Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tart Palooza aka One miserable week!

I was having this super miserable day at work, I was there for 5 hours longer than usual, I was tired, nothing was going right and then finally I got to leave....finally. I slowly dragged myself through the food court, up the 5 sets of escalators into the parking garage and to my car. My 10 minute drive home seemed to take forever. I arrived home and begin to eat my lunch that had somehow become my dinner and my phone rang. I look over at it and sighed involuntarily, it was the catering director and my heart just ached because I knew it could not be good.

She started so sweet and happy in the voice that normally means I not going to like what she has to tell me. She told me we had a huge tart order. I was like ok we can handle it. She started to tell me about it and she began, "Well the first day you have 218" I quickly thought 218 tarts easy...no prob why was she calling this big? My brain then registered her next word. "dozen."  I then started to panic. My panic quickly turned to hyperventilating as she continued. 216 dozen the first day. Then a small day with 21 dozen. Then another huge day with 150 dozen. Then we got the weekend break but then it was a smoldering 263 dozen and another 23 dozen to finish off the week and the five orders. In total I would be making 263 dozen tarts or close to nine thousand yup that's a nine with three zeroes after it. I was in full panic mode. I put my sandwich down and climbed back in my car and went back to work to figure out if this was even possible.

I spent hours putting together a schedule, collecting people to help. I prepared order lists and task lists. I had nightmares about it and then it hit. The cold and flu epidemic that had been going on in the front of the store attacked my first pastry girl and then me...days before our tart misery began. I knew we would never survive....

The first order began and was chaos...my plan was good but not perfect. I quickly learned how you make thousands of tarts while working graveyards and with untrained people. I worked 20 hours in one day over 2 shifts. It was miserable especially since I was sick. I had a sore throat, a stuffy nose and could barely speak....after that first night my bad cold got drastically worse. I missed the next two orders of tarts because I ended up in the ER with a overboard heart rate and fever. We continue to take catering orders and my already sick pastry girls had to cope with tarts, mini pastries and dozens of sugar cookies. My one pastry girl had a cold, one had food poisoning and the other had only worked for me a grand total of six short shifts and had never made a tart before. It was rough but they survived! Go them!!

I finally was well enough to return to work only as my other pastry chef took a turn for the worse and everyone but me and the new girl required days off to get better.

The last two tart orders began and I never knew how bad my hands would hurt to pipe over a thousand tarts in under six hours. The 263 dozen never seemed to end. We would work through five tray of fruit tarts at a time (175 tarts) and they never seemed to end. It took us just over 40 hours between five of us to accomplish that order. It was painful and put some of us to tears. But it was done and I had never been more proud of myself or my girls. We had over 3000 tarts and they looked amazing. They were tarts to be proud of.

The last order for the mer 23 dozen or around 300 tarts was easy....I made them all in three hours by myself....I never thought I would love to see an order for 300 tarts but I did.

It was finished.

Tart Palooza kicked our butts in pastries. It sent me to the ER, required sick days from 3 out of the 4 of the pastry chefs and I think probably made us all cry at least once.

However I'm amazing at mass producing tarts now....someone else want 9000? I did it once and I'm positive I could do it again! We'll just leave out the ER, the cold and the food poisoning!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Strawberry Lemonade Bundt Cake

So I decided in addition to hearing all about my crazy work adventures and my favorite ingredients I would try and take my complicated culinary and turn it into everyday easy. So here it goes with my first recipe.

 I saw a picture of a strawberry lemonade cake on pinterest and thought I want to make that....I looked more throughly at the recipe and realized I didn't really like it and they didn't frost the cake all the way....what's up with that? Why does the whole culinary world suddenly think that just a stacked cake with frosting oozing out between your layers is attractive....I think it looks lazy! Frost the whole cake! I mean really! And since who has time to frost a whole cake into a  beautiful creation and still do something delicious and quick....insert bundt cake! They come in beautiful shapes and are so easy to frost! 

So I took the idea from my pinterest cake and created my very own simple strawberry lemonade bundt cake that got great reviews from my fellow co-workers. So here's the recipe!

