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!