About six years ago I fell in love with the smells and taste of Indian cuisine and tentatively began cooking it on my own. This was my first foray into the kitchen and I enjoyed the adventure of tracking down items such as tamarind paste, kaffir lime leaves and whole cardamom pods. As word of my new hobby spread, people began giving me cook books as gifts. At the entreaty of my boyfriend (now my husband), I began to half-heartedly explore the world of desserts until the day I found a baking book with three beautiful miniature cakes on its cover, each dripping with pristine white glaze, sugared raspberries nestled on top. They looked perfect and beautiful, and looking back the appeal that I found in them makes perfect sense to anyone who knows me, as they all realized I was a *bit* of a perfectionist way before I did.
I had not realized that baking was a science and once I did I could not step away from my oven. I started poring over books about pastry theory and technique, and would look for excuses to bake. I initially started by adapting recipes until I got each recipe just so, just right. I am very particular about texture and I kept experimenting until I was satisfied, with all the iterations going into the office for someone else to eat. When I changed jobs one of my old coworkers told my husband, “tell Sarah we miss her.” Then they added, “and we really miss her cakes.”
Shortly thereafter I married my husband and we honeymooned in Hawaii. I created the toffee originally as an homage to that gorgeous state, as it is the only state that has the correct climate to grow vanilla (although it does not do so commercially); and sugar and macadamias are two of its largest exports. (Someday I will find a use for those heavenly pineapples too). The precision required for sugar work was even more intriguing than the cakes and cookies, although I love them all.
The most fun I have is creating unique products, confections with flair. I think that salt, as an ingredient, is woefully underrated and can successfully pique a flavor without seeming salty at all. I see no reason why truffles should be limited to chocolates and sandwich the ganache between cookies instead. I like bundt cakes that maintain perfect sliceability but fall apart in your mouth with a texture like velvet. My feeling is this: if one is going to indulge the experience should be so exquisite, the ingredients so good, that it eradicates later regret. It should be completely worth it. To that end all products are made from scratch, to order, with the best ingredients possible. I do not ever use corn syrup, I use no additives or preservatives; instead I have built a selection with ingredients such as sweet cream butter, real cream, honey, sea salt, whole vanilla beans, Penzey’s spices, and fresh nuts. One customer told me, “You do not realize how the cake is going to taste by looking at it. I put it in my mouth and could taste the purity of the ingredients.”
– Sarah Thieben, Sweet Nothings
50 Shades of Sweet Event
This Wednesday and Thursday (2/13, 2/14), Sweet Nothings will be presenting their second annual pop-up bakery event 50 Shades of Sweet hosted by Get Dressed! Boutique of Oakwood. Available Valentine’s Day packages include:
- For the classic Valentine: an all white layer cake frosted with a delicate strawberry meringue buttercream and white chocolate roses. $30
- For the adventurous Valentine: a Deep Chocolate Torte, nearly flourless, spiked with chocolate balsamic sauce, covered with white chocolate roses. $35
- 50 Shades Signature Almond Cream Cheese Sugar Cookie assortment (silver and grey color palette, nylon rope
- “Vanilla Valentine” Signature Almond Cream Cheese Sugar Cookie assortment (elegant pale pinks and red hearts) $18
- Platinum Brownies: half a dozen of the best brownies you’ve ever had. Seriously. Chewy, chocolatey, & topped with whipped buttercream and pink sea salt.
- 1lb gift box Milk Chocolate Macadamia Toffee. Our best seller dressed in its Valentine’s best. $21
- Initiation Sampler pack: Two ounces each of all 9 flavors of Sea Salt Toffees, packaged in a gift box bound with a knotted enclosure. What you do with the rope is up to you. $30
- Limited Edition Couples’ Pack: Two of Sweet Nothings signature Platinum Brownies with 2 medium and 2 miniature sugar cookies. $17