By Chef Jenny McCoy—Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts

The two questions I hear most often are:

1) What is your favorite dessert? In some ways, this is like asking a mom, “Who is your favorite child?” I do my best not to be rude, but really, I want to shout, “I love them all, duh! That’s why I’m a pastry chef!”

2) Do you create your own recipes? This answer is a hard one. Yes, and no. Let me explain.

jenny mccoy recipe developer

In my experience, gaining the skill—and comfort level—to write an original recipe takes time and practice—a lot of time and practice. So what’s the point? You could simply use recipes already written by other chefs, right? But then again, what if those recipes aren’t quite perfect? What if there were ways you could build on ideas in other recipes to create something even better?

Below, I detail the route I took to pursue perfection in my own original recipes. For those of you who are aspiring chefs, I hope my experience can give you a sense of direction. I really enjoyed my journey and feel my experiences served me very well.

The Beginning

When I began my pastry career, I simply followed others’ recipes. At first, that meant learning the traditional methods through the pastry arts program at my culinary school. These recipes were designed to familiarize students with traditional baking techniques, as well as the tools and equipment used in commercial kitchens. They weren’t recipes I continued using throughout my career but they were a perfect starting point. They helped me build a skill set, while I simultaneously developed my palate and personal preferences.

pastry student pastry school

Starting a Career

After culinary school, I began working in restaurant kitchens. There I followed the recipes of my pastry chef to a T. That was a tricky time in my budding career to navigate. Many pastry chefs will just hand you a list of ingredients and say, “Make a double batch of this,” without any further instruction.

It was my job to draw from the skills I learned in culinary school, to decipher the code of ingredients and decide which technique fit the equation. When that didn’t work, a simple request worked exceptionally well: “Chef, can you talk me through this recipe so I know exactly what you would like?” (This is a very helpful trick, turning your lack of knowledge into an opportunity to appear detail-oriented.)

This early stage of my career was also dedicated to collecting as many recipes as possible from a variety of chefs. It meant pouring over cookbooks and testing recipes at home in my spare time. I made studious notes about what worked well and tasted best, as well as notes for improvement. My cookbooks became covered in food stains and ink. And I had a drawer filled with little notebooks of recipes I jotted down from restaurant kitchens.


Additionally, I spent a lot of time eating out and volunteering at other restaurants, taking notes on flavor combinations, collecting more recipes and analyzing the work of successful pastry chefs. I drew diagrams of desserts I loved, so I would remember the various components in a dish. I always kept a copy of the dessert menu and archived them for future reference. In short, I created a kind of catalogue of sweets—stuffed with inspirational references, cookbooks, recipes and menus. This was before the invasion of digital photography, so I have very few images of the desserts from my early days. But today, I highly recommend snapping pictures of every dessert you love and filing them away too.

Trying Something New

When I finally reached the level in my career where I was able to begin developing menu items, all this research and hoarding proved incredibly helpful. I was able to cobble together original desserts, using a combination of other chefs’ ingredients. I would combine one pastry chef’s vanilla panna cotta with another chef’s strawberry gelée, toss in a tuile from a cookbook and voila: I created a new dessert. While these weren’t truly original recipes, the combinations of components were and that was perfectly acceptable by industry standard. But eventually, that got a little old.

After repurposing so many ideas from chefs I admired, I found a new desire to develop recipes to my personal standards and taste. I began by adjusting the flavors in the recipes I already knew well. The vanilla panna cotta became a lavender panna cotta; the strawberry gelée became blackberry-lime. I added a little black pepper to the tuile batter. When my flavor adjustments worked, great! When they didn’t, I went back to the drawing board. This resulted in some excellent results and some really disgusting desserts. It involved a lot of botched batches in the trash. Soon enough, I graduated to a new method of perfecting recipes. These new recipes were less about superficial changes—I focused less on swapping flavors and more on textures and consistencies.

panna cotta jenny mccoy

Milk chocolate panna cotta, cacao nib tuile, cherry cola sorbet and sauteed cherries

The Next Level

Let’s take a yellow cake, for example: instead of making four different recipes and using the recipe I liked best, I would line up four yellow cake recipes side by side. I added up the measurements of each ingredient and came up with the average. From there, I had a base recipe to test. Once the recipe was tested, I’d begin to alter the amounts of ingredients to my liking. I would make each recipe over and over, making the tiniest of alterations until I executed a final product that I thought was perfect.

