These individual pumpkin flavored cakes are moist and fluffy and filled with a delicious Nutella spread.

I came up with this recipe several years ago and it’s one that I make every year, but I haven’t posted about them since my initial post back in 2011. This past weekend, I did my first ever cooking demo and this was one of the recipes I shared during the demo. I plan on sharing some more photos from the demo in a future post, but to give a quick summary, I was a nervous wreck the week leading up the demo and wishing I hadn’t agreed to do it. But it happened and I’m glad I went through with it. Perhaps the best thing to come out of the experience was the chance to meet a very well known chef I’ve admired for many years, Chef Bernard Guillas. On the morning of the event, I learned that his staff was in charge of making batches of my recipes for the attendees to sample. Can you imagine having an acclaimed chef making one of your recipes? And as if that wasn’t enough, he told me several times how much he and his staff had loved the Pumpkin Nutella cakes. Crazy right?

So, I decided it was high time to do an updated post on my Pumpkin Nutella Cakes. It’s always been one of my favorites, but having an award winning executive chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author tell you that he really enjoyed the cakes means they have to be good right?

Tasty Noodle House opened recently in the Convoy area, replacing Yu’s Garden. With another location in Irvine, this Chinese chain is quite popular and since its opening, it’s kept quite busy.

We went for a late lunch, but still had to wait a good 20-30 minutes before getting a table. The menu, following the trend of most Chinese restaurants that open these days, is quite extensive.

Shanghai Xiao Long Bao (juicy pork soup dumplings)

The restaurant offers several popular dumplings options like XLB, which nearly every table was ordering.

When they arrived, you could already see that the skins were quite thick. The dumplings were also very uneven in appearance, some much plumper than others. Strangely, they brought over only a single small sauce plate of shredded ginger and no vinegar. The dumplings are traditionally eaten with black vinegar and ginger. We had to flag down the server to get us the vinegar.

The dumpling, unfortunately, were overcooked. The skin were soft and almost soggy. The inside pork filling had a decent flavor and there was a small amount of soup left in each one.

Overall, we found the pork dumplings pretty disappointing. We’ve yet to find pork soup dumplings we really enjoy in San Diego. I think I may have to try making my own.

Sheng Jian Bao (pan fried pork soup buns)

This is one of my favorite dishes, but harder to find in the US. Similar to xiao long bao, they have a soup and pork filling, but the outer skin is made with leavened dough, which is thicker and fluffier. The bottoms are also pan fried until crispy.

During our last trip to Orange County, I visited the most charming macaron shop that makes some of the cutest macarons I’ve ever come across. Run by a husband and wife team, the store sells both regular macarons and a special character set which changes daily. The week’s schedule of character sets are usually posted on their Instagram page at the beginning of the week. The store opens at noon and they sell out usually an hour or two after.