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Too often, we feel guilty for enjoying dessert. Ernestine Ulmer said, “Life is short, eat dessert first, ” and I think she was on to something. There is something so magical about a warm cookie or the perfect piece of candy. The child in all of us deserves to be indulged every once in a while, and I am here to tell you, it’s okay to sneak an occasional sweet! So enjoy, consciously enjoy, your next dessert, because Ulmer is right, life is just too short to skip dessert especially on National Dessert Day!

B Candy 

3100 East Coast Highway
Corona del Mar, CA
949-675-3910  |

B Candy is a delight. It looks like someone crawled into the mind of a seven-year-old on a sugar high, and I love it! This spot tickled some childhood fantasies of mine, and I was literally the kid in the candy store.

Launched in 2010, during the holiday season, Brandy Valdez began with just a cart in Fashion Island and her business has been growing ever since. Her brick and mortar location on PCH in Corona Del Mar is a dream come true for her. The space is big and beautiful and filled literally to the ceilings with candy and creative gifts.

The store’s far wall hosts bulk candy that is weighed by the ounce so you can mix and match the Swedish fish with bubble gum and go crazy! They also have classic sodas, home-made ice cream (including non-dairy flavors) and home-made cupcakes and cookies.

But B Candy is not just candy. Brandy has done a remarkable job of filling her store with incredibly creative inventory, like the popular bacon toothpaste, the gummy bear night-lights for which you will never get bored and more. She is constantly changing her products throughout the year, so you can come in anytime and always find something new.

Some of the most popular selling treats are the one-pound Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, the three-pound gummy worm, and my personal favorite, the chocolate-covered gummy bears. I also got the chance to hang out at the ice cream counter and enjoy a serving of dairy-free mango ice cream that will keep me coming back for as long as they’ll let me.

B Candy is a gem among the dull and dreary. It is a call to excellence and the answer to your sweet tooth.

Sensitive Sweets

17431 Brookhurst St. | Fountain Valley, CA.
714-968-9169 |

Melanie Holman, owner and baker at Sensitive Sweets in Fountain Valley, opened her doors with open arms. This allergy friendly bakery was inspired by her youngest son Bradley who has life threatening food allergies and cannot eat gluten, dairy, soy, eggs or nuts. The Bakery is her answer, so no one with allergies must ever go another birthday without a cake.

Sensitive Sweets offers breads, cookies, cupcakes and cakes that are dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, nut-free and soy-free. They are all baked in an allergy safe environment so anyone can come in and enjoy their treats. “Several tears have been shed by those who literally had not had a cupcake before, ” said Melanie. The treats are not only for those with restrictions either, because the rest of us will never know what’s missing. These treats are moist, tasty and creative.

Every recipe was designed by Melanie and tested by her loving husband until she got them just right. The staff constantly works to come up with new creative items and flavors to keep everything fun and interesting for their loyal customers. They take customer orders for cakes and truly go above and beyond: elaborate, colorful, beautiful, and most of all, delicious.

During the holidays, Sensitive Sweets comes out with classics like pumpkin pie and ginger bread houses, peppermint brownies and apple cobbler. Oh my! Everything is made from scratch, using high-quality, gluten-free ingredients, including millet, tapioca, potato, sorghum and rice flours.

It is truly amazing that this place exists. It is the answer to anyone’s prayers with allergies and dietary restrictions. You will never again have to go through a birthday without a cupcake or cookie.

Blackmarket Bakery

2937 Bristol Street, Suite D100-A  |  Costa Mesa, CA
17941 Sky Park Circle, Suite E  |  Irvine, CA
949-852-4609 |

Rachel Klemek, baker/ owner/ visionary behind Blackmarket Bakery, met me one fall day at the Camp in Costa Mesa. Blackmarket Bakery opened their first location at Sky Park Circle in Irvine where they began dreaming up recipes and selling their goods wholesale to home-town favorites like Kean Coffee. 

The high ceilings, big windows and stainless steel accents make this the most beautiful bakery I have ever seen. But it isn’t all for show, not just a nice package, the product coming out of that kitchen is pure perfection.

