Monday, December 21, 2009

Hershey's Kisses Baking Party and Cookie Exchange

Hershey's Kisses Wreath | Photo Courtesy of JSH&A Public Relations
Photo courtesy of JSH&A Public Relations

Earlier this month, I was invited to a Hershey's Kisses Baking Party and Cookie Exchange at Robert Verdi's Luxe Laboratory. Since I was still in the middle of interviewing for my new job, and had nothing preventing me from heading into Manhattan in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday, I accepted the invitation and brought along one of my Chi Omega Sisters, Jena, so she could take a study break from her law school finals.

Sitting Area of Robert Verdi's Luxe Laboratory in New York, NY | Photo Courtesy of JSH&A Public Relations
Photo courtesy of JSH&A Public Relations

As soon as Jena and I walked in, we were in complete awe over how beautifully the venue space was decorated for the holidays. One of the sitting areas had tables set up for us to assemble cookie gift bags later in the afternoon, as well as a table for putting together crafts made from Hershey's Kisses.

Robert-Verdi-Luxe-Laboratory-New-York-NY-tasteasyougo.com
Couches at Robert Verdi's Luxe Laboratory in New York, NY

Robert Verdi's Luxe Laboratory in New York, NY | Photo Courtesy of JSH&A Public Relations
Photo courtesy of JSH&A Public Relations

After procuring beverages to sip on, we made our way over to the other sitting area, which featured a pair of gorgeous green curved couches. Jena and I got a kick out of the roaring fire being displayed on the widescreen television. Eventually, more people showed up and we all settled into those couches to chat and to nibble on some of the appetizers that had been laid out for us.

Appetizers at Hershey's Kisses Baking Party and Cookie Exchange at Robert Verdi's Luxe Laboratory in New York, NY | Taste As You Go

Fruit Kebabs at Hershey's Kisses Baking Party and Cookie Exchange at Robert Verdi's Luxe Laboratory in New York, NY | Taste As You Go

Peanut Butter and Jelly with Raspberry at Hershey's Kisses Baking Party and Cookie Exchange at Robert Verdi's Luxe Laboratory in New York, NY | Taste As You Go

There were carrot and celery sticks for dipping into a lusciously creamy Ranch dip; fruit kebabs with chunks of pineapple, jicama, kiwi, and mango; and an assortment of finger sandwiches. To make sure I saved room for the cookies we'd be consuming later, I only tried the peanut butter and jelly sandwich bite that was garnished with a fresh raspberry. Very refreshing!

Kitchen at Robert Verdi's Luxe Laboratory in New York, NY | Taste As You Go

Eventually, we were called to gather in the kitchen, decorated with Hershey's Kisses Kissletoe, so we could make two different cookie recipes - the first with Linda Stahl, the Hershey Kitchen's Baking Expert, and the second with Chef Nick Hosea of Bite Foods. But first, we all had to wash our hands.

Bathroom at Robert Verdi's Luxe Laboratory in New York, NY | Taste As You Go

Shower at Robert Verdi's Luxe Laboratory in New York, NY | Taste As You Go

Sink in the Bathroom at Robert Verdi's Luxe Laboratory in New York, NY | Taste As You Go

Since there were so many of us, I chose the bigger bathroom and stood in line for my turn at the sink. Can you believe that bathroom? (I'm pretty sure the bathroom is as big - or bigger than - my entire apartment!) I would have risked dry skin for the rest of the winter if it meant having the chance to wash my hands in that sink every five minutes. I just loved how the water flowed out of the mirror!

Baking Cookies at the Hershey's Baking Party and Cookie Exchange at Robert Verdi's Luxe Laboratory in New York, NY | Photo Courtesy of JSH&A Public Relations
Photo courtesy of JSH&A Public Relations

Once we had all washed our hands and put on our aprons - which we got to take home - we got to work with Linda on making the dough for the classic Peanut Butter Blossoms. Then, Chef Hosea walked us through the recipe he created especially for the event - his Hershey's Kisses Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate and Peppermint Candy Cookies. This recipe was a little more labor-intensive than the one for the Peanut Butter Blossoms, so Chef Hosea came over to lend Jena and me a hand with mixing the dough. (In hindsight, Jena and I did not choose our baking station wisely. We're both on the short side and the table we were using was a bit too tall for us to work comfortably.) No matter, Chef Hosea was a riot to work with and he offered us a very useful tip for when we made these cookies at home -- "use a stand mixer!"

After our cookies were put into the oven to bake, we were free to wash up again and to start assembling our gift bags of cookies. We certainly had a lot of varieties to choose from!

Cookies at the Hershey's Baking Party and Cookie Exchange at Robert Verdi's Luxe Laboratory in New York, NY | Taste As You Go

Cookies at the Hershey's Baking Party and Cookie Exchange at Robert Verdi's Luxe Laboratory in New York, NY | Taste As You Go

Cookies at the Hershey's Baking Party and Cookie Exchange at Robert Verdi's Luxe Laboratory in New York, NY | Taste As You Go

In addition to the Peanut Butter Blossoms and the Hershey's Kisses Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate and Peppermint Candy Cookies, there were also Hershey's Kisses Chocoate Chip Cookies, Chocolate Almond Thumbprint Cookies, a Cookie Trio, and Secret Almond Cookies. Even Robert Verdi himself joined us for this part of the event! He's the one dressed like a Hershey's Kiss all wrapped in silver in the photo below. ;-)

Creating Cookie Gift Bags at the Hershey's Baking Party and Cookie Exchange at Robert Verdi's Luxe Laboratory in New York, NY | Photo Courtesy of JSH&A Public Relations
Photo courtesy of JSH&A Public Relations

As we were bagging up all of those cookies, I was secretly relieved that I had been a naughty baker this year. Being unemployed meant I had to push baking holiday cookies down on my list of priorities, so the Baking Party and Cookie Exchange was perfect for me. (Even though I wasn't really exchanging anything for the cookies and candy and decorations I took home with me that afternoon...) To encourage more people to host cookie exchange parties, Hershey's set up an online cookie exchange where you can get recipes ideas and tips on how to organize and host a party. Next year, I'll be all set!

Seeing as I'll be starting my new job in a week, I'm not sure how many food events I'll be able to attend in the future, so I want to thank Hershey's for inviting me. If you're still looking for some last-minute holiday cookie ideas, definitely join the party and check out their online cookie exchange!

Happy Holidays!

Taste As You Go Disclaimer: I was provided with the opportunity to attend this event at no cost. I do not accept monetary compensation for writing about my experiences. All opinions expressed are my own.

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