Chef Linda's Confection Commentary

Author: lindanaylor Page 1 of 10

The Actual Purchase was the Experience

A friend with a discerning wit and a beautiful sense of style was traveling to Hawaii with his new partner and his partner’s family to enjoy their spring retreat. At the family’s insistence, the trip was gifted to my friend – first-class.

His partner’s birthday fell during the trip. Always the creative, my friend purchased his partner’s favorite carrot cake from a New York dessert company and had it shipped to Hawaii to celebrate the special event. He purchased a second cake to accompany the evening meal on the last night of the trip – and hired a chef team to cook the meal as a gift to his hosts.

Celebrating the people and events of our lives has a higher level of awareness for most of us now as we step toward the restored lives unfolding before us.

While spending $240 on two cakes may raise an eyebrow, the actual purchase was the experience of the event, a special and unexpected contribution that created delight and elevated the celebration.

Essential Confection participates in our guests’ life events. We relish hearing the stories of our guests’ celebrations, and love contributing to your experiences.

Follow along as we tell the tales our guests tell us. Then, consider how we might partner with you to benefit your next special occasion.


The Work You Help Us Do

Women Writing for (a) Change, founded in my hometown of Cincinnati, is a community of writers that births more conscious voices. I remain a part of that community wherever I live and work.

Writing seems a natural companion to the successful promotion and growth of Essential Confection; yet the story we tell is not simply one of pleasureful confection products, or even gifting.

Essential Confection’s mission is to stamp out food insecurity through hands-on action, advocacy at multiple levels and financial contribution.

This mission currently takes shape through participation in two organizations: the Portland Free Fridge Project, a mutual aid org which provides food directly through community fridges and pantries and is completely volunteer maintained and serviced; and Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, a non-profit political advocacy organization that addresses the root causes of hunger while increasing access to nutrition support programs.

Ongoing communication with our guests helps solidify how the work you help us do benefits others and makes a difference in the world.

As we move into the production, packaging and marketing of the Essential Salted Chocolate-Almond Cookie – cookie dough that you can freeze and bake off anytime at home – we remind you that your continued support takes on the added meaning of helping us help others.

Each pleasureful experience helps stamp out food insecurity.

 We are grateful for your continued support.


A Teapot May Be a Confection Product’s Best Friend

Although I love the practice and luxury of high tea, pairing tea with confection products can require as much skill as pairing wine with dinner or dessert. Complementary tea flavors elevate the entire experience of small bites of savories and sweets. Tea also settles the body and mind, luring us into a calm and relaxed respite that enhances enjoyment of our dessert pairing.

Essential Confection product development always has wine and tea pairings in mind. Moscato d’asti, a sweet, bubbly Italian dessert wine, has flavors of peaches, grapes, orange blossoms and Meyer lemons. It pairs beautifully with Mini Essential Butter Cake and grilled fruit. Moscato d’asti is traditionally paired with Essential Panettone, our classic, artisan dessert-bread, as well. Creative companies like Traveling Vineyard offer specific wine pairing suggestions for many, many foods – salty, savory and sweet. Here’s a neat tool to explore on their site. 

A green oolong, chai tea or milky English breakfast tea would be lovely with our butter cake. A fruity green tea is a great accompaniment to the citrus and yeasty flavors of panettone. The same vocabulary we use to describe wine or aperitifs – tannins, terroir, fruit undertones – applies to tasting tea.


Right hand the rudder

steadying cup’s stern, translucent hands gift

viscous tastes of silky vanilla…


Because of my interest in single-flavor and textural development in confection products, tea pairings are a logical next step to more fully enjoying our products. We will be partnering with tea aficionados to offer the most gratifying tea-dessert pairings.

We wish to deepen your enjoyment of Essential Confection products, and to heighten your awareness of how flavors contribute to and juxtapose one another for added pleasure.

Mini Essential Butter Cake is available year-round in any quantity for events and gift-giving. Contact us to chat about a larger order to reconnect with those whose relationships you value.







On the Topic of Eccentricities

Yesterday, the word “eccentricities” found its way into a conversation among a group of very dear and insightful women. We marveled at how mature relationships have a profoundly different resonance than those early experiments of our youth.

One person’s perceived eccentricities are another person’s charm or brilliance – her je ne sais quoi – elusive qualities that are not easily named.

Pleasing, somewhat undefinable qualities not only endear us to others; they enhance our lives when we sample things of unexpected quality. Several years ago, I tasted a product new to the Portland food market. The company, Cocacao, blends cacao, coconut nectar and coconut oil into a silky treat that is further enhanced with nuts, spices and fruit. It was a revelation that lingers in my memory.

Essential Confection empowers our customers to gift that special ‘eccentricity’ – that unexpected quality – to their recipients.


Of cacao’s munificence,

a brush stroke of coconut

paints ecstasy into being.

Oh, sweet virtue!


 Whose eccentric qualities enliven your life?


The True Cost of Cheap Food

Ruminating on the extraordinary bounty and accessibility of food in this country, I reflected on how locked-down consumers’ buying habits might bring about significant – and needed – change in the American food system.

Consumers’ increasing practice of buying local fresh fruit and vegetables – supporting local farmers – is leading governments to increase localization of their food supplies to decrease dependence on global food chains. It needs to be a sustainable transition – and sustainability is a big subject.

The flip side of the food equation is that many agri-businesses’ overuse of the land benefits their bottom lines but damages local air, water and soil systems. Sustainable practices to restore and perpetuate these systems are critical.

As a confection company owner, I’ve made commitments to purchase key staples from regional suppliers:

We have the luxury of accessibility and opportunity; that is, the wealth of high-quality regional products and the resources to purchase them. I have the added benefit of using these quality staples in our home kitchen at ~60% of the cost of grocery store retail.

Purchasing regionally strengthens local economies and reduces transportation cost – food miles – so companies, consumers and the environment benefit. In all honesty, these are easy choices.

Ruminating again on the luxury of accessibility and the true cost of cheap food…


The ear of Nature

listens to what is asked of it.

It must be the same act of intense and unfettered listening

as when one discloses her deepest secret.

Is holding the health of the land naïve?


This is a conversation about quality. We each have the power to create profound and large-scale change in our food systems by supporting regional companies whose commitment is already to us.

The quality of Essential Confection products reflects these choices. Mini Essential Butter Cake, showcasing local European-style butter, is a perfect finish or gift for the upcoming spring holiday season. Order here:

Mini Essential Butter Cake – 2 Mini Cakes Per Order

How has your commitment to sourcing food changed? What action will you take to promote the best products and growing practices you know about?

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