The name Blackmarket Bakery comes from World War Two, a time when Rachel’s grandmothers were bakers and there were certain goods they couldn’t get, like flour, sugar and eggs … unless you bought them on the Blackmarket. It is also a nod to the fact that most of Blackmarket’s recipes contain these, and only these, simple ingredients. Just read the labels. You will find that you’ll be able to pronounce everything while recognizing familiar products which you probably already use in your own home. Rachel’s goods are classic, clean, and most of all, delicious.

Blackmarket Bakery’s store features cookies, pastries, tarts and home-made breads sold alongside Kean drip coffee. There is also a selection of jams, chocolates and fine mustards. I am particularly excited for their drop cookie sandwiches filled with Han’s Homemade vanilla ice cream and dressed with toppings like bananas and caramel syrups. There is also a much coveted savory item on their menu, too: pressed sandwiches on home-made bread and toasted, including their famous PB&J and grilled cheese. The list of treats is endless, and I intend on trying every single one of them.

The world has a wonderful way of bringing things full circle. Rachel first started baking after her children were born. She began experimenting with homemade breads. Years and years later, it was the desire to get back to bread that prompted her to open up the retail space at The Camp. The Irvine location simply wasn’t big enough. Now here she is breaking bread, if you will, for all of us to enjoy.

The Chocolate Soldier

200 South Coast Highway  |  Laguna Beach, CA 949-494-4462
34513 Golden Lantern Street |  Dana Point, CA 949-493-4135

I have dreamt my whole life of being a chocolatier. Even the name sounds grand and noble. It is a profession that inspires deep awe and reverence within me. Needless to say, when I wandered into The Chocolate Soldier in Laguna Beach and met owner and chocolatier Detra Francis, I was a little star struck.

This wonderful woman has made a life of making chocolate. I don’t think anyone but maybe Santa Claus himself brings more joy to people. Detra opened the Laguna Beach location in 2006, and her Dana Point location has been open for 25 years. Detra is proud of her product, as she should be, and won The Best of OC from OC Weekly for her toffee. Cheers to that!

Detra and her staff make all of their treats in-house, melting down the chocolate by the pound from Guittard Chocolate in San Francisco, a third generation company. She designs all of their treats and is constantly coming up with new pieces to share. She keeps the old classics around, too. I asked her what she sells the most of, and she said, “Turtles, truffles and toffee, of course!” Some items change seasonally and there is always something fun for the holidays, waiting in the display case.

I had the pleasure of sampling one of Detra’s most popular creations: the melt-away. This is a chocolate blend of melty goodness that comes in flavors like mocha, raspberry, butterscotch, black satin and more. The chocolate is velvety smooth and literally does melt in your mouth. These are some of Detra’s favorites, too. “Believe me … in the last 30 years, I’ve tried a lot of chocolate.” Lucky you, Detra, and lucky us that you’ve chosen to share your chocolate finds in Orange County!

Side Car Doughnuts

270 E. 17th Street  |  Costa Mesa,  CA
949-887-2910 |

Sidecar is a specialty doughnut shop dedicated to the craft of hand-made and creative doughnuts. Everything is made from scratch, no bag mixes, and they are using only high-quality ingredients like Strauss dairy and cage-free eggs. “We really feel it makes a difference in the way you feel after eating them, ” said owner Sumter Pendergrast.

Sidecar will also be offering egg and sausage breakfast sandwiches made on fresh bread and are the first to bring Stumptown Coffee to Orange County. In addition to their endlessly creative menu of sweets, there are a few savory items, too – one of which is the Monte Crisco, filled with ham and Gruyere cheese. They are dedicated to creating the most innovative flavors available and changing everyone’s mind about what a doughnut shop should be.

Sidecar’s interior is inspired by Stumptown’s old world feel, and it harkens back to a time when people made things by scratch, just like their doughnuts.

Also, be sure to keep a look out for Sidecar’s delivery van – a 1959 Harvester Metro Van they refurbished with drawers in the back to fill with doughnuts. All doughnuts will be cooked on location and loaded into the truck for deliveries and sales outside your local business, a fun and multi-purposed add-on to their already innovative business.

I, for one, am tickled pink by the idea of handcrafted doughnuts accompanied by a piping hot cup of Stumptown coffee. I will most certainly be making Sidecar a new tradition in in my home.


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