Baking Hackathon at Nestlé Disrupt 375º

With Pastry Chef Karen DeMasco

Last week, I had the privelege of going to the Nestlé Toll House headquarters in Solon, Ohio to work next to several esteemed Pastry Chefs from the US on a project identifying latest baking trends. For someone who is not professionally trained, this was like a dream come true to be able to work side-by-side with a chef and learning from the best of the best. We were each assigned to a team and I was on Chef Karen DeMasco's team. She is a James Beard Foundation award winner, pastry chef at Locana Verde, and cookbook author of "The Craft of Baking". She is sweet as can be and even brought mint from her own garden for us to use! Talk about being prepared. 

Each team was assigned to a trend and ours was "Speed Scratch" - using pre-made ingredients, like Sugar, Cookie dough, and adding other ingredients like spices, fruits, etc. to make it super special. We came up with some delicious sweet treats that I can't wait to recreate. Check out the recap video below!

Our "Not So Classic Cookie Plate" included 2 kinds of Chocolate Chip "wichies" - Salted Caramel with Orange Zest "wichies" rolled in coconut chips and mint infused chocolate ganache rolled in cocoa nibs. Oh man they were good! 

Next was a Spiced Berry Jam Streusel bar where we took fresh berries, cooked them down and added this beautiful ginger, cinnamon, & lemon zest spice to them, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar to give it a kick. We used the Nestle Sugar Cookie dough as the shortbread base and then grated some frozen dough into the streusel dough for added texture too! Karen is a genius and really knows how to mix some crazy good flavor combinations.  Check out the other photos below for our other creations like Pistachio Pinwheel cookies and the Tahini Buckeye - when in Rome, or shall I say, Ohio! 

I also got a chance to meet fellow YouTubers like Anna from Lovely Lady Cakes and Ashley from Feast of Fiction. It was so nice to meet them all in person! 

Below were other team's creations and I must say, everybody went all out. It wasn't a competition, but it sure felt like one. If any of you have ever seen Cupcake Wars on Food Network, this was exactly what it felt like. We had to come up with different ideas based on a theme and run with it, using only ingredients they had available in the Culinary Center. Talk about pressure! But we all managed to do great, I think! 

Thanks you so much to all the entire Nestle Toll House culinary team for being such amazing hosts and inspiring me so much to be original and to push my to boundaries.

Thanks to Nestlé Toll House for sponsoring my travel, accommodations, and baking experiences at Disrupt 375º.