Decadent bites / chefmariabakingtips



Procastibaking:  When you have a laundry list of other tasks you are supposed to be doing instead, but SQUIRREL...BAM!  There you are in the kitchen happily buried in butter, sugar, lemon and lime zest. 

To say this week has been one for the record books, feels like another understatement of the century.  I don't take credit for any of my strength myself.  I always see it as God giving me the strength to get through what I need at any given moment.  My presentation this week in Hickory was one of those moments.

I was enjoying the drive during another picturesque North Carolina morning. I watched the sun dance with daybreak’s dewy mist as I was listened to my favorite Smokie Norful CD (Christian artist and also a pastor).  I wasn't torturing my own ears by singing along, but the music was soothing my soul and settling my spirit.  It was still relaxing although, I'm one of those odd birds who actually ENJOYS public speaking and knew my squad was praying for my trip and presentation!  So I was not nervous or anxious about taking the stage at all.  Siri was periodically chirping the directions as I navigated the back roads of Route # "out in the middle of nowhere".  Then a phone call broke through the music and chirp of Siri.  It was my Dad.  He was in a panic about something that in reality didn't amount to a hill of beans.  Normally, the call would have shaken me, but God prepared me in advance.  Instead, I calmly reassured him and resumed listening to my music and Siri.  I also made a mental note to put my phone in airplane mode before I went on stage.  

My 20 slide presentation on eCommerce for Small Business went better than I could have scripted myself.  60 seasoned professional acclaimed it was the best marketing presentation they'd ever heard AND the best presentation of the entire 2 day conference!  Wow, thank you God!  As a result, I have new business opportunities to collaborate, teach, and speaking engagements being presented to me! 

Actually, I've moved from procastibaking directly to going for a walk in Jetton park, petting cute puppies, swinging on the bench, helping a mom get her toddler’s attention during a phot shoot, to visiting with a dear friend as we absorbed the beauty of the day and watched people fish on Lake Norman.  Now I'm onto procastiblogging, as I am supposed to be working on 2 different proposals and another presentation right now. I wonder what’s next on my procastixxxxxx list?!  

One thing I've learned over this journey with my Dad is this -- God has DEFINITELY opened some sizable and unbelievable doors in my business lately!  However, they have occurred simultaneously as I manage various aspects of his care, calmly reassure him or answer his 5-10 emails a day.  His challenges haven't eased up one iotia and being an advocate from 5 states away has it's own frustrations/limitations.  So what do I do to stay "balanced"?  I use the DND (Do Not Disturb) feature on my phone, reconnect with friends/family who are dear to me, procastibake Lemon Lime Pound cake for my daughter's boyfriend's birthday, take time out to sit on a bench by the water, be transparent with my challenges, go to the gym, try to eat more healthy foods then chocolate, drink more water than yummy Moscato, rest when I’m running out of steam, pray a lot, and ask for forgiveness and grace when I get it all wrong. 

If you follow me on LinkedIn, you'll see I was just featured by Carolina Small Business Development Fund (CSBDF) "Women's History In the Making" series. Wow, just wow!  Stay tuned for what's next, whatever that may be!  Despite my best-laid plans, I surely don't even know what God has in store for me next!






Maria Kemp
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A thief in the night

A thief in the night

When I told my daughter the title for this post, she chuckled and said "Well, okkkkkayyy!"  

As a small business owner, there's always a delicate balance of which personal details to share on your business page.  I've always felt when it came to the choice to prioritize my family, there's no solace keeping the entire journey secret.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm walking through "a journey in aging" with my father in New York.  As common as the word "COVID" is in our everyday language -- all the age-related labels are just as common.  One day your parents are the way they've always been, then just like a "thief in the night" pieces of them disappear without warning; leaving us all to learn to cope together.  I've talked to many friends and confirmed the changes our parents face are never anything they accept willingly.  But it's still surreal to accept, I've once again become the parent to my parent. 

When I paused the online store in February, I knew it was the right decision so I could focus on being with my dad.  I felt the pause was the only way to maintain my flawless order track record.  I knew with all the stress and juggling tasks from 5 states away, it was not the time to agonize over lemon bar, cookie or brownie orders. 

