Thursday, December 13, 2012

Weddings, weddings and more weddings!

There have been several weddings since I have started my externship and I am learning a lot about how to prepare for them.  There have been wedding cakes and grooms cakes a plenty!

Whenever a bride calls about a wedding cake a tasting is then scheduled.  The bride and usually the groom come in and meet with either the owner or the pastry chef to sample at least a chocolate cupcake with chocolate buttercream icing and a wedding cake cupcake (almond) with almond buttercream icing and discuss what type of cake they (she) would like.  :)  Whomever meets with the bride takes down all of the details and then the pastry chef usually does a rough sketch of the cake for approval.  A price is quoted, a deposit is made, and the rest is history.   

Some of the cakes have come with an important lesson, such as the popcorn bowl grooms cake.  The bride came in for a tasting and ordered both her wedding cake and the grooms cake.  It was a surprise for the groom and she wanted to have it look like a bowl of popcorn because her fiance really liked popcorn.  She was quoted a price and the order was placed.  At a later date the bride called and wanted to change the order from a bowl of popcorn to a vintage red and white popcorn container.  The Chef said no problem and changed the order.  What he later realised was that he should have reconfigured the price because the new cake was going to be a lot more work than the first order.  Of course, he did not change the price at the last minute, but instead used it as a learning experience for both of

There have been some beautiful cakes and some "interesting" cakes to say the least.  I have had many opportunities to observe Eric each weekend as he creates each bride's idea of her perfect cake.  I think the trend of fondant wedding cakes may be wearing out or it could just be here in New Orleans, but there have been more buttercream coated cakes than fondant covered cakes in the weeks I have been here.   I am so thankful for the opportunity to learn more about the world of wedding cakes. 
Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of these beautiful cakes.  :(  However, I do have pictures from the first two weddings of which I had the pleasure of making the desserts.  I have said this before but, appropriately enough my first wedding was for two of my biggest supporters in my Pastry Chef nephew Mac and my "now officially" niece Tarah.  Their wedding was amazing!  They did not want a traditional wedding cake, but asked me to create a dessert buffet of some of their favorite desserts.  These consisted of handheld apple pies, banana pudding parfaits, pecan tartlets, chocolate cake (Mac's grandfather's recipe), and a choice of either s'mores cupcakes with toasted marshmallow icing or sweet potato cupcakes with maple buttercream icing.  Everything turned out deliciously fantastic. 

To top off the evening they asked me to create a cookie bar as the favors for the wedding guests. The choices were: the bride's favorite (peanut butter), the groom's favorite (snickerdoodle), their son Rylan's favorite (sugar cookies with sprinkles), and everyone's favorite (chocolate chip). 

I created my first actual wedding cake the week before I left Tallahassee for a sweet, sweet bride named Kaycee that works with my niece Tarah (see first wedding  She wanted cake for 200 people, but really only wanted three tiers.  We ended up with the three tier cake she wanted and an extra full sheet cake to be cut and served out of the kitchen to make up the rest of the needed 200 servings.  Kaycee had a beautiful southern wedding with lots of country style charm.  Her cake was a yellow cake with buttercream icing in a plaster finish with fresh sunflowers.  The wedding was held at a location that was down a dirt road to I decided to assemble the cake on site.  I was nervous enough and didn't want the nightmare of having the cake fall over as I drove down the bumpy dirt road.  My sister came with me to make the delivery and I am so glad she was there because she certainly kept me calm since when I got there and asked the florist for the flower topper for the cake I was directed to a bucket of sunflowers.  Soooo, knowing that you really can't put fresh flowers straight into a cake I quickly trimmed the sunflowers, wrapped the stems in some plastic wrap that I brought with me, and then inserted them into the top and at each tier.  I think the end result came out beautiful!  Kaycee was on her honeymoon when I left Tallahassee, but I was told she really liked the cake.  Phew, I feel like I just earned my first Pastry Chef badge.

Don't you love the stand!  I wish I could say it was mine, but she borrowed it from her aunt.  The more wedding cakes I witness being created the more and more anxious and excited I get about getting back to Tallahassee and starting to work on the opening of Sweet Inspirations!
I hope you are all having a wonderful stress free holiday season and remember in the midst of all of the holiday craziness to take some time to enjoy your family and the things that truly matter.  As you enjoy all of those delicious holiday treats remember that it is I who always remind you to Keep It Sweet!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Holiday Bling

Tis the Season for some bling.......falalalala lalalala
and I'm not talking about a ring....falalalala lalalala
Holiday parties will happen soon.....falala lalala la la la
with lots of treats to make you swoon.....falalalala la la la la

Everyone knows that I love pastry......falalalala lalalala
so I made some truffles that are tasty......falalalala lalalala
So as you think of carols to sing.........falala lalala la la la
enjoy a chocolate with some bling.......falalalala la la la la

Ok, enough of my silly little song.  Seriously, I have rediscovered a love for all of the bling in the world of chocolates.  This week we have been super busy creating over 600 molded chocolates for an order to be shipped out for a holiday party.  There were several different shapes and flavors to choose from all of which are fabulous!  We dusted each of the completed chocolates with different color luster dusts for a super colorful sparkly holiday effect.......Bling!

