We had the pleasure of sitting down with Tessa Arias of Handle the Heat at The Elm House to talk about her career path, what led her there, and of course, munched on some cookies together. Learn more about Tessa below, and get the recipe to her delicious and festive gingerbread cookies here, just in time for the holidays.
Tell us a little about yourself:
My name is Tessa Arias and I’m the creator of Handle the Heat where I share trusted baking recipes that your friends and family will love. As a culinary school graduate and cookbook author I like to share insights into the science of sweets so you know how and why your favorite recipes work. I’m obsessed with chocolate and live in Gilbert, AZ with my two fluffy dogs.
How did Handle The Heat come about?
I created Handle the Heat in 2009 when I was starting college as a creative outlet. It was purely a hobby but began to grow slowly and organically until one day I had a recipe post that went totally viral. It was then I knew I had something special on my hands and really began to take it seriously. After I finished my undergrad degree and culinary school, I gave myself the following summer to build up my blog so I could pay my living expenses with the money it earned. I was able to do that in 2013 and haven’t looked back since!
When did you switch to baking vs. cooking?
Once I began to take Handle the Heat more seriously I decided to double down on what was really working well. I enjoy cooking but LOVE baking, and at the time my most popular recipes were my baking ones. So I decided to focus solely on baking and my audience grew even more quickly and passionately. I think when you really enjoy what you do people can sense that and want to be a part of it.
When did you know you wanted to be a chef?
It’s funny because within just a few days of enrolling in culinary school I realized I didn’t want to work as a chef in a restaurant. I wanted to teach other people how to make amazing food right from their kitchen at home. At the time I figured I would get a job at a magazine or publishing house, but I’m so fortunate that I was able to carve out my own path doing exactly what I love to do.
Describe your monthly baking challenge:
Every month I select a recipe and challenge my entire audience to make that recipe, snap a photo, and share it for a chance to win a prize. It’s so fun to see everyone’s baking creations and how people put different creative spins on the recipes. My favorite part is definitely sending off the prizes every month!
What is your all-time favorite dessert to make?
Chocolate chip cookies are my all-time favorite dessert to make. My Bakery-Style Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe became my most popular recipe of 2018!
Thanks for joining us Tessa (and giving us a major craving for something sweet!). We love watching you create delicious things while also teachers others and growing such an engaging community! xo