Category Archives: Confection Commentary

Thank You for Wearing My Dress

Caramelized sugar wafting through the air, a melody simply written…

In reading the Dec issue of Vogue I was struck by the simple homage Anna Wintour paid to the life of Oscar de la Renta who died this fall after an illustrious 50+year design career.

What most impressed me was the gracious form Mr. de la Renta always used in thanking the very fortunate people to wear his elegant clothing. He always said, “Thank you for wearing my dress.”

Grace as an aspect of business feels rare to me, and I believe it should be more common. After all, each purchase a customer or client or guest makes implicitly conveys a measure of trust in the service or product of the business person. Reason enough to be thankful and to say so.

The simple act of doing well what one loves doing and then being gracious enough to thank the person receiving it speaks to an internal and self-sustained honor.

These recent weeks in the kitchen at OCI have been full to the brim of hard and tiring work. New skills sets, new energies, new creations. The work could also be described as joyful.

Pastry cream fruit tarts, berry and fruit pies, Frangipane tarts, cannoli, brownies, baguette, butter braids, corn muffins, hazelnut biscotti, lemon pound cake, bagels, pretzels, pizza, beignets, chocolate cookies, coconut macaroons, crepes, cream pies, focaccia, caramel nut tarts, artisan breads, quiche, shortbread and strudel.

It all came home, and I realized quickly that there was an opportunity to share the joy I experienced in creating it. So, pies went to the staff of Neighborhood House in Multnomah Village and tarts went to the staff of a senior living center and to the baristas at my local Starbucks. Treats of every variety went to my son in Montana.

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The pleasure in giving is made all the more concrete by thanking the person to whom the gift is given.

“Thank you for wearing my dress.” That’s a legacy I’d like to honor in this and every season.

Confectionery Balance Brought Forward

Depositphotos_51227611_sKnowing my interest in quality confectionery of the past, a friend kindly let me page through two cookbooks from the early 20th century belonging to her grandmother.

Excusing the kid in the candy store metaphor, I found three recipes I can’t wait to work with.

Quality pics that truly represent these confections are rare.  Nonetheless, here’s a visual inDepositphotos_51227621_s narrative:

  • Cream Candy. Also, a family recipe of mine. The surprising juxtaposition of a cooked and pulled sugar-and-cream confection that melts in your mouth in a way no other candy does. Exacting to make. Provocative in texture; with a fineness of interior. Vanilla. Maple. Peppermint. Nothing like it in the marketplace.
  • Coconut Squares, Balls. The rich, chewy substance of coconut is refined with glucose and butter. Dipped in bittersweet chocolate. Delectable. The star of a dessert tray.
  • Opera Creams.  A Cincinnati influence is at work here. History says Cincinnati Opera patrons were treated to opera creams before performances. The velvety texture of soft vanilla cream is offset with dark chocolate of very high contrast and quality. It has no equal.

Each is more than worth the time, effort and patience required to refine and perfect. Experimentation in itself is pleasureful… shepherding ingredients into that which they can become.

Opera Creams

(reprinted as written from Lee’s Priceless Recipes, 1895)

Two pounds white sugar, 3/4 pint cow’s cream, boil to a soft ball; set off; add 2 ounces glucose; set on. Stir easy until it commences to boil, then pour out; let get 3/4 cold and stir it until it turns into a cream; then work into it 2 tablespoons vanilla; line a pan with waxed paper, flatten the batch in it, and mark it in squares. Set aside 2 hours to harden.