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Everything posted by beacheschef

  1. Went by Publix bakery yesterday and the only info they would part with was the buttercream was made from a mix that they added butter to, then whipped. She wasn't interested in discussing it further - Mary
  2. Thanks for the replies. I'll try the recipes Lior provided and see what I get. The customer is asking me to recreate a dessert he purchased from a shop that's no longer in business - so he (customer) has a particular look and taste in mind.
  3. I honestly can't remember if this icing crusts, since it's been over a year since I've made it. Make a small batch, ice the back of a cake pan and let it sit for a few hours. That should give you a more accurate answer than my lame guess. If I get a minute today I"ll stop by Publix and ask them what brand of icing they use. After all, I can see the tubs of it on the counters sometimes. A deal breaker...isn't that hilarious and sad at the same time?
  4. Pam: Thanks for the quick response. This is the first time I'm using halvah as an ingredient. It's pretty "crumbly", not spreadable, and I don't want lumps of halvah in the mousse. I was wondering if I am supposed to dissolve it in a heated liquid...? I'm heading back to my Arabic market later today to buy more and to try again.
  5. Does anyone have a good Halvah mouse recipe? Right now I'm adding crumbled halvah to a Swiss Meringue, folding it into a pate a bomb and lightening with whipped cream. I also use a small amount of gelatin, since the mousse is in between layers of pistachio cake. I'm "winging it" with this recipe and it's not great. Can anyone help? Thanks
  6. Thanks for the feedback - I'll be price comparing and taking advantage of the USPS click and ship discount. Mary
  7. For all of you that ship products, please advise me! A couple of times a year I ship hundreds of cookies to customers. I'm approaching June, which was a busy month for cookies last year. Traditionally I have shipped the cookies 2-day priority through USPS (Post Office) and they have arrived the next day. (I'm only shipping 2 states away) The cost was about $12 per box. For orders that have to arrive by the next morning, I've used FedEx, for about $35 per box. I prefer FedEx in the summer, when the heat in FL. is unbearable. Last week FedEx wanted to bill me $65 per box. The Post Office has now is delivering priority in 2-3 days (not 2). What I'm noticing is that it is getting more expensive to ship and/or the delivery time is extended. I pass the shipping cost on to my customers, but I have a hard time shipping 4 doz. cookies (in one box) and charging $65 in shipping fees. (plus the cost of the packaging, box, bubble wrap, etc) What are you doing to keep the cost of shipping your product in line with the cost of the product that you're shipping? Any creative ideas? Thanks - Mary
  8. I live in the land of Publix buttercream and have had to face this very issue with a few brides. The funny thing is that this is sometimes a "dealbreaker" with a bride. She grew up on the crisco/10X sugar frosting and can't imagine eating anything else! (memories of childhood...) Those brides aren't going to be convinced that the cake is for their guests - it's all about them! Here's the recipe I use when making a cake that's supposed to have "Publix icing". The recipe is from Domino's sugar and I've replaced all of the "shortening" with butter. (call me stubborn!) 1 pound 10X sugar, sifted 4 oz. softened butter 3 tbsp. milk 1 tsp. vanilla 1/4 tsp. salt Mary
  9. I have to agree that the best way to be certain your cake will come out as you expect from the freezer is to make it, freeze it for a week or so, then defrost and taste it. I can plan and read enough to drive myself crazy, but the real test is whether I'm pleased with the results. I'm not wild about freezing cakes filled with lemon curd - sometimes the curd separates a little. What I will do is make a large batch of lemon curd ahead of time and freeze it until the day before I'm going to use it...stirring it well before filling the cakes. Buttercream (I use Italian Meringue) can be made ahead of time and frozen, then defrosted. By making the freezable "components" early, you might be able to bake and fill the cakes closer to the time of the party. Also - have the fondant colored ahead of time, ready to be quickly rolled and smoothed. I usually always try to add a flavored syrup to my cakes - one that will add another "dimension of flavor" to the finished cake. Often that means flavoring the syrup with liquor, citrus, vanilla, espresso, or some other complimentary flavor that will taste wonderful with my cake/filling combination. So - instead of just using the syrup to keep the cake from being dry, now it adds to the final product. I've delivered cakes to receptions, then quickly changed into party clothes in the bathroom and attended the wedding. It's pretty crazy, but by making daily lists and staying organized I was able to get through the cake and delivery, then the festivities. Good luck - Mary
  10. Thanks for the replys - I think the bottle of color was probably old. It was brand new to me, but maybe on the shelf too long at the store. Sent hubby out for an emergency run to the local craft store for a jar of Wilton color, which worked fine. No flecks in the new royal icing, which has the same batch of past. whites and 10X sugar in it. Well - this caused me a full day's work, but by the end of the day, problem solved. I can fall into bed exhausted, but I'll make my deadline!
