Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Winner winner, cookie dinner!

This past weekend, I participated in Pastry Chicago's seventh annual Spring Cookie Competition. This is a competition for amateur and student bakers, and was held at The French Pastry School. One of the most fun parts about participating was that we were given a tour of the school and treated to a decorating demonstration by one of the school's chef instructors - I was DEFINITELY tempted to quit my day job and enroll in full-time pastry school!

The competition was sponsored by Plugra Butter, Nielsen-Massey Vanilla, and American Almond, so we were required to use all three products in our recipes, which we had to develop on our own. The challenge was to come up with a unique almond shortbread recipe, and to decorate the cookies in a "spring flower" theme.

Now, historically, I have not decorated my shortbread cookies - to me, they are much more about flavor than they are about aesthetics. So, I decided to toe the line between flavor and decorating, and created an almond shortbread "nest" that I filled with a violet-scented chocolate ganache. Using the violet flavor and aroma in the ganache gave me a great excuse for decorating these nests with royal icing violets, tying together the flavor and the decorating, which is something I love to do.

Sweet and simple
Big winner!
I was so surprised and honored to win against some very stiff competition. It was such a fun event, and I will definitely be participating again in the future!


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