How does Joy Wilson, the mastermind behind the indulgent baking blog, Joy the Baker, come up with those crazy-sounding-yet-delicious flavor combinations?

S’mores oozing with dark chocolate — and brie; a chocolate, peanut butter cake layered with salty pretzels; avocado ice cream!

“I call it food brain — I have a reallyactive food brain,” says Wilson. “And it’s the most active when I’m the most hungry. Like standing in front of my pantry trying to figure out what delicious thing I can make.”

Now you can go inside her butter, chocolate and caramel-filled mind with her latest cookbook, “Homemade Decadence: Irresistibly Sweet, Salty, Gooey, Sticky, Fluffy, Creamy, Crunchy Treats,” packed with 125 creative, sublime and approachable recipes, the kind that draw two millions readers to her blog each month.

And like the recipes she shares on her popular site, which launched in 2008, you don’t need a fancy kitchen or culinary degree to create any of these desserts.

Wilson, a self-taught baker, who wrote the book from her tiny kitchen in California (though she’s since moved to New Orleans), assures us, “All you need is a hand mixer, a bowl and a strong sweet tooth.”


Why should people bake as opposed to stopping by the cute bakery?

“Well there’s definitely something to be said for stopping by the cute bakery. I’m never apposed to that. I just think that taking the time to make something is good for you. It makes you slow down. I try to enjoy the process of making something special for someone and I think that giving yourself that time, nowadays it feels pretty indulgent.”

What do you say to people who are petrified of baking?

“People put a lot of pressure on themselves in the kitchen. I had a pastry teacher once tell me that ‘ingredients can smell your fear,’ and she’s totally right! If you approach the kitchen with tension and nerves, then it’s hard to come out with something that you’re going to be happy with. But if you can ease up on that a little bit, and not be as attached to the outcome — because it will be delicious— then I think you’re on a good path.”

How do you ease up on it?

“Wine helps, especially if it’s pink. Practice, start with something that you’re comfortable with and take little baby steps outside that comfort zone each time.”

What are your must-have tools for bakers.

“I need a good bowl and a spatula, a hand mixer comes in really handy. An oven thermometer, because you can do all of this hard work of getting the batter together correctly but if you think your oven is set at 350 but the temperature inside is actually closer to 400, it’s going to spoil all of your hard work. Two cookie sheets, two cake pans and you’re good.”

RECIPE: Joy The Baker 'Homemade Decadence'Happy Birthday Brownie Pie

I know what everyone wants for their birthdays: diamonds, cashmere, kittens, sprinkles,and a pony. I tried and tried, but I just couldn’t combine all of those things into onedelicious cake. The recipe just never shaped up. I hope this pie will satisfy your greatestbirthday desires, minus the diamonds. Happy birthday! I made this with mint chocolate chip ice cream, because it was my party. You can make it with whatever flavor you like best!

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 large eggs

3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

½ cup milk chocolate chips

½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

1 quart mint chocolate chip ice cream

Rainbow sprinkles

Birthday candles

1. Put a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.

Grease and flour a 9-inch round pie dish.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder,

and salt.

3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, melted butter, eggs,

and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and fold together with a

spoon. Fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts, if using. Pour the batter into

the prepared pie dish.

4. Bake until the top looks dry and a wooden pick inserted in the center

comes out with only a few moist crumbs, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cool.

5. Meanwhile, for the whipped cream, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted

with the whisk attachment, beat the cream with the confectioners’ sugar

and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla until it holds soft peaks, about 4 minutes.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

6. Scoop the ice cream into the center of the brownie. Freeze for at least

30 minutes, or until ready to serve.

7. To serve, spread the whipped cream over the brownie ice cream pie,

sprinkle generously with rainbow sprinkles, and insert birthday candles.

Light the candles and sing loudly.

8. The brownies can be made up to two days in advance.

Reprinted fromJoy the Baker Homemade Decadence: Irresistibly Sweet, Salty, Gooey, Sticky, Fluffy, Creamy, Crunchy Treats. Copyright © 2014 by Joy the Baker. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House LLC.

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