Delectable Desserts: Pastry Chef Malika Ameen on WCL
Award-winning pastry chef Malika Ameen joins Ryan in the kitchen to chat about her new venture byMdesserts, make a delicious, easy granola for the entire family any time of the day, talk about her experience on the first season of "Top Chef: Just Desserts" and how she's able to juggle her business while raising three young sons.
About Malika Ameen:
Malika Ameen's love for unique flavor combinations, fascination with spice and attention to detail began in a food-focused home where family dinners were prepared from scratch each day. Her mom cooked mostly Asian cuisine, but would tackle fine pastries and desserts from Julia Child's cookbook to fulfill the sweet tooth of her father. While her mother had a passion for methods and flavors, her dad was obsessed with the very best ingredients. Every evening, dinner was a time to share the day's events and became a full family discussion about the meal and what could be improved upon. "I'll treasure those memories forever and hope to pass this family tradition on to my children," says Ameen.
Ameen is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. She established her reputation early, working under three award-winning pastry chefs. She first performed her dessert-making magic at the Ritz-Carlton in Chicago, working under renowned pastry chef En Ming Hsu. When Ameen relocated to New York she continued her professional growth at the Cub Room, working under James Beard multi-year nominee Gina DePalma, then she became one of two associate pastry chefs at the celebrated Balthazar in Soho. Ameen was fortunate to have then spent a brief time at the award winning Craft, working under James Beard award-winning Karen DeMasco.
In 2002, Ameen moved to West Hollywood and became the executive pastry chef at Chateau Marmont. This legendary hotel had once been considered the "home away from home" to many of Hollywood's elite. Los Angeles Times restaurant critic S. Irene Vibilia had rave reviews for Ameen's desserts and described her as a "talent to watch.", And, Angeleno Magazine (sister publication to Chicago's CS Magazine) voted Ameen "Best Pastry Chef".
Vibrant and focused, Ameen moved back to Chicago to be closer to her family and opened the River North restaurant, Aigre Doux. Quickly, Aigre Doux became a favorite on the city's dynamic restaurant scene. Phil Vettel, Chicago Tribune restaurant critic, described Aigre Doux as, "seriously delicious and satisfying on an intellectual level" and gave it 3 stars, an "excellent" rating. Soon after, Bon Appetit put Aigre Doux on their "10 Best New Restaurants List", Food & Wine included them in "100 Tastes to Try" and Conde Nast Traveler put Aigre Doux on the their "Hot Tables List".
With the closing of Aigre Doux in 2009, Ameen began creating custom order desserts and started consulting with restaurants. As a consultant, she creates dessert menus that compliment a restaurant's cuisine. In 2010, with a stellar culinary reputation, she was selected to be a contestant on Bravo's new series, Top Chef: Just Desserts. Her drive, enthusiasm and creative spirit lead to her creation of byMdesserts which offers her decadent and indulgent, made to order Couture Cookies. As a fine dining pastry chef, byMdeserts allows her to share her passion for indulgent desserts, introduce people to the complementary aspect of spice and take their pallet on a journey of unique flavor combinations.
Malika's Windy City LIVE Chocolate Decadence Granola Recipe:
BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE GRANOLA
THICK ROLLED OATS 2 CUPS
QUINOA 1/3 CUP
RAW PUMPKIN SEEDS 1/4 CUP
SWEETENED SHREDDED COCONUT 1/4 CUP
TOASTED FLAX SEEDS 1/4CUP
TOASTED WHEAT GERM 1/4CUP
SLICED ALMONDS WITH SKIN* 1/2CUP
WALNUTS* 1/2 CUP
OIL 1/2 CUP
COCOA POWDER 3 TABLESPOONS
GROUND CINNAMON 1 TEASPOON
KOSHER SALT 1/2TEASPOON BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE CHUNKS** 1/2 CUP
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large mixing bowl combine all dry ingredients from oats through walnuts. In a small saucepan combine oil, honey, sugar, cocoa and spices. Bring to a simmer and whisk to combine. Pour over dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Grease a 17x12 baking tray with pan spray. Spread granola mixture in an even layer and bake for 40 minutes. Cool granola and mix in chocolate chunks. Store in an airtight container.
* Note: you can use any combination of your favorite nuts totaling 1 cup
** You can substitute semisweet or use any combination of milk, semisweet and bittersweet
For more on Malika's ByMDesserts, head to: http://bymdesserts.com/.