Remember That Brownie?

SalI love the fine features of baked products.

Early food experience dictates preferences. As a young teenager, I loved the glorious scent of chocolate wafting through our family kitchen as box-mix brownies were baking. As an adult, the rich scent of chocolate baking in the oven takes me back to that moment in the 1960s. Do you have one of those memories?

Food psychologists know that smell, not taste, produces memory – that smell is a learned affect that transports us to specific moments in time – and that it controls a significant number of our food behaviors.

What I discovered over time was that specific features of baked products were as attractive to me as the scent and even the taste of the finished product. A crisp ginger snap. The luxuriously fine crumb of a butter cake. The exquisite resistance of paper-thin layers of buttery laminated dough in a croissant.

A year ago, I set out to make the very best chocolate cookie I could create. Intense dark chocolate flavor was foundational. Almond pairs wonderfully with chocolate and supports its flavor as a background component. Flaked salt as a garnish before baking not only contrasts but enhances the power of the chocolate. The most important quality of our new chocolate cookie, though, had to be the juxtaposition of a thin, floating crust on top of a delicate, chewy center, with bits of liquid chocolate as little bonuses – ala, the brownie of my youth.

The cookie also had to fulfill one of my two primary interests in baking: single flavor development.

The formula for that cookie, the Essential Chocolate-Almond Cookie, is now in the hands of the Oregon State University Food Innovation Center for consultation, critique and packaging input. Our goal is to offer the cookie in dough form for our guests to bake and luxuriate in at home beginning in Q2-2021.

What better way to express love or appreciation to family and friends than to reacquaint them with a childhood delight?

Every Essential Confection product supports our mission of helping to solve food insecurity. You are our partners in this effort. We intend to broaden our reach with the Essential Chocolate-Almond Cookie by distributing widely.

Another way for us all to spread caring and support for those we appreciate most.

 

www.EssentialConfection.com

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Celebrating Others’ Lives

In reflecting on what future imprints this time of cautious isolation will have, I recognize like many that the relationships I value have deepened. Unfeigned, sincere conversations, a greater willingness to reach out and more demonstrative appreciation for family, friends, co-workers and contemporaries.

Small, altruistic gestures of confidence or support leave an indelible impression that may benefit how others see themselves in the world. What about commemorating others’ successes?

The best kind of appreciation is spontaneous, unsolicited. An unexpected gift – a donation of time, a personal note, publicly supporting another’s cause, small visible gifts – at an unexpected time.

What action will I take to further deepen the relationships I value? What action have I taken today that moves another toward who he or she would like to become?

Calendared events are easy reminders. The now-common shared virtual event! Families prepping portions of a large meal to be consumed together – virtually. A full-size Essential Crème Fraiche Cheesecake – 12 servings – or the Essential Flourless Chocolate Torte – 16 glorious servings, both gluten-free. Easy to share.

Valentine’s Day. Partners or family members who may, in the moment, be unable to celebrate together. The glitz and glam of the Academy Awards! Gifts of individually sized Essential Chocolate-Amaretto Cheesecake or Essential Crème Fraiche Cheesecake. Luxurious. Sans gluten, of course.

The Super Bowl! Fabulous pickups – succulent, savory Essential Rosemary Shortbread or the now-in-development Essential Salted Chocolate-Almond Cookie [the very best chocolate cookie] – in cookie dough form to bake at home!

How will I celebrate the events of those in my life? How will you?

 

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Partnering to Solve Food Insecurity

Emblematic of a community that honors resource preservation as one of its priorities are the book boxes found in Portland neighborhoods. Take one; leave one. I read a story recently of an Australian community that took the concept to the next level, building similar boxes where shelf-stable food and personal care items can be donated and obtained. A small way communities care for their own residents.

The greatest opportunity, and most egregious failure, of the American food system is the disconnect between the super-abundance of largely low-cost food and the food insecurity of millions of people. Aligned with solving food insecurity is repurposing the enormous food waste that is generated by consumers and food service businesses alike.

Essential Confection, as an organization, wishes to contribute to solving food insecurity. We want to enter into conversation with others who are similarly committed.

Current and future product development – future sales – and the donation of our time will be the foundation of our support of this commitment. Know that your support of Essential Confection will aid in this effort.