When making molded chocolates you have to first coat each of the cavities in the mold with chocolate.  This happens when you fill each of the cavities with chocolate, tap the mold on the table to release any air bubbles (when I say tap.......translate to gently bang), and then pour out the extra chocolate and run a scraper across the top of the molds.  This will leave just enough in the cavities to create a shell for a delicious filling.  After this chocolate sets you pipe some sort of filling such as caramel or a flavored ganache into each of the cavities being careful to leave enough room to top each off with additional chocolate (this is called the foot).  You then pour chocolate over the tops of the cavities and again run a spatula or scraper across the top to remove the extra chocolate.  The molds are then put aside to set.  Once the chocolate is set you place the molds into the cooler for just a few minutes so that when you take then out and turn them upside down the chocolates pop cleanly out of the molds without much effort.  Most molds make chocolates that are beautiful at this state, but of course we wanted to kick it up a notch so out came the luster dust and disco dust.  All was finished and shipped out Tuesday evening.......Score!!

Mid-week we had another big order due on Thursday for a local holiday party.  260 truffles and 260 chocolate covered strawberries.  I worked on the truffles and finished all of them packed and ready to go on Wednesday evening.  Go me!  The truffles were an assortment of flavors (bananas foster, orange, lemon, praline, raspberry, passion fruit, 58% chocolate, 74% chocolate, brown butter, and creme brulee) and start out as a flavored ganache that sets in the cooler and is then scooped into a ball.  These are cooled until they are firm.  Once they are ready I took them and dipped/ rolled them in chocolate and coated them in a variety of toppings.  We use cocoa powder, raspberry powder, chocolate flakes, white chocolate flakes, a mixture of white and dark chocolate flakes, dark chocolate vermicelli, milk chocolate vermicelli, white chocolate vermicelli, a mixture of all three vermicelli, and croquant.  BUT for this order we had a little twist........100 of the total 260 truffles needed to be shiny, sparkly and full of bling!  Sooooo, these truffles were rolled in the chocolate and allowed to harden without a topping.  Once they were set I first took silver luster dust and brushed each truffle, and then sprinkled each with silver disco dust (basically edible glitter).  They were awesome!!!!!!


The chocolate dipped strawberries are so good!  We use fresh from the farm Louisiana strawberries, wash and dry them, dip them in either dark chocolate or white chocolate, and then strip them with the contrasting chocolate.  You have to be sure and dip the white chocolate ones twice so you get a nice coating.  Not much else to say about these except that there is nothing better than a plump juicy strawberry coated in chocolate.
Now, go ahead and wipe the drool off of your chin.  Lol
If you are in the midst of planning a holiday party I wish you a party full of festive fun and good times with great friends and family........and no planning nightmares.
and of course for all of your holiday parties remember to.......Keep it Sweet!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pralines, and Kisses and Turtles.....Oh My!

I survived my first holiday in the pastry business.  I posted last week about all of the pies and other goodies we made for the holiday, but this week is all about confections.  I have finally had the chance to make a few more items that are in the shop that are on the confectionery side of things.  Yay! 

Those of you who have known me through school are probably surprised at my excitement given that confections and chocolates (although delicious) were not my favorite subject in school.  However........I have seen the light!  Working with it more at Bittersweet has given me a whole new outlook on the world of confections.  This week I had the opportunity to try my hand at some items that we carry in the shop like pralines, caramels, meringue kisses, marshmallows and turtles.

New Orleans is known for pralines like Philadelphia is known for cheese steaks.  Pralines are these yummy, sugary, caramely flavor, pecan, cookie looking confections.  They are shaped kind of like a cookie, but are nothing but sugary pecan goodness.  They can be very finicky in that you have to be sure and watch your temperatures when cooking the sugars very careful.  It is easy to mess these things up people!  You have to cook down sugars, butter, cream and milk to a specific temperature and then add the pecans and cook a little more, and then take it off the heat and cool to yet another temp.........then stir, stir stir until it looks creamy and hurry up and scoop them before they start to crystallize.  Phew, now you have made pralines.  Sounds easy right????

