I had a very sweet and cheery morning in New Jersey last month. I got the invite to attend an event (and meet-and-greet) featuring celebrity chef, entrepreneur, and television personality Buddy Valastro!
Most know Buddy from his popular television show, Cake Boss. All of the episodes of his show are filmed at the Lackawanna Cake Factory & Filming Studio in Jersey City, and I was excited to have the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look into the filming process as well as how the cakes and baked goods are made.
You might have passed by or stopped into one of his bakeries, as Carlo’s Bakery has a home in thirteen different cities across the country! Everything seen in the bakeries is made in the factory and then shipped to the bakery locations to complete the final touches in-store.
I was provided a car service that took me directly to the front door of the factory that wasn’t necessarily easy to spot on Grove Street.
Upon my arrival, I was led to a room filled with holiday spirit, tasty treats, bakery staff, bloggers, and media. Buddy is partnering with Whole Earth Sweetener Co. to Rethink Sweet and significantly reduce sugar intake in baked goods!
Our morning was filled with sweets made in-house, and since I ate breakfast on my way over, I chose to skip over most of the treats, nibble on a cannoli, and take a few lobster tails home with me instead. Everything was so good!
We spent about thirty minutes enjoying coffees, teas, and snacks while mingling with others. After a quick introduction from our tour guide, we were all given hairnets to put on in order to start the tour.
We entered each room to find bakery staff hard at work. Some were rolling dough, some were holding consultations, and some were decorating cakes. It was really neat to see the exact room where all of the episodes are actually filmed.
After dragging studio lights in and out for a bit, they finally decided to install permanent light boards and display “dummy cakes” to be seen in the background of the shots.
There were so many colors, tools, and categories of accessories for cake decorating, and everything was very clean and organized.
It was obvious that a lot of planning goes into the finished products, and this is especially true of the cakes.
After the tour, we got a hands-on tutorial with Buddy, using some of his favorite new and lower-calorie recipes. Our morning was sponsored by Whole Earth Sweetener Co., and they used this event to officially announce that Buddy is teaming up with them as an official endorser.
He’s one hundred percent behind the idea of making recipes that are healthier for you, and has already created a handful of recipes using the products. After they announced his partnership with the brand, he dove right into our short decorating class.
We were each given a gingerbread cookie (made with the sweetener — recipe below!) to decorate, and it was fun to spread some early holiday cheer around the room while doing so.
The cookies tasted great! Mine only lasted a few minutes before I ate it and created another to take home with me.
(Do you like my gingerbread selfie with an intentional “Buddy photobomb” technique? hehe.)
Just in case you’re looking to create these cookies using the line of products at home, here’s the recipe, courtesy of Buddy and Whole Earth Sweetener Co!
Buddy’s Gingerbread Cookies
(makes about 3 dozen)
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons Whole Earth Sweetener Agave 50
6 tablespoons Whole Earth Sweetener Baking Blend
1/4 cup nonfat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Sift dry ingredients; set aside
2. Beat butter and Whole Earth Sweetener products in large bowl of mixer until well combined.
3. Stir in dry ingredients alternating with milk and vanilla, beginning and ending with dry ingredients; mix well after each addition. Scrape side of bowl occasionally.
4. Refrigerate dough at least 2 hours before using.
5. Preheat oven to 400°F.
6. Roll dough on lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes. Re-roll scraps only once.
7. Place cookies on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until medium golden brown in color.
8. Remove from oven to wire racks. Let cool 2 minutes. Remove cookies from baking sheet and cool completely.
Nutritional Information (per 1 cookie about 3-inches in diameter): Calories 104; Protein 1g; Total Carbohydrate 16g; Total Sugars 7g; Fiber 0g; Total Fat 4g; Saturated Fat 2g; Trans Fat 0g; Cholesterol 9mg; Sodium 50mg
Buddy was very personable and spent a lot of time talking with us. I took a few notes in my phone of conversations to share with you guys here on the blog!
Some quotes and notes:
- “I always believe in moderation. I’ll never cut out sugar completely.”
- “We have to do something with the sugar kids consume, so this is a great start and partnership.”
- (When asked if he’s done recipes for kids.) “Kids don’t care and totally housed the cookies. It’s nice to know it’s half the calories right off the bat!”
- The amount of sugar you need changes recipe-by-recipe. “They did a side-by-side comparison, and a lot of people couldn’t tell a difference in the recipes that used Whole Earth Sweetener Co. products.”
I had a great time touring the factory, and left my time there with a lot of respect for Buddy. He’s extremely passionate about his work and couldn’t be nicer. He made sure to get photos and chat with anyone who walked up to him, and he went around the room to talk to us as we decorated our cookies.
Carlo’s Cake Factory offers a variety of cake decoration classes, all with different skills in mind. It would be fun to return down the road!
I was sent home with a swag bag full of Whole Earth Sweetener Co. products as well as a box of cannoli and lobster tails.
If you’re ever close to a Carlo’s Bakery, I highly recommend both!
Question of the Day
• Have you ever visited a Carlo’s Bakery?
• What is your favorite type of baked good?
While I’m a lover of cupcakes, after tasting these tasty treats, I have to say that I’m a big fan of the cannoli. I remember tasting a particularly delicious Mint Chocolate Cannoli during a trip to the famous Mike’s Pastry in Boston. So yummy!
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary tour of Lackawanna Cake Factory & Filming Studio, thanks to Whole Earth Sweetener Co. While I was not compensated for this review, I was asked to share my my experience on the tour. As always, all thoughts and opinions remain my own.