Monday, November 9, 2009

Announcements! Announcements!

So, we've been a little busy around here in pretzel land. I've been working on some more aggressive marketing this holiday. And by aggressive, I mean I'm actually trying for once. You see, I have these things called children that, in the past, have required lots of attention from me. Not that they still don't, but they are much more manageable and understanding than during previous holidays. I think it goes without saying, that I prefer my sanity over pretzel sales any day. I don't think all business owners share my beliefs on that one, but for our family, this is what works.

Having said all that, I feel a little safer in attempting to secure more orders for DipSticks. So, while my days aren't entirely kid free, or stress free, I am quite a bit more flexible with what my options can be.

The best part is most people approach us anyway, so we've done pretty good so far without spending money or going crazy on getting new business. Case in point, the Hilton in Indianapolis contacted us a few weeks ago to try some samples of our pretzels. They loved them and are now carrying them as turndown ammenities for their special guests. Very cool.

Also, Crazy Sisters Coffee, in Lutheran Hospital, has shown interest and will hopefully be selling our little pretzels for the holiday season soon. Webbs Hallmark in southern Indiana has also called several times to find out how to carry the pretzels. We're playing phone tag now, but I'm confident once the kinks are worked out, we'll be there in no time.

Another exciting addition to the DipSticks family, although I'm not quite sure how it's going to play out in the long run, are my lovely and tasty cheesecakes. If you read this blog, you've seen them. They are fun to make and so delicious. And now, they can be purchased (well not now, but very soon!) at the Eagle Creek Farms Market in Winona Lake. Our pretzels will be there too in addition to ready to take home cheesecakes, and also by the slice served at lunch. I never imagined selling cheesecakes, but I'm not turning it down. My dream is to have a DipSticks Gourmet Coffee and Sweets shop someday and sell all my baked goods, pretzels, and great coffee. I can smell it already!

Overall, sales have been pretty good this year, despite the economy. But, the weird thing, is that while some stores like Hallmark and other smaller stores have really declined in sales, others have picked up, or we've added new ones. It all seems to balance out. I'm super thankful that I don't pay any overhead really at all, and no employees to worry about, and it's not our sole income, so that's a plus. It would be hard to run a brick and mortar business these days, and it's so sad to see some close up or lose hope. Maybe this holiday will turn things around. Things are looking up already!

Happy holiday shopping, and don't forget about our lovely gift boxes! (And the 4" pretzels are perfect for stockings and package tie-ons, too.)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Trick and a Treat

Here is a cheesecake I did for Halloween. Not because I had a party to go to or anything, just because the idea came to me....and I HAD to make it. Not sure what that says about me, but either way, this cheesecake turned out amazingly!

I wanted to do a pumpkin cheesecake for the orange color, but also because of the fall flavors that are in season now. By pairing it with an oreo cookie crust, I achieved a great black and orange look too.

Once I made the pumpkin batter, I quickly realized I didn't know how to approach the web idea that I had envisioned in my head. If I drizzled chocolate on after it was baked, would it work, or just smear? I wasn't sure. But, I wasn't sure what would happen if I did it prior either. I ended up just creating the spider web with melted chocolate that I poured onto the pumpkin batter before baking and hoped for the best. It actually worked way better than I thought! The chocolate sort of dried out and cracked as it baked, and gave it an even more eerie feel than expected. I was very happy with the results.

Next step, after the cheesecake cooled, was to make the spiced vanilla mousse. All my cheesecakes (except the turtle one, because frankly, with all that caramel and chocolate and nuts on top, it has enough going on!) have a flavored mousse of some kind piped around the edges. Usually they are done with a fancy tip, but it just didn't feel right using a star tip for a scary spider cheesecake. So, I just used a round tip and winged it. The result is some kind of spooky castley/tombstoney looking things. Some people thought they were ghosts, which is fine too.

The funniest part of this, was that I thought I'd be able to just melt some chocolate and start piping some realistic looking spiders. However, the first few spiders I piped ended up looking more like retarded ants. After a quick trip to my favorite place, googleville, I found some photos to work from, and finally started getting better results.

A quick dusting of nutmeg all over the whole cake, and my masterpiece was complete. Not only did this one look amazing, but the taste was ridiculous. I can't believe how good it was. It was very much like pumpkin pie, but had a light and fluffy texture and wasn't too sweet.

I plan to make this for Thanksgiving using a ginger snap crust, or maybe a cinnamon almond cookie crust instead of oreos, and just using the star tip for the mousse...sans spiders of course too! Cheesecakes are fun, yo!