Sweet Treats in Orange County: The People Behind Your Favorite Desserts

Jessica Aguilar
Owner of Bunch of Munchies in Costa Mesa

“All of our rice crispy treats are created small-batch and homestyle, meaning that each tray is made individually over a burner with a big pot, familiar ingredients, and lots of love! Low and slow, just like my Aunt Sue (who gave me the base recipe we are using today) taught me. The most important trick is hand-pressing them down into the pan gently, so that you keep a level of airiness to them. I know people are not looking at us for the most nutritional part of their day, and I openly tell them that we fall into the category of ‘good for your soul.’ Ultimately, I just want to bring smiles to people’s faces, and treats have always done that for me. What better way to do that than to re-create a favorite childhood treat with a gourmet twist?”

Patrick Nguyen
Owner of The Straw: Modern Milkshakes in Costa Mesa

“I wanted The Straw to be a new version of a classic ’50s milkshake parlor. We wanted to include familiar flavors, some more geared toward kids, some that adults will like, and some with my own culinary touch. For example, the Charlize milkshake has super acidic, tart blueberries. We balance that with goat cheese and honey. We also have the Pink Lady, which is a strawberry milkshake topped off with a sparkling rosé. The brightness of the rosé really complements the creaminess of the shake. One of my inspirations for creating new flavors is Vietnamese food. There’s texture and balance in everything, and I applied that same principle to our milkshakes.”

Shelly Register
Culinary Director at A Market in Newport Beach

“Customers start asking early for our pumpkin pies. We take advance orders, and closer to the holidays, we start selling them as small tarts in the market. Funny thing is, I never even tasted a pumpkin pie until I had to bake one for Troquet (predecessor to Marché Moderne, circa 2007). I grew up eating my mom’s sweet potato pie. Consequently, I developed an untraditional pie: It’s not custardy, and I roast my own sugar pumpkins, making sure the filling retains some texture. Plus, I’m crazy about freshly grated nutmeg, so we use plenty. The dough acts more like puff pastry than a typical pie crust. We top it with whipped cream, caramel sauce, and toasted pecans.”

Yoshinori Inada
Owner of Cream Pan in Tustin

“Our strawberry croissants are made completely from scratch. The custard filling is made fresh every morning, and the strawberries are from Penjoyan Produce in Costa Mesa. People buy containers of them and bring them to parties, and the popularity just grew through word-of-mouth. Last Christmas Eve, we sold more than 22,000 strawberry croissants in one day. When I first opened Cream Pan in 2002, it was just me and two other ladies and I did all the baking. Now we have about 70 employees, and I’m working on opening a new location in Fountain Valley this fall, which will have more pastries as well as breakfast and lunch items. I started baking in Osaka, Japan, when I was 19. Years later, I am still coming up with new items and recipes.”

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