Chefs on StarChefs

1518 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 545-6800

105 Coulter Ave
Suburban Square
Ardmore, Pennsylvania 19003

Biography »

Pamela Lewy: : What is your philosophy on baking?
Angela Tustin: I don’t always follow a recipe all the time. I think many times, pastry chefs are afraid to try something if it's not written down for them. Sometimes desserts turn out better when you experiment. It’s more fun to approach baking as a cook would; creating dishes on a whim. You should not be afraid to play around and many times, pastry chefs are scared to do this.

PL: Why do you think that is?

AT: I think pastry is commonly viewed as scientific and this prevents people from monkeying around. Coming from a culinary background makes a difference. I went to culinary school first and then switched my major 2 months into my schooling. At Four Seasons, I did pastry, but I also helped out doing garde manger. Cooking can often transfer to baking. Pastry chefs are starting to use more herbs in their desserts, and that’s a start, but sometimes you need to cook too.

PL: Who are your mentors/pastry heroes?

AT: En-Ming Hsu from The Ritz Carlton, Chicago. She does amazing work and she’s a girl, which is unusual in this industry. I also admire Eddie Hales at the Four Seasons. He’s a workhorse. He has taught me a great work ethic and great pastry technical skills.

PL: What pastry or kitchen tools can’t you live without? Why?

AT: Long Spatula, 10 inch cake icing spatula. I practically use it as a third, super-flexible hand.

PL: What are your favorite ingredients?

AT: I like to use ingredients normally not associated with desserts like fennel and fresh herbs. You also can’t beat fresh fruit. I particularly like using pineapple because of its versatility and prickly pears for their great color. I also like using fine quality chocolate.

PL: What are your top tips for dessert success?

AT: Use good quality products like good chocolate. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Try new things like mixing fruits with herbs. Pastry chefs should also be interested and willing to try to cook savory dishes as well. This really makes a difference.

PL: What are your favorite desserts?
AT: I love strawberry cheesecake and classic chocolate cakes.

PL: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

AT: I would like to work in hotels again, where there are so many different things going on. I miss making pastries like petit fours and croissants. Hotel menus are more versatile and it's more than just plated desserts.

PL: In ten years?

AT: I don’t really have a desire to run my own business because there is always so much to stay on top of, but I can see myself owning my own café a long time from now, when I am much older.


Circa and Plate| Philadelphia, PA

While working at a local Dunkin Donuts in high school, Angela Tustin not only developed an affinity for sugary confections, she cultivated her pastry passion and identified her true calling. With daily access to unlimited sweet treats, Tustin was as happy as the proverbial kid in a candy shop. Tustin interned at Le Bec-Fin with the acclaimed Bobby Bennett, and later worked in the kitchen of The Four Seasons' Fountain Restaurant and Swann Lounge, under the tutelage of French Master Chef Jean-Marie Lacroix and Executive Pastry Chef Eddie Hales. Now living out her dreams in the kitchens of Circa and Plate, Tustin is feeding the inner child of Philly’s discerning palates with her modern interpretations of classic comfort treats. Busy as she is, Angela still stops by Dunkin Donuts on occasion for her favorite – the Boston Cream.

Blackberry Marsala Cobbler with Buttermilk Ice Cream and Candied Fennel

Pastry Chef Angela Tustin of Circa and Plate – Philadelphia, PA
Adapted by StarChefs

Yield: 8 Servings


    Cobbler batter:
  • 6 ounces butter, room temperature
  • 8 ounces sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 10 ounces all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 5 ounces whole milk, warmed
    Blackberry Marsala filling:
  • 6 pints ripe blackberries
  • ½ cup sugar (may need adjusting depending on sweetness of berries)
  • ½ vanilla bean, split and scraped or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons Marsala wine
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 Tablespoons water
    Buttermilk ice cream:
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • ½ ounces sugar
  • 3 ¾ ounces egg yolks
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 ounces buttermilk
  • 8 ounces heavy cream
    Candied fennel:
  • 1 quart water
  • 3 pounds sugar
  • 1 fennel bulb, rinsed with leaves and stalks removed
  • Honey or powdered sugar
  • Fresh mint sprigs


For cobbler batter:
In an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together until they are fluffy and lemon yellow in color. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add eggs, one at a time, on low speed, scraping between each additional egg. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a medium bowl. Gradually add half of the flour mixture to batter, alternating with the warm milk. Continue to scrape sides of bowl between each addition. Refrigerate and reserve batter.

For blackberry Marsala filling:
Gently combine blackberries, sugar, vanilla and Marsala in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Pour cornstarch and water mixture over berries and gently fold, careful not to break the blackberries. Reserve.

For buttermilk ice cream:
In an electric mixer combine vanilla seeds, sugar and egg yolks. Mix until light and fluffy. In a medium saucepan, scald sour cream and milk. Slowly add hot milk mixture to yolk mixture on low speed and combine thoroughly. Allow to cool and add buttermilk and heavy cream. Refrigerate overnight and then strain through a fine mesh sieve. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

For candied fennel:
In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine water and sugar and bring to a rolling boil. While syrup is heating, slice fennel bulb, widthwise, into paper-thin slices. When syrup comes to a boil, add fennel and boil until it turns translucent, about 25 minutes. Strain syrup and place fennel slices on a cooling rack to dry. Fennel slices may turn slightly opaque. Reserve for garnish.

To assemble:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Divide blackberry Marsala filling equally among eight (6-ounce) ramekins, leaving about an inch at the top for cobbler batter. Top off with cobbler batter leaving about a ¼-inch of room at top for batter to rise. Place cobblers on a cookie sheet and bake until firm and golden brown, about 15 minutes. When done, a toothpick inserted into the dough should come out clean. Let stand for a few minutes before serving.

To serve:
Place individual cobbler onto serving dish fitted with a small doily. Place a scoop of buttermilk ice cream on top, and drizzle with honey or dust with powdered sugar. Garnish with two or three pieces of candied fennel and add a sprig of mint. Serve immediately.




 Published: May 2004