Cupcake Class 2.0 :)

My latest class was a bigger challenge. I had taught two in the Orem/Lindon store, but they were both in the conference room, at my store. It’s a controlled environment, and one I’m used to. If something were to go wrong, I would know how to fix it, and where to find whatever I needed to fix the problem. I taught this class at our Riverton store. About forty minutes away from me. To quote Miss Congeniality, “It’s a LOGISTICAL nightmare!” Kidding. Slightly. The more I teach classes, the more I appreciate Martha’s prep team.

I taught the class on my “day off” and ended up working 10 1/2 hours. It is what it is, and I love it. The classes are fun for me, I get to use my degree, answer questions about cake, frosting and ganache. I am the authority on the subject for 90 minutes. Completely foreign and blissful all at the same time. I keep asking myself how I got so lucky to land this job. So. Blessed. I LOVE these projects. Planning makes me use my brain and I have to think out every last detail from each person’s Mise en Place to how I’m going to time melting chocolate throughout the night. Stressful to some, but I can’t think of anything more gratifying than a perfectly prepped night.

So me and my babes got all packed up and went on a road trip through the swirly twirly gum drop forest to spread cupcake cheer to the people of Riverton.

 Prep.Prep.Prep.Prep.

 This was a smaller class (12) that I taught in the dining room of the store. Definitely harder to try and teach in this setting. Just more distractions. Huge learning experience though. I’ll be teaching all my future classes in the dining rooms!

…and I found out this week they love the classes so much they want me to start working on a Christmas Cake Pop Class! Two points to a rock solid education.

Tired, Happy and Living the Dream. 

Stand and Deliver – Kitchen Edition.

I feel like I’ve been in hiding the past two months. I’m exhausted. That’s probably why you’ve been getting mostly recipes instead of life updates. Which is fine and delicious, but my favorite part about blogging is having a record to look back on all that I’ve accomplished.

I think that growing up athletic and constantly learning how to deal with high pressure situations is one of the best things  I could have ever learned. Competing in culinary competitions only helped, regardless of how scared or stressed I was at the time.

I’ve been in stand and deliver mode at work for some time now. Back in June I was asked to write the curriculum and teach a class on cupcakes for our customers at work. No pressure the owner’s of the company trust me to teach an hour long class to their customers without screwing up, while I’m trying to prove I’m an asset to their company. So I agreed ( how could you not?) and got to work. I made countless prep lists, handouts, recipes and timetables how my night was going to go. The original plan was to cap enrollment at 12-15, but so many people wanted to come to the class the night of I had 22, plus several people from corporate to watch 🙂 It turned out to be a really really fun night! I am so grateful for my education and for a job where I can apply it. I had a moment of realization standing there in my chef whites writing an impromptu recipe on the board explaining the stabilizing principles of sugar in a whipped cream frosting where I knew that I deserved every minute of this. I was given this opportunity because I had done the work, and there’s always more to learn, but in that moment these people wanted to pick my brain. Because I know the answers. It was incredibly gratifying. To top it all off, all of my “students” loved the class! One guy told my boss that he loved it so much he wanted to come to all of our classes. They also wrote on the company’s facebook page asking when the next class was. So I get to teach it again in September. I was really proud of myself. I’m currently working with a lovely lady from corporate to get all my notes and lists written down, so that my curriculum can go company-wide and be offered in 19 stores. Mission Accomplished.

  This was as people were leaving, but it was packed ! 
I work as a pastry chef in the store 5 days a week. I also get to work on corporate projects like the cupcake class on the side. Right after the class I was talking to one of the owner’s Mrs. C for blogging purposes and she asked me about German Chocolate Frosting. I make my Dad a German Chocolate cake every year for his birthday, and I love recipe development. So I got to work. There’s just something about the science of baking that grabs me every time. I love percentages and adjustments and the taste testing isn’t so bad either. 

