For years, the sea salt caramels made by Christine Moore's Little Flower Candy Co. have operated like currency in this town, beribboned bags of them found in many shops around L.A. and at Moore's two Pasadena restaurants, Little Flower Candy Co. and Lincoln, circulated as housewarming gifts and holiday presents, and as family sugar trove.
Both Moore's restaurants are front-loaded like gift shops, with shelves of the signature caramels and marshmallows and other candies paving the way to actual pastry cases — filled with pastry chef Cecilia Leung's shortbreads, crumble pies and morning buns. Now, with Moore and Leung's cookbook, beautifully photographed by Staci Valentine, you can make the contents of those pastry cases at home. (This is Moore's second cookbook, a follow-up to 2012's "Little Flower: Recipes From the Cafe," and her first with her longtime pastry chef.) There are some savory recipes (a chicken pot pie, an Alsatian onion tart), but this is a book for the sugar fiends among us. You can tell a lot about a cookbook from what it considers the basics: In this case, a first chapter, called "Mise en Place," that includes recipes for buttercream frosting, pâte à sucre, and brown butter — all things that infiltrate the book with happy regularity. (If brown butter is not part of your own mise en place, it will be after you cook your way through this book.) That there is not a recipe for the sea salt caramels may seem disappointing at first. But then you realize that your time is probably better spent making milk and honey cake, and that you can always pick up more caramels after brunch at Lincoln.