On Pleasureful Pastry

Chef Linda's Confection Commentary

The Sweet Spot Between Elegance and Confection

Elegance and confection. Pleasingly ingenious. My own interpretation of the word elegance would include simplicity; however, simplicity isn’t always present in an elegant solution. In electronics, in technology, in manufacturing those solutions tend to be quite complex. We recognize elegance when we see it: in clothing design, in the manufacture of small appliances, in an iPhone. So, what does elegance have to do with confection?


One thing that makes elegance so attractive is precision. We admire products and services that are seamless and precise. Handcrafted furniture, a high-quality pen or watch, a beautifully engineered hygrometer that’s available to us for just a few dollars.


We’re mapping out our production through the end of the year, including the launch of an annual flagship confection product that will have its roots in elegance: the Essential Confection Box. Remembering that our two product qualifiers are superb single-flavor and textural development, we’re building a stable of our best recipes confected with the glorious fruit of the current Pacific Northwest season.


Cookies of impactful design like swirls of Italian amaretti; fat, cracked thumbprint cookies of house made hazelnut butter; three flavors of Essential Cantucci Mini™ we sell only to restaurants; our beloved HazL+Nutly™ (currently in use as bookends of summer gelato sandwiches); a glorious candied fig butter cookie (yes, we’re candying fresh figs next month); our never-before-released to consumers pistachio shortbread (have you ever had pistachio butter?) to name a few. Dark, sweet Oregon cherries and our own Marionberry jam (an Oregon-grown-only berry) will make appearances. And sparkle will definitely have its day.



Marionberry, blackberry, lingonberry, elderberry, black raspberry

There was a time when we didn’t know each other by name, only reputation

The reputation of my grandmother’s exquisite black raspberry jelly

So precious it only made appearance in the tiniest of jars as if incognito

And it changed my understanding of what gifting was about

Funny how a little fruit can do that

Elegance makes an entrance in the svelte silver cookie tin. We believe in functionable reusability, and this box will find a permanent home among your keepsakes.


At this writing, we can only hope to keep up with the infusion of flats of Marionberries, apricots and dark Bing cherries. Next month’s bounty includes peaches, figs and tiny artisan grapes.


For our personal use, we’ve been producing savory blueberry jam for turkey and lean meat sandwiches, and a fabulous savory umami Marionberry sauce for grilled chicken and fish.


Simple Excellence is Essential Confection’s tag line, and it’s hard to express how much value we place on simplicity and excellence as components of the gifts we create. It circles back to my interpretation of elegance: pleasingly ingeniouswith simplicity.


We love hearing from you and are most appreciative of your friendship and support.





There’s Healing in That Bird Feeder

Healing in bird feeders? Healing what, and what do bird feeders have to do with confection products? Do read through and choose your healing…


Birds & Healing

A recent Washington Post article entitled, “Why birds and their songs are good for our mental health” again supported the research that “contact and interaction with nature are associated with better body and brain health. Birds appear to be a specific source of these healing benefits.” Your mood will improve just reading the article.

Do read the May 26 Times opinion piece by Christian Cooper, the bird aficionado and science writer who gained notoriety three years ago while being aggressively confronted in Central Park. Here’s the remarkable update: “In 2021, National Geographic invited me to host a television show on birding, “Extraordinary Birder,” and I said yes. The result is that I now find myself living an absolute dream. I spend my time crisscrossing the continent in pursuit of iconic species, having close encounters with the rarest birds (it doesn’t get any closer than peering via endoscope inside the body of a Puerto Rican parrot, or iguaca, to check on its testicles) and having the privilege of telling the harrowing and inspiring stories of these birds’ conservation — and of the farmers, biologists and truly extraordinary birders dedicated to these efforts — in front of the camera to a mass audience.”

