Whenever I interview café owners, they always tell me how large the market is for sugar free desserts. And me, the sugar-full fiend, can’t help but agree. I’d be blind not to see how sugar free everything has pervaded supermarket shelves and restaurant menus; even my favorite home bakers have a sugar free item or three on offer. So, whether it’s for health or medical reasons, it looks like sugar free is here to stay. Thank goodness then for sugarnot!, the world’s first sugar free bakery-café, which is right here in the Philippines. Hooray for us!
While I will admit that I haven’t eaten any of sugarnot!’s desserts since my last feature on them, I’ve gone back more than a few times for their latte. I waxed lyrical about it in that post and I still maintain that it’s the smoothest latte in Manila with a lush, velvety undertone. I love it.
So when I’m invited back to sugarnot! by CEO Wolf Lambsdorff, I just about fall off my chair when he says, “Lori, you love our lattes here, right? Care for a cup?” It’s a rhetorical question, if I ever heard one.
I’m back here to sample sugarnot!’s newest dessert line, a fancy foursome destined to send any dessert lover’s heart aflutter. Defiant sugar lover that I am, even I can feel my knees getting weak at the sight of these beauties.
First is the Ultimate Temptation (P158), an upgrade of the Last Temptation (P128), sugarnot!’s signature chocolate ganache cake encasing a truffle filling. While I chuckle at the idea of “upgrading” any temptation, Wolf explains “… we added caramel to make it more moist and creamy as well as a few other ingredients.” So, if the Last Temptation beguiles, its “Ultimate” sister beckons and bewitches with her bombshell combination of chocolate frosting, Belgian chocolate, low fat whipped cream and caramel, all encompassing a middle layer of truffle ganache. “Umph, sugar free but not calorie free,” I groan as I succumb to this temptation. Even with my eyes wide open, there’s no way that I’ll believe that this diminutive little thing is sans sugar. The flavor is substantial and expansive, every tender bite echoing chocolate and more chocolate.
Sitting on a soft chocolate cookie crust is the triple chocolate mousse (price unavailable). A study in contrasts and a fascination of three types of chocolate gradations, I’m ashamed to admit that I almost turn away. You see, I’m no fan of mousse ”“ in whatever flavor or form. I eschew it in cakes and I almost always scrape it off. I even despise chocolate mousse, usually served in elegant goblets. But as food critic Jeffrey Steingarten said, “The goal of the arts, culinary or otherwise, is not to increase our comfort. That is the goal of an easy chair.” So I wrench myself out of my imaginary La-Z-Boy and shove a forkful of the triple chocolate mousse into my mouth.
It’s an epiphany. Like a fool who finally sees the light, my taste buds open to the pleasing combination of elements in a whole: white, milk, dark ”“ all chocolate, with a lilting texture and just the slightest hint of gelatin. While I won’t run ”˜round proclaiming the triple chocolate mousse is my favorite, it’s perfect for people like me who view mousse with trepidation.
From one mousse to another, if I’m going to face my food fears, then let me face them head on. The cookie crumble cake (P148) is a squat little thing, unmistakable with its chocolate cookie garnish. There’s something comfortingly familiar about desserts made from chocolate sandwich cookies, perhaps because it’s assuring to know that I’ll come across one flavor I already recognize. Here, the crushed cookies are entangled in white chocolate mousse, glints of brown in a web of white. The white chocolate shines through, milky and rich, none of that pasty substance best left for putting up election posters.
Wolf is a German who’s lived in the Philippines for so long that he already considers himself a “Filipino at heart.” “Oh, like an honorary Filipino,” I tease. But I hear him talking to the sugarnot! staff, and soon, I’m left wondering who between the two of us is the rightful Pinoy. The guy speaks even better Tagalog than I do!
Wolf tells me that a jar of Smuckers orange jam, sugar free of course, was the inspiration for the last dessert, the orange cream cake (P108). “It’s a simple sponge cake with cream fortified with the orange jam. It [Smuckers] jelled really nicely with the cake and cream.” I’m no orange jam fan but once again, I wrest myself off my culinary laurels and open wide. Like the lightest cake with an almost gossamer texture, the cake is a testament to the orange. Zests of the citrus fruit playfully dot the cake’s surface, further pointing up the orange flavor. The icing, which is simple whipped cream, is a foil to the dessert’s zestiness.
THIS RESTAURANT IS NOW CLOSED.
Thanks to sugarnot!’s Wolf Lambsdorff and Blooey Singson of Press Inc.