1 box white cake mix
1 box strawberry cake mix (I know I used cake mix but these recipes are supposed to be easy for anyone to make and homemade cake is well not!)
1 kool aid lemonade packet.
Make according to directions. Add the kool aid packet to your white cake batter. Then take about 3/4 of the white cake batter and put evenly in the bottom of your bundt cake. Then put 3/4 of the strawberry cake batter on top of that. Be careful not to mix them at this point. You want clean swirls. (I made a few cupcakes from my remainder of batter...or you can eat it....) At this point take a butter knife and in a folding motion with your knife parellel to your pan fold the two batters together to swirl. I went around my pan twice. It should look similiar to this:

Then bake according to the box instructions. TADA! Bundt cake made!
So I'm calling this an icing...instead of a frosting, mostly because your not frosting and I think it sounds fancier!
1 lb cream cheese (really stuff guys! Don't cheat!)
1 cube butter (4oz)
give or take 3 cups powdered sugar. (what I mean by this is I'm not an exact measurer on  powdered sugar....and I don't level my cups. But it is around 3 cups give or take!)
2 large dollops of cool whip
1 kool aid lemonade packet
Bring cream cheese and butter to room temp and cream them together. (For those of you who don't know what cream is....you want to beat them until they are evenly mixed with no lumps and are soft and light.) Remember to scrape your bowl a few times while you mix! Scraping is the key to everything in baking! After your mixture is creamed add your kool aid packet and mix until combined, then add your powedered sugar a half a cup at a time mixing until incoporated.Always remember to scrape while adding your sugar!After your  powdered sugar is all in whip your icing for about 3-4 minutes on medium speed. Your icing will kinda be a bit sticky and not super light and fluffy. (Icing not frosting) Then add your two dollops of cool whip and mix until combined!
 I took about 2.5-3 cups of my icing and heated it in my microwave for 1.5 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. You just want your icing runny enough to ice without much effort. Warning: Don't overheat your frosting! If you do it loses it opaque look and is not nearly as pretty, it's still yummy though!
This is where you really can't go wrong! I then just took my meaursing cup and drizzled my frosting over my slightly warm bundt cake. I wouldn't reccommend doing it while your cake is hot but warm is fine! Mine looked like this:
Your cake is complete! I added some strawberries to my middle when I served it to add some fresh strawberry taste and provide some more color!


Happy Cooking!!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Cupcakes, Polka Dots, and First Birthdays

Today was a fun day at work. Not only did a huge convention come to town and we got slammed hard but I got to make pastries that I normally don't and play with my own creativity a bit. It was really nice!

My bosses' little girl turned one today! She was having a cupcake and polka dot party so I made...

A Polka Dot Cake!

 and Cupcake Cookies!

It was fun to do something different today at work! Thanks Teresa for giving me the opportunity and Happy Birthday to your sweet little girl!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chocolate Chip ADD

This whole week my roommates and I have been craving chocolate chip cookies. We decided to make them on Sunday our normal dessert making day. Today arrived and we all survived the typical starvation during church with the visions of chocolate chip cookies in our head.
We arrived home took naps, ate dinner and then my roommates had to run somewhere leaving me home to my thoughts....not a good idea when I am a baker.
I held off beginning the cookies until they arrived home. However, when they got home there was not a plan for just chocolate chip cookies but four varieties. They looked at me a bit crazy but were on board pretty quickly to my surprise. The dough making began and cookies were baked.
I myself am impressed with the results.
Here's the ones I made and the recipe to follow:
Start with making your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe minus the chocolate chips. We made a triple batch of mine and divide it among the four varieties. It made a ton though!
Chocolate Pecan: Add equal amounts of milk chocolate chips and pecans.

Chocolate Orange: Add orange zest. (I zested four oranges for about three cups of cookie dough. I also used semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Spiced Chocolate Chip: This one got a bit complicated. I added semi-sweet chocolate chips and milk chocolate to start and then a load of spices. I used equal parts black pepper, chili powder (although you can add this to your liking of heat. My head was mild but there. I add heaping amounts of this compared to level measurments of the other spices.), nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander (trust me on this one) and then twice as much cardamom. You can find cardamom in most grocery stores. They taste like christmas in a cookie with a kick....as one of my roommate put it.

Chocolate Rosemary:I minced fresh rosemary(aboutt two TBSP)per two cups of cookie dough. I also used semi-sweet. Dark chocolate works better with more savory ingredients.

