Saturday, October 1, 2011

Critique: Sensational Delights, Clayton, NC

When I meet with home based bakers, I normally suggest meeting at a local Starbucks so that all parties are comfortable, plus I can hardly pass up a good latte.  The consultation with Sensational Delights, based out of Clayton, NC, however, was held in the home of Kenya Jordan, one of the three operators of the business.  Started in 2009, Sensational Delights has become a business with numerous fans that cannot turn down a mouthful of their delicious cake bites.
I was greeted at the door by all three women:  Desiree Kimbrough, Kenya Jordan, and Chenelle McInnis.  They led me to an impressive, extremely long dining room table, set with one long row of white plates, each with one cake bite placed delicately in the middle.  It was a beautiful set-up and I was eager to learn more about this trio.
When I asked why they had decided to start this home-based bakery, Jordan laughed.  While on the phone with McInnis they discussed baking and combining skill sets to start the business.  Not long after that, they got the word-of-mouth out, and preheated Jordan’s oven.  They started out by making chocolate truffles, layer cakes and pound cakes, which they called “small treasures.”  Kimbrough, who was not originally interested in baking, wanted to handle the marketing side of the business, but soon found herself being reeled in the kitchen by her cake-making partners.  She said, with a laugh, that she is not just an “egg cracker” any longer—she is now in the kitchen, too.
McInnis hosted a party at her home and served cake balls, an idea which she had seen online.  The idea was an incredible hit—and flourished from that point on.
These three ladies are innovative and constantly testing new cake ideas in Jordan’s large kitchen, where most of the baking takes place.  They also took decorating classes together, which was quite the learning experience, especially for Kimbrough, who did have baking experience.
These three ladies were very entertaining to me and I could have chatted with them for a few hours with no problem, however, there was cake to eat, and my mouth was watering. 
They had 9 flavors for me to try --on the house--and each being about 2 bites worth of cake.  The first two flavors were sugar-free and I was a bit hesitant to try them.  Sugar-free normally means that there will be a bitter aftertaste, but not with the Sensational Delights sugar-free cake bites.
Shockingly, the sugar-free carrot and lemon cake balls were absolutely delicious, and had they not told me that there was no sugar in them, I’m not sure I would have known any different.  I took a bite of the carrot cake ball first.  It was very moist—and they omitted the raisins and carrots to reduce the natural sugar in the dessert.  Very nice.
The sugar-free lemon cake ball was also very moist.  There was lemon curd mixed into the ball and it was highly enjoyable.  I could have stopped here and eaten a half dozen of these balls.  In my opinion, they qualify as a “best seller.”
Other flavors I tried included the Hershey Cocoa Chocolate Ball, Amaretto, Lemon Cake, Banana Pudding, Cherry Red Velvet, Red Velvet, and Carrot Cake.
It’s really hard to pick a favorite from the regular menu—so I will discuss two of them.  The lemon cake is to die for…but I’m a lemon cake lover, so I have to skip over that one.  The Banana Pudding cake ball was not only beautiful, but also delicious.  It was made with crushed bananas, vanilla wafer, covered in white chocolate and topped with a banana chip.  The texture is perfect—not soggy like banana pudding in the real form is, but bitable.  They have that down-home flavor that so many people are drawn to, and I would think these cake balls would go over well at any event—from wedding receptions to family reunions.
The Cherry Red Velvet cake ball was interesting to me.  The flavors were very cherry indeed, but the textures and the appearance of this cake ball were very adult-centered.  It reminded me of the chocolate covered cherries served in boxes for Valentine’s Day.  I could easily see these cake balls at a wedding reception as they are lush, red, and almost lustful.  A perfect serving box for the Cherry Red Velvet cake balls is what else?  A Valentine heart box.
All of the cake balls were delicious, each with their own unique qualities.  As The Cake Critic, I highly recommend the sugar-free cake balls for obvious reasons:  great taste and no sugar.  However, I guarantee that you will not be able to stop eating any of these cake balls if placed before you…especially if you are like me.  The Cake Critic approves of Sensational Delights.

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