Not Just Desserts
A new crowd of California cake and candy makers are giving sweets a cutting edge spin
By Jen Wang
As humble-looking cupcakes with second-grade sprinkles and asymmetrical icing fit for a bake sale sweep other parts of the country, a different, more high-style movement has been stirring in California’s pastry kitchens. With a focus on refined ingredients and sleek, grown-up presentation worthy of an art gallery, a new wave of patisseries and confectioneries around the state take baked goods to an unprecedentedly chic, not to mention delicious, level.
Part of what sets these pastry-world artistes apart is that, far from grandma’s recipe box, they find inspiration in the most unlikely (and modern) sources. Take, for example, Valerie Gordon and Stan Weightman, Jr. of Valerie Confections—just the kind of couple you want to be seated next to at a dinner party. A conversation with the attractive, well-read pair ranges freely from Coco Chanel to Malcolm Gladwell, with some serious talk about the socio-economics of chocolate thrown in for good measure. That they also make exquisite toffee—miraculously crunchy and light at the same time—just happens to be icing on the cake.