Manal Hashem has a love for sugar.
From making cakes until 2 a.m. out of her home to a booming business in Downtown Detroit, in two short years the founder of For The Love of Sugar, Manal, has taken the city by storm. She is a dessert connoisseur and is converting people to cake lovers one slice at a time.
EXP: When did your love affair with sugar begin?
MH: I have always enjoyed baking but when I first met my husband, I knew the way to his heart was through food. We spent a lot of time watching Food Network. Watching shows like Cake Boss inspired me to start experimenting with different ingredients. I’ve always been adamant about balance which is why I am committed to having something for everyone, which include vegan and gluten free options.
EXP: When did you know it was time to start your own business?
MH: I was working a full-time marketing job and baking at night and into the early morning. My kitchen was constantly a disaster! Although I had several people in my corner, I never had the confidence to do it on my own full time. I was over working myself. Pure exhaustion and sleep deprivation allowed me to take a leap of faith and I’m so glad I did.
EXP: If you could only have one dessert for the rest of your life what would it be?
MH: Matilda Cake! It is a chocolate cake filled with a rich black chocolate buttercream.
EXP: What is the secret to a perfect French Macaron?
MH: The secret is trial and error – you learn from every batch. The moment you have it figured out, the season changes and you have to rework your recipe. It is truly an art form. A lot of the residents from The Scott at Brush Park stop in for them.
EXP: How do you incorporate your Middle Eastern Roots?
MH: I’m obsessed with taking a flavor and turning it into cake form. I’m constantly trying to push the bar. One of my favorites is the Knafeh Cake, which is a traditional Palestinian dessert and is now one of our top selling cakes by the slice.
EXP: What is your favorite spot to hang and eat in Detroit?
MH: I could give up food all together but because most breakfast foods are similar to dessert, it’s probably my favorite. From pancakes to waffles – Grey Ghost is the best! Prior to the craziness of having my own bake shop, I enjoyed girl time checking out coffee shops around town. Great Lakes Coffee was one of my faves!
EXP: Anything new and exciting happening at FTLOS?
MH: We hope to have online shipping in the near future, but the thing we are most excited to announce is the food truck! We’ll be serving up frozen custard macaron sandwiches around Detroit. As you know I’m obsessed with chocolate, so we will have a true black chocolate frozen custard! Stay tuned!