Valerie Confections opens new location in Glendale
By Morgan Owen
At Valerie Confections’ new Glendale location, hundreds of tiny chocolates, toffees and truffles are perfectly arranged waiting to be sampled by customers. Jams and ready-packaged holiday confections sit atop recycled walnut shelves to be chosen as a perfect gift.
In the back, employees are hard at work baking pies and decadent eggnog cakes for the holiday party season. Everything at Valerie Confections is made in-house, from the peppermint candy that tops its popular peppermint bark to the candied flowers that top its cakes.
The new location is the primary production and shipping facility for all orders across the country. The property also has room for classes and tastings, and indoor/outdoor event spaces. In the latter, owner Valerie Gordon hopes to grow some of the produce used in their baking process and edible flowers.
Gordon and her partner, Stan Weightman Jr., see the bakery as a place where their team can “be inspired, be creative and feel refreshed.” The pair started the bakery in 2004 after the gift baskets Gordon created for her friends and family became increasingly elaborate.
Gordon began making sweet treats as a kid, starting with cookies and gradually evolving into more and more complex projects.
“Anything I ate as a kid that I liked, I thought, ‘I want to make that.’ And because I love toffee, toffee became the big thing (I made),” Gordon says.
Toffee is a signature treat and one of the confections she has experimented with the most. Gordon says she felt like toffee has always been treated so informally by other chocolatiers, who often toss it into boxes and favor the presentation of more sophisticated confections, such as truffles.
“I thought, ‘What if I take this American confection and apply the French process to it?’” Gordon says. And not only did she apply new processes to toffee, but she also experimented with new flavors. “We started with sesame. (Then) we added flavors like black pepper; Durango, which is a smokey flavor; and almond. They are all delicious,” Gordon says.
Also available at the Glendale location are Gordon’s jams, cakes and pies. Cakes must be ordered two days in advance, and all other special orders can be picked up four hours after being placed. On Gordon’s holiday menu are her decadent eggnog cakes, apple and salted caramel pies, and eggnog petit fours, but her most popular holiday treat is her peppermint bark.
Gordon says her creativity comes from being a self-taught chocolatier and her innate entrepreneurial spirit.
“There’s something to be said (for) the fact that I worked as a creative homemaker and I didn’t go to culinary school. … I feel like with sweets, more than savory, historically has been about doing things exactly the same as opposed to doing it with (creativity),” Gordon says.
As a kid, Gordon taught herself through cookbooks and practice how to bake and cook. And Gordon wouldn’t just keep her experiments to herself. Even in grade school, Gordon says she would bring cookies to class every Thursday to share them with her friends.
To this day, Gordon says one of her favorite parts about baking is the human connection and the looks on her friends’ faces when she presents them with her creations. Now, at the Glendale location, visitors who come by can find personal touch through a viewing window at the back of the counter where they can view Gordon and her staff making chocolate.