Elaine “Len” Lo is a frequent visitor to this site and she’s attended almost all my events: tea party, cookbook swap, and baking demo . Truly, she exhibits the kind of loyalty that every food blogger wishes his/her readers to have.
It’s no surprise then that, like several readers of this blog, Len is a dessert lover who’s also quite the master in the pastry kitchen. I once caught sight of her in SantÃ¯s fervently rummaging through the chiller “…looking for some raspberries.” I bump into Len more often online, however, where I occasionally read about her dessert adventures on her aptly-titled blog, JustDesserts. Judging from what comes out of her kitchen, this is one ambitious, innovative baker whose desserts I drool for in front of my monitor.
So imagine my pleasure when I finally get to sample some of Len’s desserts from her business, Cosmo Bread. She calls it that because she wanted ”… a simple name, easy to say and remember, and that would go well with bread.” While she professes to a love for cake-making, her real passion is for bread. Her ensaymada (P250/8pcs; 1 box), the only yeast-raised product in her package to me, is doughy and slightly sweet ”“ the type that’s more appropriately paired to eating alone rather than paired with ham ”“ I find its texture is too dense for it.
Len’s cakes demonstrate her skill at baking, something she’s been doing since she was 11. Her vanilla cake (P400/7″; P550/large 9″) flaunts these swirls in its whipped cream frosting deftly decorated with a cake comb. Little rosettes of cream and a coating of custard crown this chiffon cake with a crumb that’s springy and light. This is a cake that lives up to its name with rippling overtones of vanilla echoing in its custard filling.
I’m pleased whenever I come across a dessert that incorporates mangoes, of which the Philippines has the best. Len’s fresh mango cake (P400/medium 7″; P550/large) is another chiffon cake, this time encasing a filling of buttercream and chopped mangoes. Ethereal in its lightness and dusted all over with a coating of crushed graham crackers, it makes my Bin utter, “Ok ”˜to sa akin!” (“I like this!”)
“Downy” is the word I would use to describe Cosmo Bread’s chocolate pound loaf(P250). It’s not as dense as other pound cakes, which were originally called so because of the pound needed for each of its ingredients (eggs, butter, sugar, flour). While the word “downy” is now associated with a brand of fabric softener, I use it to mean a soft crumb with, as Len puts it, “…the velvety mouthfeel of a smooth chocolate bar.” Truly. What makes it even more special is that this pound cake has a fudgy middle, like a ripple of chocolate coursing through it. It’s super with the chocolate chai that I make for myself to accompany a slice of this loaf.
From one chocolate cake to another, it’s the decadence cake (P400/medium 7″; P550/large) that makes me sit up straight. Admittedly, I’m a little wary whenever I see the word “decadence” or “decadent” attached to a dessert’s name. It’s a word that I feel is overused when it comes to anything sweet, and in Manila, decadence and its derivations always refer to a chocolate cake with caramel sauce that is either sublime or just this side of inedible. But this signature cake of Cosmo Bread rightfully deserves its designation of decadence. A black glaze enrobing a cake with an equally black heart of darkness, it’s endowed with a caramel sauce possessing a topnote of butter. Unlike the two other cakes I’ve described, this cake is dense, with some bite. Chilled, it has a texture similar to thick pudding. I find myself riveted to this cake.
Len also makes brownies in three variations: cashew toffee, with ginger bits and the classic fudge (P220/12 bars). Hers are more cakey than I’d like my brownies to be, but I like the newness of the ginger brownie, its heat mixing well with the chocolate.
See website for details.
For all posts I’ve written about Len Lo, see here.