Tag Archives: caramel

Tasting Restraint

Inside artistry there is craftmanship, inside the end, a beginning.

I enjoy the kind of happy ending where occasional personal restraint pays off in some unexpected and beneficial way. In the extreme, I think restraint is called denial. I’m not a proponent of denial.

In fact,  there are some categories of purchases that are exempt from restraint in my book. Shoes. I love a great pair of shoes. Like my courageous purchase of those little red patent Stuart Weitzman flats. Strangers (men, mostly) continue to compliment me on them. Make no mistake, these are not the Ruby Slippers, although in wearing them I know how [G]Linda, the Good Witch, must have felt in dreamily waving that magic wand. I call them my Ferrari’s. Capiche?

Restraint seemed prudent a year ago at a Retail Confectioners International (RCI) conference on what I would call a capital purchase for Essential Confection, my new confection business.

Nine hundred dollars is enough money to get my attention. A piece of equipment that would literally cut my caramel production time by fifty percent called my name.  The roller-cutter.  A pseudo-rolling pin with large wheels of customized size designed to cut pastry. Rollers… the highway to heaven.

Nine hundred dollars was a tough pill to swallow for a new business-hopeful and yet, I saw the payback in increased efficiency and standardization of product.  I didn’t act.  Restraint.

Fast forward to today. I have the great good fortune to have the input of the world’s top pastry chefs (largely through my willingness to purchase their books) and in perusing Thomas Keller’s Bouchon there was answered prayer. The bicycle.


A bicycle is this adolescent version of its $900 big sister.  At one-tenth the price. Each of the five wheels can be adjusted to a cutting width of between a half-inch and five inches. Designed to cut pastry, I wrung my hands in the hope that it would be substantial enough to cut caramels, took a deep breath and immediately ordered one.

This is the happy ending part. Or, perhaps, I should call it a happy beginning because, yes, it’s officially a caramel cutter. A really well engineered piece of equipment. Gliding strokes resulting in gloriously plumb pieces, made no less handmade or succulent in their uniformity.

Beauty on the eye, delight on the tongue.

The [Re] Coronation of the Turtle

Chocolate, caramel, pecans.

The memory of my first chocolate Turtle lingers long.  I was a teenager in an era where neighborhood confectioners were common.  Ice cream parlors of this ilk were confectionery companies, as well.  Often family-owned, multi-generational businesses of quality and longevity.  Marble floors, mirrored walls, two-seat wrought-iron chairs and tables.  To this day, I have the memory of walking past the glass case and spotting those soft, deceivingly nondescript beauties, and can remember clearly the sensuous feel of the candy in my mouth.

Now, the Turtle has high order on the Essential Confection table of re-creation. Essential Confection models and honors great confectioners of the past.

As a new confectionery business owner, I’m attempting to understand the universe into which I’m stepping.  In so doing, I feel a little like the person who stroked the elephant while blind-folded.  Arms outstretched, flailing in the dark, trying to determine what’s in front of me and what it is I’m feeling.  The exercise causes me to recognize 1. how little I know and; 2. that feeling one part of the animal cannot a determination make.

Yet, steps must be taken.  Skills must be refined and perfected.  Courage to tackle the perils must be mustered.

IMG_5989Wearing the hat of the technician, the hat that likely got me headed toward the confectionery business abyss in the first place, I refine recipes until I have products I can confidently present to the world.  The Essential Confection sugar & cream Caramel, the EC salted chocolate, anise, orange, chocolate espresso and cinnamon caramels. Creamy, dreamy and voluptuous. Done.

My desire to inaugurate recipes of the past with a contemporary crown is a core theme of the business.  Helping people restore the memories of that which they loved, and reintegrating those memories into this moment.  The Turtle Trio, chocolate, caramel and pecans, still wins.

Through much experimentation, I’ve discovered techniques to enhance the depth of flavor and texture of each component.  A little chocolate tempering guidance from my Oregon Culinary Institute (OCI) pastry instructor, and confidence in my product is percolating.

What memory do you have that’s tied to a confection of your youth?  Were there chocolate or fruit or citrus candy recipes in your family or neighborhood confectioner, the memory of which still seeds your awareness?  Was the confection attached to holiday celebration? What was most memorable?

Quality.  Simplicity.  Intensity of flavor.  Today’s Essential Cinnamon Turtle can again be restored to its rightful place of sovereignty.