Soda drinks are sold across the United States and in a few Canadian stores. Sadly, there are no retailers or restaurants in Montreal that carry DRY as far as I know. There are several restaurants or bars in Los Angeles on the list. So I will add it to me list of things to do when I go to LA.

By the way, I am waiting for answers to places where to eat breakfast or lunch in Los Angeles. Do not be shy to share your opinions.

+ Dry Soda Company
+ Drink This!: Dry Soda by Seattle Bon Vivant
+ Via Lovely Package


Lisa Kothari’s City Guide

original starbuck :: asian art museum :: trophy cupcakes :: monsoon :: lark

Here is the part 2 of my interview with Lisa Kothari, the founder and CEO of Peppers and Pollywogs.

AHWKV: When we travel, it is best to know the places where the residents hang out. Tell us about your favorites places in SEATTLE.

Lisa: Seattle is the home of Starbucks, and the original Starbucks is located in the famous Pike Place Market; try and get there to not only stroll the market, but to see where Starbucks all began. No matter what, though, have coffee at any of the vast number of coffee shops around town. My favorites are Café Verite and Uptown Espresso; there are multiple locations around town!

Seattle is also one of the most literate cities in the US, and so definitely check out a famous bookstore in Pioneer Square, Elliot Bay Book Company. This is a great bookstore with lots of local authors passing through and speaking on their latest books.

Visit Volunteer Park for a lovely stroll, a great view of the Space Needle, and to take in the collection at the Asian Art Museum. Many locals walk their dogs here, play tennis, and just enjoy the grounds on a beautiful day!

ATWKV: What is your favorite cupcake shop in SEATTLE?

Lisa: Seattle has seen an explosion in specialty cupcake stores, and Trophy Cupcakes in Wallingford is the star! Stop in for a delightful cupcake and don’t forget the coffee! The owner was recently featured on Martha Stewart’s show during cupcake week too. Really unique flavors too!

ATHKV: Which restaurants in SEATTLE serve the best brunch?

Lisa: Monsoon in Capitol Hill is really wonderful. It is a French-Vietnamese restaurant and so it offers a colonial menu of traditional eggs and waffles, as well as wonderful tasty Dim Sum and Vietnamese menu as well. I particularly like the Daikon Cakes and Congee. Diverse menu in an atmosphere that is sophisticated and family-friendly all at once.

ATHKV: Which restaurant do you prefer for a romantic evening?

Lisa: Lark is just so lovely on Capitol Hill. Fresh produce, small dishes, lovely ambiance.and no reservations! Pick an off-night or go early!

ATHKV: What are the best places for dinner?

Lisa: In Seattle, you really can’t go wrong with the Tom Douglas group of restaurants. A local famous chef, Tom has a series of restaurants that range in different types of foods, some fancy, some casual, that utilize the fresh flavors of the northwest and deliver time and time again. I love Serious Pie for a taste of gourmet pizza.the sausage pizza is so yummy!

Places in Seattle

If you are familiar with Seattle, share your favorite spots on my Places.
Zoom in to explore the map

View Larger Map