I have two hummingbird feeders and a songbird feeder on my patio. We literally feed and support dozens of birds that over-winter. For the past 4-5 years, I’ve actively participated in the extraordinary mating and birthing cycle of osprey in Loch Arkaig at Woodland Trust, the ancient Scottish Highlands. At this moment, the hatching of two osprey eggs is imminent. Here’s the link. The shared responsibility both osprey mates exercise in birthing and parenting is extraordinary. ORmeet the bald eaglets at the Cardinal Land Conservancy in Cincinnati, Ohio!

Bird songs are linked to alleviating negative emotions and improving mental well-being. How many times a day do we have the opportunity to simply listen to the songs offered all around us? Taking even a few minutes to observe bird interaction and conversation is uplifting. And it’s free.



Our Contribution to Healing

Essential Confection is a values-based organization. The decisions we make on topics like new product formulation, whom we choose as our restaurant partners and which organizations we advocate for must fit the values we state on our website.

Some are obvious: fidelity, honesty, professionalism. Others, perhaps not so much: diversity, elegance, ethics. Humility’s a big one. Appreciation and recognition are not about us so much as how we can support the people whose presence and work we respect, that we might all be better off for it.

While Essential Confection will always be committed to supporting the expansion of equitable food systems, we have another passion: animal care and well-being. Humans and animals are important partners for one another. It has been so throughout history.


Our Commitment

In the broader context of whom Essential Confection chooses to support, organizations such as The Humane Society of the United States and state humane society operations, such as in Oregon and Washington are at the top of our list. While wine tasting last weekend at The Great Oregon Wine Co  in the Willamette Valley, we noticed their commitment to do exactly that: support HSUS through wine sales of their Rascal chardonnay

So, a percentage of the revenue from Essential Northwest Cheesecake, Essential Tiramisu, Essential Douglas Fir Shortbread and all our dessert and confection products will, from this point forward, be dedicated to supporting those doing the important work of animal care and well-being.


There is joy and ease built into to simply observing the life around us. Is there healing in that bird feeder? You bet.

One of our Core Values Should be to Slow the Senses

The advent of a new year is a chance to slow the senses, to appreciate that which we created in the year past and to seed that which we would like to flower in the new year.


We are continually reminded to trust our instincts in professional partnerships. New retail relationships with New Seasons Markets and Zingerman’s mail order house. Sustained and budding relationships with our restaurant partners.


Our philosophy of placing products in the market is a natural development of four of our core values: excellence, elegance, fidelity and quality.


Quality – always. Simple excellence… so key that it’s our tagline. Elegance – in the marriage of ingredients and unexplored techniques. Fidelity in every relationship. New partnerships will continue to align with our core values. We love supporting what others do well, and standing side by side in ways that benefit our partners as we grow.


Why Slow the Senses?

We’ve found several ways to slow the senses.  First: dwell on remarkable tastes and textures with gauzy attention.  The simple act of paying deep, relaxed attention to flavors and scents that enrich us heightens the entire product development experience. Next: to slow the senses eases stress. Finally, creativity is enhanced with the simple act of opening space to notice flavor and texture. Each product we create has as its pedigree a s-l-o-w focus on taste and texture.

As an example, we’re working on a proprietary hazelnut cake for our restaurant partners. The richness of Oregon hazelnuts is foundational to flavors that punctuate and complement it: espresso, fig, almond. Figs – in this case, CA Mission figs because we’re out of season – offer sweetness, a lovely contrast to the robust, bitter flavor of espresso. Almond paste adds a succulence that’s savory and a bit mysterious. Through trial – and more trial – we find the sweet spot where distinct flavors are present in the senses and they become the building blocks of the whole.



A Writing Practice as a Core Value

Broadening my well-established writing practice is a personal commitment to striving for excellence. Like the process of clarifying what works in business, writing poetry and creative non-fiction spur choices for me of how to flourish in voice and in public presence.


Every new product helps us circle back to one of our fundamental purposes: to innovate and create unique, elegant and texturally luxurious, pleasureful products that have their roots in time and place. Slow the senses; slow the living.

Building Something of Value to Others

Strokes of culinary mortar

applied discretely in partnership;

trust first extended, it

the midwife of salubrious confection


Building Something of Value to Others

An interesting creative aspect of entering a completely new field is the opportunity to take a candid look at what historical features of my work style truly seemed to have benefitted others.