  11. I've been making royal icing for years without a problem, then I had a batch of cookies ruined last evening due to flecks in the icing. Can anyone tell me what I did wrong? I sift my 10X sugar and use pasteurized egg whites to make my icing. I use the paddle in my mixer and beat the icing for a few minutes. This particular time I was coloring the icing light purple. I used 1 drop of one brand of gel color and the icing started to turn gray. At that point I grabbed a small, brand new bottle of purple gel color and added a few drops, getting the purple shade I wanted. I outlined and iced the cookies and set them on the speed rack to dry. Today there were pink flecks in the purple icing that weren't there yesterday. Has anyone had this problem - and what did you do to get around it?
  12. John: I'm currently making caramel for a wedding cake and found the cooked caramel a bit more firm than I would like. I rewarmed the caramel in the microwave (so it didn't cook any further, just softened) and whisked in a small amount of cream. Once the caramel cooled it was a great consistency to spread over cake layers. I'm not sure if you have to recook the mixture for your purposes, though... Good luck - Mary
  13. That's the way to do it! Many of my ideas have come from using what I currently have in stock. When you make a batch of buttercream, curd, (whatever), store the leftovers in the freezer for just such an instance. You'll be amazed at how creative you will become. Don't forget to document what you did - great ideas can get lost if not written down! Mary
  14. I frequently make minis for customer parties and found this thread so useful for putting into words what I just pull together and create! A few of my staples are: almond petit four sponge - baked in sheets citrus chiffon cake - baked in sheets IMBC - flavored with coffee, chocolate (dark,milk,white), fruit curd, fruit puree fresh berries and other fruits for tarts almond frangipan (in fall and winter) filo dough and/or puff pastry fruit curd - lemon, lime, orange kept in the freezer ganache cream cheese frosting for a tangy change from IMBC pate-a-choux simple syrups - flavored with herbs, spices, liquours, ... plain tart dough - I like to be careful not to add nuts unless the customer is expecting them (I work with lots of customers with food allergies) toasted nuts - walnuts, almonds, pecans, pine nuts, hazelnuts, kept in freezer Darbo seedless raspberry jam Other flavors of jam, Nutella caramel sauce - kept in freezer lemon scented cookie dough basic cheesecake recipe that I can add flavor to The longer I sit here the more I think of! Most of the items are either in my pantry or freezer, with the more perishible items made fresh (such as cakes). I have 4 different sizes of tart shells and I roll the same dough into all of them and fill them with different fillings. Puff pastry can be cut into 1 1/2 inch squares, topped with frangipan and slices of fresh apple, pear, plum, cooked cranberries, ..... and baked. Sprinkle w/ cinnamon-sugar before baking. These are the bomb!! Filo dough can be made into cups with mini muffin tins, baked, filled with creme brulee, (or anything!) Most of the items I make begin as thin slices of cake, brushed with flavored simple syrup, layered with different fillings, topped with something else. I have a metal yardstick and a couple of really long knives and I carefully measure and cut my pieces. With this method I can cut squares, triangles, (squares cut in half), diamonds, rectangles. Good round cutters help me form round shapes. Even though I have lots of PVC tubes, funky molds, fluted edge tartlet shells, straight edge tartlet shells, ...... Most of the shapes I make are with my knives. Lots of pieces cut quickly. Mix in pate-a-choux shapes (round, oblong) and you've added height and different shapes to your dessert selection. I try to vary the textures, shapes, colors and flavors of items on dessert platters. It used to be a thought process, now it comes naturally as the ideas flow. Take notes of the minis that you make and like, so you remember all of the components used. I also note what I made that didn't work, so I can rework it (or avoid it) next time. Then, when you're asked to make more, you can just pull items from your freezer, fridge and pantry and create! Have fun creating! Mary
  15. The class at the FCI is: "From Cookies to Cash with Drew Koven" on Oct 13th. A segment of my business is building very quickly and I need some advice on how to grow it - and it's an excuse to get to NYC! I've ordered from both places before but forgot that JB Prince has a showroom. Thanks!
