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Baked Dessert Bar brings Filipino flavors to Tustin

An assortment of mixed cupcakes from the Baked Dessert Bar in Tustin, pictured Thursday, July 14.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

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

“I would have birthday parties for the kids, and I thought ‘I should be making their cakes,’” Declaro said. “I would do all my kids’ cakes, and the other moms would take notice.”

Declaro’s Filipino heritage also influenced her confections.

A Buko Pandan cupcake with creamy flan on top at the Baked Dessert Bar.
A Buko Pandan cupcake with a creamy homemade flan on top at the Baked Dessert Bar in Tustin.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

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

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

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

Declaro, who also worked full time as a nurse, started taking cake and dessert orders from other moms, and word spread. Eventually, she moved out of her home kitchen into a small bakery in Rancho Cucamonga.

Abby Declaro prepares a vanilla bean cupcake at Baked Dessert Bar.
Abby Declaro prepares a vanilla bean cupcake with a homemade crème brulée cream called Yema at Baked Dessert Bar.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Today, Baked Dessert Bar has locations in Rancho Cucamonga-Victoria Gardens and Chino Hills and recently set up shop at the District at Tustin Legacy.

“We are an Asian fusion bakery and we are Filipino-based,” said Declaro, “but we want to be able to cater to everybody, so also we have more Americanized flavors. We also want to cater to people 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-esque pandan leaf) and turon (deep-fried banana spring roll) as well as traditional flavors like red velvet, carrot cake and cookie butter.

Abby and Patrick Declaro, the owners of the Baked Dessert Bar in Tustin.
Abby and Patrick Declaro, the owners of the Baked Dessert Bar in Tustin.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

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

Calamansi is a tiny but might Filipino citrus fruit that resembles a kumquat but has a unique taste like a sweet lemon or tart orange.

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

As the summer heats up, halo halo, or Filipino shaved ice, is another menu item Declaro said will be popular. The treat is available in ube, buko pandan, leche flan and sweet corn and gets layered with jellies, jackfruit, ube halaya, crispy rice, ice cream, red beans and leche flan. Halo halo translates to “mix mix” which is also an instruction on how to best in 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 soft-opened now and preparing for a grand opening in August. Declaro said she hopes the Tustin community will consider including Baked in their celebrations.

“Typically, baked goods make people happy,” Declaro said. “Whether you want to have the Asian flavor, the American flavor, the full sweet, the sugar free, the gluten free or vegan, we are here for you.”

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