In the midst of all the heartache, God is faithful and surrounded me with the most amazing friends.  These cherished treasures truly prayed me through the most difficult days. 

During my last trip to New York, I overhauled my website.  The online store is hidden and everything is refocused to center on baking experiences, speaking engagements, and continuing education.  (All are predominantly virtual.)  

The American Tire Distributors (ATD) video/commercial is done and it is FABULOUS!  (I promised not to release it before they debut it later this month.)  They were also gracious and recorded a second video exclusively for my marketing purposes!  Private virtual baking experiences are booming, so this last morph (aka pivot) is working extremely well.  Later this week, I have one of my first large speaking engagements!

Thank you for your prayers and continued support!💜

Maria Kemp
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Family First...always

Family First...always


  1. Beyond Decadence is still in business.
  2. Desserts and baking experiences for the general public will be paused temporarily.
  3. Business will continue as normal for speaking engagements, baking experiences for corporate clients and private groups, and community college classes.


Let me state this first -- Beyond Decadence is still in business!

As many of you know from reading the About Chef Maria page, I opted to close my initial brick & mortar bakery after my mom's stroke. If it weren't for the virtual world we now live in, I would be contemplating the same thing now to support my aging dad.  

I chose not to make a public announcement at the time, but I spent most of January in New York helping my father.  I still donned my chef jacket to attend Zoom meetings, met with corporate clients, taught a three-part virtual class for South Piedmont Community College, planned a video shoot, and finalized details for a speaking engagement, all while completing ~47 individual tasks for my dad. I left NY's single-digit temperature behind yesterday and welcomed 54 degrees in Charlotte with a smile! Now it's Tuesday evening and finally time to gather my thoughts to share a snippet of this story.

I told my dad several times I inherited my fearlessness, strength, and fierce independence from him. However, I still repeated it one last time on our drive to the airport just in case he needed to hear it again. He's getting up there in age but as fiery and independent as ever! As he reminded me during week two, "I don't want you thinking I'm an invalid or something!" I chuckled and said, "Oh, I know THAT, but it can't be years again before you let me come visit!" By the end of our trip, when I told him when I'd be back again, he said, "That sounds great to me!"

I felt like my sleep was constantly interrupted trying to figure out how to juggle my dad in NY, my business, and the fact that I live in NC. FINALLY, the flow came together!  The only way I can be there for my dad AND still run my business is to make some temporary changes. 

I've always been a planner, but it will be paramount now. 

Business will continue as normal for speaking engagements, baking experiences for corporate clients and private groups, and community college classes. 

Desserts and baking experiences for the general public will be paused temporarily.  I’ll reopen my online store’s public offerings if and when things change with my dad.   

Again, Beyond Decadence is still in business – we’re just pausing some of our offerings.  Thank you for understanding my decision to adjust the business temporarily so I can be with my dad when I am needed. 

Maria Kemp
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The Ultimate New Year's Eve Experience

The Ultimate New Year's Eve Experience

After I received a call from a client to host a private baking experience at their home early next week, it triggered a thought!  Why not offer "The Ultimate New Year's Eve Experience" to someone hosting a private NYE celebration in their home!  Perhaps you've had your New Year's Eve plans finalized for months.  But maybe, just maybe, you are still looking for "that thing" that pushes your party over the edge into something epic, enviable, and truly amazing.  That's where I come in with all my desserts, tools, ingredients, supplies, and extroverted personality....

Allow me to dazzle your guests with a private baking experience/demo for the evening!  Once you express your interest, we'll have a short meeting to discuss the menu, format, time frame of the evening, and schedule a walk-through of your kitchen.  Guests will be able to watch, perform limited hands-on, and interact with me during the evening for a truly remarkable, decadent, and unforgettable evening.  Pricing starts at $95/guest.  10 guest minimum and COVID restrictions will apply. 

Only one (1) Ultimate New Year's Eve Experience is available.   Call or email to book today!

P.S.  Christmas ordering closed on Thursday, 12/16.  

Maria Kemp
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A look behind the curtain

A look behind the curtain

For some odd reason the movie "The Wizard of Oz" came to mind and I was recalling the scene where Dorothy peeked behind the curtain and saw the wizard ....