It was a great day in the kitchen and now we have lots of chocolate chip cookies....anybody want some?

Saturday, October 15, 2011


There is a new bread trend going around the country and ever since I've heard of it I've been unable to get it out of my head. I've been dreaming of finally getting to make it and I finally did!

Meet my chocolate brioche.

It was so delicious and so odd. It was so crazy to eat a yeast bread chuck full of chocolate and yet have it taste savory instead of sweet. It was so fun to make, now I want to make chocolate bread for everything....too bad it doesn't work well for most things. I mean who wants to eat a hamburger on chocolate bread? Weird, yes.

We have decided to do a few things with chocolate bread at the restaurant however. It made it debut as chocolate french toast this weekend with chocolate covered bananas coated in pistachios. Delicious? I think so. Soon it will also be made into chocolate bread pudding.... at least I hope so!

Chocolate Breads the new thing and I'm so grateful that it is!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Jammin' it up!

I spend a lot of time by myself in my kitchen (since I have my own baking one.) I recently got this craving to make jam like my grandmas'. I began formulating a plan to make it. Luckily I have a great friend who goes along with my crazy baking ideas. She was more than happy to jump aboard the jam train.

I arrived at her house with many strawberries, pectin, sugar, my amazing immersion blender, and jalapenos. (I said I had a lot of time to myself.) We opened the sure gel and read the instructions thoroughly and were off.

We quickly accomplished one batch and decided it was pretty easy. Now on to the next three! The second batch is the one we decided to try with jalapenos. It was fun to keep trying it to see how hot it was in an attempt to not make hot inedible jam. It came out really great. I'm really excited that my crazy idea went well. My friend is thinking of using hers as a meat marinade. I think it's a terrific idea.

The only downside it that I touched my eyes with my jalapenos hands. It was painful and embarrassing. That's all I'll say.

The jam came out beautiful and I am so excited to smother toast in it and share it with many others!

My friend made her's all cute and crafty. She's amazing at it! So this is a picture of her jar....mine are sad and bare.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bacon Flavored Ice Cream

So I've blogged about how amazing bacon is before and I stand by the fact that you can do almost everything with bacon....take note that I say almost.

We have a soft-serve ice cream machine at work and it's my job to fill it with delicious unique flavors of ice cream. The goal is to basically out do Ben and Jerry without all the swirls and chunks of goodness. I've been doing amazing. We've had some really great ice creams....until we decided to try bacon.

I arrived at work early and was discussing ice cream flavors with our chef as my brain has somewhat run out of flavors. (3 ice creams a week and you will run out to.) We decided on maple a fan favorite and then the task was to decide what would marry well with it so that our twist would be delicious. We both thought for a few minutes with our eyes gazing around our spice shelves and storage areas to try and find something I could turn into ice cream.

Just when I thought all hope was lost my chef got a wicked smile on his face and said, "Let's make bacon ice cream." It was genius! We had lots of bacon from some samples and it was going bad. A perfect solution.

I quickly agreed and we started cooking some off. I quickly heated my milk cream mixture and started to seep my bacon. I loving tending to my bacon ice cream for three hours. Stiring, tasting, adding sugar, adding bacon, skimming the fat off, straining the bacon out. I finally decided it had to be ready. (Plus lunch service was starting in like two minutes and it takes at least fifteen to freeze.)

I ran it to our soft-serve machine and quickly got it freezing. The waiting began....I stood around for about fifteen minutes and finally the green light came on. It was ready. I poured a little out for me and my co-workers to taste.

I tasted it first and my first reaction was hmmmm....not exactly what I had hoped. My chef tasted it and his thought was that it was weird. The reactions from others varied to hmmmm...and I don't think I like that. Everyone was trying to be so gracious to me but the straight facts were. Bacon ice cream (at least in soft-serve form) is disgusting. It's like eating creamy smoke that's really salty.

I was so sad it was horrible. I'd spent so many loving hours tending to it. I quickly agreed with my chef that we couldn't serve. We make amazing ice creams and my reputation would not be ruined by bacon. I just couldn't let it happen.

I melted the ice cream, removed it from the machine and slowly poured it down the drain vowing to keep bacon as an ice cream topping (we make a delicious maple sundae with candied bacon. It's really good.) and not actually as an ice cream flavor.