In reflecting, I realize that I’ve done my best work when I had the opportunity to build something of significant value to others that was self-organizing and deeply rooted in service. I love the process of – and have felt rewarded by – building something of value to others.


Recognizing this as my primary work style helps formulate how the work we do at Essential Confection and Essential-Insight Advisors can be most beneficial to our customers and clients.


A Snapshot of our Work

Here’s a snapshot of our work in Q122:

  • Partnering with other artisans. The most fun, and totally in line with how I love to work. We’re partnering with regional artisans to produce confection products using their own artisan products. It’s that “building something of value to others” piece I just mentioned.
  • Product development. We’re methodically building a stable of unique, Pacific Northwest ingredient-sourced cookies in pre-scaled dough. To-date, we have In+Dulge™, our luscious 3-chocolate, ‘accidentally gluten-free’ cookie dough; and brand new HazL+Nutly™ using our house made Oregon hazelnut butter. More PNW-sourced cookie dough products to follow.
  • Restaurant desserts. Essential Confection produces 7 texturally luxurious desserts to help restaurants create a reliable, predictable dessert profit center. Everything from the glorious Essential Almond Cake (using sublime almond paste) with 72% chocolate frosting, to Essential Citrus Olive Oil Cake (lemon-infused EVOO), to Essential Flourless Chocolate Torte to Essential Tiramisu (4 liqueurs). Our seasonal fruit desserts change each quarter.
  • Videos! In keeping with my love of writing, we’re dropping weekly ~2 minute videos designed to a. encourage cooks to deepen their pleasure of baking and cooking through self-education; and b. help restaurants incorporate the soft skills of hospitality to increase their restaurant’s success and profitability.
  • Here’s how Euclidian geometry aligns with creating confection products!


  • Here’s how chefs worldwide create the experiences that are most important to us all:


  • A super-high quality mail order company has approached to consider taking our Essential Douglas Fir Shortbread™ national this year. We’d love to help other taste the Pacific Northwest, so…


A Super-Nova in the Works

In Q2, the advent of local fruit has so many exciting possibilities. (This is always true in Oregon. We get excited about sunshine and fruit.) We have a project in the hopper on a decidedly Oregon variety of an Italian fruit delicacy. More to follow, here, as well…


And, yes, Essential Confection has a holiday super-nova in the works… totally emblematic of the Pacific Northwest. A real stretch for us that we think – executed correctly – will have no equal. Of course, our beloved Essential Panettone™ will make its annual holiday appearance, dressed to the nines.


Working in partnership is discovery-filled. Creating unique artisan products that benefit our partners and delight our guests helps solidify our company as a true partner in a truly relational sphere.


We love hearing from you.








On the Essential Douglas Fir Shortbread “Fence”?

The guest testimonials for our Essential Douglas Fir Shortbread™ are gratifying:


“… exquisitely delightful”

“love the moisture content… slightly soft interior while retaining a thin crust”

“had to taste a piece of the shortbread, first thing”

“I could not have been more pleased”

“love the balance of the Doug Fir and lemon”

“… never overpowering”

“… continues from the first flavor on the tongue to the lasting aromas at the end”

“great product!”

“really unusual… I want to go back and have some more”

congratulations on getting your TOTALLY new product out into the world!!!”

“we enjoyed it with wine”

“I think you’ve created your own kind of shortbread!”



The Dec order window for Essential Douglas Fir Shortbread™ and both varieties of Essential Panettone™ runs through this weekend. Second-day shipping for both products will be no later than the 13th – 15th of Dec – well in advance of Christmas.


If you live in Oregon or Vancouver, WA Metro and prefer to forego the delivery charge, please note that you may pick your order up. Simply email me directly with your order details (of any quantity), and I’ll bill you from Square’s secure website.


Need a quick primer on Essential Douglas Shortbread?!



#essentialconfection #essentialpanettone #essentialdouglasfirshortbread #shortbread


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