Every time I make meringue kisses I think of my friend Michele back in Tallahassee.  I remember when she discovered these in the local grocery store and she has been hooked ever since.  I really need to take her some one day.  :)  Meringue kisses are basically these little clouds of sugar that are light and airy and crispy and YUM!  First, you have to make a nice stiff meringue of whipped sugar and egg whites, and then here we also fold in powdered sugar at the end.  After your meringue is ready you fill a piping bag and pipe the meringue into little kisses of white sugar cloud and bake them at a very low temp for a looooooong time until they are dried out.  If you don't bake them long enough they will collapse as they cool.  In school we learned that you can put them in an oven that has recently been turned off and let them sit overnight as well.  I haven't tried this method so I can't comment on how well it works......yet.  At the shop these little cuties are then sandwiched together with chocolate ganache and then half dipped in the chocolate and rolled in chocolate vermicelli (sprinkles to most of  We also made a batch of chocolate chip meringue kisses that were individually half dipped in chocolate and rolled in the vermicelli.  I was never one for meringue, but I am a changed woman.  These things are tasty!

Turtles, oh how I love turtles!  We offer two different ways to enjoy a turtle at Bittersweet; one as the traditional confection and one as a cookie.  To make the traditional turtle you have to first toast some pecan halves and then lay four of them out for the "feet".  I have also made them with 5 halves using one for the "head", but here we use four for just the feet.  We then make caramel and pour just a spoonful at the center where the four halves meet letting some of it spill out one side a little more to form the head of the turtle.  Once the caramel sets it is topped with chocolate and then striped with additional chocolate.  We also paint the bottoms of the turtles with chocolate so the caramel doesn't cause them to stick together in the package.  Oh, the wonderful and simple tricks I am learning to make things easier in the long run.  The turtle cookies are so good!  You start with a sort of shortbread cookie that has a hint of caramel flavor and then a rich chocolate fudge icing is piped on top.  Usually we sprinkle toasted pecans on some of the cookies and leave some without nuts for those who don't like them.  Crazy I tell you, Crazy.......who doesn't like nuts!  Well, excluding my friend Zach and all other who are allergic.  You are forgiven since we know you would if you could.  :)


Well, that is it for this edition and I hope you are enjoying keeping up with my journey as much as I enjoy sharing it.

As they say in New Orleans......Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler!  (Let the Good Times Roll)
and as I say......Keep It Sweet People!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Bring thankful for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time for being thankful and I have so much to be thankful for this year.  My wonderful family and friends who have been so supportive of me and my journey to becoming a pastry chef and this awesome opportunity that I have to learn at Bittersweet Confections just to name a couple.

This was a very busy time at Bittersweet Confections.  This week not only did we have many of our usual cakes and confections to make, but we had pies to make.  Lots and lots of pies to make.  We offered three kinds of pie for the holiday, as well as a couple of different cakes.

As for the pies we made both 9 inch pies and 3 inch individual pies for people to pick up.  We had a few orders before we even began, but of course there were many, many drop ins looking for something delicious to add to their Thanksgiving spread.  I was very proud of my pies thank you very much!  :)  We had a bourbon pecan pie, dutch crumb apple pie, and of course, pumpkin pies.  I don't even remember how many we made, but it was a lot!

We had a few orders for cakes and I was able to make one of the red velvet cakes that was ordered from start to finish.  I pretty much make all of the cake for the shop, but I rarely get to ice and decorate them.  The head pastry chef Eric takes care of most of those so needless to say I was very excited to show a little skill.  We also had an order for an eggless carrot cake.  It wasn't vegan so the customer still wanted the cream cheese icing.  He just wanted to make sure there were no eggs in the cake.  I have to say I was very surprised at just how moist and delicious this cake turned out.  I wasn't able to get a picture before he picked it up though.  :(  We also went ahead and prepared a few of our chocolate mousse cakes that are coated in chocolate ganache (uh, can you say YUMALICIOUS!) and they were ready to be decorated with a cute turkey for the holiday. 

Thanksgiving Day
This was by far my favorite day of the week because I got to see my boys!  I have missed them so much and I can't believe it has been a month since I have seen them.  They arrived on Wednesday night with my mother in law for the holiday.  Even though it was just the four of us we had quite the feast.  I baked a nice little turkey, cornbread dressing, mac and cheese, collard greens, green bean cassarole, rolls, and of course gravy.  I have lots of  It was a busy week with working every day and then prepping for Thursday in the evening, but it was so worth it.  I was also able to squeeze in some delicious desserts.  We had spice cake with cranberry filling, chocolate silk pie, apple pie, and pumpkin pie (duh). Even though this paragraph wasn't actually about what I did at work, I thought it was a great lesson in multi tasking and making the most of your time.......not to mention it was about all of the cooking and baking I did too! 

I hope you all had a wonderful time with family and friends and took a moment to reflect on all of the things we should be thankful for in our lives. I had to say goodbye to Lane and Brandon again this morning and it was a tough morning for sure.  I will be counting the days until I see them again. 

Instead of my usual "Keep it sweet" sentiment I will leave you with another in honor of the holiday.

May your bellys be full and your hearts be stuffed with love!

See you next week! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Filling up the case!!

