Malika Ameen is a classically trained pastry chef whose South Asian heritage sparked her love of using both sweet and savory spices in desserts. A Chicago-based pastry chef, restauranteur, and now cookbook author, Ameens’ cooking journey has taken her from fine dining restaurants in New York to running the pastry kitchen at LA’s famed Chateau Marmont where she fed Hollywood’s A-listers. Upon moving back to Chicago, Ameen opened the critically acclaimed Aigre Doux Restaurant, where her dessert creations continued to receive high praise and accolades and drew attention from locals as well as influencers including Nate Berkus and First Lady Michelle Obama. A television personality who has appeared on numerous local and national shows such as Martha Stewart and NBC’s Today Show, Ameen also participated as a cheftestant in the inaugural season of Bravo’s “Top Chef: Just Desserts.” She has been featured in various publications including The New York Times and Food & Wine.

1)  What excites you most about cooking for the holidays?

Family and food. The marriage of the two most important parts of my life celebrating.

2) What does Thanksgiving represent to you?

A time to slow down and count my blessings. This is the time of year where i reflect the most about myself, think about what I am truly grateful for.

3) What is your favorite memory of Thanksgiving traditions in your family?

Prepping Thanksgiving dinner side by side with my mother in our basement kitchen and Peppridge Farm Herb Stuffing(yes, for real;)) Every year we’d come up with an additional ingredient to add to the many we already had!

4) Are you creating new traditions for your own children for the holidays?

As the children are getting older they are starting to participate more in the preparation. My parents always cooked together, and I love involving my children, nieces and nephews.

5) Reality Star, Restaurant Owner and now Author! How has the journey been?

It’s been a very exciting journey which has taken me to places, and brought me encounters with amazing people that I never expected. It has pushed me to change and reinvent myself within my field of expertise and brought unexpected opportunities that I could have never imagined.

6) What made you feel you were ready to write a recipe book?

The idea of baking with spices, and sharing it in a way that hasn’t been done before was exciting. I felt compelled to share my ideas with others and create enthusiasm to explore the world of spice with familiar and comforting recipes. Throughout my years of cooking professionally, I had many stories and recipes which I wanted to share with the world. I want everyone to see that “spice opens a world of possibilities”.

7) What were some of the fears you had taking on such a project?

As a creative person, I get so deeply engrossed in my projects, and am not able to take a step back to get perspective until i’m done with the work. When I complete a project, there is the fear that it isn’t perfect, that recipes and ideas need adjustments, or that an overall idea isn’t as great as I think it is.

8) What was your favorite part about creating the book?

Being able to not only share recipes, but tell the stories and inspirations behind them.

9) The images are stunning, did you have a personal vision for the layout and look of the book?

Yes, I wanted a book that steered away from the traditional spice books which tend to be ethnic or reference like. The vision was to have a very clean and fresh look, and really reinvent the approach to spices.

10) What are you go to recipes for the holidays?

The Apple Pandowdy(because I get lazy, and who doesn’t love an all American apple dessert?) and the Earl Grey Pavlova with Silky Chocolate Cream(because I want a showstopper that looks like it took hours but was effortless)

11) Lastly, what do you wish for the readers of the book to learn about you?

That my journey with food is not always about what I ate, but the memories with the people I shared it with. It’s the ritual of eating together that is love, and food makes it all the better. Food is what we share in common, and what breaks the barriers between us.


A diverse and accessible collection of spice-enhanced recipes that will transform your baking and awaken your senses–from a classically trained pastry chef.
Welcome to a world of exotic spices and flavorings from the warm embrace of clove and ginger to the fiery touch of peppercorns and chiles, from the sensual kiss of cardamom and rose to the surprising sensations of sumac and za’atar.

With encouraging language, invaluable tips, and a passionate approach to flavor, Malika Ameen seeks to push spices beyond the realm of savory to the world of sweet where they can add everything from a delicate whisper to a surprising punch to cakes and tarts, cookies and bars, ice creams and sorbets, barks and brittles, and more.

Purchase Malika’s book here or in Amazon. 

Watch the video trailer of the book below.

Happy Thanksgiving from Malika Ameen, author of Sugar Sultry Spice, watch her full video below: