by Megan G. Razzetti
Local bakers and business owners shared their sweets and pastry products during the Los Angeles Cookie Con and Sweets Show on Feb 6.
In its second year, L.A Cookie Con moved from the Pasadena Convention Center to the Los Angeles Convention Center to better accommodate the sold out event more effectively.
Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” winner, Cream by Crystal, offered samples of its original recipes that transformed the concept of a cupcake entirely.
Crystal’s “Spicy Sophia” cupcake combined savory and sweet. Layering a chocolate- mayonnaise cake with an ancho chili and cayenne pepper dark chocolate cheesecake made for an unforgettable decadent treat. The cupcake was topped with a fluffy chili infused buttercream that tied all the flavors together with each bite. The spice was not overpowering and complimented the chocolate really well.
For those who are not so much into spicy food, the “Roman Red Velvet” cupcake still incorporates a classic cheesecake taste over a semi-sweet chocolate base topped with red velvet crumbles. It also provides the proper moisture a cake should have but is hard to find in most cupcakes.
Sherman Oaks bakeshop Creme Caramel LA offered samples of its freshly made custards. Their traditional vanilla custard topped with a caramel sauce, holds a rich flavor. Although it is made with quite a few eggs in each batch, there is no eggy texture or taste like one would find in a flan. The creaminess of the custard and caramel sauce works to satisfy even the biggest of sweet tooths.
Other flavors include a softly savory Ube, or purple yam custard that is topped with a crunchy graham cracker crumble. The lavender colored custard may seem odd at first, but it’s flavor is perfect for those who do not like overly sweet confections. The crumble also adds a great texture with each bite, as if you were eating a cream pie.
Creme Caramel LA also specializes in vegan custard options, which incorporate almond butter, coconut milk bases and maple syrup to ensure flavors stand out. Vegan options also incorporate chia seeds, which produce a gelatinous texture and create more body in the custards.
Along with the baked goods, local homemade ice cream vendor Quenelle came to the convention with authentic flavors. Their blueberry pie ice cream was a true example of excellent craftsmanship. At first bite, the vanilla ice cream blended with real blueberries is a refreshing take on a flavor like this. As more bites go on, more surprises are revealed, such as bites of crunchy pie crust and upon looking closely, real vanilla bean is used in the ice cream.
Another flavor featured was a dirty chai, a mix of spiced chai tea and an espresso shot.
The lightness of the flavors resembled a cup of dirty chai tea put into a freezer.It tasted true to its name and it was not disappointing. The extra care and dedication used to produce such great flavors is a great indicator that the people behind Quenelle are passionate about their work, which is hard to find sometimes.
Despite the convention being solely about cookies and sweets, there were some savory food vendors. Proper’s Pickles, a family operated Long Beach pickle company, gave tastes of their goods to those who needed a break from the sweets. Their pickled green beans were fresh even though they were in a jar and pickled, they maintained their crunch as if they were just pickled that very same day. Prosper’s Pickles uses ingredients such as vinegar, water, salt and dill, staying away completely from using artificial ingredients that include chemicals people cannot pronounce.
Also, companies that were featured at the convention, promoted non- traditional baking ingredients such as almond flour, gluten-free treats and even sugar replacements for diabetics who still love their sweets.
The convention, like the year before, was sold out and therefore the convention hall was packed and the aisles were congested with people. Seeing each vendor was difficult, however, a VIP wristband,made the convention even more worth it. The pass granted access to two special areas that offered a better chance to try things without the crowds of people. There were also special vendors in each area that were not offering samples in the general admission area. Those who are really into these conventions,don’t want to miss out on them.