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Office Obsession: Artisan brittle from Morning Glory Confections

April 3, 2009 |  4:14 pm

Morning-glory For the last few days I've had five, 2-ounce boxes of artisan brittle from Morning Glory Confections on my desk. Since they've been there, I've been constantly distracted. Like clockwork, after lunch, my coworkers approach me, make small talk and then blurt out, "Can I have some brittle?"

We've plowed through all the flavors: New Mexico chili pumpkin seed; cocoa nib coffee bean and pecan; Indian curry pistachio; chai tea and cashew; and fleur de sel and peanut. Our favorite right now is the chai tea flavor, which tastes like creamy chai with a touch of spice. The curry bursts with notes of electric cinnamon, while the cocoa nib is rich, dark and strong, like a cup of fresh espresso. The New Mexico chili is the most elusive, popping with flavors at once conflicted but oddly tasty. By comparison the fleur de sel is tame and dainty, its peanuts hinting more toward a traditional brittle than any of the others. 

Made by hand by Max Lesser, 34, a Los Angeles-based chef, Morning Glory's brittle is based in savory, as you might have surmised, rather than sweet. (As someone who ate a bag of Chamoy before bed last night, that's definitely an approach I can get behind.)

Lesser began experimenting with brittle a few years back while working as a private chef for a family in Brentwood. "I had a lot of time and permission to be creative," he explains. "I started making brittle with nontraditional flavor combinations. Fortunately it worked; people loved it."

In fact, he felt so strongly about the results that when he left his chef gig he went into business for himself, launching Morning Glory Confections in October, and its accompanying website in February. You can buy his brittle online or at one of 13 local stores that currently carry it, including Clementine, Auntie Em's, Colorado Wine Company, the Cheese Store of Silver Lake and Susina Bakery.

Lesser hopes to develop a few more special-edition recipes for the holidays and is currently working on special gift packaging that includes sampler boxes with hot pink ribbons and cards. (Those boxes should be ready in time for Mother's Day.) The current boxes, pictured, feature an attractive minimalist floral design by Liz Anderson at the Department of Graphic Sciences in Chinatown. Lesser attended school with her at the Arts Institute of Chicago (he studied painting).

Asked if he tried any flavors that didn't quite work out, Lesser mentioned an experiment with bacon, cashew and smoked Spanish paprika. He said people either flipped out for it or weren't too keen on it. He'd make it a regular option, but he needs to have its shelf life tested by a food scientist before he can market it, which can be a bit pricey.

"It would be nice to have that flavor now, since bacon is everywhere these days," he says before pausing to wonder if people might be on the verge of getting sick of bacon. "If that's possible," he adds. "I personally believe bacon makes everything better." Even artisan brittle.

-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: Max Lesser