One of the most important things that Cheryl stresses to us is to always be aware of the case. This would be the front display case where the customers see all of the deliciousness that is Bittersweet Confections!

There are always many, many items in the case at any one time and let me tell you when a couple of things are missing you can really tell. This is such an important part of my job because if there are no items in the case, then there is nothing to sell.

The left side of the case is full of all of the beautiful truffles that we have to offer. Each truffle is hand made and there are so many flavors to choose from that are all delectable.  Look for more delicious details in a future post.  lol

 The right side of the case is our domain, meaning Grace (my co-worker) and I. We help with the truffles too, but the right side of the case is where we shine. :) The top shelf is always full of cupcakes that we prepare each day. There are both filled and un-filled cupcakes and there are of course flavors that are there every day and some that make special appearances, but talking about the amazing cupcakes will be yet another post.

This week I also prepared some peanut butter cups, cheesecakes, and petit fours for the case. The peanut butter cups are not exactly what you would imagine. We first create a chocolate shell by painting chocolate into the wax paper cup and then pipe the peanut butter ganache into the shell and decorate with a couple of macados, a white chocolate/ chocolate striped decoration. The painting of the shells can get quite time consuming so this week we are trying out some premade chocolate shells ordered from the same swiss chocolate company. So, same great chocolate, but a little bit easier for us. Win, win if you ask me!

Cheryl had me try out a new recipe for personal sized cheesecakes that turned out to be so easy, but delicious and creamy all the same. We baked the cheesecakes in muffin liners for the personal size and then tried out a couple of different ways to serve them. First we prepared a sweetened sour cream sauce to spread on the cheesecake and then topped that with some fresh fruit. They looked a little small that way so we then decided to try something similar to the way we prepared the cupcakes for the Music in the Park series from last month. (see previous post) We took the clear plastic cup and spooned some fruit compote in the bottom of the cup, placed the unwrapped cheesecake on top and then spooned on some additional compote, topped it with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and a strawberry half. We decided that was a little too much compote so we changed it up a bit. The cheesecake is baked with a graham cracker crust so we came up with our final winner (I think). I used the same plastic cup and spooned some graham cracker crumbs into the bottom, placed the unwrapped cheesecake on top and spooned some compote on top of that, piped a little whipped cream and placed either a strawberry half or a few blueberries on top. When I took my break later in the day I noticed a man had ordered one and the next thing I knew I saw him licking out the cup! Winner!!!!

I also prepared some petit fours for the case this week. Most people think of a petit four as a small bite sized cake, but it can actually be any small dessert that is about two bites. Petit fours can also be savory, but most consider a petit four to be something sweet for a dessert. Our petit fours are made of simply of almond cake that is covered with a poured fondant and decorated with a buttercream swirl and a little fondant decoration like a flower like in the my picture below. Grace and I are talking about making little snowflakes or ornaments for the petit fours during the holidays. Other petit fours that I have made in the past have a thin layer of raspberry jam between two layers or on the top of the cake before the fondant is poured over, but this is not always done.

I am learning so much and even though I am missing my Tallahassee family I am having a blast just soaking up all of this pastry chefness.  Is that even a word????  Well, it is now!  :)

You know what comes next........Keep it Sweet people!!

Friday, November 9, 2012


This week at work I finally had the opportunity to decorate some cakes! Everyone who knows me, knows I love to make cakes........and cupcakes of course. Each week I have baked lots and lots of cake that has been used for birthday cakes, grooms cakes and of course, wedding cakes.  All of the cakes and cupcakes at Bittersweet Confections are made from scratch which does take a little longer, but the results are well worth it and I know the customers appreciate it too. 

Well, this week I finally was able to actually decorate some of the cakes that I baked. Eric, the pastry chef, was out of the shop on Tuesday and we had two orders for cakes so Grace and I finally got to decorate. :)


Red Velvet Birthday

Our first cake was a joint effort and was a 6in. red velvet cake that I baked the day before. I iced the cake with some of the yummiest cream cheese icing I have ever made. I masked the sides with cake crumbles and Grace wrote the message in chocolate. Grace is wonderful with writing in chocolate and I can't wait to learn more from her. She has worked in the industry in different New Orleans hotels for a few years now and said they all of them write in chocolate so she has had a lot of practice with it. I have more experience with writing in buttercream icing than she does so we make a pretty good

Petite Cakes

In the shop we have what are called petite cakes. They are small approximately 3 inch chocolate cakes that are filled with chocolate mousse and covered in chocolate ganache. These are very popular in the shop and would be a nice little personal sized birthday surprise for a friend or co-worker. They really are the perfect size for a good chocolate fix or you could share if you really wanted to and both people would be satisfied. I have tasted these cakes and personally I'll keep mine to myself thank you very much.

