The Kouign Amann

The Kouign Amann

I feel it is my duty to introduce you to my latest pastry fav: The Kouign Amann (queen ah-MAHN). Imagine a croissant, but instead of thin sheets of dough layered with butter, it’s layered with butter and sugar. Together, they bake up into a delightful pastry with golden layers of caramelized goodness crisping and flaking in your mouth. MmmmmMmm!

My favorite is the chocolate kouign amann. Just imagine the one above with some chocolate in the middle. I have no good pictures because I keep polishing them off before remembering that I wanted to snap a picture for you. Oops =P.

I tried my first kouign amann two years ago after one of my BFFs (and fellow dessert-lover) emailed me: i want to take you to get a kouign amman (have you had one yet??)  from a neighborhood store!

Truth be told, I wasn’t all that excited about it. I couldn’t figure out how to pronounce the words in my head or out loud, which somehow made it less exciting to me. But do you see those two question marks? That was her subtle way of saying “Have you had one yet? Because if you haven’t YOU REALLY SHOULD! YOU WOULD LOVE IT!!!” I know this because we’ve been BFF-ing it for over 15 years. Yup.

And she was totally right. She took me to get one the next day, and I LOVED IT:

yummmmmmmmmmmm the toasted chocolate kouign amman was SO yummy! we toasted it and ben devoured almost the whole thing. he loves it. you’re right, it develops such a nice crunchy crust! i told him i’d ask you to bring one down with you next weekend… and he asked me to ask for two haha :).

(Toasting it is key to achieving that golden brown caramelized flakiness!)

I didn’t even know where Brittany was located before she mentioned the kouign amann, but I can now point to it on a map. Because that, my friends, is where my favorite pastry originates from. (BTW it’s in France… and not in Great Britain… #Californiangeographyfacepalm).

At first I thought I’d have to drive all the way to Oakland to satisfy my kouign amann cravings until one Sunday morning, when I spied it in the pastry case at Philz Coffee, of all places. I ordered one up, and glory be, it was just as delicious as the first ones I’d had! Imagine my excitement! Turns out both places sourced their pastries from the same place: Starter Bakery in Oakland, which explains why they were equally delicious.

Then Mr. Lebovitz mentioned a new bakery in SF called B. Patisserie, which specialized in these tasty, crispy, caramelized layers of sugar and butter. I finally had a chance to visit last month and it was everything I hoped it would be!

B. Patisserie

My purchase…

B. Patisserie Booty

You can see I got a little carried away there. It was my bday and hubby said go all out. I did not need to hear that twice. These are the best kouign amanns I’ve tried.

And now, Alexander’s Patisserie in Mountain View has opened up, also featuring kouign amanns on their lovely menu. I went to visit last Friday, and here were their beautiful dessert cases:

Alexander's dessert cases

Yup. Literally just the cases. No desserts available. Apparently everyone was so excited about this place that they sold out of everyyyyyyyything. They offered free espresso beverages to make up for it, so I guess I can’t really complain about that. To my delight, hubby decided to make my day and picked some up on his lunch break earlier this week! It was really delicious! But since their pastry availability is currently a little unpredictable, and they don’t offer the chocolate variety, I might have to stick with picking it up at my local Philz for now.

Alexander's Patisserie's Kouign Amann
Alexander’s traditional kouign amann. Fruit varieties also available.

So if you’re in the Bay Area, we’ve got you covered whether you’re in the South Bay, East Bay, or The City. For everyone else, keep your eye out for it at your local bakeries! I think it could be the next dessert trend, like the macaron, cupcake, cronut etc. and I hope these goodies are here to stay!

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5 Techy Things I Like

Me on the Internet

More ways to keep this up.

This one is simple: it’s Internet stuff I want to tell all my friends about.

There’s a lot of Internet stuff I like– Pinterest, Facebook,, Amazon, Yelp,, Twitter, Wikipedia. If a friend had never heard of Pinterest, I’d be happy to give them the scoop on it. Same for my favorite blogs and stuff. I’m sure you’d do the same, right? (See what I did there? ;)).

Here are some lesser known techy things that I think you’ll like, too!

1. The Skimm: Two people who are passionate about the news read it and summarize it for me every weekday. I get the briefing every morning in my inbox. They break it down in an understandable and oftentimes humorous way. I have never been good at keeping up with recent/world events until now! Thanks for the tip, MerryRobin!

2. Enter in the URL of the amazon product you are considering buying, and get a chart showing the price history! Informs your decision, especially when you’re on the fence about buying now or later. Continue reading

Best Ever Banana Bread


I love the way the whole house feels when I make this banana bread loaf cake. Every room is infused with this amazingly warm, spicy aroma that makes you feel all cozy and homey and delicious and wonderful when this is in the oven. Sometimes I make it a point to bake it before Ben gets home from work so that I can look forward to him walking into the house, inhaling deeply, and saying, “Mmmm smells gooood in here! …Banana bread?!?!”

Smells good in here! Best Ever Banana Bread Recipe

If that’s not the very picture of domestic bliss, I don’t know what is. Continue reading

Think Out Loud!

