On Pleasureful Pastry

Chef Linda's Confection Commentary

Remember That Brownie?

I 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 tlve 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

 

 

 

 

 

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