Dining Out

Bombshell Brownie and Paso Almonds: Locally made treats to savor

Among the many culinary delights available for visitors to sample at Savor the Central Coast this weekend are brownies baked in jars and crunchy almond brittle

Special to The TribuneSeptember 26, 2013 

Among the local products that attendees of this year’s Savor the Central Coast will be able to sample are the sweet treats of Bombshell Brownie Co. and Paso Almonds.

Bombshell Brownie Co.

bombshellbrownieco.com

Brownies in a jar? Yes, that’s the concept behind the fledgling Bombshell Brownie Co. in Cambria, but just one taste of these little flavor bombs will turn your expression of skepticism into one of pure “Yum!”

Tammy Rayner first baked the brownie jars as favors for her 10th wedding anniversary. Guests liked them so much that she began developing other recipes and giving them away to friends and family.

“Everyone said ‘You should sell these,’ ” recalled Rayner, so she followed the process to become the first local business licensed under the new “Cottage Food Act.”

Essentially, this new law (the California Homemade Food Act) allows food produced in home kitchens to be sold to the public under certain regulations. Rayner opted for the more stringent Class B designation, which requires annual health department inspections.

Rayner and her co-worker/“adopted daughter” Shamaiah Larsen bake the brownies in four-ounce canning jars, then put the lids on immediately so the brownies seal — just as in the typically canning process. They source quality ingredients, locally grown or produced whenever possible.

From there, it continues to be a family affair, with Rayner’s mom doing the bows for the jars and her dad hole-punching the info cards that are on every jar.

The ever-growing list of “gourmet” and “premium” flavors ranges from caramel/sea salt to cinnamon/cayenne, from cookies and cream to peanut butter, from lemon chiffon to blackberry balsamic with port. There’s also a gluten-free line with many of the same flavors.

Larsen noted that although many of the flavors are made with ingredients such as wheat flour and nuts, “we’re very aware of food allergies and really understand them, so we thoroughly sanitize everything after every batch.”

Much of that sensitivity stems from Rayner’s own situation; she describes herself as “allergic to everything known to man,” so much so that Larsen has to bake all of the nut products when Rayner isn’t even around.

Currently, Bombshell Brownies are available at a couple retail locations in Cambria, Cambria’s Friday farmers market, and several wineries. You can also order the brownies for special occasions with customized labels and color schemes.

Paso Almonds

549-9126 | pasoalmonds.com

Though Paso Robles’ reign as the “almond capital of the world” was nearly a century ago (circa 1910s-1940s), Russell “Rusty” Hall is still keeping that heritage alive thanks to his Paso Almonds products.

Hall’s family began ranching and farming in the Paso Robles area in the 1860s and later bought a 93-acre parcel of dry-farmed almonds that he took over in 1974. Originally, Hall just sold his raw almonds at various farmers markets, only making his signature thick, crunchy almond brittle for family and friends as holiday gifts.

However, in 1992, in an effort to raise funds for the San Luis Obispo Literacy Council, Hall sold his first bags of brittle at the Thursday night Farmers Market in downtown San Luis Obispo. Since then, both the business and the product line have considerably expanded. The Almond Brittle has been joined by Brittle Corn (brittle with popcorn added at the last minute), Sweet Hots (small pieces of brittle tossed with chipotle and salt, and gluten-free Almond Biscotti.

All the Paso Almonds products are still made in small batches at Hall’s San Luis Obispo facility and are available in numerous local retail locations, by mail order, and at the Cambria and Templeton farmers markets on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

Katy Budge is a freelance writer from Atascadero. Contact her at ktbudge@sbcglobal.net.

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