I ended up making some adjustments to #3 and Mrs. C loved it! It’s currently being used in the store as a test run, and we’re finalizing the logistics on it before it goes company wide. Victory number two. 
Last but not least, about two months ago we found out that there was going to be a company wide cookie contest. Each person was to develop an original recipe and get to sell it in the store for four days. The person who sells the most ( as well as a final taste test by the executive board) wins $1000. Second place is $500 and Third is $300. I don’t know why I’ve been so insecure lately about my food, maybe I’ve just been on display quite a bit lately and demanded perfection of myself, but it’s really added a lot of stress to my life. I wanted to do this competition, but in the back of my mind I’m panicking. My brother moved home, my Brother in law and Sister moved to Texas. I’m no where near my family, I’m alone. Who’s going to support me? Everyone else in this competition have people in Utah. Is it even worth it?  I made 17 different variations of cookies during the testing process. Poor Rose choked down countless rejects. One of my favorite conversations with her:
“Your cookies take cake-y” – Rose
“Well your bag’s a fake!” – Jess. 
We don’t play around when we fight. Turns out her bags real and my cookies rock. I finally was able to relax  and think about my cookies last week. I took off my shoes and stopped thinking so hard. I had originally wanted to put a peanutbutter pretzel “gush” for lack of better words on top, but the girl who sold her cookies before me had a similar design with different ingredients. Mine had to be different. I had nothing short of a baking epiphany to put my peanut butter filling on the inside. It may have been one of the best things I’ve ever done. I went with a chocolate chip cookie base, peanut butter filling on the inside, pretzel pieces on top with chocolate and peanut butter striping.
We’ve upped our nutrition game around here and counting calories like crazy. Thank goodness myfitnesspal has an app. I calculated out all the calories so that Rose would sample what I thought was the winner. If we both had 1/4 of a cookie it would only be 50 calories. She agreed to donate 50 calories to the cause.. and then we both realized it was worth it to donate another 50. That’s how I knew this one was the winner 🙂 
 It was a home run. I sold out on almost all 4 days. I had some incredible support! I was teasing my friends Allen and Jill that when C & K moved away they were going to have to adopt me. They led the charge! They came in and bought cookies and came back the next day with friends to buy more. On Saturday I was a little wrapped up in myself, my flag football team had made it to the championship game, it was at 9:30 in the morning. There was no way I could go, I didn’t even ask. It’s just hard sometimes to accept that I have a big kid job and things aren’t as flexible.  I was coming around the corner to stock some more pastries up front, and saw that the entire line from the door to the register was my ward. Buying cookies to support me. Instant tears. I’m not alone, and I’m appreciated. I’m so grateful for them! To top it all off my Dad called the store and ordered cookies. I put them in the mail this afternoon. 475 miles away and he’s still there to help me live out my dreams. Thank you to everyone who has come in to support me!   August 16th is the final taste test, hopefully I’ll have some great news to report! 

I guess I had better stop crying now, I’m so very very grateful to all of you. 

Oscar’s Night

I always think of my best things to blog about when I’m working in the early morning. Unfortunately my laptop isn’t attached to my hip that early in the day. Cinnamon Rolls and Fruit Tarts, well that’s another story.

The activities committee for church asked me to do desserts for our Oscar’s Night. The ward was split up into groups and made their own videos, the plan was to eat a wonderful dinner, screen the videos, and enjoy dessert.

I was dessert. I decided on cupcakes. Since the theme was Oscars I decided to make red velvet to mimic the red carpet. I also decided on a midnight chocolate cupcake with amaretto frosting to break it up a little bit. The red velvet cupcakes were garnished with fondant stars that we’re painted in an edible gold paint. The chocolate cupcakes were by far my favorite. I made chocolate bow ties and top hats to dress up them up. Each was hand painted in silver luster dust to really make them shine.

To give some height to the table I wanted to make 3D sugar cookie statues. I found this awesome tutorial on Bakerella and fell in love. This year I’ve decided to really improve my sugar cookie work and this was right up my alley. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to get the cookie cutter shipped to make them for the event. Then again I am me, and don’t take the word “No” very well. So I did some research. My best option was to build my own cookie cutter. Thank goodness my Momma was in town for the twins arrival. She doesn’t think my projects are crazy. Love that woman.

45 minutes later we were leaving Lowe’s with a 10ft long piece of aluminum siding, clamps, glue and some enthusiasm. An hour later and we had a rocking cookie cutter.

Not to shabby if I do say so myself.

 Now for the drama. It wouldn’t be a successful event without drama now would it? I was spent this week. Between the twins arrival, my family in town. I really didn’t have a whole lot left to give to make this event happen. I really, really wanted to do this. I wanted to show all these people who knew I was a pastry chef what I was truly capable of. There really was no way I wasn’t going to make this happen. 300 cupcakes? I do that in my sleep. Pretty much did. On top of cooking around the clock there was a huge roommate blowout. Nothing that needs to be mentioned here, but it really just added to the stress of finishing the event. Somehow I finished with enough time to shower. My mom came over to help wash dishes and make sure I was put together before it was time to deliver and set up. Did I mention I love her? Let’s not kid ourselves. Wash the dishes certainly means stabilize the hurricane of emotion and exhaustion that was covered in buttercream. I’m so truly grateful she was here.  By the time we finished setting up I had 45 minutes to change and get back to the event. It was critical that I looked good. There was going to be a lot of attention on me. Rather than going home, Mom whisked me away to buy a new dress and look good for the night. In 30 minutes she had an entire outfit picked out for me. I changed inbetween stoplights and painted my toes on the last one. Nothing a can of hairspray and 15minutes can’t fix right?

While I was trying on dresses my mom produced these shoes. Sassy to say the least, and oh so worth it. So grateful for a fun event and my fairy godmother.

Can’t even tell I hadn’t slept in 3 days. 

Cupcakes, Cupcakes, Cupcakes :) !

First of all, how ‘Sweet’ are these? (*pun intended)

These are Chocolate Cupcakes topped with Salted Caramel Frosting and Fondant Letters. The Cupcake in the back is a Vanilla Cupcake topped with Chocolate Frosting. 🙂

Second of all I got a job ! At Lovely Confections here in Denver. Ms. Lovely, runs the shop and is completely organic. Everything is unprocessed and local too !

