Luxe Mountain Wedding Magazine

By Kelly McGeehan - November 7, 2017

Thanks Luxe Mountain Weddings for publishing photos of some adorable cake pop wedding favors for Annie and Eric from June 16, 2017. Check out the full gallery below!



Mise en Place: what it means and why it's so important

By Kelly McGeehan - October 31, 2017

Mise en Place
. It is the first phrase I learned when attending culinary school at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, North Carolina. It is a French term for "everything in it's place". Simple, huh? Well, not always. Having your mise set up properly is key to producing pastries (and savory food) in an efficient, clean, quick manner. 


     When I teach the Intro to Baking class at The Seasoned Chef, I always start my lecture with talking about the importance of mise en place. I can't tell you how many times I will go to assist a student in making a recipe and ask for the eggs and get looked at sideways. "Oh, I must have missed that on the recipe. Let me go crack 8 eggs real quick!" It won't always destroy a recipe, but if you know anything about pastry arts, it's that everything needs to be precise! So if you needed to add those eggs while your batter was at a certain temperature or consistency, you may have missed the boat. 

     Naturally, your first thought for mise en place goes to ingredients. Make sure you have all your ingredients and have them scaled out properly. (I suggest reviewing your recipe at least twice to check that you have all the ingredients before starting anything!) But, it extends to equipment as well. Make sure you aren't scrambling around to find the proper Kitchenaid attachment, silpat, or piping tip required to make your recipe. SO MANY recipes are reliant on specific temperatures, textures, and consistency to be made properly. If you think you can pipe perfect little marshmallows, but you didn't prep your sheetpans or piping bags, think again! You will have what I call "snowman poop" mallows, instead of clean, smooth ones. Marshmallows needs to be piped IMMEDIATELY once they are at the right consistency. Waiting even just a few moments can completely ruin their appearance. 

     Another important part of mise en place is making sure your oven is preheated to the proper temperature, or that you have room in your refrigerator or freezer to store your product. 

     Many people can be intimidated by baking, especially in higher altitudes. And while not every recipe you try will come out perfectly, you can at least set yourself up for success by having your mise en place ready to go. This is not a "beginners" baking tip, this is what professional bakers and chefs do every single time they produce something. 

Perfect Cookies in High Altitude

By Kelly McGeehan - October 30, 2017

Cookies may be considered one of the easiest pastries to make, however they tend to be inconsistent and under/over baked. For such a simple product, there are a lot of factors to consider...temperature of the dough, thorough mixing of the dough, creaming the butter and sugar properly, oven temperature, and size of cookie. With these professional baking tips, you will be able to create a perfectly shaped, soft, delicious cookie every time! All professional baking tips are in bold!


4 oz butter, softened
5 1/2 oz granulated sugar
1 egg
8 oz all purpose flour
1/2 t baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 oz honey
cinnamon sugar for dusting


Kitchenaid mixer 
5 quart mixing bowl
paddle attachment
rubber spatula
2 oz ice cream scoop
flat sheetpan 
electronic scale

Method of Preparation

- Properly scale out all ingredients and prepare all equipment.
- Cream the butter and sugar together. Creaming means to bring a fat and sugar together on medium speed to create a paste. Cream on medium speed for 1 minute.
          **continue to cream when your mixture looks like this**.        

     **properly creamed butter and sugar should look like this!**

- Add the egg and honey and mix throughly into the butter mixture. Scrape the bowl down to make sure there is no egg in the bottom of the bowl. Cream on medium speed to create a paste.


                          **no lumps of egg here!** 

- Combine the AP flour, salt, and baking soda. Add to the butter mixture and combine on low speed until thoroughly combined. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula. Mix on medium speed for 30 seconds.



- Scoop out dough with a 2 oz ice cream scoop. Using an ice cream scoops makes all the cookies a consistent size that require the same baking time.


- Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes or overnight before baking. Chilling the dough (most importantly the butter in the dough) helps prevent the dough from spreading too much in the oven. 


-Dunk cookies in cinnamon sugar before baking! 


- Bake at 350* for 7 minutes. Turn sheetpan in oven to prevent dark cookies due to hot spots in the oven. Bake another 7 minutes or until slightly brown along the edges. Always remove cookies from oven BEFORE completely baked. Carry over baking can take a perfect cookie to an over-baked cookie. 

- Remove from hot sheetpan after 2 minutes to prevent additional carry over baking. 

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

By Kelly McGeehan - October 30, 2017

     I often get complimented on the flavor of my "not too sweet" buttercream. Clients tell me all the time that they don't like too much frosting because it is just way too sweet. Usually that's because it is made with confectionary sugar and low quality ingredients. Adding more sugar helps mask the taste of a cheap frosting. I take a lot of pride in my 4 ingredient Swiss Meringue Buttercream. I use it for all my cakes and macarons!


Swiss Meringue vs. Italian Meringue
 You may ask, "Why Swiss meringue over Italian meringue buttercream?" For me, I like Swiss meringue buttercream better for two reasons. First of all, it's quicker to make! So if you have to bust out 5 batches in an afternoon, it takes about half the time that Italian meringue does. Second, it's foolproof. I used Italian meringue for many, many years earlier in my career. I do love the taste and texture, but it can be messed up pretty easily.

The difference between the two types of buttercream are mainly the method they are made. And also that Italian meringue has water added into the recipe, while Swiss does not. When you make a Swiss meringue, you heat up your egg whites and sugar over a double boiler. Once your sugar is dissolved and your whites are nice and hot (165*), you can start whipping your meringue. For Italian meringue, you make a simple syrup (water and granulated sugar) and heat it up to 225* and then starting whipping your egg whites. You continue to heat the syrup up to 235* and once that temperature is reached, you very slowly stream the syrup into the whipping whites. While it sounds pretty easy, many things can go wrong during that final step. Your whites may not be whipped up quite large enough or they may be overwhipped. You may add your syrup a little too quickly and deflate the whole meringue. If that happens, you have to start over completely. There's just no "re-flating" a meringue. So if you go with the Italian method, which takes longer to make, and then you deflate your meringue, you are out way more time! Enough time to make two batches of Swiss meringue!

The only problem I have ever encountered making Swiss meringue is when I tried to make a batch that was slightly too large for my 5 qt mixing bowl. My meringue wasn't able to whip up as high as it needed to be and inherently was warmer than desired. Once you add butter to meringue that is still too warm, it ends up melting the butter, instead of emulsifying it into the egg whites. IF this happens to you, not all is lost. Take your mixing bowl with the loose buttercream and throw it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes. That will chill the butter back up. Pop it back onto your mixer and whip it until it comes back together.


Swiss Meringue Buttercream

10 oz egg whites
1# granulated sugar
1# 10 oz unsalted, softened butter
1 T vanilla paste
Pinch of sea salt

Method of Preparation

*Over a double boiler, heat the egg whites, granulated sugar, salt, and vanilla until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is very hot. (165*) 
*Transfer to a 5 qt mixing bowl and using a whisk, whip up the mixture into a meringue on medium speed. This process will take about 10-12 minutes. 
Continue to whip meringue until the bowl is cool to the touch. Switch to a low speed and add chunks of softened butter. Whip on high speed for 1 minute once all butter is added.   

Perfect, smooth, and not too sweet! 

**Store at room temperature and use within 3 days. Your egg whites are pasteurized through the heating process, so don't worry about bacteria. Be sure that the buttercream is stored in a cool, dark area. If you prefer to refrigerate, take out the buttercream at least 2-3 hours before using. You will most likely still need to put it into your Kitchenaid and whip it back up to a softer consistency**

**Remember to scrape your butter pads with an offset spatula to get every last bit of butter!