Get ready for a MAJOR sugar craving. The sweets coming out of Caitlin Lee’s kitchen are enough to make anyone welcome a self-induced sugar coma with open arms. With desserts under her belt like Cake Batter Cinnamon Rolls, Krispops, Cotton Candy Layered Cake and Mini Pop-Tart Cereal (just to name a few), it’s no wonder she’s the founder of one of the most creative dessert blogs in Chicago: Public Lives, Secret Recipes.
Caitlin’s latest magical creation? Hot Chocolate Peppermint Krispops and yes, they are every bit as delicious as they sound. Caitlin infuses hot cocoa into her own magical recipe for Rice Krispies Treats, then drizzles them with rich chocolate, adds a healthy sprinkle of peppermint and serves them on a stick. For me, it was love at first bite. My taste buds were immediately hit with a cool minty sensation from the peppermint, followed by the softness of the marshmallow and then the chocolaty goodness of the hot cocoa. There was no way around eating more than one.
So just how did Caitlin become the sweet aficionado that she is with the power to make grown women loose all reason and sit on their kitchen floors to consume an entire box of Krispops? Find out below.
How did you start Public Lives, Secret Recipes?
I’ve always loved baking but during college I lived in a sorority house, all four years, with only access to a microwave and toaster so baking was nearly impossible. Once I graduated (two years ago) and moved to Chicago I found myself constantly in the kitchen, baking and creating recipes, since I finally had a full kitchen to use. I would bring all the treats I made into work, give them to friends, the people who worked in my building — anyone who would taste test for me!
Everyone kept asking for recipes so I finally decided to start an outlet where I could share it all. It was definitely a hobby at first and still is, but now it’s my full time job which is awesome. I knew I wanted to do something more than just share my own recipes with people and that’s where the concept of interviewing people in the public eye and getting their secret recipes came from — hence the name. From there it evolved into a lifestyle site sharing influencers’ recipes, my own recipes, fashion, DIY, etc.
Where do you get the ideas for your recipes? What inspires you?
Most of the ideas come to me in the middle of the night when I’m lying in bed. It’s the best and worst thing ever because I know I have to write it down or I’ll forget, but once I get up to start jotting down the recipe idea I’m wide awake! Other recipes are inspired by foods I love or loved as a kid. Overall, I try and just make what sounds good to me when I’m hungry!
How has living in Chicago propelled your website forward?
Chicago has been an incredible backbone to launch my career from. Everyone in the blogging, fashion and food industries has been extremely supportive. While Chicago is definitely a big city, compared to NYC or LA it’s a much more close knit group. Maybe it’s the Midwest in everyone, but it’s much easier to get your brand out there and work with others.
PLSR was recently featured in TIME, what was that like?
It was completely surreal. I came home from meetings and signed onto my site as I normally would. When I checked my stats they were above and beyond what they’ve ever been before. Completely next level — it was insane! I was beyond honored.
What’s been your most challenging recipe to date?
Hmm I had to make my Cotton Candy Layered Cake about six times before getting it just right. I’m very particular and will make a recipe as many times as needed until it’s perfect.
What are your favorite recipes?
As for favorites I have a ton! I love the Mini Pop-Tart Cereal and when I’m craving chocolate I always make these Brownie Cookies. My favorite non-dessert recipe is Goat Cheese Pastry – it’s very rare I don’t make a dessert! My favorite summer recipe is the Milk & Cereal Popsicle and one of my all time favorites is my Cookie Dough Ice Cream Bites — it’s so simple to make too!
Let’s talk about your Krispops! How did you come up with the idea?
My mom actually gave me the idea (thanks Mom!). I had been making Rice Krispies into everything from The Fat Jewish to Christian Siriano to Kim Kardashian. They’re really fun to play with and you can do a ton. I made the Krispops with the intent to put them on the blog and first posted an image to Instagram. That same afternoon my first order was placed and the rest is history!
Since then, Krispops have evolved into 5 standard flavors (cake batter, cookies & cream, cookie dough, s’mores and mini burgers) as well as a seasonal flavor of the month. November was cinnamon roll and December is hot chocolate peppermint. Krispops are also available in mini bride and groom flavors for weddings and showers.
PLSR just launched an online shopping platform that allows users to buy Krispops online — what was that process like?
It was a ton of hard work but thankfully I had an incredible team to work with who helped make this all happen. I had a vision of exactly what I wanted — a simple, easy to use checkout process for people to ship to themselves, friends — whoever and not go broke from doing so. I’m so excited to have the online shopping platform live and you should all order your Krispops for holiday presents (to yourself or others!). Krispops can be shipped nationwide or are available for delivery within the Chicago area.
Which Krispop could you eat all day long?
The cake batter flavor is super addicting. It’s a toss up between that and the mini burgers — they’re just so cute!
What’s in the future for PLSR?
Right now I’m extremely focused on growing the Krispops. We do a lot of catering to birthday parties, weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs and corporate events in Chicago, pretty much everything. We hope to be like that in every city within the next year!
Hot Chocolate Peppermint Krispops are available through the month of December, all other Krispops are available year round.