So here's your peek behind the curtain for what it takes to execute an on-site class.  (Obviously, the mixer I also took isn't in the sink.)  

On-site classes are open to all customers, not only corporate clients.  However, they do take a significant amount of planning in order to execute the event flawlessly and there are minimums that apply:  

  • Pre-baked final shortcake
  • Assemble student gift bags
  • Prep and pack all tools, ingredients, and supplies
  • 2 trips to load car at kitchen
  • 2 trips to unload car on-site
  • On-site setup
  • On-site cleanup
  • 2 trips to reload car on-site 
  • 2 trips to unload car at kitchen
  • Restock ingredients
  • Wash/sanitize all tools and supplies
  • TOTAL APPROX.  10 hours (not including the actual class)

I've taught private on-site baking experiences and baking classes at a community college in Illinois, so I've perfected my system of handing the massive Rubbermaid containers of items that I bring back after the experience is over.  I put all the refrigerated items back in the fridge, replace any dry ingredients, put up supplies, and toss ALL the tools that left my kitchen in the sink.  I sanitize the Rubbermaid containers and return my collapsible wagon to it's designated space.  (Currently, the sink is still brimming with the tools shown in the picture from Fridays class as the dishwasher will be loaded this evening.) 

The upside is I had every tool I needed for the class with me.  I did forget to pack an optional offset spatula, but it wasn't the end of the world.   

The on-site classes are considerably more expensive as they require approximately 10 hours of additional time to execute a 1.25 hour demo.  If you are looking for a cost conscious way to enjoy a private baking experience, I would suggest the virtual option via Zoom.  Over my hiatus, I will be building a series of baking experiences ideal for the upcoming holiday season. 

Final August orders go out this week!  I'll be working behind the scenes just not baking until October 1. 



Maria Kemp
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It's FALL 🎃🍁🍂!

It's FALL 🎃🍁🍂!

The calendar officially says it's AUGUST, so now it's time for the humidity drenched days to end...right?!  Ah, who am I kidding?!  This is North Carolina!  We likely won't get a noticeable break until late September or October!  Well, either way I'm sure it's time for Starbuck's to start pushing everything pumpkin or caramel, so I'll jump on the bandwagon!  

The Pumpkin Mousse Cheesecake is the first autumnal flavor to welcome the season!  Perhaps your like me and not a lover of cheesecake.  Well then this is “the dessert” for you!  The magic of whipped cream elevates this from a cream cheese tasting dessert to a light airy mousse creation.  There is too much whipped cream gently folded into the batter for the texture to resonate as a traditional cheesecake. The addition of pumpkin’s favorite spicy friends will warm your palette in the most delightful way — fresh cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and a hint of clove.  And wait, there’s more!  All that lusciousness is hidden under a billowy blanket of even more whipped cream topping the mousse cheesecake!  There’s a total of nearly 2 cups of heavy cream (before it’s whipped and nearly doubles) between the mousse and the topping.  Take it to ANOTHER level by choosing optional Heath toffee or toasted coconut to grace the whipping cream topping.  No graham cracker crust in sight!  It’s gingersnap crust all the way for the perfect finish.

I had some of my friends very excited when they read one of my FB post and thought I was opening a retail storefront.  After reading a few comments, I realized the word "digital" was down at the very bottom of the post.  🤦🏾‍♀️  If you know any my story, you already know I've been down that path right of pastry school and have ZERO, zilch, zippo, nada desire to do so again.  

I feel like I have enough activities going on in a given week for enough material for a sitcom, so I'll share 2 key "festivities" with you. 

After an automatic iPhone update my (ancient) 6S Plus would no longer connect to WiFi and then needed to stay plugged in constantly or the battery drained at an accelerated rate.  I was leaving on my birthday weekend getaway to my friend's lakehouse in Tennessee, but when I fired up the phone's GPS it immediately flashed a "temperature too high" or "phone too hot" warning.  It promptly shut itself down never to come on again.  Thankfully, I had already received my replacement phone -- I'm up to an iPhone 7 Plus now!  So only 5 minutes away from home, I was forced to turn around and setup the new one in order to have a working phone for my trip.  The new one connected to WIFI like a champ and within an hour all my apps had downloaded.  I made note of my passwords for a few key apps then hopped in the car to start my mini vacation.  I didn't realize until I arrived in TN, I wasn't logged into 99% of my applications after the upgrade, didn't have any of those passwords with me, so I was cut off from email the entire trip.  Not the worst thing ever since it was supposed to be a mini vacation.  

