Over three decades, Vivie Glass quietly created and developed the recipes that built a brand favored by confection connoisseurs around the country.
Now the baking genius behind her husband David Glass' cake empire is telling the story how she and David met, had a family and created Desserts By David Glass, a business that at the height of its success was turning out a half a million cakes a year.
In her new book titled "Vivie And David Glass' Delicious Desserts: A Recipe Book Filled With Sweetness, Love And Loss," Glass talks about raising kids, baking cakes, a mother's grief and the power of chocolate. She completed the book after she and David closed their cake baking business in Connecticut and moved to Vermont last October.
The memoir/cookbook also contains the recipes for the most well-known David Glass creations, including the signature flourless Ultimate Chocolate Truffle Cake, Ultimate New York Cheesecake, Luscious Italian Almond Cake, Rum Raisin Carrot Cake and others.
Glass says her 21-year-old son Adam, who died unexpectedly last July from a heart condition, inspired the project.
"Adam always told me I should write a cookbook," says Glass. "After he died, I stopped baking and started writing. "
The book follows the cake makers from the beginning of their relationship in 1981 — he was a caterer with a dynamite chocolate dessert; she was an amateur baker and cookbook collector with a degree in English Literature. They started dating, moved in together and began marketing a distinctive chocolate truffle cake from their home in Asylum Hill.
As demand for the confection grew, the pair moved operations to the Colt Building in Hartford, married and added a son, Joshua, and a perfect New York cheesecake to the family business.
"Our customers were asking for additional products, specifically a cheesecake," says Vivie Glass. "I was home expecting a baby, so I spent most of my pregnancy developing the recipe."
The trend continued. A second son, Jeremy and a rum raisin carrot cake came along next, followed by a third son, Adam, and an Italian almond cake. Over the years, the kids grew up and pitched in, and the wholesale company flourished. Vivie Glass ran production and development.
"I'm shy and David loves the public, so I stayed behind the scenes," says Vivie Glass.
Desserts By David Glass products were sold at Zabar's, Whole Foods, Stew Leonard's, Trader Joe's and a number of upscale restaurants, but eventually, Vivie Glass wanted a closer connection to their customers.
"I wanted to see people actually eating my cakes without the intervention of the middleman," she says. "I wanted their feedback. So we started cake tastings and selling directly to the public. We got to know the people who loved our cakes and they got to know us."
In 2004, the Glasses moved the business to a 13,000-square foot facility in Bloomfield, hired more staff and added more cakes to the lineup. But in 2009, with growing debt and a failing economy, Desserts By David Glass went into bankruptcy, forcing the couple to shut down after 28 years.
"It was devastating," says Vivie Glass. "It was more than a profession. It was our craft."
A little over a year later, they were back in business. Taking inspiration from the pop-up restaurants trend in California and New York, they sublet a temporary space in South Windsor and started baking again. This time, the business' name acknowledged the woman — as well as the man — behind the cakes.
Vivie and David Glass' Delicious Desserts opened in December 2010.
"We baked old favorites and new creations and sold them to walk-in customers on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays," says Glass. "No staff, just David, me and our sons."
The first week they opened, they baked 500 cakes and sold them all — within an hour. The following week, they made 2,000 cakes and sold out again within hours.
"It was amazing," says Vivie Glass. "I thought they would have forgotten us, but all our customers came back and shared their stories of how they used our cakes to celebrate the great occasions in their lives."