I was recently invited to be a guest chef at a local gathering, and wound up cooking blinchikis (pancakes folded over raspberry jam and chocolate and then covered with berries and whipped cream), on a Swedish-invented, British-made, gas-fired AGA stove…the likes of which I hadn’t seen in over 60 years.
Our first exposure to such desserts followed from a class in Berlin in 2005 at a college where I was employed, though mercifully for the students, not as chef. During our 2-week entrepreneurship program at the college, a student from Romania, Adina Scortescu, chose as her fictitious business start-up, a bakery for diabetics in Bucharest. Her Powerpoint presentation had good market information, investment needs and pro forma operating statements. Then she won, uncontested, the top award in the course by appealing to all of our (judges) senses by presenting cakes, cookies and pies, all delicious and all suitable for diabetics.
Adina spent some weeks with us in Old Lyme in 2009 and developed our first healthy blinchikis. The pancakes were thin, made from whole wheat flour, filled with ricotta cheese (sweetened without sugar) and blueberries, and topped with an orange sauce, a fine dessert for the health-conscious. The problem was the dessert became soggy within hours after production. We had similar problems with other desserts such as yablochanka (apple-filled pancakes) and palatschinken (an Austrian variant of the blinchikis), all very good when fresh.
At Healthy Addiction, we hoped we could offer as a substitute, a nutty, vegan, gluten-free carrot cake with a suitably long shelf life. First we made it in a small loaf; after the first slice, and before the next customer arrived, it dried out. We tried a whole cake kept in the freezer, but that also failed. Finally, our creative partner, Gourmet Galley, came up with the cupcake idea. The sour cream and maple icing keeps the top moist; the wrapper keeps the rest of the cupcake fresh on the bottom and sides, and it goes down in two bites ….. before any of it can dry out. Such small changes, but the process took months.
Meanwhile, Adina used the money that had been saved up by her parents to enable her to buy an apartment in Bucharest, to instead spend a year studying in the pastry college at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris; today she is editor of the most prestigious food magazine in Romania.
Be well !