This exploration really helped me to understand the functionality of each ingredient in a recipe. I gained a knowledge of baking principles. For example, adding more baking powder is not always the best method for making a cake’s layers rise higher. And you can’t always swap cake flour for all-purpose flour just because you’re making a cake. This process also led me to create some of my very first “original” recipes. Understanding the purpose of each ingredient—not just on paper, but in the application—is critical when readying yourself to write your own recipes.

Mastering Originality

Seriously, it took me about ten years of hard work to arrive at this point. Though, that’s not too bad when you think about the length of a lifetime, right?

Once I fully understood how each ingredient in baking worked—after falling down wormholes full of, say, hundreds of panna cotta recipes—my memory and confidence reached a new level of creativity. When I want to create a new recipe nowadays, I can easily combine techniques and ratios of ingredients that I’ve committed to memory. When it comes to panna cotta, I know exactly how much milk to cream I prefer, how much gelatin will set the custard just so, and I have an arsenal of flavors that I can incorporate into any recipe to make it my own. That doesn’t mean that panna cotta has suddenly become “easy” to make. The mastery of ingredients and techniques that comes with years of practice has allowed me to reinvent even the most finicky of desserts.

jenny mccoy pastry chef

What’s more, this solid comprehension of ingredients—combined with my personal preferences—allows me to read new recipes by other chefs and determine if they will work well. I can reverse my knowledge, not just to write recipes, but to know how to alter recipes in a cookbook I might be reading, to improve a dessert before I even try making it. So in the end, I find I no longer follow others’ recipes at all, but simply use them as a touchstone for inspiration.

A Gentle Reminder

Every pastry chef I know acknowledges that nothing is truly original. Yes, I am completely contradicting all of the advice I just shared. But, it’s the truth. You can learn to write recipes from scratch—and I strongly suggest you pursue the ability to do so. But, once you write what you think is original, don’t be upset when you find a recipe published elsewhere that is exactly the same. A panna cotta can only be so original, right? Instead of feeling a sense of defeat, recognize that you have arrived at a level of understanding that’s sweet in its own unique way.

Want to study with Chef Jenny? Click here to learn more about our Pastry & Baking Arts program.


The day of Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to catch up with extended family and friends, but from a culinary perspective, we’re all about the leftovers. Last year, ICE Director of Culinary Development James Briscione wow’ed us with three brilliant recipes for leftover turkey. So, of course, this year we came back for more. Grab a wedge of brie, a bag of cranberries and those prized turkey scraps. This is one grilled cheese you don’t want to miss.

thanksgiving grilled cheese

Not into the cranberry and brie? Chef James also recommends the combination of cheddar and sauerkraut for a leftover turkey grilled cheese.

*Note: This recipe includes instructions to make cranberry chutney from scratch, but if you still have leftover cranberry sauce from your holiday dinner, lucky you!

Thanksgiving Leftovers Grilled Cheese

  • Cranberry chutney
    • 1 (12-ounce) bag frozen cranberries
    • 1 piece fresh ginger, peeled and crushed
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Cooked turkey breast, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 thin slices of brie cheese
  • 2 slices pullman loaf or 7-grain bread
  • 1 tbsp butter
  1. Combine the cranberries, ginger, cinnamon and sugar in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over a medium flame. Cook until very thick, 30-40 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool completely.
  2. Butter the outside of two slices of bread, and spread the cranberry chutney on the insides. Layer the turkey and cheese between the slices, then press them together and fry on a griddle over medium high heat until golden brown.

