The aroma of sweet pastries and cakes filtered through a corner of Chicago's McCormick Place during last month's International Home and Housewares Show.
Carlo's Bakery was in operation on the premises of the convention hall as "Cake Boss" Buddy Valastro demonstrated his talent in cake decorating and also introduced various items in a new line of products.
Valastro, the charismatic star of TLC's hit show "Cake Boss," and top guy at his family establishment Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken, N. J., was featured at the annual housewares show to unveil a collection of products which included everything from bakeware and gadgets to fondant accessories, serveware, cookie cutters, and cake kits.
"I want to empower people to learn to make cakes that are easy to do," Valastro said, during a recent tour of the "Cake Boss" display at the convention. The products, scheduled to be available at retail in the fall, have been developed by the Meyer Corporation in partnership with Discovery Communications. Valastro worked closely with the company in designing the items.
During the morning launch event and tour, Valastro demonstrated decorating techniques with fondant, fondant accessories and other tools. His daughter Sofia also took to the stage occasionally throughout the event to showcase the fun and ease of the new products.
While Valastro's fans are used to seeing extravagant and over the top creations coming out of his bakery, the star baker said home cooks/bakers can still be proud of their creations even if they're scaled down versions.
He said his love of baking, which is a family endeavor, originally came about "because of the end 'Wow' result."
Valastro said he wants to continue to share that love for the art with others.
"And I want them to be successful at it," he said. So, helping come up with products to make it easier in the home kitchen was Valastro's goal. "I was excited to work with Meyer," he said.
Valastro said he's gotten feedback from people all over the world who tell him he "inspired them to bake."
According to Valastro, the more you practice with cake decorating and baking, the better you get.
"This is stuff people can do," he said, adding that working together with ease in the kitchen also promotes family togetherness which is important to him.
"It makes you feel good," he said.
To see some of the "Cake Boss" items that will be available in the marketplace later this year, or to learn more about Buddy Valastro, visit meyer.com, disoverycommunications.com or buddyvalastro.com
Try the following recipe from Valastro.
Chocolate Brownie Clusters
3 extra-large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 cups powdered (10X) sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups unsalted raw walnut halves
DIRECTIONS: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Put the egg whites and lemon juice in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Whip on low speed for 2 minutes, then on maximum speed until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Sift the sugar and cocoa powder into the bowl together, then fold into the batter with a rubber spatula until the batter is smooth and shiny. Fold in the walnuts, until they are well coated with the batter. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, using nonstick spray or a dab of butter in each corner to glue the paper in place. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough 1/2 inch apart, being sure to include about the same number of walnuts (3 or 4) in each one. Bake until the outside has crisped and the bottom starts to pull away from the parchment paper, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven. As soon as the clusters can be moved, use a spatula to transfer them to a rack and let them cool. Enjoy the cookies right away, or store when completely cool in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
From "Baking with the Cake Boss"