As for my frost-free freezer fail...

I discovered ”the store” will close your service ticket if they don't have an ETA on the required part AND offer you a buy out BUT for the price you ORIGINALLY paid.  Don't take the buy-out until you check the NEW selling price for the appliance.  When you get the buy-out email you only have 1 BUSINESS DAY before they start issuing the payment and cancel the remainder of your protection plan, so you have to move quickly.  Thankfully I got on the phone first thing the next morning and found the service company had just received notification from their distributor that TWO of the parts I need just came in!  Thankfully again, I wrote done the reps name, the time, and exactly what she said.  This turned out to save me as this whole event unfolded as a 2nd rep (45 minutes later) at the service company was giving me the "we don't have that part" response.  I was on the phone for 1 hour getting everything straightened out, but it was worth it!  The part for my freezer is scheduled to be installed this week.  Thank you Jesus!  Now I don't have to spend many hundreds of dollars more on a new unit AND pay for the old one to be hauled away.  

I'll save the rest of my adventures for a subsequent post!

Be sure to check out my new article in LKNConnect!  It's scheduled to post on 8/3! Until then, order the Pumpkin Mousse Cheesecake -- it's truly love at first bite!



Maria Kemp
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But I WANT it...NOW!

But I WANT it...NOW!

Over the last couple of weeks I've fielded more than my share of "I know it says "Local" only, but I want it!"  These "statements" usually are in reference to a client who lives beyond a realistic distance to make a free pickup day at Pita Pit.  However, their tastebuds are on fire and their drooling eyes are firmly fixed on Key Lime Pie, Cheesecake, Mini Strawberry Shortcakes, or something else on the menu that would NEVER survive 2-days in transit via UPS.  

At this point, I could easily take the same detailed text explanation and do a copy and paste into every subsequent request.  I've had people tell me how I could successful ship it to them.  I'm always willing to learn, but usually it ends up making me chuckle a bit instead.  Apparently not every client knows or recalls the sheer amount of research and testing I did last summer before I even shipped the first package.  To be exact, 1.5 months of testing/research of the shipping process.  My friends thought my research was a bit excessive, but they aren't responsible for food safety and getting the dessert(s) across country intact. 

Most dessert clients don't want to spend an extra $15+ for me ship everything using the gold standard -- dry ice.  (BTW, I did test dry ice.)  Most food companies shipping with dry ice are monthly subscription boxes or huge bakeries receiving massive shipping discounts.  So my research powered on!  I know which packaging to use, how to insulate it, how long the ice packs will last, what size ice packs, how many to use, what needs to be shipped frozen, which items can withstand regular UPS Ground service and which ones cannot, and I understand the UPS shipping nuances.  

Shopify offers deeply discounted UPS shipping which I pass along to my clients since I cannot compete with the free shipping most people are used to thanks to  Amazon.  I stopped shipping to states 3 days or more away unless upgraded shipping is purchased.  Why?!  The only service UPS will guarantee is air service.  Most clients don't want a dessert that is over 3 days old via ground service.  I learned about the "ouch" of the no ground service guarantee when a package took 6 days to arrive in Texas instead of 3!  

So I say all that to share these key points -- if you live in a state 3 days or more away (please consult the Shipping/Delivery page for the affected states), I can still ship to you, ONLY if you purchase 2-day air or overnight/next day air.  Regardless of your state, I can ship a (Local) only item to you ONLY if you purchase overnight/next day air.  You will need to contact me directly via email or phone.  The system will prevent you from completing the purchase online. 

Now you know the story behind "Local" only....😉 And I’m happy to give you an upgraded shipping quote if you decide you “want it…NOW!”🤣

Maria Kemp
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The person behind the chef jacket or jazzy hat!

The person behind the chef jacket or jazzy hat!