Our leftover strategy doesn’t stop at sandwiches. Give that sweet potato casserole a second life with a recipe for sweet potato doughnuts

By Chefs Cara Tannenbaum and Andrea Tutunjian

Chowders are chunky, hearty soups—a classic comfort food for the long, cold winter. As ingredients, cauliflower and cashews are both mellow in flavor, with buttery, earthy richness, but here they combine to make a bold soup. Cauliflower has become a star in the modern nutritional hit parade, standing in for potatoes in a mash or roasted until its curly white edges turn deep gold. The florets soften entirely in this soup but keep their creamy white color. We like to purée about a quarter of the soup and leave the rest of the florets and cashew pieces whole. This gives the soup a rich texture without the addition of too much heavy cream. (We’ve added a little cream to finish the soup, but if you choose to leave it out, the soup will still taste unctuous.)

cauliflower cashew soup

Cauliflower-Cashew Chowder

Yield: 12 cups

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 all-purpose potato, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups (7 ½ ounces) coarsely chopped cashews
  • 4 cups (14 ounces) cauliflower florets (from 1 small head)
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, potato, and garlic. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the cashews, cauliflower, thyme, and stock. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat until the soup is simmering and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Remove the sprigs of thyme, but don’t be concerned if the leaves have fallen off the stems.
  3. Ladle 2 cups soup into a medium bowl. Using a handheld or standard blender, purée until completely smooth. Return the purée to the pot. Add the heavy cream and season with the remaining 1 ½ teaspoons salt and the pepper or to taste. Serve immediately. Store any cooled leftovers in a covered airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat any quantity of soup over low heat.

Dream of developing your own holiday recipes? Click here to learn more about careers in food media. 

Recipe reprinted from In A Nutshell: Cooking and Baking with Nuts and Seeds by Cara Tannenbaum and Andrea Tutunjian. Copyright © 2014 by Cara Tannenbaum and Andrea Tutunjian. With permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.






By Jenny McCoy—Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts 

Early on in my career, while working in New Orleans for Emeril Lagasse, I was tasked with creating inventive variations on the ever-popular bread pudding. My menu at Delmonico in New Orleans featured a seasonal bread pudding, which I changed monthly. In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, this sweet potato bread pudding with cashews proved to be a favorite. Served with a dollop of marshmallow meringue, what was once a classic side dish is easily transformed into dessert.

spotato duo

Sweet Potato Bread Pudding with Crunchy Cashews (from Desserts for Every Season)

Makes 8 to 10 servings


  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup whole milk, divided
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons whiskey
  • Finely grated zest of ¼ orange
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 6 cups (about 8 ounces) soft white bread, cut into ¾ inch cubes
  • ½ cup (about 2 ½ ounces) whole cashews, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
  • 1 recipe Marshmallow Meringue (optional)


  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375°F.
  2. Wrap the sweet potatoes individually in aluminum foil. Place them on a baking sheet and bake until soft when pierced with a fork, 1 to 1 ½ hours. Remove them from the oven and let cool until just warm. Remove the foil, cut the potatoes in half, and scoop the flesh from the skins. Transfer the cooked sweet potato to a food processor, add ½ cup whole milk, and process until smooth.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, vanilla, whiskey, orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice together until smooth. Meanwhile, bring the remaining ½ cup milk and the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Slowly pour the hot cream over the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Add the sweet potato purée, and stir until evenly combined. Add the bread, and gently stir to combine. Refrigerate the bread pudding base for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  4. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9 x 9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  5. Stir the bread pudding base, then pour it into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the cashews and turbinado sugar, and bake until golden brown, slightly puffed and set, about 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Marshmallow Meringue

  • 3 large egg whites
  • Seeds scraped from ½ vanilla bean
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, vanilla and 1 tablespoon of sugar on low speed.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1 cup sugar, water, corn syrup and salt in a small saucepan, and set over medium heat. Cook the mixture until it reaches 238°F on a candy thermometer and remove from the heat.
  3. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium high, and very slowly pour the hot sugar mixture over the egg whites, taking care not to pour the mixture onto the moving whisk. Increase the speed of the mixer to high, and whip until tripled in volume, thick, glossy and cooled to room temperature. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Want to study with Chef Jenny? Learn more about ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program. 

By Chef Sarah Chaminade, School of Pastry & Baking Arts

As soon as the month of September rolls around, we’re inundated with pumpkin flavor; from lattes to muffins to Oreos…it’s everywhere! I love pumpkin, but my opinion is that if something is called “pumpkin ______” it should contain the real thing—not artificial flavoring.