Obama Cake

On Election Day we had an order for a 6in. vanilla cake decorated with the Obama symbol. Since Grace had already left for the day I got to do this one all by myself! I made this cake from start to finish, the baking and the decorating. :) The vanilla cake was a chiffon cake that we make from scratch. We make the base cake batter with butter, sugar, flour and leavening ingredients and then a meringue is made and folded in. It can then be flavored accordingly and baked into a cake that is so fluffy and absolutely delectable. It was decorated in buttercream and I piped the design in stars (appropriate for Election Day don't you think???) I kept waiting for a Romney order to come in too, but nope. I thought it would be fun to take a picture of them side by side. 

Eric makes all of the wedding cakes, grooms cakes and really most of the orders that come in.  I am hoping that as Grace and I have opportunities to decorate cakes he will let us help with some of the orders.  He is very talented and I am really looking forward to learning from him.  A couple of weekends ago he made a grooms cake that looked like a red and white popcorn box.  I wish I had taken a picture to post, but that was a very busy day and there was no time to stop and take out the phone and snap a pic.  The fake cake that is on display now (pictured below) is one that he made and it really a neat design.  I can't wait to learn more and get some more experience with fondant. 

More to come later.  Keep it sweet folks!

Friday, November 2, 2012


First, just in case you are saying.......What the heck is an amenity?  An amenity is just a little something that someone (usually a business) provides to their customer or guest as a little something extra.  For example, at my old job I planned a meeting at the Grand Bohemian hotel in Orlando, FL and when I arrived and checked into my room there was a beautiful fruit and cheese platter with a very nice bottle of red wine waiting for me as a thank you for booking the meeting with them.  Chocolate covered strawberries or an assortment of chocolates is another common amenity.

There is an upscale hotel here in New Orleans that Bittersweet Confections provides the amenity boxes for the hotel's special guests.  The hotel colors are red, black and silver so the amenities are prepared using boxes that are a combination of those colors.  We place some shreds of black crinkle paper and silver strands in the bottom of the box, and place little bags tied up with ribbon of items that are either a nice treat or are indicative of New Orleans.  Each box is then tied up with a pretty red ribbon and is ready to go.  We usually prepare at least 100 of these boxes each week for the hotel.   

Some examples of things that I have learned are well known in New Orleans are:

Cheese straws are something I had heard of before, but really wasn't all that familiar with.  They taste similar to a Cheese-It cracker.  They are piped into short "sticks" with a star tip so they have ridges and baked until crispy.  We actually used these in the box lunches we made last weeked instead of chips.  These are probably better for you than chips anyway........maybe.

Pecan roca is yummy deliciousness in your mouth!  Roca is basically a nut brittle with chocolate on top and can be made with several different nuts.  Each time I have helped with boxes it has been pecan roca, but we also have almond roca in the shop.  Cheryl (the owner of Bittersweet Confections and a confection queen) explained to me that when making the roca you can tell if you have it right if it is shiny when you pour it out to harden.  If it looks cloudy then it is going to be too soft and you want it to have a nice snap and be crunchy when you eat it, not chewy.

Amaretti cookies sweet little almond flavor cookies that are made with almond paste, sugar and eggs and are piped onto a cookie sheet to bake instead of scooped.  Once they are baked and cooled we dust them with powdered sugar before bagging them up for sale.  Although they can be kind of expensive to make because of the almond paste, they are well worth it!

The Fleur de Lis is seen all over the city.  Almost everywhere you look you see a Fleur de Lis somewhere.  We make some molded chocolate Fleur de Lis for the shop and they are very popular.  We pipe the tempered chocolated into the chocolate molds and let it set, then once the chocolate has set we pop them out, dust them with silver dust and place them in individual clear bags.  They really are pretty and Cheryl uses quality chocolate so you know they taste good too!

Hmmmm, mental note.........this is definitely a little nugget to tuck away for coming back to Tally and the some of the nice hotels there that may consider amenities for their special guests.  I just need to come up with treats that represent Tallahassee.  Any ideas?

Until next time......Keep it sweet!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

I survived my first week!

My first week of externship is over and I have lived to tell about it. This week was amazing! I am exhausted and ache all over, but it was so worth it!!! You not at a desk job anymore Dorothy......LOL

With my parking dilemma solved I was ready to get started. Oh, and to make it better there is a parking lot directly across the street from the one I was using that is the same price for an hour longer of parking. This may not seem like a big deal, but for me this is a Win! :)

Wednesday was my first real day. I left the house around 7:00am thinking this will be plenty of time to get there by 8:30........wrong, well almost. I parked in the lot at 8:25 and ran to the shop and made it just in time, so now I will be leaving at 6:45.  I met Eric the pastry chef and then it was off to the races. We didn’t use the commercial sized mixers much in school so I got a crash course in commercial mixer 101 (which really is pretty easy). We started with a big batch of buttercream icing which I felt pretty good about since I have made this TONS of times. Then he had me make a batch of chocolate cake batter for cakes later in the week. We had several cakes for this weekend so we made a few batches of different batters. Chocolate cake, red velvet cake, white cake.....etc.

