Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Sweet Escape: New Jersey Dessert Tasting Expo

Important to note before reading:  this blog is about the 1st NJ Dessert Tasting Expo, 2013.  To read about the 2nd Annual NJ Dessert Tasting Expo, please click here.  Now, onward!

For those of you who know The Jersey Momma personally, you know that desserts are my thing.  Looking for a good cupcake baker in your area?  I've got that covered.  Want to know the best chocolate shop in your town?  I'm your gal.  I can even tell you which supermarket has the best baked goods because, seriously, I have tried them all!  And I'm not ashamed to admit it.

I can't recall where I first heard about the New Jersey Dessert Tasting Expo.  It might have been online somewhere or a newspaper advertisement.  It might have been a dream, with a soft voice urging me to GO, run to this event immediately and don't look back!

I apologize in advance that I am blogging about the New Jersey Dessert Tasting Expo about a month too late.  It was held in May, 2013 at the New Jersey Convention and Expo Center in Edison.  But I have already gone down on my knees and prayed that there will be another one, and God does listen, because I have heard rumors that there might be another event in the Fall!  Oh, joy!!  If not, then be sure to catch them next year. (*Jersey Momma note:  The next NJ Dessert Tasting Expo will be held on August 24, 2014 at Kean University.  Yee-hah!!!)

What is a Dessert Tasting Expo?

So what exactly is a dessert tasting expo?  Exactly what it sounds like!  Over 30 dessert and confectionary makers in one location, providing you with samples of their delicious creations.  Visit the NJ Dessert Tasting Expo website for a list of all who participated (www.njdesserttastingexpo.com).

A regular entry ticket provided you with a small box to keep your samples in.  A VIP entry ticket provided you with an expo swag bag, box for your samples, early entry, and the opportunity to enter their raffle for some amazing prizes from the dessert makers.  I had a regular entry ticket, but I am highly considering a VIP ticket for my next experience.  I was able to glimpse some of the winners of the raffle prizes, and they had some amazing things in their hands.  Plus, the early entry seemed to have less crowds, which meant easier access to the sweets!  Tickets were sold online, and I even snagged a Groupon for this event, so my entry cost was $17.  Children were also permitted at the event but I went alone - yup, totally alone- and it was glorious.  But I know my son would've loved sampling stuff too.  There were children in attendance and they certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves!

What's it Like?

Upon arrival, I was greeted by the Cupcake Stop truck from Green Brook.  It was raining quite steadily by the time I got there, so the truck was closed, but it was still neat to see it there (photo courtesy of NJ Dessert Tasting Expo, Jamie Bodo Photography).  Some of the visitors (myself included) were grumbling about having to wait in line to get in, but it moved quickly and any complaints I might have had quickly vanished once I got inside.

Inside the venue, there were more dessert vendors to visit.  The room was set up in kind of a circular fashion, and I was given a small empty sweet box and a long card with the names of all of the sweet makers on it.  As I visited each vendor, I could take my sample and have them punch my card (to keep me from going back for more than one sample).  However, most of the sweet makers were extremely friendly and accommodating, and encouraged visitors to take more than one sample.  The card also helped me keep track of who I visited and who I needed to get to.
                             (photo courtesy of NJ Dessert Tasting Expo, Jamie Bodo Photography )

I kid you not that this was a dessert lover's dream.  Tables of sweets for the taking!  There were flavored popcorns, ice cream, crepes, cakes, pies, fudge, cupcakes, donuts, cake pops, tarts, cheesecakes, and more.  Music was provided by talk radio 1450, which helped to set the mood. Other vendors were also in attendance, such as TD Bank, who provided me with a plastic shopping bag that I actually began storing my sweets in, since there were so many they could no longer fit in my little cardboard box! Some vendors also provided paper plates, so it was a balancing act of deliciousness for me.
 (Sugar Lumps with their fab flavored popcorn display - photo courtesy of NJ Dessert Tasting Expo, Jamie Bodo Photography)


Favorite Sweet Makers 

I was also given a plastic golden coin, which I was to give to my favorite sweet maker of the day.  Who to choose?  They were all so fabulous.  By the day's end, I loved everyone, but three really stood out on my plate!  One was Sweet Dreams Mini Donuts (www.sweetdreamsminidonuts.com), who was making warm mini donuts served in crispy white bags.  It was cool to watch him make them right in front of me.  How unique that they cater special events!  Imagine giving warm mini donuts to your wedding guests as favors?  I love it!!

Another favorite was LaBonbonierre Bakeshop (www.labon.com), who gave me one of the most delicious full slices of cake I have ever eaten.  It was a chocolate espresso cake.  Forgive me for not recalling the exact name of it.

Look at that baby!  Crispy bottom, hint of espresso- so yummy!!  (photo courtesy of NJ Dessert Tasting Expo, Jamie Bodo Photography).  But my hands-down favorite and the receiver of my coveted gold coin was Sweet Potato Pies by Ann: Ann's Sweet Potato Pies.
                                   (photo courtesy of NJ Dessert Tasting Expo, Jamie Bodo)
Ann had different flavors of her amazing sweet potato pies to try, but I actually sampled the sweet potato cheesecake, which was incredible.  I regret not buying one from her right on the spot.  Why didn't I do that?  Maybe just because I couldn't carry it.  I still regret it.  But I am glad I gave her my gold coin.

I had so many sweets to sample that I simply couldn't eat all of them right at the event.  I tasted a little of everything and then brought the rest home to savor.

Oh, and the winner of the Best of Show was Sweet Dreams Mini Donuts!  Well-deserved, I might add.

I know it's unlike me to use someone else's photos, but how was I supposed to take pictures with my hands full of desserts?  The lovely coordinator of the expo was kind enough to let me borrow these pictures, so I thank her for that!  The photography was done by Jamie Bodo Photography and I give them mad credit for taking pictures of stuff but not eating it.




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