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Sweet Lady Jane

June 14, 2012

Many years ago, so long ago now that I can’t remember exactly when, my cousin and I were having dinner together and after having chatted through dinner, we realized we didn’t want the night to end yet.  So, she suggested to me that I follow her to a small little coffee and dessert shop she knew and we could continue our conversation then.  Back in the day, when I was going to school in LA, my cousin was too.  And after graduation, we both stuck around the LA area for a while.  As none of the rest of our family lived in the area, we tried to make plans to get together every now and then just to catch up.  This happened to be one of those occasions.  That night, when we arrived at this small little coffee and dessert shop, she introduced me to a place that I would immediately fall in love with.  Sweet Lady Jane.

Jane Lockhart, owner of Sweet Lady Jane, opened her first bakery on May 5, 1988.  Jane wasn’t a professionally trained baker, she only knew that she found mass-produced store-bought desserts to be “too sweet” and “too commercial.”  The stories goes that when she and her husband Don first started dating, she began experimenting with various desserts in the kitchen.  Jane only used the freshest ingredients to create desserts that weren’t overly sweet and yet still moist and delicious.  With the support of family and friends, Jane began baking out of her house and selling her desserts to local restaurants.  After her reputation grew, she and her husband opened Sweet Lady Jane in the heart of West Hollywood.  The tiny little bakery began to receive national acclaim after being featured on Oprah! and The Food Network.  Today, Sweet Lady Jane has expanded to a second, and larger location in Santa Monica.  They still make all of their desserts from scratch using only the freshest milk and cream, high quality in-season fruits, the finest imported chocolate, no mixes, and no preservatives.  Celebrities fall all over themselves for her creations.  And the lines out the door during holidays for her pies are legendary.  I once watched a Food Network program that described Sweet Lady Jane as having the most expensive desserts in Los Angeles!  While that may be true, it’s worth every single penny it costs for one of her creations.

When you step into the original Sweet Lady Jane location, you step into what appears to be a secret hideaway in a artsy neighborhood.  The bakery is quaint and small, and decorated to look like you’re walking into a small outdoor cafe and garden.  There’s small tables set around the perimeter of the space for guests to enjoy coffee, dessert and snacks.  The main front portion of the store features display cases that show off all of the amazing desserts on sale that day.  The store has a rotating selection of fresh-made cakes, cupcakes, desserts, cheesecakes and other pastries.  The schedule of the desserts that are baked each day is dependent upon the ingredients that the bakers have on hand.  The back half of this small bakery is taken up by the working bakery itself.  Often times, when you step inside the bakery, you can see bakers in the back busily making and decorating cakes and all sorts of goodies that they have made from scratch, and by hand.

A winter evening, not long ago, my husband and I decided to stop by Sweet Lady Jane to pick up some sweets.  After taking a look at the various selections available that evening, I was having trouble making up my mind as to what I wanted.  I ultimately decided that bypass the cakes and go for the cheesecake instead.  Sweet Lady Jane’s cheesecakes are rich and delicious and impossible to resist.  What I ended up with was an Oreo cheesecake.  A rich layer of traditional cheesecake with real Oreo cookies mixed into the batter, topped with a layer of creamy whipped cream and topped with real Oreo cookies all encased in an Oreo cookie crust.  How can you look at that picture and not want to devour the whole thing?  unbelievable to think that this rich, luscious cheesecake actually took me 2 days to eat!  The flavors are so creamy and smooth with just enough tang from the cream cheese, but with the hint of sweetness and some texture from the Oreo cookies.  It’s like cheesecake heaven.

Instead of getting a slice of cake, or pie or cheesecake, my husband decided to go for some pastries, Italian pastries.  I’m not sure what these things were called that he ordered, but they were delicious.  It was sort of like a cannoli, but it wasn’t exactly a cannoli.  It had an outer shell which encased a creamy filling and both ends were dipped in chocolate so that the filling didn’t come out of the shell.  But instead of a pastry shell that you would find with a cannoli, it was almost a brittle-like shell that was delicate, but chewy and caramel.  The idea of dipping both ends in the chocolate was brilliant because you add chocolate to the dessert and it serves it’s purpose of making this a self-contained dessert.

Then you bite into the cannoli-like dessert and you’re bombarded by yummy, rich flavors.  The inside filling was more like a rich, thick Bavarian cream rather than a ricotta cheese filling you’d expect with a cannoli.  Mix this rich, creamy Bavarian cream with the crunchy, chewy brittle-like exterior and the hint of the chocolate it was dipped in, and it’s like you’ve died and gone to dessert heaven.  It was to-die-for good.

My husband and I were in sweet heaven after having gone to Sweet Lady Jane.  Who cares if it’s known as the most expensive bakery in LA, when it’s this good and this fulfilling, it can be anything it wants to be.  Besides, you need to indulge yourself every now and then!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 16, 2012 4:09 am

    Sweet Lady Jane sounds like a great little spot to have something delicious.

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