Excitement in food world seems driven by the perpetual pursuit of the new. A hot opening. Emerging trends. Yet, so much about food is tied to the past. Case in point, a hot new restaurant writes on their menu how it was inspired by the feeling of, “…cracking crabs on Redondo Beach Pier as a youth.” For many of us, the definitive meal of our youth was found in our lunch boxes. And excitement was generated by the possibility of a snack cake inside. As with anything new, years passed and snack cake disillusionment set in. That was until the day we tried the cashew caramel bar from Luisa and Son Bake Shop.
Suzy Qs, Krimpets, Gansitos. No matter which made us smile, it wasn’t only their sweet taste that made snack cakes a lunch box staple, it was their convenient individual packaging. A few months ago we paid a visit to Luisa and Son Bake Shop to purchase fresh made Filipino polvorones, a powdered milk candy. As always, we casually scanned the wall of pre-wrapped baked goods in hopes to find a snack to go and instantly our gaze fixed on a little sign, “Cashew Caramel Bar.”
It’s always been a mystery to us why the cashew continues to an oft-overlooked nut when it comes to desserts. But on the cashew caramel bar, it’s the headliner. Shards of fresh roasted cashews are embedded nearly every bit of the surface area on top. The caramel note is slight, as it is a thin layer was used to adhere the buttery cashews to the bar.
Since it was a called a bar, we expected it to have the chewy texture of a blondie, instead the cake is firm, dense, but intensely moist. The crumb gives the initial appearance of a hair underdone cake, but it is, in fact, incredibly compressed. After just one bite it hit us that the cashew caramel bar was not a bar; instead it was a grown-up snack cake in the form of the most velvety pound cake we have ever had.
One of the hardest things about growing up is becoming disillusioned about things you once enjoyed, especially after you find out that they contain 37 ingredients. The Caramel Cashew Bar has six: the four pound cake essentials, cashews and powdered milk. This fact, along with the toasted crunchy cashews atop a sweet cake — and that they come in a delicately wrapped individual package — has set into a motion a new routine whenever we visit Luisa and Son Bake Shop. We buy five. For even though now we are grown, anyone’s lunch can use the excitement of a snack cake.
by Dommy Gonzalez