Monday, July 28

Putting Myself Out There

I participated in my first vendor tasting. The kitchen incubator I belong to invited clients like myself that has a small food business to show big-name area vendors our wares.

I thought this was a good opportunity to show what The Pastry Prophet can do. I emailed the director to sign up to present a fan favorite -- Gluten Free Cupcakes. I know cupcakes are becoming passe, but people who need to have gluten free food told me it's one of the best cakes they have ever tried.

Obviously there are people who cannot or choose not to indulge in wheat flours, nuts, sugar, or animal products. Why should they be penalized because of it? I say they should not. That's why I'm so proud that people who need gluten-free items are so delighted by my cakes.

I scheduled the day off from my day job and planned my pastry battle.

The night before I started to freak out. I sat in my car thinking perhaps I should cancel. What am I doing?

Don't worry. I got over it.

Come at me bro ... and try a cupcake!


I won’t bore you with details, but I learned so much in such a short period. Presentation is important. I need to work on stepping back and viewing it from the potential customer’s point of view. Not just how the product looks, but the staging of the product as well.

Also (and this is something I have worked on this issue for a long time) I realize I need to get a thicker skin. I say thicker because I think I can take criticism now much better than in the past. What I find really irritating to me are people who go out of their way to be condescending.  

What are you getting out of acting like a jerk to me? I've dealt (and defeated) the biggest and best bitches out there from Catholic school to the catty broads in the work force. All I have to say is “Fuck you from the bottom of my heart.” No one has time for your low self-esteem.

That said, I am very appreciative of the help I received. I felt like a little lost lamb and the Executive Director worked her magic to make all the participants appear their very best. I watched her in awe. I aspire to be the business woman that she is. I know it won't happen overnight, but it's a goal.

Moving on ….

My next goal is that I need to focus on packaging and presentation. I have labels sporting my logo, but here’s another question: How easy is it for my customer to transport it? Will my products stay intact if dropped? Do I want people to eat them on the go? Will they display them for retail? And so on.

I plan on partaking in the next vendor testing. I really need to get my name and product out there. So far word of mouth is working fine, but if I want to make business my life it needs to be my main focus.

My facility plans on doing this quarterly. Although I think I was pretty green, I will be ready for battle the next time.


Tuesday, July 1

Eat Local: Craft Beer-Inspired Ice Cream - Victory Brewing Company

I had the opportunity to try Victory Brewing Company's new line of ice creams. Yes, I said ice cream!

(left to right) Hopped-Up Devil, Triple Monkey, and Storm Drop


Victory offered ice cream for some time at their brewpubs. This is the first time the ice cream will be available for the public to purchase retail. If you are in the Philadelphia area, this is worth the road trip to their Downingtown location!

Available now are three flavors based on their craft beers called: Hopped-Up Devil, Triple Monkey, and Storm Drop. For my readers who abstain from beer and the like, you should know that they are all nonalcoholic. Made with wort, which is the flavorful liquid that is the base of the beer,  each ice cream is distinctly unique.

As I tasted each ice cream, summertime frozen dessert ideas started dancing in my head. More than just sundaes or milkshakes. I wanted to accompany these ice creams with something fun. So every free moment - driving, exercising, or working - I wondered what pastry would go best with each ice cream.

Without further adieu:

Storm Drop Ice Cream Cupcakes
Storm Drop Ice Cream Cupcakes
Storm Drop Ice Cream Cupcakes
I originally planned on making an entire cake. Then I thought a cupcakes allows one to eat chilly yummies without the guilt of overindulging. I mean who would eat an entire ice cream cake?

::raises hand in shame::

As a lover of all things chocolate, Storm Drop combines deep chocolate drops against a creamy chocolate stout base. Because of that I used Storm King Imperial Stout in the cake base as well. So you will need a bottle of the stout. Actually you will only need a cup, but waste not, want not.

The original recipe is from Epicurious.com, but I cut the ingredient amount in half.