Who do you know (people, orgs) who has the resources, the capability and the commitment to work with us in this endeavor? What other ideas do you have to ease food insecurity in our local communities, nationally and globally? If were partnering, where do you think we should start?

Please reach out for conversation and connection. We are eager to work together.

 

We are grateful for your support.

 

www.essentialconfection.com

#essentialconfection

 

 

Low Touch, High Impact

Producing a highly labor-intensive, high ingredient cost product in a professional kitchen is a dance. We skillfully balance light surface touches – always respectful of the safest possible protocols – with the need to give equal space and protection to others with whom we work.

So it is with gift giving an artisan product. The quality ingredients permeating panettone like a line of ore are one step of the dance that manifests in a successful loaf. The dance truly occurs when one develops a feel for how the dough responds to humidity in a proofer or various oven temperatures we might test when baking off sample loaves. Quality and skill marry to give our guests confidence in purchasing Essential Panettone as gifts.

Today ends the order period for Essential Panettone Artisan Milanese and Essential Panettone Northwest.

The only exception we can make is for larger gift orders that specifically target the December holiday season. So, if gifting to co-workers or professional contemporaries is a consideration this year, keep in mind that shipping time to the Midwest and East Coast is 4-5 business days. We would need an order for those gifts a full 14-days ahead of your requested delivery date.

 Please email me directly at linda@essentialconfection.com with any such requests so I can ensure that our production aligns with your request.

 Courier charges to Portland Metro zip codes are only $5 per package. Shipping elsewhere in the U.S. is $12 per package.

 “Ultimate” annual purchase, and Essential Butter Cake orders, as always, may be placed anytime.

 This is the story of Essential Panettone.
https://youtu.be/ytyU652HAw4

We so appreciate your support.

https://www.essentialconfection.com/q4-2020

 

#essentialconfection

 

 

Bringing Pleasure and Comfort

As I continue to strive for excellence in product quality, I find it useful to remember that quality attainment is incremental – and that a series of tiny successes converge to produce a beautiful end result.

As I write to you and well into our 3-week panettone order period, I continue daily testing of the product. I’m seeking tiny, incremental ways to improve rise, tenderness of crumb and evenness of internal garnish distribution. Feels a bit obsessive, but it’s a feature of how I pursue quality through experimentation.

As you consider upcoming holiday gift-giving, please reflect on how personal the gift of a simple, luxurious, artisan loaf can be in bringing pleasure and comfort to those whose presence in your life you honor.

This is who we are.

This is the story of Essential Panettone.

https://youtu.be/ytyU652HAw4

One week left to order.

https://www.essentialconfection.com/q4-2020/

 

#essentialconfection

 

 

 

 

 

Our Imaginary Malleable Boundaries

Having cultured longevity in my personal and business relationships, I never fail to feel gratitude when I’m able to add value to a past client relationship, a longtime friendship or even to the life of an acquaintance with whom I have yet to have history.

Those are relationships of trust – the simple honor of executing on what I commit to, and the layers of trust that accumulate over time.

Though they may not feel so, the boundaries of what we imagine we can accomplish are malleable. They yield to even the slightest pressure to learn more, to be more in the relationships that are most important to us.

This is a note of gratitude for everyone who has, is and will support the mission of Essential Confection. We intend to be an educational presence in the lives of others, particularly children, through food.

Here’s the story of Essential Panettone.

https://youtu.be/ytyU652HAw4

Thank you for your support.

https://www.essentialconfection.com/q4-2020/

#essentialconfection

 

Building a Great Small Thing

The growth of Essential Confection feels like building a great small thing. Many forms of effort are required every day to mold the component pieces into the whole and, on many days there is no clear path in sight.

Then, literally without notice, the pieces fall silently into place.

Test-baking Essential Panettone for today’s launch involved the requisite two-day forcing of sourdough starter nearly to its limit, then patiently and methodically adding key ingredients that add richness and character in a deliberate attempt to challenge the starter to support them.

In the end, there is a metamorphosis, and a fragrant, supple, lithe dough arises as validation of the effort. So comforting as a baker.

