Lemon Pucker Power
It’s the gallery’s 22nd anniversary! What better way to celebrate than with free cake for every customer?
A new bakery had opened and this was a good reason step inside. Instantly I was elated. In front of me was a tempting chocolate cake with creamy chocolate frosting and red shinny rings of sugary goodness sprinkled on top. Yum!
I pointed to the scrumptious dessert, licking my lips trying to hold back the urge to snatch a forkful right there on the spot. “Wow! What kind of cake is that?” I asked.
“Mexican chocolate,” the gal said. “It’s spiked with cinnamon, nutmeg, coffee liquor and a dash of cayenne pepper which will make you feel all warm and tingly.”
She was right, I was already feeling warm and tingly drooling over the display case. “What’s the red garnish?” I asked, intrigued.
"They’re candied Serrano peppers,” she said. “If you’re a fan of spicy plus sweet, you’re going to love the candied topping!”
Now, I don’t know much about Mexican peppers so the gal gave me a little more information. She said, “The Serrano pepper is cooked turning it into something sweet and hot with a bit of stick-to-your-teeth chewiness making it kind of like Red Hot candies, but more grown-up.” After hearing that I thought I’d gone to heaven. I ordered the cake for Saturday.
The weatherman predicted a sunny balmy Spring-like day so I knew our customer traffic in downtown Holland would be shoulder-to-shoulder. That meant we should jazz up the party and celebrate with more than cake for the gallery’s anniversary. For years we’ve had fun with our customers doing a variety of contests, games, and prizes.
My brain buzzed as I began to mastermind a plan. I zipped into a Mexican grocery store to buy fresh Serrano peppers. In my mind’s eye I was scheming that we’d challenge our customers to a pepper eating contest. Whoever could handle eating the raw pepper would get their name listed on the "Pepper Power Hall of Fame" sign-up board. I could picture the watery eyes as customers tried to out-do one another.
Then I heard the disappointing words from the grocery salesperson: “We’re out of Serrano peppers.” My heart sunk. Luckily she added, “The south side shop will have them.” I motored my way through traffic and got the peppers.
Once back at the gallery, I made a giant poster board sign, colorfully decorating it with bright red peppers, carefully ruling the lines for contestants’ names, and finally adding the title: Pepper Power Hall of Famers!”
Then Kim walked in. “Kate, have you ever eaten a Serrano pepper?” she asked.
I looked at her quizzically knowing I wasn’t much of pepper expert, but what was there to know? I’d eaten many a red, yellow and green bell peppers, just not Mexican peppers.
“Kaaa-te,” she said firmly this time, turning my name into a two-syllable word. “Serrano peppers are twice as hot as Jalapeno peppers!” she cried. “No one will be able to eat the pepper raw and if they do they could get sick, maybe even throw up!”
I felt my stomach plunged as I glanced at the dozen Serrano peppers and my labor-of-love poster board.
Plan B was a must. But what could we do that would be fun and tie in with the scrumptious Mexican chocolate cake with whipped ganache chocolate frosting?
This is what we did: To celebrate the anniversary and Spring-like day we served lemonade with red candied maraschino cherries – much tamer than red Serrano peppers. We switched the challenge board and look at the Lemon Pucker Power fun we had!