New Year…New Sweet Beginnings

At the start of new year we tend to have a renewed sense of hope…establish goals we want accomplish….set resolutions to help better our selves. We feel full of excitement and motivation to tackle on any challenges that may come our way…because we’re determined to make this year better than the last. This feeling of new beginnings reminds me of how in the start of 2010, we embarked on a new venture and how Sweet Silk was born.

I had come with the idea and concept of creating refined or elegant Indian sweets in 2009 after returning from working in Dubai. I was inspired by all the gorgeous European chocolate and confectionaries I visited while I lived there. I also rediscovered all the rich ingredients and spices that make Middle Eastern and Indian sweets so unique. So, as my first catering “job”, I decided to create my version of indian sweets “dressed up” like petite fours for my best friend’s wedding. I created my fist two sweet flavors based on the flavors my friend and her husband loved; coconut with cardamom and dark chocolate ganache and Mejdool dates with hint of rose and studded with pistachios. I decorated each sweet with fondant flowers and bows and packaged the two sweets inside favor gift boxes my sister and I designed inspired by the blue and silver art deco dress of the bride. Each guest received a box that was inscribed with a message from the bride and groom.

V&S Sweet Favors 2

I never imagined it would take 4 continuous days for me to execute this plan, but once we saw the reaction on everyone’s face at the wedding and got positive feedback on taste, we knew it was worth every minute. That was when we knew we may be on the verge of something big!

So the start of 2010 my brother, my sister and I decided to pool together our talents, brainstorm and work together to make this vision come to life. All of January, we worked on a ideas, mission, company name and branding during the nights and I’d experiment with my mom and aunts during the day to develop my recipes and sweet flavors. In February, we conducted our first focus group where we had guests conduct a survey on everything from taste to aesthetics. Fueled with motivation and positive feedback, we kept moving full steam ahead in the coming months by obtaining our business license, making our sweets in a commercial kitchen, landing more catering jobs and continuing to collaborate to refine all of our ideas. Before we knew it summer flew by and in August we decided to take the leap and launch our first product line for sale with party in NYC. Shortly after we got our website up and running and began selling our Signature Collection online in time for Diwali. We even got an amazing feature in the New York Times before Christmas which helped spread the word about Sweet Silk throughout the country. We even got an order from someone in Japan who read about our story!

As fun and exhilarating as that first year was for all of us, it wasn’t short of its unforeseen challenges, hard work and many sleepless nights. Aside from obvious struggles of starting a new business, I faced some personal struggles with a complete change in my career and lifestyle. I wasn’t prepared for constantly having to prove myself or my vision to those who I thought would be supportive and understanding. At moments I found myself even struggling with self doubt.  ”What was I thinking to do this in my 30′s!!”  However, through it all I had to keep reminding myself why I started Sweet Silk. I knew I didn’t want keep working in “jobs” or have a career took over my life for sake of making hefty paycheck and……rather work for something I believe in and enjoy creating and sharing something I love.

I discovered along the way, that I wasn’t the only one facing these issues but many of my own peers and college friends who’ve made some life changing transitions have faced similar challenges. I was introduced to Vitra Singh by a good friend and found out that she had been going through similar struggles. She found herself inspired by many people she’s met and spoke to along way and was compelled to share these stories in a book to help others considering a life change and begin “Living Life For Yourself, Not Your Job”.

In this book, Vitra Singh shares the stories of 24 people who courageously reinvented their careers in a way that worked for them. Whether they turned a hobby into a full-time job, tried various avenues until they found a passion, or were forced to figure it out when life got in the way. Their journeys prove ordinary people like you and me can change the course of our careers if we want it badly enough. While it may be easy to stay in your current job, this book inspires you to start exploring a profession that will give you a sense of purpose and joy. This book shares the experiences of each of these individuals—their frustrations, fears, doubts, and strength as they boldly transformed the quality of their lives by refusing to settle for their 9 to 5 job.

I was honored to be included as one of those 24 people in this book where I was asked to answer some hard questions and reveal personal feelings and struggles. In some way having her ask me these questions and reading about the others who went through similar struggles helped me battle with own issues and made me stronger for it. I have to admit that through it all, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish or got this far without the help of my family, especially my sibling partners.

So for anyone else out there wanting to make some big changes or start a new path in 2013……read Vitra’s book or talk to others that may be able to help or provide source of inspiration…..and at the risk of sounding cliche….don’t hesitate and doubt yourself…JUST DO IT!

