The Best Day of The Year (It’s National Donut Day!)

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Happy National Donut Day! I can almost hear your collective groans, but my donut delusions prevent me from doing anything other than writing about all things donuts and sharing them with you on the first Friday in June (the day that is always National Donut Day).

I was certain I waxed poetic about donuts many times before, but I find only hints of my love for these calorie bombs sprinkled in to old posts. Frankly, I do not know how or why my love for donuts began, but they are my jam. I love the ones topped with sprinkles and I love the ones filled with cream. Glazed or sugared or iced are all fine too. Shape them like a football, and I am smitten.

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I love that every Thursday my Dad made a quick detour at the donut shop before he dropped my sister and I off at school. And every single Thursday, we all three ordered the same thing.

For me, it was a chocolate-iced filled stick (known in some parts as a long john). My sister also went for the white-iced donuts filled with red jelly, and Dad ordered a Danish and black coffee.

In today’s more modern times, then even make donut coffee.

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Donuts are acceptable any time of the year, but they are especially important to properly celebrate silly holidays. For instance, one can make a donut valentine!!!! Or perhaps just buy a donut valentine online.

If you are in mood to buy some donut things, I recommend the donut pillow. Or anything else donut-related at Paper Source.

If a man offered me donut earrings or an R2-D2 ring, my gut tells me I would be hard pressed to turn down the earrings.

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Bloggers are creative people. They are all the time sharing a mish-mash of things like apple pie milkshakes and cheeseburger salads and other wonky concoctions they somehow deem okay to throw together.

Most of the time, I am okay with this nonsense, but I draw the line at donuts. Please do not mess with perfection.  Wonut = wrong.

A breakfast sandwich held together with Krisy Kreme buns, on the other hand, is disturbingly right.

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If you need a recipe in this recipe-less post, you might like these cookies made with donuts. You can watch this video from the now-defunct (so sad) Daily Candy about how to make donuts, or check out their list of where to find the best donuts near you.

Gaze at my Donut Board on Pinterest for inspiration, or peruse this tribute to all things donuts. My family aside, I think the only thing I love more than donuts are books. And maybe Fridays. Enjoy!

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Field Trip: Bar Cocoa

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I ate dessert for dinner this week. And it was divine.

Bar Cocoa in the Ritz-Carlton hosted a group of Charlotte bloggers, and I had the good fortune to attend. It was a lovely experience, and it started with macarons. Bridges and bridges of macarons.

Blueberry-lavender is newest member to the Bar Cocoa macaron family, and I can vouch for its deliciousness. I tried nearly a half-dozen flavors – coconut, dulce de leche, honey, pistachio, and the aforementioned blueberry-lavender – and am hard-pressed to pick a favorite.

Most people choose the best seller Red Velvet. For me, it was a close call between the coconut and blueberry-lavender, but in my world, coconut always wins.

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After the macarons there was honey-pecan and peach-mango gelato. I would not kick either flavor out of my freezer, but the peach-mango was unbelievable. It made me happy to have taste buds.

Gelato was followed by eclairs: classic, s’mores, strawberry-pistachio, raspberry-rose, and caramel.

Picking a favorite eclair is, I imagine, like picking your favorite child. It simply can not be done. Sure, there are things you appreciate about one more so than another, but at the end of the day, you love them all.

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Next up was the signature Ritz-Carlton Cake. You can only visit Bar Cocoa at the Ritz in Charlotte, but you can order the signature cake at any Ritz.

You guys, I am not a big fan of chocolate cake. The crumb is always too heavy or the flavor is too intense for my tastes. But this cake. This cake is the one.

It was my favorite thing on the menu. I want to say it was light and layered with flavor and an all-around delight. The Ritz says, “This deeply flavorful specialty cake…features a rich, dark chocolate flavor with bursts of orange throughout, creating a delicious balance of sweet chocolate and sharp citrus.”

Yeah. It was that.

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Then to wash it all down, the milkshakes came out. Cookies and cream, banana-caramel, and double chocolate made with chocolate-hazelnut gelato. Cookies and cream anything is hard to beat, but the chocolate-hazelnut combination came pretty darn close.

This assortment of amazing desserts was shared with us by a group of incredibly friendly and professional Ritz-Carlton employees. Pastry sous chef Jeanette Payne graciously educated us about our desserts as we scarfed them down like a pack of wolves. Well, as I did at least. (Seriously, here we are nearing the aftermath).

So that’s the desserts, but that’s not all. Bar Cocoa features special events, like a free gelato bar where a gelato scoop like those seen above are served atop a petite waffle cone. I think this happens on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons in the summer, but I could be wrong on that. These details were provided when I was eating like I’d never seen a dessert before in my life, so I might have missed some things.

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Another event is the Chocolate & Champagne Dinner. If anyone out there would like to get my attention, inviting me to this five-course all-dessert dinner ought to do it.

In all seriousness though, the Cocoa Lab Cooking Classes are a must-attend for anyone in Charlotte who is remotely interested in learning how to make desserts. The classes are held from 9 a.m. – noon on Saturdays and limited to eight people per class. The $75 per person price includes hands-on education from a pastry chef, complimentary parking, a recipe collection, keepsake apron, and of course the desserts made during the class.

I really can not say enough good things about this experience. In addition to the desserts featured here, cheesecakes, chocolate mousse, cupcakes, and other sweets including  Norman Love chocolates are available at Bar Cocoa. Find them at 201 East Trade Street at the corner of Trade & College in Charlotte. And please invite me with you.

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Bar Cocoa generously provided my desserts and drinks. My only obligation was to show up and enjoy myself. I wrote about my experience here because it was worth sharing. Any errors or omissions are unintentional and my own. All photos you see here were taken with my iPhone. Click here to see me in action.

Weekend Update {A Few Favorites}

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It’s been a while since I posted  a roundup of my favorites, so I hope you’ll indulge me for a moment. Better yet, I hope you find something here to like too!

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When I saw New Belgium’s Coconut Curry Hefeweizen on the menu at a bar/restaurant the crowd I run with  frequents, I just about had an excitement attack. I love coconut- curry anything and I love beer, so I was smitten at first sight. Not so sure about the combo in a beverage? Try this recipe for coconut curry popcorn seasoning instead.

I would have liked to offer you a picture of the actual beverage (instead of its label), but I thought it unwise to open a bottle when taking photos at 10 a.m. They may be lax, but even I have standards (#isit5′oclockyet? #isitnoonyet?).

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I like to drink my new favorite beer while I read my new favorite magazine: Garden & Gun. I actually learned about this magazine from a “friday favorites” post on a blog I frequent. There is so much to read in this magazine, I don’t even know where to begin.

This month I’ve read about pies, a shooting team from Missouri which is one of the winningest programs in all of college athletics, cast-iron cookware and the history of the bourbon and coke. Speaking of bourbon…

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Cloister Honey is a Charlotte business that sells, well, honey. As you may have surmised from the beer discussion above, I tend to like things with a spike of unexpected flavor. Enter bourbon-infused honey.

I am not a huge bourbon fan, but I really like this honey. It offers just the right amount of bourbon flavor, sweetness and warmth. It is especially delicious in these no-bake peanut butter energy bites which I love to eat as a snack. Or breakfast. Or dessert.

Last but not least, this song. A few months ago, my friend Melina posted this video on her Facebook page. I listened to the song, thought it was catchy, and moved on. Then I read this interview and heard it on the radio within a 24-hour time span, so I thought it was time to share.

The tune is not only catchy, but the lyrics make me laugh a little. I’d take the tiger on a gold leash. How about you?

Happy weekend!