Baked Dessert Bar brings Filipino flavors to Tustin

Abby Declaro, owner and head baker at Baked Dessert Bar, grew up with a pastry mother and was well versed in baking herself before becoming a mother of five.

“I was throwing birthday parties for the kids and I was like, ‘I should make their cakes,'” Declaro said. “I would bake all my kids’ cakes, and other moms would notice.”

Declaro’s Filipino heritage has also influenced its confections.

A Buko Pandan cupcake with a creamy homemade flan on top at the Baked Dessert Bar in Tustin.

(Scott Smeltzer / staff photographer)

“I’ve always infused ube with all dessert because it’s our family’s favorite flavor,” Declaro said.

Ube, pronounced “ooh beh”, is a yam-like root vegetable that has a subtle flavor but a bold purple color. It’s enjoyed great popularity in the culinary scene for the past few years, but it’s a classic Filipino flavor that Declaro has always loved, so she started using it in her macrons.

“At that time, years ago, it wasn’t popular yet,” Declaro said, “So when I went out with the ube macrons, everyone was like, ‘Whoa what the hell is this? ‘is? We’ve never heard of ube!”

Declaro, who was also working full-time as a nurse, began taking orders for cakes and desserts from other moms, and word spread. Eventually, she left her home kitchen to settle in a small bakery in Rancho Cucamonga.

Abby Declaro bakes a vanilla cupcake at the Baked Dessert Bar.

Abby Declaro bakes a vanilla cupcake with a homemade creme brulee called Yema at the Baked Dessert Bar.

(Scott Smeltzer / staff photographer)

Today, Baked Dessert Bar has locations in Rancho Cucamonga-Victoria Gardens and Chino Hills and recently opened a boutique in the Tustin Legacy District.

“We’re an Asian fusion bakery and we’re based in the Philippines,” Declaro said, “but we want to be able to cater to everyone, so we have more Americanized flavors as well. We also want to accommodate those with dietary restrictions, so we offer vegan, keto and gluten-free options. We just want everyone to be able to celebrate.

Baked Dessert Bar offers cakes, cupcakes, mini cupcakes and cookies in popular Filipino flavors like ube, buko pandan (young coconut and vanilla pandan leaf) and turon (spring roll with fried banana) as well as traditional flavors like red velvet, carrot cake and cookie butter.

Abby and Patrick Declaro, owners of the Baked Dessert Bar in Tustin.

Abby and Patrick Declaro, owners of the Baked Dessert Bar in Tustin.

(Scott Smeltzer / staff photographer)

“One of our other popular flavors, even with non-Filipinos, is calamansi,” Declaro said.

Calamansi is a small Filipino citrus fruit that looks like a kumquat but has a unique taste like a sweet lemon or a tart orange.

“It’s not lemon, but it’s citrus, kind of like yuzu,” she said.

As summer heats up, Halo Halo, or Filipino shaved ice, is another menu item Declaro says will be popular. The treat is available in ube, buko pandan, flan de leche, and sweet corn and is layered with jellies, jackfruit, ube halaya, crispy rice, ice cream, red beans, and flan de leche. Halo halo translates to “mix mix” which is also an instruction on how best to enjoy it.

An Ube Halo Halo from the Baked Dessert Bar.

An Ube Halo Halo from the Baked Dessert Bar.

(Scott Smeltzer / staff photographer)

The Tustin location is now soft open and gearing up for a grand opening in August. Declaro said she hopes the Tustin community will consider including Baked in their celebrations.

“Generally, baked goods make people happy,” Declaro said. “Whether you want Asian flavor, American flavor, full sweet, sugar-free, gluten-free, or vegan, we’ve got you covered.”

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