On Pleasureful Pastry

Chef Linda's Confection Commentary

Shipping Goblins are in the Air

Shipping Goblins?

A set of uncertainties may impact nationwide product delivery in the approaching holiday season.

Inconsistent availability of ingredients due to supply chain fluctuations, highly irregular inter-state delivery times and changing delivery costs are converging to impact most holiday purchases.

Personal experience abounds. A FedEx wine shipment from California took seven days to leave the state and evidently spent the next eight days moving in and out of the Portland hub with zero delivery attempts. The major issue is understaffing. FedEx is performing at 60% of normal capacity. They declared the shipment as ‘lost’ when I inquired. There has been no FedEx truck in our community for at least three weeks.

As was our practice last year, we will have specific, three-week pre-order periods for our flagship products, Essential Panettone Artisan Milanese and Essential Panettone Northwest. In an attempt to offset holiday delivery issues, we will back that order period up by, perhaps, seven days. Unless shipment services improve, we will be required to ship all out-of-state holiday products via second-day air because what is important to our guests is the value of the gift to the recipient.

Essential Holiday Tin

Our first annual holiday tin, Essential Douglas Fir Shortbread, will be available for pre-order, as well. If you wish to be on our pre-holiday list for either product, please email me directly. Specific order details for each product will follow.


Essential Confection has another pre-holiday announcement. Recipe formulation and testing for our most-special chocolate cookie is complete. Packaging, pricing and shipping details are yet to follow in a formal product launch. Our new chocolate cookie is called In+Dulge™.

Accidentally gluten-free!  Here’s a “taste” of In+Dulge™’s heavenly qualities: bittersweet 72% Guittard chocolate and a luxurious mouthfeel, punctuated with a bit of the finest flaked sea salt. In+Dulge™ will always be shipped second-day air to allow you to bake them directly from your freezer at home.


“This moment’s indulgence is tomorrow’s nostalgia.”


We will continue to proactively communicate with you as shipping goblins ebb and flow. We value our relationship with you, and will make extraordinary effort meet our commitments.


Please feel free to email with your interest in joining our pre-holiday order list.






The Aromatics of Perfume – and Shortbread

Aromatics, the inbreath of the artisanal essay,

the story of alchemy, of appetite, of desires

botanical and buttery, floral and foresty, 

of an olfactory narrative that remembers, relives, rejuvenates…


The Aromatics of Perfume and Shortbread?

Enhancing single flavor and textural development, as I often say, are my two primary drivers in recipe formulation. The luxurious mouthfeel of our fine-crumb Essential Butter Cake is made more pleasureful by the savory succulence of the finest quality Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  True, as well, is that the cotton candy texture of our Essential Artisan Milanese and Northwest varieties of panettone is the willowy structure that showcases the finest quality internal garnishes.

As promised previously, I have researched and tested flavor profiles for our new holiday 2021 offering: Essential Shortbread. In so doing, an opportunity for self-education on how our olfactory sense – the glorious sense of smell – plays the preeminent role in pleasureful food experiences, has presented itself.

Aromatics are the catalysts for the full enjoyment of flavor. Wine tasting is an obvious example. There are as many categories of aromatics for the nose as there are for tasting. On the nose, one may detect:

  • types of wood
  • red fruits, dark fruits
  • tree, citrus, tropical, stone fruits
  • earthy, savory, gamey scents
  • buttery or yeasty scents
  • green, floral, spice/nut scents
  • even secondary aromatics such as petrol and pine resin

One day while in culinary school I did a tasting of Oregon’s Clear Creek Distillery brandies – among them Clear Creek eau de vie of Douglas Fir. No kidding. That experience piqued my interest, latent until some years later, in creating the individual features of a composed dessert using the essence of Doug Fir, the iconic Pacific Northwest tree. That signature dessert will integrate into a stable of unique desserts offered by the Outsource Dessert Kitchen of our sister restaurant consulting company, Essential-Insight Advisors.

My interest in developing a flavor profile around the Douglas Fir yielded the opportunity to do an unscientific and impromptu flavor testing of Clear Creek’s beloved brandy. What was obvious in the nose was the scent of resin – a pine or fir resin, and easily identifiable. The tasting portion of the experiment yielded the unmistakable flavor of mint – spearmint – and an aftereffect of cinnamon-like warmth.

The self-education piece is related to Aftelier Perfumes in Berkeley, California. The owner, Mandy Aftel, a natural perfumer – natural meaning the use of no synthetics, parabens, glycols or petrochemicals in Aftelier’s products – produces Chef’s Essences for world-class chefs and mixologists. Her products and philosophy of scent-as-taste align closely with my own interest in flavor development. Mandy’s book with Michelin star chef Daniel Patterson, “The Art of Flavor: Practices & Principles for Creating Delicious Food”, is a handbook for learning how to cook without recipes.

Essential Confection’s holiday 2021 gift tin is Essential Douglas Fir Shortbread. We’ll be learning more about it as the fall months approach.

Essential Butter Cake is available year-round for gift-giving or for your family’s own pleasureful events. Our flagship panettone – Artisan Milanese and Northwest – will again be available by pre-order only beginning in early November.

Remembering That the Actual Purchase is the Experience…

The gift of our olfactory sense is always present. The full enjoyment of wine or confection products paradoxically reduces to the singular, simple – yet mysteriously sophisticated – experiences of smell and taste.

Gift-giving is never made more special than when your story of gratitude for others – in aromatics and in flavor – is the vehicle of thanks.

We so appreciate your continued support of Essential Confection.



The Sweet Spot Between Risk and Reassurance

“Every purchase is a dance between risk and reassurance.” This quote from a consummate storyteller encapsulates how each of us feels when we execute the purchase of a product we plan to gift to family members, business colleague or friends. Often, we temper the excitement we feel for gifting a product or service we believe will be enjoyed by the recipient with mild apprehension that the gift will be loved and appreciated. There’s a sweet spot that bridges risk with reassurance.

Our guests must have faith in our company, our products and our service – our value statement – before taking action to support us. Trust in business is a very scarce resource, one that we honor with each guest. We want to contribute to the experiences of your lives. We prove it by doing our best work each and every time.

The Essential Espresso Brownie will replace the three varieties of Essential Caramels in our Ultimate Bundle for all future orders. The Essential Espresso Brownie has intensely flavored espresso powder and a secret underlying flavor affinity that complements our 72% Guittard chocolate. It rounds out our annual purchase very nicely. Garnished with a dusting of espresso bean-infused sugar, each glorious bite has every quality of the very best brownie: a thin floating crust and richly succulent interior.

With no loss of faith, our beloved Essential Caramels – Sugar + Cream, Salted Chocolate and Chocolate Espresso – are always available for gifting and events. Here’s how a guest described his enjoyment of Essential Caramels that he received as a gift:

“I have never tasted any form of confection as perfect as your caramels.  Awesome is all I can say. I would like to be able to order your wonderful caramels for myself and to give as gifts to others.”

The Sweet Spot Between Risk and Reassurance

If you or your recipients have enjoyed any Essential Confection product – Essential Panettone, Essential Butter Cake, Essential Caramels – and would extend us the gift of your comments about that product or experience, we would be very grateful. You may do so by simply clicking this link and signing-in with your Google account. We offer our products (risk) as statement of who we are, and ask for your considered evaluation (reassurance).

Although our antennae is up, we inevitably overlook some opportunity to serve others in small ways each day; but the real pleasure in life is discovering those moments and jumping into new experiences.

We are grateful for you and for your chosen relationship with Essential Confection.




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.




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