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Everything posted by onetoughcookie

  1. I ship cookies all the time and was always proud of an almost perfect shipping record (maybe less than 1% breakage). That is, until this past week. I shipped "champagne flute" cookies to a client in Florida (I'm in NY). 1/4 inch thick cookies, bagged and bowed, plenty of bubble wrap around the cookies and between the layers, Fragile stickers al over the Fedex box. The cookies arrived with every stem broken. Every one. So, I'll be very careful about the shape of the cookie I ship, and I'm now looking into corrogated shipping inserts for my boxes. Needless to say, I ate the cost of shipping along with the cookies, while the client ate the pieces!
  2. This could be a bit scary....but I think do-able. You might, however, need to use a support system with a slight rise in between he tiers, so the top cake doesn't sit smack down on the cheesecake, but gives the illusion. Then decorate so the space between the tiers is disguised. Go for it!
  3. I can understand that, seeing how over litigious (sp?) people can be these days. ← Precisely.
  4. The moral and legal issues that I grapple with are being echoed here. This is just too risky for me to do, I'm afraid. Thanks, Egulleters, for all your help.
  5. I do this kind of work all the time....royal "plaques", if you will. I always do mine on parchment paper, as it's transparent, and I can get all the details down. When they are dry, take the parchment and place it directly on a smooth counter surface as you face that counter. Slowly (and I mean slowly) pull the paper towards you, so that you're pulling the paper and it's off the counter. Pull down a bit and if perfectly dry, the plaques will pop off, and you won't have as many breaks as you would if you were just picking them off. I always pipe out extras, too, so I can choose the prettiest ones, and have enough for what I'm doing. I'm actually doing some today that are tricky, because I have to pipe out a company's name in their own font. The tricky part is that the font is Times Roman, which has many serifs. Those skinny things can pose a problem, too! I'd like to pipe directly on the surface (which will be royal icing), but will never get that company name spot on. This thread is making me rethink the process, though, especially with transfer ideas.
  6. Not everyone has a grandma who can bake and decorate a cake to the level that a bakery can. I did, but my kids don't. I'd be ashamed to show all you serious pastry people the cakes I've made my kids. I really need to look into Wilton classes or something. My 9 year old often says that the biggest bummer about the peanut/tree nut allergies is that he can't get anything from bakeries. There are a few bakeries out there that will cater to special requests, but as far as I know, none on the West Coast. On the food allergy communities I frequent online, there is quite a buzz going around about Babycakes in NYC. Most of the people who are really anal about the possibility of cross contamination from aerosolized peanuts are not the sorts that order from bakeries or eat in restaurants. ← Babycakes is great, I agree with your online allergy pals. But, they don't do what I do...hand decorated cookies on cakes. And, when a child goes to a party and sees how customized that cake is, they go wild. The parents do, too. That's why it would be great if I could pull this off, but I'm a bit fearful. I don't think I have to worry about aerosolized peanuts, though. Until now, I didn't even know what that was, but I'm glad I got to use it in a sentence.
  7. ^^^ Yeah, what he said ^^^ Because for 'at home' is so vastly different than for production. And 'at home' baking and use of peanuts addresses the allergic propensity of one person generally. To do this successfully for the peanut allergic populus is a monumental thing as Sebastian very aptly explained. Because if something wasn't Kosher the consequence is not possible death. I mean equating Kosher preparation of food to life threatening allergies is beyond apples and oranges, it's life and death. And I agree cookies and cakes are for fun and celebration. The further problem is that unless one has unlimited space and resources, the different allergies each would have to have it's own complete atmospherically controlled kitchen. Once you did for peanut free, the wheat free would want you. You'd have to have a kitchen for each allergy/malady. Who wouldn't want to be a blessing to all these folks? It's just beyond most of our grasp to comply with all the restrictions and still maintain a viable business. ← K8, you have written what has been swirling around in my head, and in my gut. Something tells me I'm going to gracefully bow out of this project, and then go have a PBJ sandwich!
  8. I'm going to speak with the client, go to Peanut Allergy.com, and look on the government's website(s) for more info. Something tells me that the sheer anxiety will never be compensated by any amount of money. And I went into a custom cake & cookie business because it is a 'happy' business! YIKES!
  9. In the past, I've run the other way from clients who have peanut allergies, much like K8! But, in reading all I have about peanut allergies, Fiona seems to echo whaI've found out. Stay away from the obvious, and a good cleaning (I'm a maniac about that on an everyday basis) will suffice. I will actually have a phone conversation this weekend with the client (we've only emailed up to this point). Not only does she need cake for her child's party, but for other parties that her child will be attending! She even offered to invest in a different set of pans to be used only for these purposes, but I wouldn't take her up on that offer. The bottom line is, I like to sleep through the night too much to take a major risk, such as this might be. Thanks to all who have taken the time to read and weigh in.
  10. I haven't used peanut butter in anything for quite some time now....purely by coincidence, too. That said, I've been reading my ingredient labels and the only iffy ingredient I have on hand would be cocoa and chocolate. Now, I'd probably suggest to the client we stay away from those flavors, make sure all utensils, pans, and equipment is scrubbed down. The National Restaurant Association has a pamplet on this subject, and I've requested a copy.