Teach by Thinking Out Loud! Simple but effective.

One of the best ways to learn from someone else is to get inside their head. One of my favorite blogs is, a blog by a couple that does a lot of DIY with their house and shares about their lives while they’re at it.

There are many reasons I like the blog, but a big one is that I actually learn stuff and gain confidence from them. For example, there was this one post where they shared the new gallery wall above their master bed. First of all, I could never do that, because we live in the land of earthquakes and that’s just asking for trouble. But I read it anyway, because I wanted to learn something from them.

Now, home stuff and DIY and artsy craftsy is not my forte… but that’s why I like this blog. Since I don’t know much about it, and I don’t know what factors to consider when I’m looking at our house, I love getting in their head and seeing what they thought of when they worked on theirs. Continue reading

Chia Seed Pudding Recipe

Chia Seed Pudding Recipe
I’ve been eating this for breakfast for the last couple of weeks. Getting my probiotics in… some fruit, some protein, chia seeds… good stuff! I guess “pudding” makes it sound more like a dessert, but I definitely think of it as a yogurt. It’s made with healthful ingredients: almond milk, yogurt, and chia seeds!

I like the texture of the chia seeds once they’ve absorbed some of the liquid. It reminds me of small tapioca pearls I enjoy in desserts. The hint of maple syrup is just right, and this is a nice alternative if you’re trying to avoid refined sugars. The original recipe calls for Greek yogurt, so I’m sure that works well, but I’ve been using plain whole milk yogurt. It’s a bit runny when I first stir everything up, but thickens up nicely by the morning. Continue reading

Hong Kong Milk Tea Recipe

Yummy HK Style Milk TeaI LOVE MILK TEA! :)

I love cold Taiwan style milk tea AND hot Hong Kong style milk tea. As long as there is a strong tea flavor and it’s not too sweet, I love it. A few months ago, I found a Taiwan style milk tea recipe I love, but had yet to nail the HK-style one.

It’s not for lack of trying. I have tried a number of “silk-stocking” milk teas using condensed milk, evaporated milk, Lipton tea, Ceylon teas, and other blends of teas, based on various recipes I found online. None were to my satisfaction. My biggest problem was that I couldn’t hit the right tea flavor, so I gave up. Various people had told me the secret was to use Lipton tea, but um… there are several varieties of Lipton tea, so without a specific TYPE of tea, I was still pretty lost. Continue reading

Rewards in a Classroom

Three Ways to Use Rewards in a Classroom

This one is for you teachers. Someone asked me to share more about how I used class points in my classroom, so here’s a post covering all the details on the various rewards systems I had going on in my class! It’s going to sound a little complicated, but I actually had three different reward systems in place to shape student behavior: raffle tickets, team points, and class points. They each served different functions and helped keep me (and the kids) happy. They also added an element of excitement and fun to our daily life!

One important thing is that I found ways to minimize the effort and cost for me while maximizing behavioral outcomes for my students. If rewarding my students became expensive and/or troublesome, it would not be sustainable. So even if you already have systems in place, hopefully this gives you some ideas on how to make it easier for yourself throughout the year! Continue reading

Creamy Zucchini and Garlic Soup Recipe (contains no cream!)

First of all, thank you for your responses in my last post. I felt like I just made a bunch of new friends, and now I want to visit y’all in Australia and the UK and throughout the U.S.! I really do appreciate that you’ve joined me here on this blog and I hope you continue to benefit from what I share here. :D – JoEllenZucchini garlic soupThis recipe is DELISH and I had to share it with ya while the zucchinis are still big and ripe and ready to go this season! I made it this week and brought some to our friends who just had their second child (NEWBORNS ARE SO FRESH AND SWEET AND CUTE TO HOLD!) and received this adorable feedback from their two year old son:

We thoroughly enjoyed your meal!  Isaac kept saying “Joellen did not cook the soup.  No no the chef cooked it.”  I kept telling him auntie Jo cooked it but he kept insisting it was a chef.  lol.  he really loved it.

See? Kid-approved. And simple to make. Can’t ask for much more than that.

Maybe it’s just me, but zucchini in soup form tastes nothing like sauteed zucchini. I like it both ways, but I would have never guessed that the soup version would taste the way it does! It’s bright and creamy and smooth and even a little sweet. Continue reading

Hi Readers! I Have Questions.

Hello Dear Readers!

Three things!

1) Ack! I spent a long time working on my latest post about reading, scheduled it to post, and then… my website went down for several hours. :(. Just wanted to let you know that it’s back up, and the post is ready for you!!

2) You can now follow me on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest!

3) And while we’re at it… I don’t know if this is allowed in blogger world, but I have burning questions for you!!! The main one is this: WHO ARE YOU? I’d LOVE it if you could take a moment to leave a comment and tell me something–ANYTHING– about yourself! Which country and/or state do you live in? What’s your blog/website URL? What do you do? Why do you read my blog (food? teacher? parent? you’re my friend?)?