Enter: granola. Granola is a great way to incorporate pumpkin into your daily diet. It features all those warm spices that make you think of fall—cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice—plus this recipe actually has real pumpkin in it!

granola edited

It’s important to note that, just as most pumpkin products contain no actual pumpkin, granola can be deceivingly unhealthy for a supposed health food. Most recipes are high in calories due to large quantities of vegetable oil. However, in this case, you needn’t fear empty calories, as it’s the inclusion of pumpkin purée—along with maple syrup and applesauce—rather than oil that helps add moisture to this recipe.

Served by itself, on top of your favorite yogurt or even in your morning oatmeal for a lovely crunch, it’s the perfect way to satisfy your sweet tooth…once that Halloween candy stash runs out.

Pumpkin Spice Granola

Yield: 4 cups


  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries


  1. Pre-heat oven to 325F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine oats and pumpkin seeds. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together spices, egg whites, pumpkin purée, applesauce, maple syrup, dark brown sugar and vanilla extract.
  4. Pour wet ingredients over dry, stirring to coat.
  5. Spread mixture evenly on a parchment-lined sheet pan.
  6. Bake for 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and dry to the touch.
  7. Let cool, and mix in dried cranberries.
  8. Store in an airtight container (up to 4-6 weeks).

Want to learn more about cooking with fall flavors? Click here

By Chef Jenny McCoy, School of Pastry & Baking Arts

As summer winds down to a close, we’re all eager to make the most of our favorite warm-weather traditions. When it comes to dessert, there’s nothing that says summer fun like a batch of DIY s’mores. In honor of National S’mores Day, I’m sharing my go-to recipes for fluffy marshmallows and cinnamon graham crackers, plus some of my top tips for making them special—with or without the campfire.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Siegel

Photo Credit: Rebecca Siegel

  1. Indoor s’mores are just as fun. Simply use a stovetop gas burner or hand-held kitchen torch to toast.
  2. Keep it simple. If you don’t have time to make every component from scratch, just make one! (I recommend the homemade marshmallows.)
  3. Or get creative. Try mixing and matching different marshmallow flavors with milk chocolate, semisweet, dark or white chocolate bars.
  4. Know your audience. For kids, good ol’ Hershey’s is the classic pick for a reason. But for adults with more discerning palates, splurge on higher-quality chocolate bars; it will make all the difference.
  5. Skewers are all around you. Twigs, bamboo and metal skewers, or even leftover wooden chopsticks from your Chinese take-out will all work well for toasting marshmallows over an open flame.
  6. Make a big batch. Prefer to do the marshmallow toasting in a single batch? You can brown marshmallows under your broiler for a couple of minutes on piece of aluminum foil, then spread the gooey goodness on graham crackers. (A great option for those without a gas range, kitchen torch or grill!)


Yield: Makes about 84 one-inch cubed marshmallows

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 5 teaspoons (2 envelopes) powdered gelatin
  • ½ cup plus ⅓ cup cold water
  • ⅓ cup light corn syrup
  • 4 large egg whites
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons vanilla, almond, peppermint, lemon, raspberry, coconut or orange extract, to taste
  • Food coloring, as desired
  1. In a small bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch together. Set aside.
  2. Lightly coat a 9” x 9” baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Cover the pan with plastic wrap, pressing the film directly onto the base and sides of the pan. Sift the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch mix evenly over the bottom and sides of the pan, reserving the remainder for later use.
  3. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over ½ cup cold water, and let stand to soften.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whip the egg whites on low speed. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cook the granulated sugar, corn syrup, remaining ⅓ cup of water and salt over medium-high heat, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 245° F, about 12 minutes.
  5. Remove pan from heat, increase the speed of the mixer to medium, and slowly pour the hot sugar mixture over the egg mixture.
  6. Add the softened gelatin to the mixer, and whip until combined. Add the flavoring and food coloring, as desired. Increase the speed of the mixer to high, and whip until thick, glossy and tripled in volume.
  7. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Sift the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch mix evenly over the top of the marshmallows. Chill marshmallows, uncovered, until firm, at least three hours, and up to one day.
  8. Invert the pan onto a large cutting board and gently peel away the plastic wrap. With a large knife, kitchen shears, or a pizza wheel, trim the edges of the marshmallows and cut into desired shapes. Sift remaining confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch mix over cut marshmallows and toss to coat on all sides.