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes
1 cup Storm King Imperial Stout at room temperature
2 sticks softened unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream

Icing
2 sticks of softened unsalted butter
3 cups of powdered sugar - sifted
1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoona vanilla
1 tablespoon of Storm King Imperial Stout
1/4 cup of milk

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line muffin pan with cupcake wrappers.
  2. Bring the stout and butter to simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
  3. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. 
  4. Spoon batter into cups not quite half full. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer cakes to rack; cool 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto rack and cool completely.
Now you have to work fast if you are making this dessert on a warm day.

With an ice cream scooper place a heaping scoop of Storm Drop Ice Cream on each cupcake. You may need 3 pints for 24 cupcakes - or maybe I just have a heavy hand.

Pop the ice cream topped cakes in the freezer for an hour to firm them up.

Chocolate Icing
  1. Beat the butter and vanilla until smooth. Combine the powder sugar and cocoa power. Slowly add to the butter mixture. Add the stout. Once incorporated add the milk by tablespoon until creamy.
  2. Place the icing into a piping back with the tip of your choice. Starting at the base, frost the entire exposed cake and ice cream.
  3. Optional: Decorate with white chocolate flakes and cocoa nibs.
Makes 24 cupcakes. Share if you are feeling generous.



Triple Monkey Peanut Butter Sandwiches
Triple Monkey Peanut Butter Sandwiches
Triple Monkey Peanut Butter Sandwiches
Triple Monkey Ice Cream uses Victory’s Golden Monkey beer wort. Each spoonful combines fruity banana and a crunchy delicious pecan swirl. I thought enclosing Triple Monkey with tender peanut butter cookies would give a nice twist to ice cream sandwiches.

Peanut Butter Cookies
2 and 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt

2 sticks of softened unsalted butter
3/4 cups of white sugar
3/4 cups of brown sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup of creamy peanut butter

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  1. Put the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk.
  2. Mix the butter and sugars until fluffy, add eggs, and finally the peanut butter. Add in the dry ingredients.
  3. Scoop a tablespoon of batter onto a cookies sheet covered with parchment paper. 

Bake for 10-15 minutes.

Cool.

Crunchy Banana / Chocolate Nib Garnish
1 cup dried banana chips
1/4 cup cocoa nibs

  1. In a food processor or just in a plastic bag, crush dried banana chips and chocolate nibs.
  2. Place in bowl and place to the side.
Assembly
  1. Take a scoop of Triple Monkey ice cream and place it on a peanut butter cookie. Put another on top and roll in the banana and nib mixture.
  2. Wrap up the sandwiches in plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes to an hour.

Eat up!

Makes 6 sandwiches.




Hopped-Up Devil Butterscotch Brownies
Hopped-Up Devil Butterscotch Brownies

Hopped-Up Devil Butterscotch Brownies

Although not as elaborate at the previous desserts, I like this one because it gives a hit of everything: white chocolate morsels and nuts from the brownies; Hopped-Up Devils' dark chocolate, coffee, spices, and a bit more beer!

1/4 cup shortening or butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
2 tablespoons of HopDevil India Pale Ale

  1. Heat oven 350°F. Heat shortening (or butter) over low heat until melted; remove from heat. Mix in brown sugar, egg and vanilla, and ale. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spread in greased pan (8x8x2 inches).
  2. Bake for 25 minutes
  3. Remove from pan while warm and cut into squares.
  4. Place a scoop of Hopped Up Devil Ice Cream on one bar and top it off with another.

Makes 5 sandwiches

That's it and dig in!

Of course, eating it out the pint is fun too. Let me know what's your favorite flavor and how you prefer to serve it.

Where I found it:
Victory Brewing Company
Brewpub Retail Store
420 Acorn Lane
Downingtown, PA


Thursday, June 26

So I Had Some Leftover Heavy Cream...

... and I couldn't just leave it to waste. Therefore I decided it time to sharpen up my candy making skills and make some caramel. First things let me point out that I seem to only want to make chocolate during the warmer months.

