New Times: Which dessert is seen way too often on American menus?
Andrea Sans Araiza: Cheesecake. It really bothers me when people serve slices of things.
What are your favorite desserts typically?
I love ice cream. I like to eat it and I like to make it. I don't like pudding. I'm not a big custard-y dessert person. I like warm fruit desserts, but the seasons are so funky and it's hard to get good quality produce. I like apple pie, pear tarts, cobblers and stuff like that. Yummy, decadent, and buttery.
What type of recipes do you gravitate toward?
I like to make everyday desserts people like and maybe make at home. Things they'll say, 'I've been eating this my whole life, but this is just a little different and taken to another level.' I like to take stuff people are familiar with and make them more special. It does conjure up memories.
Since you work under the Michael Mina brand, how much flexibility do you actually have?
There are a few corporate items that stay, but recently I've put three to four things on the menu. It's a funny clientele, but they do like to see the same things.
The molten chocolate cake has to stay on there...
The beignets are another corporate standard and the chocolate souffle will always be on the menu. Those three things, they won't go anywhere. But that gets us to play around with the more seasonal things.
What have you added recently then?
We've got more fruit on the menu. We're doing a poached pear right now and a pineapple upside down cake.
What are the new trends in desserts?
For sure, it's still the slow food movement. Going back to basics. Making things a little simpler. I've been looking at restaurant menus as a whole and these dishes... they all have, like 24 components. There's so much stuff going on! Trios and such, that's never been my thing.
Any ingredients you dread working with?
There's like a family of fruits that's very hard and I can never work into desserts and that's melons, grapes and kiwi. You can't really cook any of them very well. You lose what makes their texture unique and they're heavy in water content. Fruit salad and sorbet are the only things I can get out of those fruits.
I guess you could make cold fruit soups, too...
Ewww, yuck! You see that on cruise ships a lot.
I'm wondering how this pregnancy will affect your thoughts on nutrition.
I want to make his baby food. I have very lofty aspirations. I want to steam the stuff and mash it up. My mom did that for us when we were growing up.
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What do you think will be his first official dessert?
I think some yummy baked apple-type thing pureed with raisins and stuff. I can't eat bland food, so why should he?
Monday we'll have her recipe for chocolate croissant bread pudding. Check back!