Yield: Makes approximately 30 crackers, depending on size

  • 2 cups graham flour
  • ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ stick unsalted butter, cold and cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon-sugar, for dusting (optional)
  1. Place the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Add the molasses, milk, and vanilla extract and process until the dough forms a ball, about 1 minute. Press the ball into a ½-inch thick disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Position two racks in the center of the oven and preheat to 350° F
  3. Unwrap the chilled dough, place it on a sheet of parchment paper and cover with a second sheet of parchment paper. Roll the dough out to ⅛-inch thick and transfer the rolled dough between parchment papers to a baking sheet.
  4. Gently remove the top sheet of parchment paper and cut the dough, using a pizza cutter and ruler as a guide, into 2-inch square pieces, or desired shapes. Trim and discard any excess dough. Using a fork, poke holes into the cut dough in desired pattern. Leave the crackers on the pan and bake until the edges just start to darken, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven; if using, dust with cinnamon-sugar before cooling. Let the crackers cool on the baking sheet completely. Once completely cool, carefully break into individual pieces.


Click here for more ways to celebrate summer sweets at ICE. Tempted to spend more time in your kitchen? Check out more recipes from ICE.


By Shannon Mason 

It’s always a privilege when we can invite our alumni back to ICE to share their professional expertise with our students, including those in recreational cooking classes. Recently we welcomed back Ivy Stark, a 1995 graduate of ICE’s Culinary Arts program, and currently the Corporate Executive Chef of Dos Caminos, a critically-acclaimed restaurant with several locations in New York City as well as New Jersey and Florida.

ICE - Recreational Classes - Dos Caminos Ivy Stark Tacos

Chef Ivy Stark (right) with fellow ICE alum Jackie Ourman (Culinary Arts ’13).

The restaurant thrives on her creative vision, featuring a menu of Mexican cuisine with a modern twist. Far from your typical plates of rice and beans, it is an elegant take on this popular cuisine. Needless to say, ICE is always looking to feature the most innovative chefs, and there are few better suited than Ivy to share a fresh take on the classic taco.

Ivy’s class focused on three dishes from her recently-published cookbook, Dos Caminos Tacos: 100 Recipes for Everyone’s Favorite Mexican Street Food. She led us through the preparation of a three-course menu featuring a Watercress, Jicama and Orange Salad; Baja-style Mahi Mahi Tacos with Citrus-Cucumber Relish; and Prickly Pear Tres Leches.

What I love best about Mexican cuisine is the fresh combination of cilantro, fresh citrus, and jalapeño, and Ivy showed us how to maximize the flavors of all our ingredients. For example, she showed me how to supreme an orange—slicing in-between the membrane so the wedges separate from the bitter white ends. This allows the citrus juices to escape from the segments, providing extra moisture, flavor, and even color to dishes like the Watercress, Jicama and Orange Salad we prepared.

ICE - Recreational Classes - Dos Caminos Ivy Stark Tacos

Ivy demonstrates how to supreme an orange.

In addition to providing tips to bring out the most flavor from our ingredients, Ivy also showed us a number of clever time-saving techniques. One of the most useful we learned that night involved my favorite herb: cilantro. I used to dread any recipe that called for whole cilantro leaves, as picking off each leaf one by one is such a tedious task. From Ivy, I learned to position my knife at an angle close to the cutting board to shave the cilantro leaves from the stems in one easy motion, making this task a quick and painless step in my mise en place.

ICE - Recreational Classes - Dos Caminos Ivy Stark Tacos

My favorite trick of the night was the way Ivy de-seeded the jalapeños. Have you ever handled a jalapeño and, even after washing your hands, still found that the burning sensation made its way to your eyes? Fans of coconut oil—add one more awesome tip to your list: after cutting the jalapeños or chiles, rub some coconut oil on your hands and then wash your hands with soap and water. The compound responsible for the burning feeling, called capsaicin, is oil-soluble and loosens from your pores when coconut oil is massaged into your skin. Don’t have coconut oil? Running your hands through your hair—where natural oil is always readily available—produces a similar effect.

