Justin Fox Burks
Waffle Wednesday from HM Dessert Lounge.
If you doubt the bond between food and friends, then you’ve never watched Fran Mosley serve Strawberry Temptation, a statuesque dessert as curvy and jubilant as the women who ooh and ahh while snapping Instagram photos. “I am dancing in my seat,” says customer Sheronica Prater, jumping up to admire a cocktail glass filled with berries, ice cream, whipped cream, caramel syrup, and a warm strawberry brownie.
At HM Dessert Lounge, customer fun matters to Fran and Casscius Mosley, the husband and wife team who grew their new business from an annual dessert bake-off for friends and family called Sweet Café. The first competition held in the couple’s home pitted two fruit cobblers: Fran’s apple crunch and Casscius’ peach. Fran won.
Tastings, cake sales, and catering gigs eventually convinced the couple to open their cheerful cafe in Midtown, catty corner from Minglewood Hall. Short for haute monde, the name HM is an apt comparison for desserts like Fru Fru Fran’s Way, a pineapple coconut layer cake iced with pineapple buttercream and topped with strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, and grapes. (Remember: Fruit is healthy.)
Other desserts, such as banana pudding cake studded with vanilla wafers, pay homage to Fran’s family. Her late grandmother, Willie Mae Clark, and great-grandmother, Annie Bowers Thomas, were esteemed bakers in the Memphis neighborhoods where they lived. Likewise, Fran’s more contemporary leanings still respect her Southern roots, both with baking and entrees served only at lunch. “Our niche is to always look for something on the savory side,” Fran explains.
Justin Fox Burks
Chocolate-covered strawberry cheesecake
Consider Waffle Wednesdays, when piquant cabbage and a topping (fried chicken, smothered pork chops, or pot roast cooked for 16 hours) ride atop a sublime cornbread waffle, crunchy on its ridges, but a little soft inside. Fran starts with a buttermilk cornbread recipe and adds onion, cheddar cheese, green peppers, roasted red peppers, and dashes of hot sauce at the end. “I don’t know how many dashes of hot sauce I use,” Fran says. “I just keep adding it until the batter turns pink.”
1586 Madison Ave.