Sunday, May 17, 2015

Pop Up Shop: Dragonfly Cakes

Dragonfly Cakes - Pop Up Shop on May 7, 2015
So….I’m a sucker for supporting local, small foodie businesses. I’ll twist myself into pretzel contortions trying to decide if I should pay $14 for a cookbook but not think twice about forking over $5 for a croissant made with European butter at a local bakery. I implement the 24-hour rule and do mental gymnastics over a blouse that’s been marked down and is another 40% off and I have a $10 reward certificate to defray the cost even further but apparently I’ll shell out $32 for a box of petit fours without much thought or restraint if it meant supporting a local small business. I’m not even a particularly big fan of petit fours, mind you.

But Dragonfly Cakes came to our pop up shop in the days leading up to Mother’s Day so my Pavlovian response was to hotfoot it over, wallet in hand and make small talk with the very nice vendor lady who proffered me samples of their wares, told me about their business in Sausalito and how they did mostly a mail order business and talked about the different flavors they offered: chocolate, coffee, apricot, lemon and vanilla. Not two minutes had passed before I was opening up my wallet and leaving with a box of lemon and vanilla petit fours.
Petits fours are basically small layer cakes covered typically in fondant icing and nicely decorated. They usually come in a variety of flavors, colors and decorations. Because of their typical box square shape, they can easily be made to look like little presents. We made them in culinary school and you basically bake thin oblong cake layers, frost each layer, stack the layers, cut into perfectly even squares then glaze them evenly and perfectly all at once by having the squares very close together on a wire rack and pouring the glaze over all of the square pieces. If you do it right, the glaze covers them neatly, evenly and completely; when it hardens, you have perfect petit fours ready for decorating.
I’ll be honest – one of the reasons I’m not fond of petit fours is because perfect and even would not describe my efforts when I made them. It takes some skill to cut each piece the same shape and size and even more skill to glaze them evenly. On top of that, decorating skills including precision piping and fondant work serve a petit four maker well. I possess none of these skills. Seriously, none. Wait, I can bake a cake and I can fill them between layers. Then my skills hit the glass ceiling.

Fortunately I don’t work at Dragonfly Cakes and they don’t have that problem. Their petit fours are beautiful. I tried a sample of the coffee petit fours and the lemon one. I didn’t need to try both but I had started with the coffee and as I was perusing the display at the pop up shop, was considering the box of lemon and vanilla petit fours to buy. So then I had to taste the lemon, right? I didn’t want to be a total pig and have two samples but the Dragonfly lady assured me she had plenty of samples and that I should help myself. Okay then. I mean, I wanted to be polite, right?

Both samples were good and if I was a petit fours gourmand, I would probably have appreciated them more. As it was, I thought they were nice little cakes, not too sweet. And they were pretty. Petit fours must be pretty because if you’re going to go to all that trouble to make and decorate them, they need to look cute. I bought a box, more to support the business, than because I wanted a dozen petit fours. Fortunately, I could share them with friends and my mom for Mother’s Day. Go small biz.

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