When it came time to eat, the main event was Ivy’s Baja-style Mahi Mahi Tacos. But what does “Baja-style” mean? Compared to preparing tacos the way most Americans are used to—Tex-Mex-style, which smothers dishes in greasy melted cheese and heavy spices—Ivy’s tacos were all about light and fresh flavors from a variety of citrus juices, fresh herbs, and the natural heat of chiles and jalapeños. Even the texture was a game-changer, from the crispy beer-battered filets to a crunchy relish made with cucumbers, white cabbage, red onions, and more. However, those who missed the comforting Tex-Mex creaminess of sour cream or cheese found salvation in the chipotle aioli we prepared from scratch. With mayo, dill, garlic, lime, and chipotle purée, just a drizzle of this spicy and creamy red sauce is all you need.

ICE - Recipe - Dos Caminos Ivy Stark Tacos

A fresh take on the beloved and traditional tres leches was the perfect end to our meal. While one of my favorite desserts, its cream-white color does not do its flavors any justice—Ivy’s recipe for Prickly Pear Tres Leches changes all that. Not only was the prickly pear purée a creative addition, it gave the dessert an attractive boost of color as well as an appealing, fruitier flavor.

So now it’s your turn to dive into Ivy’s modern Mexican dishes: we’re sharing her recipe for those delicious Baja-style tacos below, so test them out for yourself!

ICE - Recreational Classes - Dos Caminos Ivy Stark Tacos

Baja-Style Mahi Mahi Tacos with Chipotle Aioli

Yield: Serves 4

Mahi Mahi Tacos

  • 8 (3-ounce) mahi mahi fillets (cod or pollock may be substituted)
  • oil for frying
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup ice-cold Mexican beer, such as Tecate
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • 4 limes, quartered
  1. Preheat a fryer or a deep pot, filled halfway with oil, to 375º F.
  2. Sift together dry ingredients, then whisk in the beer.
  3. Sprinkle the pieces of mahi mahi with the salt, then dip into prepared batter.
  4. Deep-fry for about 3 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
  5. Quickly warm the tortillas. Place one piece of mahi mahi on each tortilla, garnish with a little of the cucumber-citrus relish, and drizzle each taco with a tablespoon of the chipotle aioli hot sauce (recipe below).
  6. Fold the tortillas in half. Place two tacos on each plate and serve warm with lime quarters.

Chipotle Aioli

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons dill, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons chipotle puree
  1. Purée in a blender until smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste.


Want to learn more secrets of the pros? Check out ICE’s recreational classes.

Inspired by Ivy’s recipes? Learn more about our culinary arts program.


By Casey Feehan

“There are no new ideas,” the old saying goes. Yet every day a chef will challenge himself to disprove that statement, reimagining the experience of eating and bringing new life to the tried-and-true. Take fish sauce, for example. The 2,000-year old staple of asian cuisine was recently upgraded to “it” condiment, but how to improve upon something with that kind of history? Enter Chef James Briscione’s recipe for Fish Sauce Peanut Brittle, a creative twist on the salty, nostalgic sweet that’s nothing short of surprising.

fish sauce peanut brittle

Fish Sauce Peanut Brittle


  • 415 g sugar
  • 88 g fish sauce
  • 4 g chile
  • 225 g peanut


  1. In a heavy saucepan, stir together the sugar, fish sauce and chile. Place the pot over medium heat, swirling the mixture occasionally (do not stir). If you notice crystals forming around the edge of the pan, wipe the inside of the pot with a moistened brush to wash the crystals back into the mixture.
  2. Continue cooking at a simmer until the mixture has a deep brown color (12-15 minutes). Carefully judge the color as the fish sauce will make the caramel look darker than it really is. When fully cooked, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the peanuts.
  3. Immediately pour the mixture out onto a greased sheet of wax paper. Cool completely to harden, then break into smaller portions.

For more recipes by ICE Chef Instructors, click here.


By Stephanie Fraiman

Chef Chad Pagano loves doughnuts. Their basic recipe is a canvas for creativity, with no limit to the toppings, glazes and flavor profiles that can work their magic on the sweetened dough. Across the world, chefs of all cultures add their own twist to the beloved pastry, and—at least in America—that’s an idea worth celebrating.

Rec Donuts-029

In honor of National Doughnut Day, we asked Chad to share his expert tips, so you can craft the perfect batch.

