Their business name is something that I want to call myself, it sounds so technical it’s cool. Michelle Ong and Elena Chew are the Desserts Specialists (DS), the name of their tandem and what they call their year-old baking business. They also have a bakery café which opened just this past July.
Macadamia Sans Rival is a dessert that’s often talked about in foodie circles in hushed tones and wide-eyed glee but DS’s version is the first one I’ve come across. It shimmers in the afternoon light shining through my kitchen window, perfectly straight layers of meringue ensconcing buttercream the color of ivory. As sans rivals go, this one is singular in its ability to stay crisp even when refrigerated. The fact that this is made with macadamias, the most expensive of nuts, makes this confection all the more precious. The nut, while seemingly scarce on top, are scattered throughout the sans rival, its buttery notes running through the reams of buttercream, notes of smoke evidence that they were slightly toasted before being incorporated. A thoughtful touch.
My dad, whom I talk about occasionally on this blog, doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth. He eats anything I’ll place before him but he’ll only pick. However, there are three desserts he can’t say no to: bread pudding, pineapple upside down cake, and cream puffs. I’m not a fan of these cream-filled choux pastries – often possessing the consistency of old sneakers – but one bite of DS’s Cream Puffs (cover photo and above, P60 each) and I send the other one immediately to my dad. A pastry – crisp and light – cradles tufts of crème Chantilly – I bite and feel the whoosh! and ooze of creaminess. The cream puff’s caramel topper is delightful, sugar cooked to just the right temperature so it emits a crackle before being subdued by the puff and cream. This cream puff is definitely a version to climb over walls for, or at the very least, a drive to DS’s Quezon City-based bakery café. As my dad texts shortly after I send him this sweet: “Delicious! I ate the whole thing!”
Michelle and Elena, schooled at CCA Manila and ISCAHM respectively, did the bazaar circuit before finding a spot for their bakery café. “We did well at the bazaars but people were asking for a store front so we decided to look for a space,” Michelle recounts. “Our shop is very small but we’ve made it look modern and fun, yet very intimate. It seats about 12 persons.”
DS’s Banana Loaf (not pictured; P300/whole) is dark and moist, pocked with nuts and perfect for slathering with a spread of choice or eating out of hand. It makes an excellent French toast too. Their Tiramisu (P90/piece) is as neatly constructed as the Macadamia Sans Rival but it smacks too sharply of coffee.
The baking pair offers desserts that they loved eating when they were growing up and the Chocolate Cupcake (P45) fits the bill. A cake with straightforward chocolate flavor tempts the eye with its perfectly piped rose of chocolate frosting. It gleams wickedly, the old fashioned type that sticks to teeth and lingers on taste buds. Just the thing to kill a chocolate craving but I wish there was just a little more – okay, a lot more frosting.
I’m told that Michelle and Elena have recently started to sell whole cakes for the holidays, including Blueberry Cheesecake and Mango Cake as well as Food for the Gods and Revel Bars. Now, I typically turn my nose up at the latter – I consider it a juvenile sweet, one that anybody can make. Yes, I’m quite prejudiced against it and really, once I’ve tasted one, I’ve tasted them all. Apparently, I’m wrong. DS’s Revel Bars are thick and big, and there’s something about the chocolate glistening within the crumb-packed crevices that I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s sticky, it’s sweet, and oh, so irresistible.
Desserts Specialists by Michelle Ong & Elena Chew
3 Scout Gandia corner Scout Reyes, Quezon City
For order and inquiries: 0915 205 8939 / 0917 979 5979
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/dessertsspecialists