Pillsbury Doesn't Do it Best

If you are looking for sweets that are baked from scratch daily using high quality ingredients, and timeless taste, look no further. Vanilla Bake Shop has it all. The tiny shop on 5th and Wilshire has been selling their yummy baked goods for years. All cakes, cupcakes, and cookies are made with real Madagascar Bourbon pure vanilla, from the Bourbon Island off the coast of Africa, Guittard Chocolate from San Francisco, Callebaut Chocolate from Belgium, Sweet Cream Butter from Challenge Dairy, and fresh berries from local farmers are all part of the secret. Before you even taste you know you're going to be eating top of the line sweets here! Cupcakes are delicious, moist and the frosting can't be beat. Regular size is $3.50 and Cupcake Babies are 3 for $6. You can count on Daily flavors such as Vanilla Bean with vanilla bean cake and vanilla bean buttercream icing with sanding sugar decor, Mom's Birthday Cake-yellow cake, milk chocolate buttercream, and a pastel flower, Southern Red Velvet, Bittersweet Dark Chocolate, Chocolate Vanilla Bean, and Cinnamon Vanilla. Each day there are five special varities baked as well, so call ahead to see what they are. The cupcake tower ($24) is great if you're entertaining a crowd. Pies are available too, anything from Old Fashioned Apple Crisp (9" for $34) to Cheesecakes ($24-$44). Cookies are offered in Chocolate Chip, White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip Toffee, Everything Cookies, Brownie Crackle, and Butter Pecan Melt-Aways. Bar cookies ($3-$4) include lemon, caramel and brownies. My favorite desserts are the ice box desserts. The Dirt Cake is vanilla bean whipped cream, dark chocolate mousse, and dark chocolate cookie crumbs all layered in a tall shot glass. The second runner up is the Southern Banana Pudding. Nilla Wafers, vanilla bean custard, sliced bananas, and vanilla whipped cream puts this over the top! Cakes can be custom ordered in many different flavors and start at around $40 for a 6" round. I'll bet you can guess where my New Year's Eve desserts are coming from this year! Eight lucky people are going to enjoy dessert nirvana and you can too! Vanilla Bake Shop 512 Wilshire Blvd. Santa Monica (310) 458-6644 Hours: Mon-Sat: 9am-7pm. Also at Century City Shopping Center Level 1 and Tom Bradley International Terminal-LAX

Recommended: Ice Box Desserts, Birthday Cakes.

How good does a day in the bakery sound? To me it's a dream come true! If you want, go to the bakery's website, scan the QR code and watch the short documentary about a real day in the bakery. Then take a drive to either Pasadena or Culver City and explore the authentic Danish pastry shop for yourself! Light flakey pastries, known for their butter, vanilla custard, and nougat fillings, and almond paste abound. For under $2 a pastry buy a whole box of them and enjoy with a cup of coffee.  Small cakes such as Kranse, Napolean Hats, and Coconut Tops will run you $2.35. We love the slightly sweet morning pastry, Poppy Twist ($1.60) with poppy seeds and remonce. The Copenhagen ($1.95) is light flakey buttery layers filled with custard. This is definitely my favorite! The Chocolate pastry is also one of my top choices. Filled with that amazing custard, you won't want to miss this one either. Take home nut free, gluten-free, or dairy-free items as well. Copenhagen Pastry 11113 Washington Blvd, Culver City. (310) 839-8900 or 3731 E. Colorado Blvd. Pasadena (626) 792-7200. Hours Monday Closed Tues-Fri. 7am-5pm Sat-Sun 8am-4pm.


Recommended:Morning pastries, small dessert cakes, Copenhagen, rye bread

I've been to Lark a few times and love the look of their beautiful baked goods. After stuffing our faces at Hache yesterday, we took a little stroll, (and I do mean little) down Sunset Boulevard into Lark for yet some more sinful food. On previous visits I have enjoyed the chocolate brownies, rich and fudgey ($3.50) and the individual fruit tart filled with creme patisserie and seasonal fruit ($4.75). Today we decided upon cupcakes as our poison. Now these aren't just any old cupcakes. Flavors include choices like Sarah's Famous Chocolate Mousse, Carrot Cake, Old Fashioned Coconut, Black & White, Berry Shortcake, Coffecake, Pumpkin, and Flourless Chocolate Cake. We devoured the Vanilla white cake with Italian buttercream icing. Then because we're us, we had to try the Old Fashioned Ice Box Cupcake. Think thin chocolate wafer cookies layered with whipped cream covered in whipped cream! Cupcakes will run you $3 for regular, $4.25 for ice box, and $3.75 for vegan. Oh, did I say vegan? Yes, Lark has some of the best vegan cupcakes in the city! Try the Vegan Chocolate Orange or Vegan Boston Banana cupcakes for an absolutely delicious delight! Cookies, pastries and bars ($1-$4) are available daily. Pies and tarts must be pre-ordered and start at $17.75. Cakes start at $27. Lark Silver Lake Cake Shop 3337 W. Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles. (323) 667-2968  Hours: Sun-Thurs: 10:00 a.m.- 8:00 p.m. Fri & Sat: 10:00 a.m.- 10:00p.m.