  1. Don’t over-mix.
    “A lot of amateur bakers tend to overmix doughnuts. The best cake doughnuts have a little bumpiness and irregularity to them—that’s OK. Don’t over-mix cake or yeast doughnuts; that makes the doughnuts too chewy and tough—the last thing we want.”
  2. Temperature is key.
    “This is especially important when making yeast doughnuts. You want to mix the yeast with the water or milk at 100 degrees. Keep the rest of your ingredients at room temperature. When combined, you’ll get the perfect temperature for rising dough—78-82 degrees.”
  3. Resist the urge to add more flour.
    “If your dough is too sticky, wrap it in plastic and let it sit in the refrigerator for an hour to rest.”
  4. Invest in a digital thermometer.
    “People don’t realize that they need a certain temperature when frying. I fry doughnuts in shortening—the thicker viscosity prevents the fat from penetrating the doughnut—at a nice high temperature, 375 F, and that temperature needs to be maintained. If you’re using other oils (like canola) bring it down to 360 F.”
  5. Don’t over-fry.
    “A good doughnut is dropped in the oil and sinks to the bottom. As the gasses expand in the doughnut, the dough rises. Fry it about one minute on each side, and don’t flip it too many times.”
  6. Have patience.
    “Don’t glaze doughnuts while they are hot. You want to make sure the doughnut is room temperature, so the glaze doesn’t melt off, which just looks sloppy. You want the doughnut cooled off a bit, then dip it into a nice hot glaze and shake it a little so the glaze sits on the doughnut.”

Apple Cider Doughnuts

Yield: Approximately 15 doughnuts, plus holes


  • 1 cup unfiltered apple cider
  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
  • ½ cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • ¾ stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups sugar, divided


  1. Boil cider until reduced to about 1/3 cup, then cool completely.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
  3. Whisk reduced cider, buttermilk, butter, eggs, and 1 cup sugar in a small bowl.  Stir into dry ingredients until a dough forms (it will be very sticky).
  4. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and pat out with floured hands into a 13-inch round.  Cut out doughnuts and fry at 370F degrees until done.  When slightly cooled, dredge in cinnamon sugar (made with remaining cup sugar and cinnamon).

For more of Chef Chad’s signature doughnut recipes, visit


By Casey Feehan

Five decades may have gone by, but Nutella remains as sweet as ever. The beloved chocolate-hazelnut spread celebrates its 50th anniversary this year with a nation-wide, 16-city food truck tour. In light of the tour, ABC News turned to chefs across the nation, including ICE’s own Director of Culinary Development, Chef James Briscione, to develop iconic Nutella desserts that celebrate the local culinary culture of each of the truck’s 16 stops. James chose to reinterpret Bananas Foster, a classic New Orleans dessert invented in the 1950s. It’s difficult to imagine caramelized bananas and rum leaving room for improvement, but a whipped Nutella cream transforms the dish into a celebration-worthy stunner.

Nutella 50th Anniversary - Banana's Foster Tart with Nutella Mousse - James Briscione /

Bananas Foster Tartlet with Nutella Cream

Yield: 4 servings

For the Frangipane:


  • ¼ cup granulated white sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup finely ground hazelnuts or almonds
  • 1 fl oz dark rum
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour


  1. Combine the sugar, salt and butter in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the egg, vanilla and rum; continue mixing until fully incorporated.
  3. Add the ground nuts and flour and fold together until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Excess frangipane may be stored refrigerated up to 2 weeks.

For the tartlets:


  • 4 (4-inch) rounds puff pastry
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • Granulated sugar, as needed
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup Nutella


  1. Preheat oven to 375° F
  2. Place the rounds of puff pastry on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Spread the frangipane on the dough, leaving an approximately ¼ inch border. Bake the tart until the crust is risen around the frangipane and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool on the pan.
  3. Thinly slice the bananas and tile over the tarts. Spread a thin, even layer of sugar over the tart and brûlée with a torch.
  4. Pour the cream into a chilled bowl and whisk to soft peaks. Place the Nutella in a separate bowl. Whisk half of the whipped cream into the Nutella. Add the remaining cream and fold together until smooth and lightened.
  5. To serve, place the brûléed tart in the center of a plate and top with the Nutella cream.