Next time the dessert menu comes around, don’t let a full belly get in the way. (That’s what to-go boxes are for!) At Aerie Restaurant & Lounge, your dessert won’t just be delicious, it will actually help the Northern Michigan community.

This June, Aerie debuts its “Share the Sweet” program, where a dollar from every dessert goes to a local nonprofit or charity. That means Aerie’s hummingbird pyramid cake, cherry toffee pudding, chocolate tower cake and vanilla bean crème brûlée (see recipe below!) all add up toward a monthly donation.

The initiative was spearheaded by restaurant manager Alex Truck, who wanted to find a way to give back to groups making a difference in our area.

“Share the Sweet developed out of a conversation with Aerie staff about volunteering,” says Truck. “We don’t always have the time available to volunteer, so raising money and helping to promote these organizations is where we can pitch in. It feels great to be able to help out organizations that are doing important work.”

Truck says that during the brainstorming process, members of Aerie’s staff chose an organization they felt passionate about. “We broke those down into categories to have a better range of issues and chose from that selection,” he explains. “Everyone is excited for the choices and to get behind Share the Sweet.”

The nonprofits lined up for June–December 2019 include Cherryland Humane Society, Women’s Resource Center, Michael’s Place, Reigning Liberty Ranch, FLOW (For Love of Water), Make-A-Wish Michigan and Father Fred.

Cherryland Humane Society looks forward to kicking off the program, especially because spring and early summer mean dozens of pets—including young kittens and puppies—are arriving at the shelter.

“It’s up to us to learn everything we can about each pet to give them the best possible experience at the shelter, and then to find them a loving forever home,” says Grace Lambert, Fund Development Specialist. “Nothing here is possible without a lot of help!” 

The summer months are also a high-need time for the Women’s Resource Center, both for the shelter and the WRC Thrift Shop. Last year the WRC provided 76 women and 69 children with 4,716 nights of safe shelter. 

“It is our mission to protect, shelter and empower people impacted by domestic and sexual violence,” says Marcia Heller, Development Director of the Women’s Resource Center for the Grand Traverse Area. “Being a Share the Sweet recipient will help provide vital general operating funds so that the WRC can continue to serve survivors in Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska and Leelanau counties.”

Truck says he believes the Share the Sweet program will be embraced by both locals and guests of Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. Each month, Aerie’s dessert menu will feature information about the featured nonprofit to help folks who are unfamiliar with Northern Michigan learn more about the various groups.

“Not only do I hope to raise funds for these outstanding organizations, but I also hope this initiative spurs topics of conversation at the table that might not have otherwise come up,” Truck says.

So grab a friend (or three) and head up to Aerie to enjoy a sweet treat and support these local causes!

June: Cherryland Humane Society
July: Women’s Resource Center
August: Michael’s Place
September: Reigning Liberty Ranch
October: FLOW (For Love of Water)
November: Make-A-Wish Michigan
December: Father Fred

Photo by Grand Traverse Resort and Spa

Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée with Ganache

Yield: 5 ramekins

Oven temp: 225 degrees Fahrenheit

Time: Prep 20 minutes / Bake 1 hour

Ganache (make this first!)


  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate – 6 ounces (chopped)
  • Heavy Cream – 5.5 ounces
  • Corn Syrup – .25 ounces


  1. Put chopped chocolate chunks in a large bowl.
  2. In a sauce pot combine heavy cream and corn syrup. Bring to a boil.
  3. Slowly pour the boiling cream over chocolate chunks.
  4. Whisk the mixture together until everything is fully combined.
  5. Carefully spoon a layer of ganache into each ramekin, just enough to cover the bottom, and set in the freezer to solidify.
Crème Brûlée


  • Heavy Cream – 16 ounces
  • Granulated Sugar – 3 ounces
  • Salt – 1 pinch
  • Vanilla Bean – 1 each
  • Egg Yolks – 2.75 ounces


  1. Combine heavy cream, half of the sugar and salt in a sauce pot and simmer over medium heat.
  2. Split the vanilla bean, and scrape out paste. Put into the sauce pot and simmer 15 minutes.
  3. Bring cream mixture to a boil.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks and remaining sugar.
  5. Once cream is boiling, slowly temper in the yolk mixture (whisking while combining the two mixtures so as not to cook the egg yolks – how to temper eggs).
  6. Lay out chilled ramekins on an oven safe sheet tray, and fill ramekins as desired, or almost full.
  7. Carefully place sheet tray in oven and slowly add water to cover ¼ inch up the side of the ramekins.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on thickness. Mixture should have some jiggle to it, but not liquid.
  9. Once the ramekins are baked fully, remove from oven and transfer to a different tray and let cool.
  10. Sprinkle granulated sugar on each ramekin. With a butane torch, slowly and carefully burn the sugar into a caramel coating on each ramekin.

Provided by Grand Traverse Resort and Spa.

Photo(s) by Grand Traverse Resort and Spa