Happy Sunday evening everyone!   I decided today I wanted to write a blog post that was less "buy now" and more of "here's a little more about me."  

  • I love bright colors - love purple and fuchsia!
  • I don't like getting dressed up and my first question will always be, "Can I wear my chef jacket?"
  • I'm an extreme extrovert.  A stranger is just someone I haven't met yet or gotten to say "howdy" to yet.  ("Howdy" is my favorite greeting for the last few months.)
  • I'm a life-long single parent, but officially an empty-nester since my daughter, Devin flew the coup over 16 years ago.  (If you are trying to do the math -- she's 34.)
  • I grew up in Illinois, Upstate NY (outside of Albany not NYC), Connecticut, and Massachusetts.
  • I still have a mild Northeastern accent.
  • I am the youngest of 2 children.  
  • I don't like to cook.  I have a mini George Foreman countertop grill, microwave, and a small frying pan I used to cook everything in.  The oven -- that's for baking only and far too much work for real food. 
  • I can hunker down and bake or get the most mundane tasks done without music or 97% of the time without anyone prodding me.
  • I call to chat (and check on) my "29 and holding" (his age disclaimer, not mine) dad at least once a week unless I get sucked into too many Zooms.
  • I don't like being hot although in 4 years, I have acclimated to NC summers fairly well.  You'll find me hibernating in AC on my MacBook Pro or watching Netflix, if there's not worth venturing out into the blistering sun to do.
  • I drive my mom's 2004 Honda CR-V, because it's reminds me of her and makes me feel like she is always with me, its great for hauling stuff AND it's paid for. 
  • I love watching action movies, romantic comedies, or sitcoms on Netflix.  I don't like scary/horror movies, supernatural/para-normal, sci-fi, super violent, or war movies.
  • I enjoy sitting in the car in a parking lot catching up on email, responding to social media and just soaking in some vitamin D.
  • My favorite candy is/are the mini unwrapped Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and unsalted waffle fries from Chick-fil-A with Chick-fil-A dipping sauce!
  • I used to weigh 70 pounds more, but the last 25-30 pounds are being very resistant (Hmmmm, might have to do with the previous bullet).
  • I rejoined the gym because I decided walking wasn't entertaining enough for me.  I love to people watch and exercise is a lot more palatable when there are other people around to see.
  • 6.5 months ago I had total knee replacement on my right knee.  It will still swell a bit and get sore when my Superwoman activities are on overload. However, with my new bionic knee -- I can conquer the Stairmaster for 45 minutes climbing a total of 82 floors!
  • I'm a Leo, detailed-oriented, a planner, and organized.  People either love or hate that about just depends on whether it's working for or against them at that specific moment.
  • Favorite quote from 20 years ago - "Your lack of planning does not constitute an emergency on my behalf."
  • I will be writing a food article for a local digital magazine very soon!
Maria Kemp
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A fancy pen writing Pro-Tips by Chef Maria on graph paper

Pro-Tips Index

Happy 4th of July everyone!  I hope you are enjoying a relaxing day, great food, and a deep appreciation of the freedom we enjoy in this country!

I think I've adequately recovered from all the hustle and bustle of getting all the July 4th orders out!  But as always, this upcoming week is full of a flurry of activity and preparations.  

I decided to keep the blog light and breezy today because the popularity of the Pro-Tips has been phenomenal!  Pro-Tip #17 just dropped this morning!

There are now several ways you can keep learning: 
  1. A new "Mastering the Details" video posts on YouTube each Sunday night at 6:00pm EST.   Subscribe to our channel and turn your notifications on.
  2. Enroll now in one the the Private Virtual Baking Experiences.  The classes can be held via Zoom or on-site at your kitchen location!
  3. Follow Beyond Decadence on social media for the daily 8:00am EST Pro-Tips!  Or if you miss one, click over to "How-to-videos & Pro-Tips" on our website for the weekly recap complete with links.  

Happy Birthday America!!!🇺🇸🥧🍰🧨🌭

Maria Kemp
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Maybe just a little Grand Marnier or Kahula....

Maybe just a little Grand Marnier or Kahula....

Happy HOT Sunday evening everyone!  I love the quietness of Sunday afternoons as it slowly slips into Sunday evening. 

