Chef Linda's Confection Commentary

Category: Product Development

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.





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.

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