The sweet spot |

The sweet spot

Paul E. AnnaAspen, CO Colorado

For all our healthy living, we, as a town, defiantly eat our fair share of sweets.For my money, and for my sweet tooth, the top of the dessert category can be found each Saturday morning at the Aspen Saturday Market at the Cakes, Cakes, Cakes stand. It’s the one on the left just after you enter the market on Hopkins from the Galena Street side. You know, the one with the people standing six deep, calling out their orders.The sugar lust in the eyes of the customers is palatable as they leer over slabs of coconut cake; giant, moist oatmeal cookies; cute-as-a-button tarts; round, dense, flourless chocolate cakes; irresistible éclairs; and, of course, to-die-for pies. My personal favorite is the Peanut Butter Cup, made with homemade caramel, Adams organic peanut butter, chocolate mousse and topped with a dark chocolate ganache. All are spot-on. Not only do they taste great, but they are gorgeous to boot.For four summers now, Darren Longden has held down a little corner in the market where those who have more money than baking sense can stop by and buy the closest thing to a straight-from-your-own-oven dessert available in Aspen. Ably assisted by his mum, Jackie, Darren provides the final touch for those who plan and throw those perfect dinner parties and then sit by modestly afterward, basking as their guests rave about the wonderful dessert.Darren hails, poetically, from Stratford-upon-Avon in England and has been baking since he was a small child, learning much from his mother, who also loves to bake. Following stints at law school and the Birmingham College of Food, he decided being a baker was more to his liking than being a barrister. While a stint with The Gap brought him to Aspen, he knew that flour, butter and sugar were the stuff of a happy life and set about baking professionally.Today, Darren and Jackie have set up shop in the kitchen at Bumps on Buttermilk. It takes four days to get everything together for the Saturday Market, and Friday afternoons are abuzz with final touches.The pair makes everything from scratch, and the mantra is “all natural and organic when possible.” The fruit for seven different kinds of pies comes from either his fellow market vendors or the fruit stand at Buttermilk. They use organic flour from Colorado in their crusts and cookies, and everything is made with real butter and cream. No substitutes. Darren says the goal is to provide customers with baked goods like they would make in their own kitchens. That is if they had Darren’s skills.While the market stand does produce a profit for Cakes, Cakes, Cakes, its real benefit is to expose the public to the delectable skills of Darren and Jackie. There are plans afoot to put together a website and focus on private affairs and wedding cakes, a specialty of Darren’s, who likes to work with special cakes and shapes. Need a Ferrari- or Harley-shaped cake for your old man? Cakes, Cakes, Cakes can make it happen.If you can’t make the market, or you have a special request (perhaps a wedding is in your future?), you can call Darren at Cakes, Cakes, Cakes at 309-0858.He’ll top off your meal just right.