Going Nuts for Cashews

Recently, my brother came up to me and said “Hey have you ever heard of these guys…their cashews look soooo good….let’s try them!”.  He was referring to the Brooklyn based artisanal cashew company Nuts+Nuts. This Brooklyn based artisanal cashew company provides the freshest cashews that are farm direct from Indonesian. They offer a variety of snack packs filled with roasted cashews blends based on their own family recipes made with local, fresh and all-natural ingredients.

We ordered their sampler pack, which came with 4 snack packs with a variety of roasted cashews: Spicy, Honey Sesame, Sweet & Salty and Lightly Salted.  We devoured them all immediately upon receiving them!  I loved the quality of their packaging to maintain freshness of the amazing quality of cashews. Our favorites were the Spicy cashews, that had a tangy kick, and the Honey Sesame cashews, which were crunchy sweet!

Nuts+Nuts Spicy & Honey Sesame with Sweet Silk Coconut Cashew Truffles (center)

Since we loved the cashews so much, we decided to try using Nuts+Nuts plain roasted cashews to make some of our sweets. Once I received these gorgeous cashews, I began testing them out for some of our sweets. Maybe it was the fact that that the cashews looked like they’ve been soaking up some rays in a tropical paradise to get that perfect golden tan or the Asian influence of Nuts+Nuts flavors, but I had an idea.  ”Why not highlight the deep roasted nutty flavor” and thus shortly after, I began creating a variety of cashew truffles!  These truffles have a soft cashew filling that is made with the same technique as our sweets to obtain that fudge like texture but coated in chocolate and rolled with a topping.

We contacted one of the owners, Cyrilla Suwarsa, to see if she would be interested in trying out our new creations and collaborate with us. After meeting Cyrilla, hearing her story and knowing her and her husband really enjoyed our Coconut Cashew Truffle, I knew we had a great match! Not only do our products complement each other, but I was especially drawn to our similarities as women entrepreneurs with a family operated business.

Cyrilla started Nuts+Nuts with her sister Caecilia to help provide much needed support to local famers in Indonesia to create high-grade cashew nuts. The sisters teamed up with an expert in agriculture to work together with these farmers in a symbiotic relationship. The cashew nuts are purchased directly from the farmers and are cured with a unique and special family recipe in small batches to create delicious, freshly roasted snacks, using only natural ingredients and no preservatives. It was unfortunately in 2003 when Cyrilla was diagnosed with Lupus that led to this collaboration with her sister, but now through Nuts+Nuts, both sisters aim to raise awareness about Lupus and give courage, comfort, and strength to all those who suffer from the disease. Additionally, Nuts+Nuts hopes to foster the cashew nuts industry in Indonesia, providing the farmers with additional knowledge about agriculture and allowing their children to have a better education and a brighter future.

 

So we thought we’d share our discovery and have teamed up with Nuts+Nuts to offer a sweet & savory gift!  Sweet Silk presents our new Coconut Cashew Truffles that are made using Nuts+Nuts plain roasted cashews with a pinch of cardamom, dipped in milk chocolate and rolled in coconut. Inspired by the organic nature of the product and the company’s mission, we’ve packaged our treats in a kraft ballotin truffle box tied with raffia ribbons.

So, maybe you can’t take a tropical vacation, but you can take your palate on a journey through Indonesia & India! So visit our online shop to purchase a gift box of our Coconut Cashew Truffles (gluten-free!) along with Spicy and Honey Sesame snack packs from Nuts+Nuts for your own escape or as a gift for someone who may need a delicious getaway!

Sweets for Your Valentine

Inspired by the great feedback from our Vegan Fruit Collection, I decided to continue experimenting to create more vegan sweets.  I always knew dried fruits were nature’s candies but I also learned that many of them are even considered aphrodisiacs! This inspired me to create something extra special just for Valentine’s Day!

So, I decided to take our formula for the Vegan Collection sweets, using Indian and Middle Eastern influences and ingredients with all natural dried fruits, and transform them in to truffles! I coated each truffle in only 70% cocoa of Valrhona chocolate and rolled each in a different topping.  I used only dark chocolate as I believe it is chocolate in one of its richest, purest form and most powerful aphrodisiac!

The results were 5 seemingly sinful new array of gluten-free Vegan Truffles:

Mango Chili Coconut – Juicy dried mango and blended them with cayenne chili powder coated in dark chocolate and rolled in coconut powder.

