I am so tired from all the preparations for my trip to New York to decorate cakes with Kelly Ripa and the Cake Boss (not to mention my job, my family and the occasional bit of exercise) that I'm not going to write much today. But I wanted to show you these photos from Just a Bite Desserts, a new baking company on Long Island started by partners Paula Rosenthal and Janis Lieberman. I've known Paula since kindergarten, and it just occurred to me that a few days back I wrote about Craig, another hometown friend who's fixated on cake - isn't that funny? Is there something about Long Island and cake?
Anyway, Just a Bite's philosophy of dessert is very close to mine: Taste is as important as appearance; small bites are better than big hunks of cake; abundance is better than scarcity. I really love the way they decorate their desserts - not over the top, not frilly, just pretty and colorful and festive. I asked them a few questions about their new business.
So why cake - and why now?
Just a Bite: Our premise is to make delicious-tasting desserts and treats that can be eaten in one or two bites. Nowadays, everyone is rushed for time and generally health- and fitness-conscious, but people still like their desserts. In small sizes, just a bite, they can have their cake and eat it too without sacrificing taste and with no time to waste! :)
What's your approach to cake - is it more about how it looks or how it tastes?
Just a Bite: Our desserts are all about looks AND taste. We recently did some field research and discovered that a lot of local, homemade-style bakers are offering cute items in food stores that make you want to buy them because of their looks, but once you taste them you'll never buy again! It was a very eye-opening and fattening experience!
Just a Bite: Our challenge right now is to find a commercial kitchen space within close proximity to where we live. We live in suburbia and traffic is horrendous. In order to properly balance our families and our professional lives, we need to stay local, so we're spreading the word. If anyone has a kitchen they'd like to rent out part-time, feel free to contact us!
Is your family sick of cake yet?
Just a Bite: Are you kidding? Food is bliss in our houses! Our families consist of foodies only too willing to taste test all of our desserts. And they're not afraid of telling us what they think! We've gotten quite a few interesting comments. It's a good thing they're family! :) Our kids gather their friends and have them taste test too. Thus, we are covering all ages and getting great feedback.
What do you do with all the "experiments" as you're testing recipes?
Just a Bite (Paula): I've made several parties in the past few months that had a tremendously bountiful dessert tables. At the end, I gave everyone tin trays and Ziploc bags so that they would take things home. I'm also known for bringing desserts to my kindergartner's sports class. They're intended for the kids to eat but I've gotten emails and phone calls from the mothers telling me how much they loved whatever it was I brought in that day. It's nice to know we are baking things that are appealing to all demographics!
What's your personal favorite?
Just a Bite (Paula): My personal favorite are Janis's secret recipe Caramel Chocolate Brownies. They are loaded with caramel, chocolate chips and walnuts and are sinfully sensational! She makes them in bite-sized squares, but one is never enough.
Erika here again. Okay, I'm only a teeny bit jealous that Paula and Janis get to spend all day baking delicious treats like the ones pictured above. Maybe more than a teeny bit. I'm so happy for them - hard work ahead, for sure, but doesn't it sound like fun? Visit the Just a Bite Desserts blog to keep up to date on their business as they launch it and make it grow, and for lots more delicious pictures. Thanks Paula and Janis!