I started baking when I was young. My mom used to tell us that if we wanted cookies we would have to bake them. So we did. There is nothing better than fresh baked pastries. Plus, the house smells so good!
I have a few reliable sources that I use to find new recipes. But sometimes they are staring you right in the face. Like the White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookie recipe on the Ghiradelli White Chocolate wrapper. They are some of THE BEST cookies I've ever tasted. Don asked me to stop making them. He could not stop eating them. They are seriously that good.
It wasn't until I met Nancy Silverton, that I really started baking some really good stuff.
I got to meet Nancy, then owner of La Brea Bakery in LA, and author of Pastries from the La Brea Bakery at the 2001 Minneapolis Food and Wine Show. She demonstrated and sampled her breakfast bars and a savory tart. The taste of these pastries was amazing. I was inspired. I immediately bought the book. Got her autograph. When I got home I bought all the proper utensils and have never looked back. Her breakfast bars have become one of my specialties that I make every Christmas. They are sinfully good.
Most of the things in her book are not easy to make, and they are definitely not low fat - but they are all soooo good. Which in my opinion, is what a baked good should be. I would rather give it up than use funky food substitutes. So you won't find any of that weird stuff in my kitchen.
I've also been inspired from watching Martha Stewart. That woman knows her stuff. She taught me why you want good, quality ingredients. That eggs should be room temperature. The vanilla should be real vanilla. (I use Penzey's.) Chilling the butter is important. Dough shouldn't be over-mixed. I could go on and on.
I don't always make everything from scratch. The Ghirardelli brownies you bake from a box are darn good. Elli calls them my famous yummy brownies.
Elli helps me in the kitchen now. She's a future baker in training!