I’m smitten: my sweets of choice for Valentine’s Day.
It wouldn’t be overstating it to say that we revere our sweets, our appetites for them, unappeasable. I’m talking about Kirt Uy de Baron, my co-conspirator in consuming confections, and dare I say, my dessert partner in crime. When she’s around, I needn’t worry about ordering “too many” desserts because she’ll gladly take them on with me.
If Kirt’s last name looks familiar, it’s because she’s the wife of Him Uy de Baron, the supremely talented chef-owner of Nomama. I’ve known Him for almost ten years, and while I’ve known Kirt for only three, our common denominator is dessert – and an enchantment with red lipstick.
Though she has the unique experience of being married to a well-known chef, Kirt holds her own in the kitchen. She’s the designated home cook – “three square meals plus snacks,” she says. “[But] don’t get me wrong, Him cooks for me and the kids on special occasions and he never disappoints, goes all out.”
While I’ve not tasted Kirt’s cooking, I and many others revel in her baked goods. Her home baking business is called Smitten Sweets “because hopefully, it’s what my baked goods invoke in every bite,” muses Kirt, “a feeling of being absolutely taken and enamored, filled with ‘happy happy joy joy’ feelings.” It’s a truly apt name for the sugar-minded; and her star products are named after the stars in her life, her two daughters, Nala and Suki.
The Suki is a synergy of salty and sweet, a cookie that Kirt recalls was sparked by something she saw me do at a baking demo – an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie garnished with pink Himalayan sea salt. But in the Suki, Kirt’s upped the desire factor: “…stuffing Nutella between two chocolate chip cookie dough patties, topping with local sea salt, and baking to a chewy consistency, because that’s how I enjoy cookies the most.”
Though its description implies it’s a sandwich cookie of sorts, the Suki is a single large, thick disc. Hefty in hand and dependent on how you hold it, coarse salt grains are visible on the surface, a treasure map to nibbles of pleasure. The cookie is almost too dense, teetering into doughy but then: a breath of butter and brown sugar, a crunch of salt chased by chocolate chips, and then a notion of Nutella. I want more Nutella, but then again, too much is never enough for me.
As for the Nala, this is the one I’m taken by. Defying definition, it’s a dessert of dynamic disparity. Look at it. Is it a fallen cupcake? a brownie? Maybe both. It’s a product of Kirt tweaking her favorite brownie recipe, “and since I love, love, love cupcakes, I decided to bake them in that form.”
The Nala clings to the paper liner; I can almost hear it protesting as it’s peeled away. The sweet’s soft stickiness contrasts with its crust, cracked as if something was dropped on it, an appealing part of its charm; moistness glistens from within. A darkly intense chocolate hit that finishes with a note of smoke, it’s a fine representative of the Malagos (Davao) tablea that goes into it. The beautiful thing about the Nala, I discover, is that it does double duty, as dessert and edible receptacle for everything from ice cream to chopped up peanut butter cups. To-the-extreme decadent perhaps, but what can I say?
Smitten Sweets by Kirt Uy de Baron
Suki, P70 each; Nala, P60 each. Available in boxes of 6.
Please allow 3 days notice.
0917 826 6254
On Facebook: smitten-sweets.