Disclaimer: This was an all-expenses paid trip on behalf of Wilton as a member of their Sweet Treat Team. However, all opinions are my own.
This past weekend, I attended the Wilton Sweet Up event…for the second time! (See last year’s recap here) I had such a fabulous time and met so many wonderful (and incredibly talented) bloggers and vloggers. Of course, I also learned about cake and cookie decorating and got a chance to use some of their BRAND NEW products! Similar to last year, they are doing ’20 in 20′ – one product released each day for 20 days!
I arrived in Chicago on Thursday afternoon and only had a few hours to kill before that night’s festivities began! I had a chance to reconnect with some old friends before heading to our meet & greet cocktail hour, sponsored by Tito’s vodka. I sipped on my Moscow Mule and began making the rounds to chat with some of the other bloggers and vloggers, including a few of my favorite gals from last year!
From left to right: Sues, Adeina, me, Marilyn, and Desiree
Back row: Marilyn, Karyn, Beth, Carlos, and Colby
Front row: Sues, me, and Julianne
There was a purple carpet laid out and a silver backdrop to take pictures and share what inspires us or what we love. I absolutely LOVE popcorn with Wilton Candy Melts. I have made Bunny Tails popcorn mix using the marshmallow Candy Melts but the flavor possibilities are endless! In fact, the Wilton staff used S’mores Candy Melts on the popcorn mix that was included in our hotel welcome bags. One word: delicious!
After dinner, I enjoyed a glass of Tito’s lemonade and ice cream topped with caramel sauce and Wilton’s Toffee Crunch sprinkles. At one point while eating dessert, I was cracking up that our entire table had our phones out and were either instagramming or tweeting about the event!
While enjoying my ice cream, Beth talked about the baking and decorating trends for 2015! There are so many fun trends for this year – some are based on taste while others are visual! I am SO excited to try a smoked dessert, as well as painting watercolors onto fondant.
We had the opportunity during Beth’s talk to sample a marvelous merveilleux – one of this year’s trends. It is a meringue sandwich with whipped cream in the middle that is covered in whipped cream and rolled in sprinkles or another garnish. I really enjoyed it and thought it was sweet but also very light.
The test kitchen also made s’mores truffles that we were able to sample. The idea of a dessert mash up is a usual dessert recreated into another form, such as french toast cupcakes or pecan pie cheesecake. The s’mores truffle was made with S’mores Candy melts (coming this summer!), had a mini marshmallow in the center, and was rolled in graham cracker crumbs. This mash up was delicious and I can’t wait to try and recreate it!
After talking about trends, we had some more time to mingle before heading back to the hotel. We got back to the hotel around 8:30pm and I chatted some more with the ladies in the hotel lobby before bed. The next morning, we woke up bright and early and headed to the Wilton School of Cake Decorating. Beth and Elizabeth were in the kitchen waiting for us to do some boozy baking! We made White Russian Cookie Cups (using the new mega mini muffin pan), as well as Bloody Mary Muffins with a compound butter.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the muffins (I’m more of a mimosa girl) but the White Russian Cookie Cups were out of this world!! I can’t wait to recreate these at home and maybe even get creative by using different flavors of Kahlua. Below is an action shot of me putting the glaze on each cookie cup.
After the boozy baking session, we were given a tour of the school and had the chance to see some of the cakes from the Masters Class. We then enjoyed a sack lunch before heading to Wilton HQ for the afternoon. Our first afternoon workshop was with the talented and oh-so-sweet, Amber from Sweet Ambs. She showed us how to decorate sugar cookies using royal icing and various wet-on-wet techniques. Below are some of the cookies that Amber created as demos for the workshop – aren’t they gorgeous?
You can also see the little pamphlet from the new Color Right performance color system. This is one of the new products that Wilton launched and we had the opportunity to test it out! The colors are SUPER concentrated and unlike the icing gel colors, these are in squeeze bottles which means you can measure exactly how much you put into your recipe. You can create the same color every time without worrying about whether or not it will match the icing you made before!!
Here are some of the cookies that I created using the new color system. The colors in the pamphlet above are based on 2 cups of icing so I just cut each amount in half. For my teal color, I used 4 drops of blue and 1 drop of yellow. For the lime green, I used 8 drops of yellow and 1 drop of blue. I was so happy with the colors I chose – nice and bright!
After our cookie decorating class, we headed to the test kitchen for a Treatology flavor contest! The fabulous Wilton staff made four kinds of sugar cookies and two buttercream icings using the new flavors and we had to taste each one and guess the flavor. I can’t even describe how awesome this new flavor set is – you can create a wide variety of flavors!
The toasted coconut cookies were my favorite and don’t even get me started on the peach + champagne frosting! I also really loved the combination of the warm cinnamon graham sugar cookie with a triple combo frosting which was salted caramel + toasted coconut + creamy vanilla custard. I was so worried that when mixing flavors together, one would overpower the other but that was not the case at all! I guessed all of the flavors correctly and was rewarded with a bottle of the new Blue Raspberry flavored sprinkles – can’t wait to use them!
Our last workshop of the day was with Jenny Keller from Jenny Cookies – have you heard of her? She is well known for her amazing dessert tables and gave us a few tips on how to create the perfect table. The funny thing is that ever since I received the new Wilton Display Your Way Cake Stand, I had been thinking about doing a dessert table for my graduation party with a red, blue, and yellow Jayhawk theme. Now that I have tips from the pro herself, I have to do it!
Jenny created a friendly competition in which we were presented with the task of creating our own dessert table using one color and styrofoam cakes from the Wilton cake vault. We were given access to a huge table of cake stands, as well as two items from the prop room. We were also given a dozen cupcakes and the new Color Swirl 3-Color Coupler so that our dessert table would have some variety.
Although this was a competition, it was a ‘everyone is a winner’ competition and each team received a ribbon. Our group received the ‘Darling’ ribbon which I thought represented our dessert table perfectly! Afterwards, we celebrated with a few glasses of wine and a fabulous Italian dinner before heading back to the hotel.
I spent my last night in Chicago sitting in the hotel lobby sipping on a mojito and chatting it up with some of the bloggers until 2am. I am so grateful to have attended Sweet Up again this year. I learned some new decorating skills, but maybe even more importantly…I had the chance to meet some new bloggers and pick their brains about anything and everything. Everyone in the blogging community is so open and at many times, I felt as if I was talking to a close girlfriend.
I am truly blessed to be part of the Wilton Sweet Treat Team and to work with so many talented ladies (and two men)! Blogging is something that most people can’t even begin to understand and it was so nice to be in a room with other bloggers who understand what you do for a living…and don’t judge you for taking photos of everything.
Have you tried the new Color Right or Treatology systems?
What part of Sweet Up would you have liked most?