In school we have a temperature-controlled room to turn out and garnish candies. Although my condo has central air, cooking cream, sugar, butter, and flavoring until firm ball stage and higher really defeats the standard residential cooling system.

With the time, ingredients, and skill to make some pecan-loaded caramels, my personal comfort be damned!

Equipment:
Measuring cups
Measuring spoons
Heavy saucepan (pot)
Heat resistant spoon
Buttered (or cooking sprayed) baking dish
Candy thermometer - yes, this necessary. Do not assume that your thermometer is perfectly calibrated. Test it periodically. Boil a pot of water. Insert thermometer and notice where it measures. It should stop at 212° F. If not, note how many degrees more or less. So if the thermometer stops at 209° F, you are 3 degrees short. 

Ingredients:

Sugar:                      2 cups
Light Corn Syrup:   1/3 cup
Dark Corn Syrup:    1/3 cup
Heavy Cream:         1-1/3 cups
Unsalted Butter:      4 oz. (1 stick)
Vanilla Extract:       2 teaspoons

1. Butter or spray a pan. I prefer a 3 quart Pyrex dish.
2. Combine the sugar, corn syrups, and cream in a heavy saucepan.
3. Over medium heat, stir until the sugar completely dissolves.

Heavy cream, sugar, and syrups
4. Add thermometer and raise heat to medium high.
Insert the candy thermometer
Let that baby boil. Don't rush it.
5. Cook the syrup to the firm-ball stage (244°F - 248°F).
6. Add the butter, stir until incorporated.
7. Remove pan from heat and flavor with vanilla extract.
8. Carefully into a prepared pan.

It's HOT!!! Sugar burns are bad. 
 I just happened to have pecans and I just tossed them on.

Allow the caramel to set before cutting (about 2 hours at room temperature). Remove from the baking dish and place on a cutting board. After cutting up the cooled caramels into small squares. I melted some chocolate and chopped pecans. It was dipping time.





Here you have some caramels dipped in dark and others in white chocolates.

Lastly I wanted some old fashioned chocolate turtles. So I made some patties and dipped them in milk chocolate.







Tuesday, May 27

Life Is A Constant Transition

Although not as exciting as 2013, this year has kept me on my toes. I'm still trying to market and find a niche for The Pastry Prophet. Also my "day job" isn't as stable as I would like. I'm flip flopping on what I should do - find another 9-5 office job or "get off the pot" and open an actual brick and mortar establishment?

While searching for my path, I wish I could be the protagonist that could rely on a mentor.

With the exception of my parents and sister, I never really had a non-family role model to ask for advice on my goals. All my decisions have been luck, trial and error. If I managed to survive with little pain or scarring then all is right with the world.

I've always envied those with mentors or people who were groomed to take a particular role. I think I would have gone further in my life if someone pointed me in the right direction. One thing that urged me to continue this blog throughout the ups and downs is the fact that maybe someone can learn from my missteps.

Oh well. On the bright side I can always that my achievements are mine.

I expected business to really pick up after Food Rush, but alas, things are better but you won't see me with a show anytime soon. My three blog readers can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Now can I show others my skills, but I can see what others can do.

Enough of this shameless self promotion.

I have taken a long break from writing. I truly missed this blog even if no one reads it. I'm always pleasantly surprised when I do receive feedback from a random viewer.

So after a long thought I want to keep this blog food/pastry focused, educational, and alcohol-fueled snark.




Monday, January 6

Any Reason to Start Again

Well readers I hope you all had a wonderful Christmahanakwanzikasolstice. I did I managed to donate my toys for Toys for Tots before the deadline; not argue with any family members; fed friends and family; and generally, just had a good time.

New Year's Eve I took it easy. Rather than party, I stayed at home with my sister and watched bad public domain horror movies, ate pizza, and drank champagne at midnight.

I haven't written awhile, because I had nothing to say (what else is new). Ever since Food Rush I have been busy and got the flu. Don't worry I pretty much baked in a hazmat suit.  I'm a major germaphobe.

So I worked hard and my website http://www.Pastryprophet.com/ is up and running. You can order from the site by the way!

