Twice a month, David Glass makes a four-hour trek to Bloomfield, Conn., where he meets his brother at a Japanese restaurant for lunch before heading out to the parking lot.
To the average passerby, it might look like Glass is running a drug operation from the trunk of his silver Toyota Matrix. He often has a dozen people in line, rain or shine.
But instead of illicit substances, Glass is just selling baked goods. One by one, he hands over his confections — a roster of various sweets led by a handful renowned cakes — to loyal customers, many of whom he’s known for over three decades.
“It’s like being an old Jewish peddler, except with a car,” Glass said Friday from his living room.
The parking lot transactions are the latest chapter of Desserts by David Glass, a baked good company run by Glass and his wife, Vivie.
Though their business is now order-only, their chocolate truffle cakes were previously seen in stores such as New York City’s Zabar’s, Stew Leonard’s and Trader Joe’s, among others.
“They were the kinds of cakes that people would bring to office parties and warn co-workers about,” wrote their son, Jeremy Glass, in an essay in the Hartford Courant last year. “‘Oh, this is dangerous,’ they’d say, dramatically closing their eyes to better savor the flavor.”
The way the elder Glass tells it, the journey begins at a Paris restaurant he frequented during his time abroad between his college years. In the midst of working as a chef in various Michelin-starred restaurants, he met a woman with a divine chocolate truffle cake.
“I begged her for the recipe, and I would never get it,” Glass said.
Until one day when he was called upstairs to the woman’s apartment, where he found the chef on her deathbed, he said. The bout with mortality apparently softened the baker, who passed along her highly coveted recipe.
The only problem? A day later, she passed a kidney stone – and survived. More than three decades later, she still hasn’t spoken to him since that day, he said.
“But I have her recipe,” he said, smirking.
Thus, the chocolate truffle remains Glass’ favorite, and only, cake recipe. Despite the company’s moniker, his wife invented the dozens of other cake recipes. Glass specializes in “all the exotic stuff that doesn’t sell well,” while Vivie thrives on more popular offerings, he said.
The duo previously operated a production factory in Connecticut, where Glass recalls his three children working shifts in the sample room. Yet after their son, Adam, died of a rare heart condition, they moved to Colchester in search of a new start. They stopped making cakes for a while, instead focusing on truffles infused with alcohol, like Maker’s Mark, a new fan favorite, Glass said.
They’ve since added cookies and bark candy to their repertoire, as well as revamping their cake operation, waking on Monday before deciding that week’s offerings. They then send out the virtual menu to an ever-growing email list, currently about 5,000 people, Glass said, the majority of whom still live in Connecticut.
While knowing the couple’s staples will always sell, Vivie often schemes new offerings, like the “Coco Loco Cheesecake,” a creamy cheesecake covered in all-natural flaked coconut atop a crush of graham cracker crumbs, sliced almonds and dark brown sugar.
“We both just like really, really good food,” Glass said. “So when we make our cakes or truffles or anything else, they’re just the best that we can do.”
It’s a never-ending search; new flavors and combinations amount to a kitchen full of works-in-progress. For some batches, Glass said it’s obvious: “They’re terrible.” Others are “medium good,” while only the top-tier desserts make it onto the menu.
“Our palates will decide rather than our egos,” he said. “It’s the taste that counts.”
This Sunday, Glass will one again haul his stock off for the 234-mile trip. He’ll set up shop amidst unsuspecting errand-goers, unaware they’re parked next to a mobile dessert connoisseur. He’ll grab lunch and then host the two-hour pickup window before heading back to Colchester, a round-trip that can take more than 10 hours, Glass said.
Still, he shows no signs of slowing down. Asked how much longer he plans to keep up the daunting pilgrimage, he provided a simple litmus test.
“As long as we enjoy it, we’ll continue doing it,” he said.