Recommended: Cupcakes

What's a wedding without a little day after celebration? While the bride and groom were basking in the sun at the Four Season's poolside, the mother and father-of-the-bride were taking a much deserved day off. As we strolled down Abbot Kinney, in search of the perfect snack, we decided upon avacado fries at 3 Square Bakery. But lo and behold, what should catch our bleary eyes? Why it was the attached Rockenwagner Bakery. This review is for the bakery only. My 3 Square review was posted already. We love Hans Rockenwagner and hadn't enjoyed one of his freshly baked goods in quite some time. (Other than a pretzel bun on a burger here and there!) So we stopped in. The sweet little bakery serves both breakfast and lunch with about five or six small tables. Whatever you order can also be brought next door to 3 Square. We love the Mini-Sandwiches ($3.50 each) on freshly-baked Rockenwagner bread. Choose from tuna salad, salami, grilled veggies, turkey, egg salad, ham, brie, or caprese. Tortilla wraps with turkey, spinach, and provolone ($4.50) are big and hearty. But it's the cheese and bacon covered gigantic German pretzel that we come for. This definitely is a meal in itself. A huge soft pretzel is covered, and I do mean covered for all of you cheese lovers like me in cheddar and thick chunks of bacon. It's then warmed and served with mustard if you please. This baby is at the top of my Best Things I've Ever Eaten list. Try the bacon and cheddar twist ($2.75) for a smaller scale, yet still scrumptuous treat. The ham and cheese sesame croissant ($4) is one of my all time favorites too. Have it warmed and it literally melts in your mouth. Grab a drink from the back refrigerator and you'll have a great little meal. After this I got a surprise trip to the Santa Monica pier. Tell me readers, am I the only native who loves the pier? My husband only had to spend $12 to win me a beautiful pink stuffed pig! My smile was worth a million bucks! Rockenwagner Bakery 1121 Abbot Kinney Blvd. Venice (310) 399-6504 Hours: Bakery M-Su 8 am- 4 pm.


Recommended Dishes: Pretzels, Mini Sandwiches, Wraps, Pastries.


Every time my friend Rhonda and I hang out we always have amazing adventures. Today was no exception. Rhonda introduced me to her very cool friend who has a gorgeous pond full of turtles. Now everyone who knows me, knows I am a sucker for turtles, especially Red-Eared Sliders. Yes, the ones your mom told you not to touch because you'll get salmonella. With the recent death of one of my red eareds (Harriet Nelson), my lone survivor (Ozzie Nelson) was feeling a bit blue. Rhonda promised me that at 3:00 we could visit her friend so that I could get Harriet's replacement. Until the magic time rolled around we satisfied ourselves with lunch and bakerd goods. Sweet E's Bake Shop was our choice today because as they say, "life should be sweet!" If you find yourself on 3rd Street in the Beverly Grove area make sure to drop by. I can honestly say I am so jealous that I don't own this store. It is exactly what my dream bakery would look like. The staff was friendly and helpful and the thought and creativity put into the display and decor is beyond adorable! We bought cookies today and not only were they huge, they were fantastic! The Stuffed Cookies that we tried today were Rolo and Twix ($3) and the Classic Chocolate Chip ($2.50). All cookies are made with fresh, high quality ingredients and are buttery and chewy! We shared some with friends and everyone procalimed them, "out of this world!" I was most impressed with the special occasion cookies shaped like wedding gowns and the way they were so beautifully wrapped. Cupcakes ($3.25), Mini Cupcakes ($1.75), and Cupcake Push Pops ($4) are available in red velvet, vanilla, vanilla chocolate chip cookie dough, strawberries and cream, and about 25 other exciting flavors! I can't say enough about this bakery! I love it! They also make mason jar sweets ($4.50), chocolate dipped treats like strawberries, Oreos, and pretzels ($1-$3.50) and even dog treats! I'm going to eat the remains of my Rolo cookie right now and play with my new turtle(s). I got three. Sshhh! don't tell anyone. Sweet E's Bake Shop 8215 W. 3rd Street Los Angeles (323) 422-8885 M-Sun: 8:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m.

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