My days for this week kind of run together, but I really got to make a lot of fun things. We made bagels, brioche dough, chocolate chip cookie dough, Oatmeal raisin chocolate chip cookie dough, Amaretti cookies, chocolate dipped strawberries, muffin batter, buttercream icing, cake, cake and more cake.

I have learned so many little things to keep in mind for when I come back to Tally and get ready to open my own place. Some of them seem like common sense, but I just haven't really thought about it before. We made huge batches of cookie dough and scooped them out, flatten them a little and then froze them for later. They only bake a few for the day so that we have fresh cookies for sale every day. With the cake batter we always bake whatever is left after measuring out the cakes into cupcakes. The cupcakes that aren’t needed for the case right away are tightly wrapped and frozen for the next day or two.  When they are thawed later they are just as moist and yum-o as when they were frozen.  Bagel dough is also made in a big batch, shaped and frozen before the dough starts to rise; then each evening we take out enough bagels and croissants for the next day to thaw in the cooler overnight and be baked fresh the next morning. Can you say YUMMY! Again most of this is common sense for shop/bakery/restaurant owners, but you and I really don't think about it.  In my mind it was everything made from scratch everyday........what a mess that would be, I would have to get in waaaaaay too early.

I also had fun making "cup"cakes for the Wednesday in the Square event where Cheryl has a booth set up.  The picture below is of the chocolate caramel "cup"cakes.  I piped a little caramel buttercream into the bottom of the cup, placed a chocolate cupcake in the cup, then piped a little ring of the buttercream around the top.  Some caramel was piped on the top and sprinkled with mini chocolate chips and then finished off with another drizzle of caramel.  I thought this was such a great idea both for transporting and for serving at events like this one. It's like a little cupcake parfait.  :)

Cheryl doesn't normally serve sandwiches, but she had an order for some box lunches that we prepared and delivered on Saturday.  The picture is of the veggie sandwich with sauteed portabella mushrooms, roasted red peppers, sprouts and a cream cheese spread.  We also make chicken salad sandwiches and roasted turkey sandwiches.  Let me tell you, I have had box lunches before and I only wish mine were as good as these.  Each box had a sandwich on a fresh brioche bun, a little bag of cheese straws, and a chocolate dipped strawberry.  Mmmmmm!

I do miss everyone back in Tally, but I am having a blast learning and spending time with my parents.  Well, what little time I am home.   LOL 

Until next time.........Keep it Sweet!

Have a HAPPY HALLOWEEN everyone!!!!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My First Day.......well sort of

Ok, so I am finally getting started.  Well, sort of.......yesterday I told my boys good-bye and went down into New Orleans to Bittersweet Confections where I will be completing my externship.  I met with Cheryl, the owner, and got my official job description and went over company policies, etc.  I also got to meet a couple of my co-workers Grace and Andy. 

Grace is sort of a newbie like me, but she has been there for a little over a week and already looks to be having a great time.  She is a baker like me and looking at the schedule it looks like we will be working together a lot.  We already chatted a little yesterday and she is super sweet.  :) 

Andy is in the front of the house and seems to be one of Cheryl's key people.  I remember meeting him when I came to visit in July and he seems to be a pretty cool guy.  He is going to be teaching Grace and I all about the front of the house and the coffee/ espresso machine.  Oh boy!  You know I love coffee so I am really excited to actually learn the right way to make all of those yummy drinks.

Eric is the kitchen manager and will be my direct supervisor.  I'll get to meet him tomorrow on my first real day.  He writes up the schedule and since today (Tuesday) is my scheduled day off I thought I would go ahead and catch everyone up to speed.  (Hense, the My First Day.......well sort of) 

My biggest challenge thus far is  Since I am from little ol Tallahassee where pretty much every business has a parking lot, I'm not used to having to hunt for parking.......or parking on the street........or getting a contract for a parking lot......or just flat out paying for parking.  Anyway, everyone thinks its funny that it is the parking that is stressing me out.  Alas, I have found a lot that is a few blocks down on the same street that is $6 a day so that is where I will be shooting for getting a spot for now.  I have been told that there is a lot 3 streets over that is $4 a day, but while the walk would be great I just dont feel comfortable enough with the city yet.  I know, I know, quit being a weenie.  :)

I'll let ya know how the espresso machine tutorial goes.......keep it sweet!

