On Saturday, I attended an event that I had been jazzed (that’s right, jazzed) about ever since I registered to attend. Saturday was the New England Dessert Showcase, hosting a few dozen of the area’s top notch dessert makers at the Westin Copley Place. I originally intended to go as a member of the media and simply report on the showcase. But Ashley, one of the event organizers, suggested that I promote both CupcakeCamp and FreeFoodBoston as an exhibitor at the event. So in addition to sampling frozen custard, chocolate cake, cookie sandwiches, cupcakes and so much more, I got to speak to hundreds of attendees about CupcakeCamp. It was so much fun to meet people who had been to the event, had simply heard of it, or were learning about it for the first time. I was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of the professional bakers I met who are excited to participate. Expect a bigger and better CupcakeCamp Boston 2011.
I did not quite know what to expect from the Dessert Showcase, mostly because they said they were expecting upwards of 5,000 attendees. The press and trade time slot, from 10am to noon, went really well. People had the chance to take in the entire room at once since it was not packed with people, and they could talk to the vendors. Once noon rolled around, things got a little crazy. Hundreds of general admission attendees filled the room. Samples got snatched up quickly, vendors had to scramble to restock their tables, it was difficult to move around, and there was little chance you could have a in-depth conversation with any of the vendors. My friends reported that the line snaked around the building and the mall and that organizers were telling people to come back in two hours. I have never organized an event this large before, but I would guess that with upwards of 5,000 people attending, you need more space and more product. I do of course know the difficulties associated with planning an event of this scale, and I’m curious what the Dessert Showcase organizers plan to do differently next year.
Luckily, I was able to meet most of the vendors before the crowds descended. O’Sugar Cakery was the first exhibitor I met, as her table was conveniently located right next to mine. O’Sugar is based out of New Hampshire. You can currently order treats from O’Sugar online, but Michelle, the baker, is hoping to open up a shop within the next year. The raspberry shortcakes above as well as the treats below were among Michelle’s offerings at the show.
The vanilla bean cupcake was delicious and one of my favorite treats from the showcase, sweet, buttery, and fluffy.
A longtime favorite of mine, I was thrilled that Kickass Cupcakes was at the showcase. Sara of Kickass brought a huge assortment of minis with her including fun flavors like the Lucky, s’mores, and caramel apple, which I saw in the store for the first time last week. A longer post about Kickass is coming soon.
Another of the best cupcakes I tried came from Sweet Alternatives. A chai cupcake with salted buttercream frosting. I will be very excited to have them at CupcakeCamp.
They brought other treats including root beer, bubblegum, and coffee-flavored meringues, orange mascarpone cake, chocolate cupcake with sambuca frosting,
and a vegan peanut butter cupcake with grape jelly frosting.
Strawberry Hill Confectionery makes sweet treats and teas using high-quality ingredients like maple syrup. Their “whirl ease,” which look like a lollipop, are meant to be stirred and dissolved into hot tea.
They also make whirl ease with both the tea and sweetener, so all you need is hot water.
Yvette Taylor, aka Queen of the Pantry, brought these adorable CupCookies with her to display.
I was a big fan of the cinnamon spiced nuts with chocolate and butterscotch chips. They were just a little sweet and were a nice break from the overall sugar rush of the day. Yvette makes savory products including dukkah and jams.
Mumbai Chopstix was serving a mango panna cotta with a fried honey-soaked wheat ball. I am a big fan of anything mango. The panna cotta was smooth, light and not too sweet.
I had heard much acclaim about Chilly Cow‘s frozen custard before the event. I had also seen it in several stores around the area. Frozen custard really is distinct from ice cream. To say it is richer than ice cream would not be accurate. If you taste it, its name makes sense though. It tastes like a custard, only frozen.
Stay tuned for part 2…