Last week I had a 11.5 or 12, Zoom calls which felt like an all-time record.  By the time I finished my last one Friday evening at 6:30pm, my brain was fried, my eyes were red, and my mental capacity had left the building.  

In between all the Zooms, I managed to get orders prepped for Saturday.  As I was in the middle of preparing Margarita Cheesecakes, the tequila well ran dry!  I should have  had plenty to get through the final orders if only there wouldn't have been a "bobble" which sent a pre-measured cup of the liquid silver running all over the counter and eventually soaking my left sneaker!  So in the middle of making the cheesecakes, I had to run to the ABC Store to restock.  While I was there I wandered around and looked at all the liqueur flavors and pondered what would go with the excess of lemons in my fridge.  That was when my eyes fell upon Bacardi Lemon!  It's rum kissed with lemon!  I thought perfect!  So I bought a little airplane size bottle and tested it!  It gave the creamy lemon cheesecake a little extra "something" without being overpowering.  I shared some with my neighbors and asked for their feedback.  The yellow post-it is what one of them returned with the empty container - it made me smile from ear to ear!  

I also picked up some small bottles of Kahula and Grand Marnier.  They both would pair really well with a chocolate cheesecake. 

In case you are wondering, "Does everything you make have alcohol in it?!"  No, definitely not!  I do have about 10 different liquors in my inventory, but not everything is the right fit for most recipes.  These just happened to be the perfect fit for Father's Day, July 4th and summer. 

This week Mini Strawberry Shortcake Kits and the Bacardi Lemon Cheesecake are joining the line-up!   

Dates and things to keep in mind:

  1. Ordering cut-off for free local pickup at Pita Pit will close on Thursday, July 1 at 9:00am.  Order pickup with take place on Saturday, July 3 anytime after 12pm until they close. 
  2. We only ship via UPS Monday - Wednesday. 
  3. "Mastering the Details" videos on our YouTube channel.
  4. Daily Pro-Tips on any of our social media channels. 
  5. Our Private Virtual Baking Experiences are now open for enrollment!  

We look forward to serving you soon!




Maria Kemp
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Get on board the baking tips train!

Get on board the baking tips train!

Many of you may not know in my former professional life teaching a plethora of software classes was at times part of my full-time responsibilities or something I did on a part-time basis.  Then as the years went by and my love for baking re-emerged, the curriculum shifted from applications to sweets.  

Really I think about it, I think I've truly just come full circle from the days of learning to bake with my Mom in our small kitchen in Upstate NY.   So where is all this headed in 2021?  Well, that answer is actually very easy!  As I said before I'm one of those anomalies who actually gets a thrill out of public speaking and being in front of the camera.  Now that doesn't mean everything goes smoothly every time or I don't get nervous, but big deal!  It makes me real, human, relatable and gives me something to improve on next time.  

I love baking so much I want everyone to feel more comfortable and confident in the kitchen.  Even in all the years I've been baking as a hobby or professionally, I learn something new every single day.  So I'm not afraid to share some of my coolest tips and tricks with you all, because I think I really have like a bazillion!

Currently, I have Pro-Tips scheduled to publish on all my main social media channels each morning.  And on YouTube, I have my "Mastering the Details" videos scheduled to publish every Sunday evening.  They are all FREE, FREE, FREE, so please share them with your friends and groups.  

Before this month is over, I will be releasing a completely redesigned private virtual baking experiences aka "classes".  Now these WON’T be FREE, FREE, FREE.  The baking experiences will be ideal for individuals, friends, groups or corporate clients looking for a unique team-building activity.  I have an entire notebook of class topics I'm narrowing down. 

Here's another opportunity for your voice to be heard!

  1. Would you prefer a 1.5 hour - 2 hour class finishing in 1 session OR
  2. Would you like to learn something more in-depth over 2 different sessions?
  3. Would you like a class during the day, evening or weekend?

The Margarita Cheesecake will remain on the menu through the end of June!  Some loved the saltiness in the cheesecake, but some didn't so please be sure to let me know your preference when you order. 

Can't wait to read you feedback on the upcoming classes!  Happy Father's Day to all the papas!


Maria Kemp
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