How to Save Time in the Kitchen Without Sacrificing Flavor —
An Interview with Top Chef Chris Hanmer

Are you a Top Chef fan??? I just love watching those chefs in action — racing against the clock and yet magically making the most enticing creations. (The only thing is, I just want to reach through my TV screen and grab the food!)

We parents know something about preparing food under pressure — trying to throw together meals between homework, hockey practice, nursing babies, etc. So, I figure, the perfect person to talk to about adding some flair to our holiday meals, despite time constraints, would be a Top Chef winner.

Chris Hanmer is a world champion pastry chef and winner of Bravo’s Top Chef: Just Desserts Season 2. Chris owns The School of Pastry Design in Las Vegas, NV, and has worked for some of the best pastry chefs in the world. Over the course of his career, he has worked at the prestigious Bellagio Hotel and multiple Ritz-Carlton hotels.

In 2004, Chris became the youngest American to win the title of World Pastry Champion. Recently, Chris joined the Sam’s Club Simply Delicious Chef Brigade, a team of nationally renowned chefs who create simple, flavorful meal ideas and show families that cooking at home can be just as delicious as dining out.

Our Interview with Top Chef Chris Hanmer:

A recent Sam’s Club study on holiday cheer found that close to 60 percent of people think the secret to planning with more holiday “cheer” is finding simple ways to show off their creativity.

So what ways can you show off your creativity this year?

Chris’s answer is serving simple and elegant dishes! This can be accomplished in any mom’s kitchen just by using his tips for saving time without sacrificing the flavor…

Measure out the ingredients for all desserts at once

This will save you time by not having to start all over with every dessert. Measure everything out once and get your desserts ready to bake.

Making sure you have all your ingredients on hand

Buying in bulk is a key to saving time in the kitchen. There is nothing like running out of an ingredient that is needed for a dessert you are making. Sam’s Club is a great place to buy your bulk items. Not only do they come in larger quantity size, but you also save more money in the long run.

Double or triple the recipe you are making

This will save you time and money. Making one dessert, but in a larger portion size will keep you from having to make so many different desserts, but still be big enough to feed all your family and friends.

Browning your butter beforehand

Chris says if you really want to enhance the flavor of your dessert recipes, brown the butter before adding it to your brownie and cake desserts. It will enhance the flavor without taking a lot of extra time to do so.

Try out this Heavenly Holiday Chocolate Cake

Chris shared his favorite holiday recipe with us in the video above. If you want to make this for your Thanksgiving or Christmas get together, print out this recipe and give it a try!

4.5 from 2 reviews
Heavenly Holiday Chocolate Cake
Recipe type: dessert
Gooey and sweet, this crowd-pleasing chocolate almond cake will have friends and family raising their hands for seconds (and thirds!).
Almond Caramel with Sea Salt
  • ¾ cup(s) granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. corn syrup
  • ¾ cup(s) cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ⅛ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ cup(s) toasted slivered almonds
Warm Chocolate Cake
  • 4 oz. dark chocolate
  • ½ cup(s) butter
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup(s) all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¾ cup(s) granulated sugar
Almond Caramel with Sea Salt
  1. Warm the cream in a saucepot and set aside.
  2. Place the corn syrup and sugar in a separate saucepot over medium heat and cook until a golden caramel color has been reached stirring from time to time.
  3. Carefully and slowly add the warm cream to the caramel stirring well.
  4. Remove from the heat and add the toasted almonds.
Warm Chocolate Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Chop the chocolate and put it in a bowl with the butter. Using microwave, heat for about 30 seconds at a time until liquid and hot.
  3. Using a stand mixer, whip the eggs with the granulated sugar until light. Slowly add the chocolate butter mixture.
  4. Sift together all the dry ingredients and fold into the chocolate mixture.
  5. Fill 4 4-oz oven safe dishes half way with the cake batter. Bake for 15 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven, spoon the almond caramel sauce over the top of the cake and top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream


Now that you have a few tips at your fingertips to help you save time and money without sacrificing the flavor, what will you be fixing this holiday season?

Written by Janice Croze, co-founder of 5 Minutes for Mom.

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