So far her shop has been a  Denver A List Winner 2008 and 2009, and the Best of Westword 2008, 2009 AND 2010!

We’re currently in the running for the best Bakery in Denver.. so Vote, Vote, Vote..

Just Click Cupcake !

xoxo
 Jessica Nan

p.s. sorry I haven’t updated you more, we don’t have internet in the new apt. yet.

p.p.s I love you guys 🙂 Go VOTE!

Failure Face …

Skip to 7 minutes…

So let’s be blunt… I got laid off on Tuesday, from the bakery job. I am pretty heartbroken about it, not only because I love to bake, but because I need the extra hours to pay for school. I went in on Monday afternoon to ask the head chef about a dessert for the next day, and put in my dates for our family’s Lake Powell vacation. He was really nice to me and didn’t say anything then.

I woke up the next morning and was at work at 5:00am. Did the baking for the day, and there really wasn’t a whole lot for me to do. Alfonso, the sous chef and my friend, told me David wanted to see me in his office. David never talks to me. So I went into his office and they asked me to sit down.

J: Is something wrong?
D: Its just not working out, I’m going to have to let you go.
J: What?
D: You just aren’t a good fit for our company.
J: Could you at least explain to me what I did wrong so I don’t make those same mistakes?
D: No. You just aren’t a good fit for the company.

I realized at this point he wasn’t going to tell me anything, so I said. Thank-you for your time and I left. I handed my keys to Alfonso on my way out.

I made it to the parking lot before the tears came..

I don’t see the need, now that I’ve calmed down, to ask for an explanation, yell at anyone, or beat myself down. I know what I am capable of, and this will not stop me in becoming who I want to be. I made these

Chocolate Moose Cupcakes on Friday… 

Trying to see the upside of this, I was able to go to the temple, with my extended family on Thursday. Make cupcakes and go hiking Friday, and help with the Breakfast for my extended family on Saturday… which they loved my Danish from scratch.

So maybe it’s a blessing in disguise

Now I have time to get better sleeping patterns, workout, and really get ready for school. It makes things a little harder financially, but hey, when It rains it pours.

I’ve officially decided to Launch an Etsy store stocked full of Fresh Country Jam.

I think I’ll call it Sugar Berries. 
My niece L. Came to visit this weekend and is a bit of an over achiever. She’s 6months old and is cutting teeth, she’s already cut 4 and 2 more are coming.Mommy deserves a gold star. My dear sweet sister L. needed a little break this morning, and brought this little alligator for some Aunt Jess-Pants time, so mommy could go back to sleep. I like to think I teach by example.
I.think.we.were.both.exhausted.

xoxo
  jessica nan

just like the sunflowers .. wild and beautiful.!

Birthday Birthday Birthday starts with B! 
As of 7:21am Monday I am officially 19!
superrrrr olddd !
but i’ve been so blessed this birthday, and I want to tell Y.O.U all about it:)
Well for starters my Mom and Shirl came out to see baby Lillie, and I just decided to scoop up a little of the attention as well:) I got a fridge/microwave full of yummy treats and a fantastic day of pampering with the girls.
It’s so hard to see them leave! I forget how spoiled I am sometimes!
 
Yes I am hiding, post-labs is a little scaryyyy 😉
Then we went to arizona for a basketball game and i got to see my family again! 2x in one month what a lucky girl!  I got a DVD player because movies are my favorite! I really enjoyed talking with my Dad over dinner, he’s so rational and as much as I call for help I can always tell he’s excited for me.

plus they brought me and my team cupcakes to celebrate! 
I have some really fantastic friends and siblings! Kristin and Cameron got me an adorable cake stand! 

Laurieeee Loosa my Bestest friend since before we were born sent me this fantastic box full of all our favorite things, razzles,glo-sticks, a burger king crown, pop rocks..and a best friends bracelet, maybe we should count one day how many we have. xoxo love you
 
..but hold the phone
even on a holiday.. My whole family woke up at 5:30 am to call me and sing me happy birthday before labs. What an incredible sacrifice!
I spent the day with Mackay, Lindsay, and baby Lil. They got me an adapter to make my tv work! so now I’m all set up.. woot!  
This is Juli… She’s given me free therapy until the end of time, she just always has a way of cheering me up when it’s not going my way. xoxo
6am labs are a doozy.. and my favorite  pastry chef friends from across the hall…
made me this fantastic card during their lecture! I hope you get the pastry jokes:) These two girls are very talented with cake, and it’s incredible to see what they are capable of.  Plus they’re super funny and you really need to laugh to survive 6am.. here’s to 8 more days without social lives ladies!


  
Notice the super cute handwriting.. this is why they’re so good at cake:) …and they really want me to play volleyball next year. We’ll have to see how that goes haha..

Alex Winifred Carlisle the III
 

Kiani ‘Kenny’ Ortiz the IV
I’ve been thinking a lot about the past 19 years, and I’ve been thinking it would make an incredible movie. I truly am blessed in so many ways. 

14 with the world on a string… let’s find her again… and have some of this
xoxo
Jessica nan