Friday, October 19, 2012

The time has come

Ok, so I know I have been completely MIA.  I have no excuses, just life and the craziness of it.  :)

I'm here and this time I can't fall back on my promise to keep everyone posted of my adventures in pastry.  Yesterday I moved to Slidell, LA to complete my externship in New Orleans at an awesome place called Bittersweet Confections on Magazine Street.  Seriously, this place is great!  If you are in the area you would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn't stop in and have a little something and if you are not in the area then you should at least check out their website at

I will be living with my mom and dad and I am super excited to have some time with them!!!!  My boys (husband Lane and son Brandon) are on their way here now for the weekend and I can't wait to show them where I will be working.  Anyway, my point is because I have now begun my externship I will be keeping up my blog on a regular basis because now not only will I actually have some things to share with you all, but keeping a journal is also a requirement for school.  :)

I have had a couple of adventures since my last post such as TWO WEDDINGS!!  As soon as I have some good pictures I will blog about the weddings. 

So, without further adieu.......the time has come!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pastry Live 2012 (Day 1, Part 1)

Oh Wow.....I dont even know where to start.  Pastry Live in Atlanta was AMAZING!!!!  My plan is to post about it one day at a time.

Day 1 (Friday)
Today was the big day for the Student Chocolate competition and I could not be more proud of my two classmates, Laura and Toni, that participated.  I served as the extra pair of hands and cheerleader for Laura during the competition.  Toni and Laura both did fantastic!  We reported to the venue and started at 8:00 that morning.  The girls had 30 minutes to temper chocolate and put together their pieces and both finished just in time.  Laura's piece had a African safari theme and Toni's was Under the Sea. 

After the competition was over the competitors in the Cake competition started bringing in their amazing creations.  The competitors bring in their cakes already completed or they may do some light assembling on site.  They also have to bring in a seperate cake for tasting.  I attached a couple of my favorites below.  The Dr. Suess was really fun and I liked the mermaid, but she kind of had a freaky face.

Needless to say this was so exciting for me since I love cakes!  I have pretty much convinced myself to consider entering the competition next year.  It all depends on my confidence level and where I am this time next year. 

We attended two seminars that day which will come in post stay tuned.  :)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Please forgive me.......

I am a terrible blogger so far.  I haven't posted anything in at least 2 weeks.  I attribute this to the schools out for summer brain.  Like I said in my last post I finished up my actual classes a couple of weeks ago and are now just waiting to go to my externship in October.

Anyway, I vow to get back on track!  I am headed up to Atlanta, GA today for Pastry Live 2012 this weekend.  I promise when I get back to catch everyone up on all of the happenings that have been going on.  Thanks for understanding and I'll catch ya later! 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Final......Final Exam

OMG......I cannot believe it is here.  My last final exam for school.  Like I said before my final exam consists of a two tier cake, 20 cupcakes in the theme of Hot Wheels and a dessert cake. 

Well, we started on Monday with baking all of the cakes needed for our final and then last night the decorating mad house began.  There was icing flying everywhere!  Just kidding, it wasnt really flying, but it was everywhere.  I can't wait to finish tonight and post some pics. 

Have a great hump day everyone!

Mac & Tarah's Engagement Party

This weekend was the engagement party for Mac and Tarah and we had so much fun!  It was a luau theme and they had a country low boil and lots of dips and fruit and other munchies.  I prepared all of the desserts for the party and since we didnt want to duplicate anything for the wedding I decided to go with some of their other favorite desserts and the theme of the party.

We went with Key Lime tartlets, flip flop and palm tree sugar cookies, french macaroons with mango jam, and smores cupcakes.  Everything turned out great and everyone seemed to enjoy the treats. 

I did learn that I can't wait to have access to a commercial kitchen!  I was either baking or decorating all day Saturday and Sunday up until the party.  We had a total of 96 cupcakes (36 were for another birthday party that day......a special thanks to my delivery guys....aka my husband and son), 100 decorated sugar cookies, 48 key lime tarts, and probably around 100 macaroons.  Phew, I havent been that exhausted in a long time. I wouldnt have had it any other way.  I can't wait for the wedding!!!

I wish Mac and Tarah all the happiness they deserve and I am so blessed that they are allowing me to be a part of their special day.  Love y'all! 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dessert Cakes

This week our focus is on dessert cakes.  Cakes like Red Velvet, German Chocolate, Coconut Cake, etc. etc. etc.  You get the idea. 

I have to admit that I made my very first angel food cake on Monday.......chocolate angel food cake of course!  It really wasn't nearly as challenging as I thought it would be and it will make a fantastic strawberry shortcake.  Since most of these cakes are still a work in progress so I will post pictures later.  We had to make an angel food cake, a chiffon cake, a cake roll, and two dessert cakes.  Sooooooo, I chose chocolate angel food cake, orange chiffon cake (this you will not receive a picture of because alas it did not make was totally delish though!), a pumpkin roll, coconut cake, and a german chocolate cake. 

As of last night all of the cakes are done.   Now on to the know all the goodies.  I have a lot to do tonight.  Coconut pastry cream, coconut pecan icing, meringue, strawberries........oh boy!

