As we approach Valentine’s week and all things delicious, I am pleased to share with you some of the best homemade sweets available locally. These three entrepreneurs are “best of class” in confections and baking. I know each one of them personally, which makes this extra-sweet.

Amy Jo Pedone–
Founder of 
Valenza Chocolatier®

Here was my first impression of Amy Jo…“Amy Jo is one part entrepreneur, another part scientist, and a dash of just plain adorable!” She is a Certified Master Chocolatier and has won numerous awards. For Valentine’s, Amy Jo will showcase her decadent 2018 Collection. For Him: The Bourbon Bar-dark chocolate encasing a rich milk chocolate ganache infused with heady oak notes of bourbon. For Her: The Heart-an edible chocolate heart jewel box with a six-piece assortment of chocolates and confections inside. Our favorites: I am partial to her Limoncello Bonbons, which melt in your mouth, and my husband’s favorite is the Tartaruga (turtle in Italian), a chewy caramel with roasted Georgia pecans and a dark chocolate shell. Ordering: Customers can visit her website at Orders can be shipped or picked up in Costa Mesa February 12-14.

Betsy Thagard-Founder of 
B. toffee LLC

After years of passionate experimenting to create a toffee that would combine only the finest, Newport Beach resident Betsy Thagard created the perfect toffee, B. toffee. It is an elegant balance of crunchy and buttery goodness. Family and friends urged her to introduce it to the world. Today, B. toffee is growing nationwide, with premiere placement in gourmet markets and specialty stores. She has many awards, including the “Official Toffee” at The Golden Foodie Awards. Her signature canisters are see-through, and the product is available in various sizes. My favorite is her custom gift boxes with matching ribbon for weddings, showers and corporate events. Ordering: Website: or call

Elyssa Fournier-Pastry Chef/Owner 
of Mixed Bakery

Elyssa was a Pastry Chef in New York before heading west with her talented chef husband. She comes by this honestly, as both her grandfather and great-grandfather were also bakers. She just won the 2017 Pastry Chef of the Year at the Golden Foodie Awards. Elyssa creates flavorful and memorable treats from her Corona del Mar kitchen. Everything is baked to order from scratch using the finest ingredients. She makes cookies, bars, scones, muffins, breads, tarts, cakes and brownies. This Linzer Heart Cookie says it all for Valentines! My favorite is her apple pie, which was the most popular item on our dessert table at Christmas. Ordering: for a list of sweet creations. To actually order, Elyssa prefers customers call her directly at 949.903.BAKE (2253) or email her at