The christening of such a product deserves special marketing. We’re introducing Essential Panettone Artisan Milanese and Essential Panettone Northwest with our first video. It’s even more special in HD, if you have that option! Have a look:

https://youtu.be/ytyU652HAw4

One other key update. We’ve successfully re-established shipping relationships for individual purchases and for the Ultimate annual purchase. Portland Metro is now serviced by a local courier for $5 per shipment or $20 per annual purchase. All other national residential destinations are $12 per shipment or $48 for annual purchase.

Join us. Our order window is 3 weeks only.

www.EssentialConfection.com

#essentialconfection

 

 

 

 

Insight is Just Outside our Comfort Zone

We gain daily insight into the work we choose by stepping outside our own pre-conceived boundaries. Stepping into a completely new medium – video – to educate our guests on the uniquely special qualities of artisan panettone has provided exactly such insight.

Candidly, I would never have imagined being the creator-narrator of a professionally produced video on Essential Confection’s flagship product, Essential Panettone. Nonetheless, my partner and I filmed the final shots at the Willamette Falls Media Center on Fri. Only now remaining is the painstaking editing and skillful assembly of the final shots.

My previously imagined boundaries certainly never included knowing how to speak to a camera, how to use a teleprompter or how to effectively use my hands to enhance language. The nervous hesitation of publicly representing a product of my own creation has evolved into a newly discovered confidence, and a skill set to be nourished and refined going forward.

Look for the fruit of our labor this week as the Essential Panettone order window opens on 23-Oct.

Please join us.

www.EssentialConfection.com

#essentialconfection

 

 

 

 

Gifting as an Expression of Relationship

Doing the work we must do today – basically, creating value in the present – and attempting to plan for a tomorrow which, in the current environment seems almost unfathomable, feels very unsettling and even risky.

Yet, that is exactly the life strategy we’re given the opportunity to mold for ourselves, our businesses and our relationships.

Relationship has more importance for us now than has likely ever been so in our lifetimes. Adaptability – coded into our DNA – and a splash of resistance to extreme change confront each other head-on in each decision.

Gifting is an expression of love and appreciation in personal and business relationships. The season of gifting will shortly be upon us.

We offer the convenience of gifting and shipping to multiple addresses, and you may include a personal message to your recipient.

You may select either Essential Panettone Artisan Milanese or Essential Panettone Northwest. Please consider joining our gifting experience when the Essential Panettone season – three weeks only – opens on 23-Oct.

https://www.EssentialConfection.com

#essentialconfection

The Single Best Resource for Flavor Pairings

Creating layers of flavor in any confection product, dessert or savory dish results from the practice of paying attention to affinity flavors. Affinity flavors are flavor relationships that are the epitome of flavor pairing.

Affinities such chocolate + orange | chocolate + caramel | chocolate + hazelnut. Cherry + almond | cherry + vanilla | cherry + cream. Pear + Gorgonzola | pear + blue cheese | pear + mascarpone.

The single best resource for understanding flavor pairing is The Flavor Bible. The book is used extensively by professional chefs, pastry chefs and avid home cooks to build a cook’s confidence in flavor relationships – not only on recipes. The authors, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, also published What to Drink with What You Eat and The Vegetarian Flavor Bible.

Interestingly, the category of citrus has the unusual effect of being, not only an affinity for myriad other ingredients – many types of cheese, berries, fish and shellfish, greens and salad – it actually enhances flavors in its own category.

Lemons have the versatility to be a dominant flavor or they can contribute subtle background notes. Eureka lemons, very high acid and piquant, have, perhaps the greatest versatility. The Meyer lemon, actually a lemon hybrid, has far less acid, a very thin skin, luscious lemony-tangerine flavor and lovely perfume. Because its flavor is so delicate, the Meyer lemon is not well suited to supporting background flavor. Meyer lemons would never be recommended for canning as they contribute insufficient acid.

Both orange and lemon zest support the flavor of the finest quality European candied orange peel in Essential Panettone. Citrus is the perfume that wafts magically through the air when Essential Panettone is unwrapped and sliced.

The Essential Panettone order window – 3 weeks only – opens on 23-Oct.

Please join us.

www.EssentialConfection.com

#essentialconfection

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