Oh my gosh, I almost forgot!  We were given our themes for our practical exam cakes on Monday night as well.  I say given because we each drew an object out of a bag for one of our other classmates.  Whatever that object was became our muse for our cakes.  Take a wild guess at my theme...........nope, not it..........nope, not it..........ok, ok I'll just tell you.  HOT WHEELS!  How cool is that?  I can't wait to design my cake and cupcakes around that. 

Have a fantastic hump day everyone and I'll see you on the screen later.  :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

More Wedding Fun

This weekend I rode down to Destin, FL with my sister in law and our chauffer (I mean my brother in Jack to check out some rentals for Mac & Tarah's wedding in September.  I think I found a great house for Lane and I to rent that will work for me prepping all of the wedding desserts, now just to negotiate on the rates........ugh, not my favorite part, but if I can get a little break on the weekly rate maybe Lane and I can stretch it into a little mini vacay before I leave for my externship the next month. 

We visited a few places that Pam and Jack are considering and chatted about the pros and cons of each one until I think we may have been a little more confused than when we started.  LOL  Ok, maybe not, but I do hope I helped them try and narrow down which place would best suit there needs as the parents of the groom and hosts of the rehersal dinner.  :)

We also visted the Destin Bay House where the wedding and reception will be held.  What a cute place!!!  I almost wish Lane and I were getting married again so we could have it there.  We werent able to get inside, but we peeked in the windows and I got a pretty good idea of the layout and what I will have to work with as far as the kitchen goes.  The kitchen is super tiny, but depending on what needs the caterer has (maybe I should just call dibs on the kitchen) we will be just fine.  I can't wait for their wedding! 

We finished up with dinner at a local landmark called The Donut Hole and had breakfast for dinner which was absolutely delicious!  I had such a great time with them and they certainly helped me out by letting me tag along with them so I could check everything out too.  Hopefully I helped them a little as well and maybe working together we can help Mac and Tarah have the truly magical day they deserve. 

Sweet 16

Last week we worked on designing cakes around a theme and cake construction.  We were tasked with making a 2 tier cake, a mini 2 tier cake, and a dozen cupcakes all coordinating under a specific theme.  I chose to "recreate" my daughters Sweet 16 cake.  Now again I was reminded to step out from what I have done before and create something new so that is just what I did.  I stuck with the same color scheme and if anyone reading this remembers her party you will recognize some of the features from her cake, but I did do a little change up as they say. 

The two tier features some polka dots, stripes and of course a couple of roses.  I went with a combination of the traditional rose and a couple of the ribbon roses.  The mini cake is an exact replica (almost) of the large cake and the cupcakes have the two main colors swirled together. 

I have to take a second to thank my instructor and all of my classmates (whether they read this and see it or not) because at the end of class everyone helped me box up cupcakes for my nephew Austin to take to his nurses.  My nephew is 17 years old and is battling a rare form of pediatric cancer and has to travel to Jacksonville (2.5 hours away) every week for his chemotherapy.  His nurses are absolutely amazing people who take such great care of him so every now and then we like to send them some treats as just a little thank you and this week my classmates really stepped up with the cupcakes.  I took these to Austin this weekend and he was so excited!  He said his nurses were hinting last week that they sure did love the goodies.  Wont they be surprised when he shows up this week!  :)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Mac & Tarah Wedding Fun

How fitting is it that my first wedding will be for one of the people who really encouraged my to follow my dream and is still one of my biggest cheerleaders.  My niece Tarah.....well technically she will be my niece after she and our nephew Mac get married in September, but whatever. 

Tarah and Mac have decided to have a simple southern wedding at an amazingly sweet location in Destin, FL.  Our whole family LOVES Destin so this is going to be awesome!!  Tarah decided that since she and Mac are not your run of the mill couple they will not have a run of the mill wedding cake, but a dessert bar......HOW FUN IS THAT?  We have been putting our heads together to come up with a few simple southern desserts that both of them love and will really add a touch of their southern heritage to the wedding.  Well, I think we have come up with a great selection.  Banana pudding (well duh), ambrosia, mini hand held fruit pies, strawberry shortcake (made with the family pound cake recipe), pecan tassies (sort of like a one bite pecan pie), sweet potato cupcakes with maple icing, and what we like to call Mac's favorites (it is oreo cookies, layered with peanut butter and baked inside a brownie.....wowie zowie!). 

We had a tasting the past weekend.......Mac you are lucky I love ya and left you some since you skipped out on us.  LOL  Everything was just what Tarah had in mind so needless to say I left on cloud nine.  I want this day to be so special for them and I am honored that they asked me to be a part of it.  I have posted some pics below of some of the desserts.  They ended up being taken with my phone so they arent fantastic, but maybe you will get the idea.  Picture these on a super cute table displayed on white milk glass pedastals, and with pretty little ribbons tied around the jars.

Hope you all had a fantastic 4th of July and stay tuned for more details!