This past February, Think Local First held it's second StartUp Kitchen Chopping Block Competition, where Meg Murray, creator of Thunder Pig Confectionary, beat out two other area bakers to win an 8-week incubation and mentorship program with Penny Karas of Hello Cupcake in her Barracks Row location. As a part of the StartUp Kitchen incubation, Meg Murray will be operating her restaurant out of the Hello Cupcake on Barracks Row every Monday evening in April. Limited tickets are sold to give customers the opportunity to meet Meg and provide immediate feedback, helping her enhance her final concept. On April 8th I attended the first "Flying Circus" of the series, where I was treated to three rings of delicious treats.
Ring Number One: Marshmallows and Moon Pies
Knowing that everyone has their own ideas of what a marshmallow should taste like, Meg created three different marshmallow varieties. A month ago I would have preferred marshmallows that were drier in texture, but after recently ordering a variety of marshmallows online, my tastes have switched to a preference for marshmallows more moist in texture. Meg's Chocolate Swirl Marshmallows, the moistest of the bunch, was my favorite marshmallow flavor. I wanted to sandwich this flavor in between her two peanut butter cookies (described below). The Green Tea Marshmallow was the driest in texture and reminded me of room temperature mochi. The Raspberry Marshmallows were more moist than the Green Tea flavor, but not as moist as the Chocolate Swirl variety.
The Fluffernutter Moon Pie, made of salted vanilla marshmallow sandwiched between two peanut butter crunch cookies, was my favorite treat of the night. I tried to only take one or two bites of each treat, (before ultimately going back and finishing off every dessert I was able to try) leaving my feedback about the items as I tasted each creation, but I could not put the Moon Pie down. Though the Moon Pie was already wonderfully soft, I could imagine what it would be like served warm with the marshmallow oozing out from between the cookies.
Ring Number Two: Candies including Caramels, Fruit Gels, Chocolate Bark and Toffee
The Salted Caramels were a little bit tackier than I was expecting. Though they did not stick to my fingers, it was difficult to lift each piece off the serving tray. Just as Meg decided to make marshmallows in different textures, I hope she can drum up a few versions of caramels that are a little more firm at one of her future Start Up Kitchen dates.
The Raspberry Pate de Fruit was packed with flavor, but I felt like it was a little too soft on it's own and would be best paired with another treat. Since we were able to pack some of the treats to go, I packed a berry fruit gel and dipped it in chocolate at home. The chocolate added the crunchy layer I had been looking for and the fruit gel oozed out after each bite. Delicious!
The Chocolate Cashew Bark was my second favorite treat of the night. It's hard to find something wrong with a chocolate and nut combo.
I had no complaints about the Szechuan Butter Pecan Toffee, though toffee is generally not my treat of choice.
Ring Number Three: Biscotti
Guests were able to taste both Dark Chocolate Orange Biscotti and Cranberry Anise Biscotti. I've never really been a fan of dried fruit in my baked goods (i.e. i prefer oatmeal cookies without the raisins) but I I loved the Dark Chocolate Orange. The edges were crispy and the center was much softer than I was expecting (and remained that way a few days later, as I took some home).
Though I like to think you can never have too many sweets, I do believe sweets can have too much sugar. The best part about Meg's treats was that none of the treats were too sweet on their own. Even after consuming everything on the plate above (yes, I actually ate it all) I wasn't in a sugar coma. I've felt much worse after taking one bite out of a cupcake that had frosting that was way too sugary.
Thunder Pig's Flying Circus is must-attend event for anyone with a sweet tooth. What's better than enjoying some sweets while helping a local enhance her restaurant model? Tickets to the April 29th event can be purchased from http://thunderpigstartupkitchen.eventbrite.com/. Three hour long tastings are held between 6-9pm. Tickets are $18 each for Sweets Only and $25 each for Candy and Cocktail.