Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New flavors and spinners at Hallmark!

Hey! Good news. We have been upgraded to the new spinners at Hallmark stores. The black counter top display units that we use at Espresso Gallery are now being used at the 4 local hallmarks as well.

This is great news because the old baskets we used just weren't as appealing. Often, I'd pop in to check on the stash, and find several pretzels just tossed randomly into the basket, with the hang tags bent, or the bows undone. Not appealing.

Not only will this give us a more prominent position in the stores, but it will also clean up the look.

In addition to these new spinners, we also just dropped off several of our holiday and seasonal flavors. Candy Cane, Gingerbread Man, Snow Bunny, Snowman, Christmas Cookie, Hot Cocoa, and others.

I can't wait to see what these new displays do for our sales at Hallmark, we may just be switching all of our stores to these spinners.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Blame Facebook

I've been severely neglectful of this blog for too long! I've signed up for Facebook and have been addicted ever since. And on occasion I fit in a few hundred pretzels too...oh and those pesky kids do need some care, but only every 5 minutes or so.

I hope to soon update this blog with news from pretzel land, but until then...come find me on facebook!

Friday, November 7, 2008

History Lesson: Snow Bunny & Snowman

These two flavors came about in an unusual way. Typically I like to think of inspiration for a pretzel first, like an ice cream flavor, or candy bar. Then, I figure out what it is about that particular item that makes it good, and try to recreate it.

For example, the Gone Bananas flavor is created around the Chunky Monkey Ben and Jerry's ice cream. I took banana flavored caramel and rolled it in walnuts and then dipped it in dark chocolate. It reminded me of that ice cream, and tasted great, so it was a keeper.

But this one was created bass akwards. My friend Lesley and I were playing around with flavors one day a few years ago, and she said, "I wonder what coconut and marshmallow would taste like on a pretzel?"

I froze for a few seconds, thinking, "But that's all wrong! What would we call it? What chocolate would we dip it in?" I had never tried just combining random flavors first and then figuring out the rest of the details.

So, after what seemed like milliseconds, I said, "We could dip it in white chocolate and call it Snow Bunny!" After tasting this final product, we both loved it and a new pretzel flavor was born.

It wasn't long after that, the Snowman pretzel was born, to give customers a coconut free option.

The Snow Bunny is sprinkled with coconut and cute little edible snowflake confetti, and the Snowman is sprinkled with tiny white balls. I really wanted to find edible carrot, and black top hat confetti, and sprinkle black nonpareils on it to create a Frosty the Snowman look, but for some odd reason there are carrots, but no hat tops! Come on people...weddings!?

So, check out your neighborhood hallmark stores (in Fort Wayne that is) and you'll be seeing these and other Holiday Flavors soon...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Turkey Day desserts at Williams Sonoma

So, I've attended three cooking classes in the last three weeks, and am just now finding one worthy of blogging about. The first class was about my beloved French cuisine, but the only great thing to come from the class was the Wild Mushroom Tartlet (Poached Pears in spiced Red Wine...uh. No.)

Then the next week was hors d'oeuvres. The class I signed up for and the class I ended up with were two different things. There were four recipes, or so I thought, but we ended up doing almost 8. We ran out of time..actually we went into double overtime, and had to omit one.

My favorite from that class was the Quick Fried Shrimp with Sweet Toasty Garlic, and the Fried Green Olives. Sounds disgusting, I know. Even for an avid olive lover like myself, I was skeptical, but they were so good it nearly made me want to plunk down the $150 for the deep fryer. But, seriously, people. I do not need a deep fryer. No good can come of that. Before you know it I'd be dipping my pretzels in there, ala deep fried snickers, and/or burning the house down.

The other two mildly passable hors d'oeuvres were two nut mixes. One being a curry based salty mix, and another having candied bacon in it. Um..if it's got candied bacon, I'm there. It was a sweet mix, with dried cherries in it, and pralined pecans too. Yep, it's going to be a good one for the holidays.

But finally, the Thanksgiving Desserts class. On the schedule was, in the order I was most looking forward to, Cranberry Cheesecake with Chocolate Cinnamon Crust, Bourbon Pecan Pie with Buttermilk whipped cream, Spiced Pumpkin layer cake with Cream Cheese frosting, and Molasses Gingerbread cake with Cinnamon whipped cream.

The first dish we sampled was the pumpkin layer cake. The cream cheese frosting also had pumpkin puree in it, which I've never seen done before. It was very moist and flavorful. I'll definitely make it someday.

The next one she made in class was the Bourbon Pecan Pie. First sign of doom was that they couldn't put bourbon in it because they don't have a liquor license. Um, dumb question....why the bejeesus put that on the menu then? That was the whole reason to get excited about it. Everybody knows what a regular old pecan pie tastes like. Then, the final blow was that, even 35 minutes after class was technically over, the pie wasn't done. I didn't even get to taste the non bourbon pecan pie. I guess it's lucky it didn't have bourbon, or I'd have camped out waiting for that beyotch to be done!

Next up to taste was the one I was most looking forward to. You know my current obsession with it's not a surprise that it was the cranberry cheesecake with chocolate cinnamon crust. However, the chef decided to do these in the mini, mini form. They were very dried out and the crust to filling ratio was way off, and so the bottom of the cake was hard as a rock. I could not even detect the slightest bit of cinnamon either. And the cranberry sauce just didn't do anything for me. Sounds like I'm being picky. I am. You expect a lot out of these cooking classes when you're paying $40, and I was a little bummed.

But, the saving grace was, ironically, the one recipe I wasn't excited about. That'll teach me! It was the Molasses Gingerbread cake with cinnamon whipped cream. They baked it in a nice bundt pan that was shaped almost like the Swiss Alps. The edges were just a bit chewy, like the edges of brownies, and the center was the most ridonculously moist cake ever. Huge taste of gingerbread and cloves and cinnamon. The molasses wasn't overwhelming at all. I will be making this cake for Christmas too.

It was a very fun class though, and I met some nice people. Foodies are usually fun people and love to talk, so we all got to gabbing about favorite recipes and food tips. I love these classes, and can't wait until the next batch comes closer to Christmas. If you ever get the chance...novice or professional, I highly recommend these classes.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Woodburn Missionary Church event

This weekend was quite busy, but fun! I had the pleasure of being involved in the Woodburn Missionary church Women's ministry spa day.

About 100 women attended, and were treated to break out sessions, snazzy fruity drinks with flowers in them, a well thought out cruise theme, and lots of shopping.

We were part of the shopping experience, obviously, and had a table set up to sell our pretzels, apples and marshmallows.

I had no idea what would sell and what wouldn't, so I tried to bring a variety. The most popular item were the 4" pretzels, and then the marshmallows. I was surprised by that actually. I thought the caramel apples would go fast...especially the new Pumpkin Pie ones. The are to die for. But, for whatever reason, we only sold about half of what I brought.

Everything else sold like hot cakes.

My mom came with me, and kept me awake all day. I had about 4 hours of sleep the night before, and got up way earlier than should be natural. And, being on the candida diet, I had no caffeine to perk me up either...just a bag of brazil nuts and some celery. Mmmm. Hmmm.

Mark and the boys stopped by during lunch and livened the day a little, but the boys quickly discovered the Lito Deck, and bailed into the "pool". Jacob was strangling the fake palm tree when Mark quickly decided to get out of there.

Here's a picture when they were actually sitting still.

Overall it was a fun filled day and I got some cool nail polish from the girls at the booth next to us.

I will definitely be there again next year!