  11. A potential client is asking me about peanut free cakes. Now, I know the basics about cross-contamination, and checking the labels on ingredients. Is there anything else I need to know? Can anyone recommend a good resource for info I've always said no in the past to people who have peanut allergy concerns, but this person was recommended to me by a good client. I hate to say no, but don't want to send the kiddies into anaphylactic shock.
  12. This topic is somewhat of a coin-tosser. Since I bake for clients, I think consistency is vital, so for that reason, I scale all my cake ingredients. If I do change something, I make notes. My cakes are all stacked, and structure is key (I believe it was Antonin Careme who said something like Confectionery is the first cousin to architecture.) BUT, there are plenty of goodies I bake for pleasure, and I know them like the back of my hand. Brownies, cookies...once you know the basic recipe and how it works, you can certainly play with the ingredients. I think it's important to know that in baking, for every action there is a reaction, so if you tinker with one thing, something in the outcome will be affected. And, that my friends, is called 'recipe testing.'
  13. Ny sentiments exactly. Duff Goldman will be putting fireworks in it so it can spit out smoke and flames!
  14. Throw out my instructions for this cake and just dig in!
  15. I always give an instruction sheet taped to the box when I have a cake delivered to a client. In addition to the clean knife technique, I suggest cutting a small circle in the center of the cake, then cut the slices from the "outer ring", if you will. This makes for foolproof, equal size slices that are neither too big or too small, and keeps everything nice and neat. You also don't waste cake, there's plenty for everyone, too! Does that make sense?
  16. If memory serves me correctly (that's a BIG IF), I think French is the way to go. No need to cook the egg whites, as they'll be baked in the oven. I love meringues...I love everything about them.....the sweet taste, the sheer weighlessness of them, and of course, the crunch! And, they can be so pretty! Good luck on the cake...post photos!
  17. If it's going to be out on a buffet table, why not try to wow them with a tiered cake! DON"T PANIC! It's not hard. Make two 8 inch rounds, and 2 6 inch rounds. Frost as you normally would, and let them chill really well in the fridge. Dowel (again, don't get scared) with 6 sturdy plastic drinking straws in a nice 4 inch circle in the cake. Carefully center the 6 inch cake on top of the 9 inch round. Pound one big dowel through the whole cake and voila! Tiered cake! Decorate with all the Greek letters. You'll be the star of the party, and thrilled with yourself that you've done it. It's really not hard, it just sounds intimidating...dowels and such. I was terrified when I was in culinary school, and I mean terrified. Now, I've made a business out of it. You can do it!
  18. K8, FANTASTIC! I love the way your mind works....the lily pond is absolutely fabulous! Those lily pad cookies are giving me ideas! Congratulations, you should be very proud of your accomplishments....in the kitchen, behind the camera, and posting them...WHEW!
  19. RLB's mousseline is my default, so this intrigues me. I assume you add more sugar to the egg whites while whipping, prior to adding the sugar syrup? Do you reduce the sugar in the syrup to balance the sweetness? ← I just made some, as a matter of fact. Yes...the basic recipe calls for 7 oz. sugar, and I add two more ounces. It's not that much sweeter....it's very good. And, the texture is "gossamer"...it's just gorgeous! I can barely wait for the crumb coat to set up so I can get the final coat on. I need to get a life, I think.
  20. I use variations of Swiss meringue buttercream all the time. But, in the summer, when it's very hot, I sometimes use RLB's Silk Meringue Buttercream. It's very stable, and beautiful. Pipes like a dream, too. It's a creme anglaise mixed with an Italian buttercream. More steps, but the end result is lovely. I also use RLB's mousselline bc, but with more sugar than the recipe states. I find with more sugar, I get a stiffer meringue, and better piping.
  21. Thank you to all who replied to my post. I had my segment this morning, and I really had a great time. It's interesting that the producers, handlers, etc., go to great lengths to make the guests feel very comfortable and at ease, so the segment will go well. I dareseay the entire process was a bit like a colonscopy...the preparation is grueling, but when it's all said and done, it's really not bad at all! Thanks fellow egulleters for all the support!
  22. Thanks, Steve. I'm already trying to wash my dirty mouth out with soap, to rid myself of any possible naughty word slip-ups. Excellent advice, though. Thank you so much.
  23. Thank you so much for your great insight! I know I'm getting 4 minutes and 30 seconds to do this demo. My cookies are decorated, and my cake is cooling. I'm doing the demo teaching the anchors on GMA how to do decorated cookies. I'm bringing everything times 4 for this thing. The chef/stylist is going to prepare the table for me (hooray). I'm just doing the talking points. I know how lucky I am to have this opportunity. I'm so glad I posted this because I've gotten great advice here. And, if getting all the cake, cookies, royal icing, etc., isn't enough, I've had to do all the beauty stuff, too! Whew! Thank you again, David!
  24. Great advice....we did a little practice tape at home...the first time I definitely moved too much and spoke much too quickly! Thank you, Marcia.
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