In the kitchen with Alyssa
Appeal Staff Writer
Mother-and-daughter baking duo Alyssa Harrison, 23, and Nanci Boehmer, 44, recently had an awakening moment while up late into the night with a two-tiered wedding cake covered in fondant icing and sunset-colored meringue ribbon loops.
“Did you ever think we’d be doing this together?” Harrison asked.
“I never thought we would, but I am glad that we are,” said her mother, who has always been the cook in the family. Alyssa, her eldest daughter of four, never showed an interest in baking while growing up.
But then Harrison got married, moved to Jacksonville, Fla., with her Navy husband, Nigel, and had a baby. Halen, named after the rock band, is now 2-years-old.
“I always liked to eat what she made,” said Harrison on a recent afternoon in her Carson City kitchen. She was baking a four-layered cake for her boss, a dentist who was celebrating his 12th business anniversary. The chocolate, chocolate-chip cake with a cream-cheese filling will be cut in the shape of a tooth.
“I have a huge sweet tooth,” she said, not talking about the cake on her kitchen counter. “I had to start cooking in Florida because my mother wasn’t there. I started doing it – would call her for advice – and it took off from there. That was about four years ago.”
Both Alyssa and her husband are Carson High grads, 2001 and 1999, so they decided to come home after he left the military.
Through circulating their business cards, and friendly recommendations, Harrison’s eclectic desserts gradually rose into a business. Since getting their business license in December, the two women have sold about 30 cakes and have nine wedding cakes booked for the summer.
Where they are now – Harrison bakes out of professional chef Molly Gingell’s commercial kitchen – is not where the women had intended to start. Their first goal had been to start at the top, with a family-run late-night dessert bar and bakery.
“That was the original vision,” said Harrison, while stirring more chocolate batter into her red KitchenAid mixer.
Gingell, who runs a gourmet catering business and writes a column for the Nevada Appeal, said cooking and operating a small business is a lot harder than it looks. Since her kitchen opened six years ago, she’s gained a reputation for her “fusion” foods (a mixture of traditions) and chips and salsa.
“As long as you can keep a good reputation in a small town, you can make it,” said the 46-year-old cook.
Carson City has few late night hotspots. Harrison and Boehmer would like to open their bakery in a year.
“Our bakery is going to be unique, open late and have that romantic, European feel,” Harrison said.
“We’ll offer things you can’t get at a grocery story, like lavender cookies, chocolate sandwich cookies and flourless chocolate cake,” Boehmer said.
This type of cake uses a lot of eggs and ground almonds.
They’re looking at downtown restaurant spaces now. They expect it to cost from $25,000-$50,000 to get started.
Contact Alyssa’s Eclectic Desserts & All Things Yummy at 750-6433.
• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.