  16. I'm flying to NYC to attend a class at the French Culinary Inst. and would love some recommendations on shops where I can buy good quality chocolate / pastry / baking equipment and supplies. I have to purchase everything through mail order and would LOVE to "touch and feel" these items before buying. Thanks - Mary
  17. Great feedback from everyone! I modified my packing so that there was bubble wrap inside each box of cookies, between boxes, and no more than 3 boxes of cookies per outer box. Switched to sturdier boxes and made sure there was absolutely NO wiggle room between inner and outer boxes. I'm using smaller outer boxes as well...so no more than 3 10x2 inch pastry boxes can fit inside (each containing 2 doz wrapped cookies). I'm shipping multiple boxes to the customer rather than larger boxes with more cookies inside. Lighter boxes - hopefully less chance of "droppage". Latest shipments have been far more successful - little to no broken cookies. I laughed at the idea of the "FRAGILE" sticker on the boxes...The shipment with the greatest breakage had "FRAGILE" in large letters on every side of the box! It's as if the sign read "DROP ME" instead! I do agree about passing the total cost of shipping along to the customer...I've added the cost of boxes and packing materials to the "shipping" cost. Keep the thoughts coming...sounds like many of us deal with this issue! Mary
  18. Thanks for the info - I'll make some changes and let you know the results. Can't ship until Tuesday, due to the holiday weekend. Mary
  19. Thanks for the quick reply. The cookies are about 3 1/2 inches long. The sugar cookie recipe is made with butter, no shortening. I use pastry flour in the cookies, but roll them with bread flour. They're not particularly delicate and I'm rolling them thicker for shipping. Baked and iced, they're slightly more than 1/4 inch thick.
  20. I've been asked to ship my breast cancer cookies (royal icing decorated sugar cookies) out of state to a customer. I'm thrilled, as this customer has the potential to help me really expand my business. I'm looking for advice on how to package and ship the cookies with minimal breakage. The last time I shipped we had a number of cookies break. Each cookie is individually wrapped in a cellophane bag, tied with ribbon. The cookies are packaged on their sides - 2 doz. per 10 inch pastry box. This fills the box completely, so there's no room for sliding around. The pastry boxes are stacked no more than 3 high and wrapped in bubble wrap. Each wrapped set of 3 boxes is placed in a larger shipping box with peanuts and other packing materials around it, so nothing slides. The large box is sealed and shipped overnight. What have other people found to be the best way to commercially ship? Thanks for the advice!
  21. Does anyone have a great recipe for thin ginger snap cookies? A customer wants me to duplicate Anna's Ginger Thins - which are pretty teriffic! Tonight I made Flo Braker's Sweet Miniatures recipe for Bittersweet Gingersnaps (without the chocolate dip), and will bake that batter off tomorrow. Any recommendations?
  22. WOW! Thank you for taking the time to write this, as you bring up so many important points. I'm also working through a business plan to open my own place. You have given me much to think about. I look forward to reading about your experiences as you open your place up. Best wishes for success. Mary
  23. I use the recipe in the "Cake Bible" for Lime Curd, with a few modifications. I rub the zest into the sugar to release lime oils, then strain the zest out at the end of cooking. It's wonderful as a filling in coconut cake - I've used it many times. Note that the curd will be a yellow color, not green, since the juice combined with the yolks have more of a yellow color.
  24. I met with the bride and was very honest with her about the perishability of the desserts she "really" wanted on this dessert table. I also brought her quite an assortment of delicious, NON-perishable desserts (creme puffs filled with espresso buttercream, topped with bittersweet chocolate, for example). In the end, she understood my concern and was pleased with the creative options that she never even thought of. So - if anyone else faces this situation, I had good results with this method. Mary
  25. Ice down certain containers on the dessert table...great idea! With warning labels... I'm meeting with the bride in a few days and will be able to tell her that "Yes - I CAN provide you with cannoli, eclairs, cheesecakes, etc., under the following conditions". Saying "yes, but" is better than "no". (famous kid trickery!!) Thanks for helping me find a different way to say this.
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