Date Rose Pistachio – Sweet Mejdool dates with a touch of organic rose oil that is coated in dark chocolate and rolled in powdered pistachios

Fig Vanilla Cashew – Blend of Black Mission figs and Turkish figs with hint of Tahitian vanilla coated in dark chocolate and rolled in powdered roasted cashews.

Apricot Honey Nut – Luscious bright Turkish apricots blended with orange blossom honey and coated in dark chocolate with ground pine nuts.

Bing Cherry Chocolate – Tart and sweet Bing cherries blended with a bit of Tahitian vanilla and coated in dark chocolate and cocoa powder.

Here are just some of the interesting facts I learned about the natural aphrodisiac affects of the fruits, spices and chocolate used in the truffles:

Chili Peppers have a wonderful attribute in their ability to release endorphins, get the heart pumping and make lips swell to full kissable pout! The capsaicin they contain is responsible for the effects and is also a good pain reliever triggered to put out internal “fire.” Endorphins also cause the high of extreme physical exertion — a floating, energized feeling.

Cardamom  is an aromatic spice high in cineole, which can increase blood flow. Certain cultures deem it a powerful aphrodisiac and also claim it is beneficial in treating impotence.

Vanilla has and intoxicating, warm, sensual scent that has been known to captivate everyone from times of the Mayan and Aztec Indians and continues to drawn us in with its perfume in the modern times. It is known to have a euphoric affect on the brain that soothes emotional tension, reduces anxiety, stress and stimulates circulation. It is also said to have different arousing affects on women and men.

Honey is sticky, sweet, and sensuous, honey contains natural sugars that can give you a fast energy boost. It is is rich in B vitamins (needed for testosterone production) as well as boron (helps the body metabolize and use estrogen). In ancient Persia, couples drank mead every day for a month (known as the “honey month” — a.k.a. “honeymoon”) after they married in order to get in the right frame of mind for a successful marriage.

Rose Oil is sensual and evocative and has been used since ancient times as a favorite ingredient in love potions. The time honored tradition of giving roses to a loved one may have it’s basis in the fact the scent of roses evokes emotions of love, calmness, and lifts depression emotions that block arousal

Pine Nuts  have been used to stimulate the libido since Medieval times. Like oysters, they too are high in zinc needed for male vigor and stamina. Pine nuts have been used for centuries to make up love potions.

Figs have a sweet dark flesh with a honey scent, and a unique texture to the tongue. These soft sweet  fruits, full of small  seeds that has ancient reference with fertility and love. They also full of antioxidants  and are the richest sources of calcium, fiber, magnesium, manganese, copper, potassium and vitamin K.

Cherries are said to stimulate pheromone production. Plus, they provide potassium which is required for sexual hormone production. There’s an abundance of antioxidants in the little fruits, helping to keep your skin youthfully beautiful and your energy level high!

Apricots are soft little fruits are packed with beauty-enhancing nutrients and beta-carotene – a potent antioxidant. They are also a good source of iron, a key nutrient for fertility in women.

Chocolate in all its deliciousness is always the topic of debate for being true aphrodisiac.  From a scientific standpoint,  it contains both Serotonin and Phenylethylamine, which are mood-lifting hormones found naturally in the human brain. When we consume chocolate, we increase our normal levels of both, which leads to that feeling of excitement, as well as an increased level of energy and libido. So although chocolate may or may not be a true aphrodisiac, it certainly does have some aphrodisiac properties. After all, it makes us feel good all over — much like being in love!

This Valentine’s, surprise your sweetheart or someone special with an out-of-the-ordinary box of sweets. Each of one of our slender white or red gift boxes come with our five vegan truffles filled with all-natural aphrodisiacs that are sure to impress (and maybe knock some socks off)! However, due to limited offer and quantity, these truffles will exclusively be available by special order till Feb. 13th!!*

To pick up a box just swing by the EnamorMe gift shop in NJ from Feb. 9th – Feb. 14th  or at the “Sweets for your Sweet – Food Artisan Market” this Sunday, Feb. 12th in Astoria at The Queens Kickshaw.

*Contact order@savorsweetsilk to place a special or custom order for Valentine’s Day and to arrange delivery, shipment or NYC pickup for your order. Each truffle box is $12 and comes with 5 truffles in your choice of red or white flip box tied in a satin ribbon.