Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tastefully Done

HazelAnn is a formidable new catering service based in Chicago, IL, with the promise not to be ignored by competitors in the region. The UE paid a visit to his cohort, L.A.C., this weekend for a chance to sample the exquisitries she planned to offer guests at her baked goods tasting party – a sort of debutant ball of sorts in the food world. Little did I know (and much to my delight) I would become a foot soldier in the HazelAnn army for the day, and learn wonderful lessons on baking techniques and enjoy creating sweet treats.

To be clear, baking is not my forte. I have tried and failed. Miserably. My culinary capabilities are dictated primarily by the range of my palette, and since the only few baked desserts I actually like are cookies and tiramisu, I haven’t really taken a deep dive exploring baking. This weekend, I tried my hand at icing, brownies and helped construct truffles. Baking, I found, is an activity which is generally easy to do, but to be amazing takes great understanding of complex principles involving chemistry, taste and temperatures, just to name a few. For example, Madam L.A.C. was interested in enhancing the pomegranate flavor in the Bavarians she was making, and thanks to input from another foodie, was able to isolate the taste by pairing it with a small addition of essence of orange, which bonded with the pomegranate flavor to tingle the tongue.

To get a sense of the spread, see the menu below (with links to the more obscure so you can pick them out from above):

Pomegranate Bavarian
Orange Blondies with An Orange Cream Cheese Butter Cream
Chocolate Orange Brownies with a
Limoncello Butter Cream
Rum Cake
Milk Chocolate and Dark Chocolate Fruit Cups Topped with either a White Chocolate or Milk Chocolate Brandy Mousse
Dark Chocolate Grand Marnier and Milk Chocolate Rum Truffles
Lemon Sponge Squares
Limoncello Cheesecake Topped With Emaciated Mixed Berries
Rosewater Cake with Emaciated Strawberries and a Rose Water Cream Cheese Butter Cream
Contemporary Petit Fours

In review, the event was a smash. Not only was it well attended by a diversity of people (from the

pseudo-artsy hipster in all black to the Dip Set-esque urbans), but everyone seemed genuinely satisfied by the foods they had, implying a cross-boundary appeal to the HazelAnn experience. My personal favorite was the chocolate fruit cups, which were delicious in their simplicity. The brandy mousse over the cup was phenomenal, especially with the underlying tangy berry mix. Second, the rum cake was among the few of which I have tasted which have been both rich in flavor and strong in liquor content (“hot” in wine-ism). Well done. The rosewater cake is a delight to which I am innately biased. I was the original guinea pig for this main event, show stopping pastry treat in the summer of 2007, during a visit by the L.A.C to my humble kitchen. At the risk of sounding coarse, you must understand that there are several in the NYC community who remember L.A.C. singularly due to her artisan presentation of this creamy, smooth textured and artistic treat.

Cooking is a skill
possessed by many, but mastered by only a select few. If you are in need of a simple dessert to pair with your bucket from KFC, Little Debbie and Mrs. Fields both have several options to choose. However, if you’re looking for a unique, memorable and satisfying treat, or know someone hosting an event in need of catering, desserts, or culinary consulting, email HazelAnn Delights, hazelann37@gmail.com.

-The UE

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