I did a lot in 2013. There's still so much for me to do. Which brings me to my new topic:

New Year Resolutions 
(yes, it's late who cares?)


  • Lose 20 pounds
  • Go on more dates
  • Volunteer my time (regularly - not just one)
  • Work on my freelance writing
  • Build up my social media following
  • Learn a new skill
  • Appreciate what I have
  • Stop holding grudges
  • Stop taking everything personally
  • Learn to let things go


Well I think that's good mix of superficial and serious goals.

Okay 2014 let's see what you got in ya!



Sunday, December 1

I May Be Down, But I'm Not Out!

So I lost the Cookie Competition.

I did my absolute best and there isn't anything I would have done differently. In the after interview that was my exact answer. Usually I second guess everything, but this is first time where I feel I nailed the challenge.

Then what happened? That answer I'll never know. The judges gave me wonderful praise and decided to award the prize to my competitor. Does the answer really matter now? Will it change my life in one iota? Most likely not. Therefore I will file this adventure in my life in the "interesting moments of 2013" and move on.

Speaking of 2013, I have to say not only am I proud of going the distance in Food Rush, but I also opened my own dessert catering business. All in all, I really don't think I could have gone as far as I have without my insane loving family and friends. They have to be special to suffer through my drama queen nonsense.

Last Sunday I held a business launch party at Zesty's in Manayunk. Friends, friends of friends, and acquaintances came throughout the Delaware Valley to join me. I could not have asked for a better turnout. I definitely feel like a winner and could have drowned in the encouragement and love.

Gluten Free Cupcakes
Gluten Free Chocolate & Carrot Cupcakes
Vanilla Cupcakes
Vanilla Cupcakes

Blondies With White Chocolate Chips 
Jamaica Rum Cookies
Lemon Bars


Do I regret competing on television? Absolutely not. Is there anything I would have done differently on the show? Not at all. Although my way of baking was considered "too traditional" by the judges, I stand by what I know my customers like. 

Wednesday, November 27

Food Rush Cookie Recipes

After the Food Rush Cookie episode so many people are Tweeting and emailing about the recipes I used during the competitions. Without further adieu ...

Gran Keer's Uber Gingerbread Sandwich Cookies

    Ingredients Print Recipe

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened 
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of each -  allspice, cinnamon, ground cloves, ground ginger, nutmeg
  • 4-5 cups AP flour You may need more or less depending on how moist your dry your dough is.
Cream Cheese Filling
  •  6 ounces butter, softened
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Directions

1. For gingerbread men, in a large bowl beat sugar, molasses, eggs and butter at low speed.
2. Add the spices and baking soda to 3 cups of flour until mixed.
3. Scrape with a rubber spatula.
4. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes.
5. With a wooden spoon stir in 4 to 5 cups of flour to make stiff dough. You may need more or less depending on how moist your dry your dough is.
    Divide the dough in half and wrap in plastic wrap.
    Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 days.
6. Roll dough out to 1/8 inch thickness.
7. Cut out the men and place on greased cookie sheet.
8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
9. Bake for 12 minutes or bake until the edges are firm.
10. Loosen cookies and remove to a wire rack to cool.
11. For cream cheese filling, blend together all the ingredients. Chill in refrigerator to preferred consistency.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, unsalted, room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/4 cups AP flour
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup milk chocolate morsels
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate morsels
  • 1/4 cup semi sweet morsels
  • Caramel sauce (recipe below)

Directions

1. To make the cookies, cream together the sugars and butter until smooth.2. Add the vanilla, egg and pumpkin puree and blend until combined.
3. Sift together the dry ingredients and add to the mixture until incorporated.
4. Stir in the pecans and chocolate chips.
5. On a parchment lined baking sheet in a 350 degree oven bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes.
6. Remove to a rack and cool.
Caramel Sauce
1/2 cup butter, unsalted
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat combine all the ingredients and stir until combined.
2. Continue to cook until mixture bubbles and thickens.
Assembly
1. Drizzle the caramel sauce over the cooled cookies.