Small bites, giant taste

Walking up to Uncle Giant's farmers market stand, one might immediately assume Dennis Moore, at 6 feet 4 inches, is the namesake behind his Newark-based confectionery business. On the contrary, it's the nickname given to Uncle Giant's co-owner Brian Jamandre by his niece and nephew in the Philippines, where, at nearly 6 feet, he towers above most of his extended family.

And extended it is. Jamandre grew up with 16 cousins and learned to cook from his aunts, mother and grandmother, who taught him to “taste” food using his nose—as you “can't afford to taste cooking for that many.”

Moore is the youngest of six boys, born and raised in Newark, where he lives today. The inspiration for Uncle Giant's chocolate truffle comes from his mother Patricia's fudge recipe. In recreating it from memory, Moore reduced the sugar by roughly half a cup, and affectionately named the creation La Patricia.

The rest of Uncle Giant's sweets take inspiration from Asian, European and American traditional confections and combines them with Ohio ingredients to produce great results. For example, Hartzler Farms Family Dairy butter, which replaces lard in the recipe for Filipino polvorón, makes for a creamier, shortbread-like creation, which Uncle Giant calls Tokel.

The Denny Bites, named after Moore, are based on a Belgian brownie combined with a meringue-like crust, cranberries soaked in dark rum and a cashew topper. Meanwhile, the Nerkerons mimic a French macaron while paying homage to Moore's hometown in name. By swapping almonds for walnuts, they eat more like the middle part of baklava.

Rounding out the collection are Uncle Giant's almond Crispelines, loosely based on a Filipino favorite from Jamandre's youth, the cashew-based silvana pastry. It was the Crispeline that got Uncle Giant invited to Newark's holiday market last year at the Canal Market District. An instant hit, the round treats solidified Moore's and Jamandre's spot at the farmers market.

Our recommendation? Start with the sampler pack, enough for two to try one of each creation. Uncle Giant sells its sweets at the Canal Market District in Newark and Clintonville farmers market. If you can't make it there, the company also ships throughout Ohio.unclegiant.com