2019 is coming to an end and all of us at JRC are taking a few moments to reflect on this past year. While our Instagram top 9 of 2019 features some amazing moments, there are a few others that come to mind when we reflect on 2019.
At Jenna Rae Cakes, we adopted the slogan ‘better, not bigger’ going into 2019. After opening up our location at The Forks and growing our team, we knew we had to commit to finding our footing with these new endeavours. The year of better, not bigger, saw some incredible behind the scenes progress and changes that our customers wouldn’t even know that has helped 2019 be such a wonderful year for us. When we look back at 2019, there are a few things that stand out personally and at JRC for Jenna and Ashley. Here are Jenna + Ashley’s highlights from 2019.
Lilah of course! Jenna had her first child and Ashley became an aunty to the happiest baby in the world!
Growing the JRC family even more! It still amazes Jenna to see all the people that work for JRC and how they bring their best to work each and every single day.
Finding out baby #2 is on the way for Ashley. Baby #2 is due in January and everyone is excited for their family to become a family of 4 in 2020!
Chelsea, their youngest sister, married her best friend this past summer. Definitely one of their favourite days of 2019!
For Ashley, 2019 was a year where most of her time was dedicated to a secret project… that we cannot WAIT to unveil in early 2020! Stay tuned! It’s been a monumental undertaking and a labour of love and we cannot wait for it to get out into the world. We promise this secret project won’t disappoint!
Another highlight of 2019 was a project we just wrapped before Christmas, and it will have to stay under wraps until January unfortunately. But don’t worry, we can share more very soon!
For Ashley, renovating their kitchen this summer with Jaclyn Peters was a dream come true! For Jenna, working with Jaclyn Peters for the design of her new home was wonderful.
Jenna and Ashley took as many opportunities as they could to be together while Jenna was pregnant and giving birth to Lilah in Toronto! Ashley took frequent trips to Toronto to visit Jen and her growing family and it’s been lovely to have Jenna back in Winnipeg as often as she can.
We can’t wait for all the exciting projects to be revealed in 2020 and we are so excited to see how 2020 unfolds. If it’s anything like this year, we don’t even know of all the incredible opportunities the year will hold but we are grateful already for what the year will bring. Thank you for being part of each and every year. Without you, our beloved customers, none of this would be possible.
Our annual holiday party has come and gone, our team has been working hard behind the scenes to make sure all of the sweet treats you enjoy this holiday season are delicious and made with love, and our store shelves are lined with ready-to-gift boxes of your favourite treats.
Before the gifts are all unwrapped and the excitement of the season is over, we want to send a heartfelt Thank You to YOU and each and every customer who has helped make 2019 our best year yet. We feel so grateful that every day we get to create beautiful and delicious treats that make your day or special occasion a little sweeter. Whether you’ve been a customer since we opened or have only been to visit once, we value your business and we hope to see you again in 2020.
Thank you for supporting our small business and from all of us at Jenna Rae Cakes, we want to wish you and yours the most joyful holiday season.
Here are a few photos from our annual Holiday party! Thanks to 6 Degrees Photo Booth for always being a hit at our parties!
The Holiday season is such a magical time rich with heart-warming traditions that make us look towards this season with eager anticipation. We asked our incredible team what their favourite holiday traditions are and we are so excited to share with you the moments that make each holiday season even more memorable than the last. Take a read below and let a few of our team’s traditions inspire you to create some new traditions of your own.
“We remember when our parents would take trays of homemade treats to every place we went over the holidays. Now, we take our Holiday Platters to every gathering. It’s nice to continue this tradition with our own treats.” – Ashley + Jenna. Check out our Holiday Platters here.
“Christmas Day we always have breakfast and open presents. Then, we go to see a movie and have Chinese food for dinner lol. This year we are going to see the new Little Women.” – Jenna R
“Every Christmas Eve when I was growing up we would watch a Christmas movie. From The Santa Clause to The Nightmare Before Christmas, there was always a new Christmas movie we would get to watch. Now, my husband and I watch a festive movie every Christmas Eve to continue this tradition.” – Aelea
“Aside from going to church for 9 days as a preparation to Christmas called “simbang gabi”, I enjoy the treats we eat after every mass. I love “bibingka” and “puto bungbong”. They are traditional desserts that we get to eat mostly during December. On Christmas Eve we stay up late to attend church and share dinner at midnight after mass to celebrate Christmas. I enjoy doing this with my family.” – Beatriz
“Opening Christmas PJs on Christmas Eve and then having a sleepover with my sisters and watching a Christmas movie! It’s always been the best evening!” – Amelia
No matter what traditions make your holiday special, we hope you can continue the ones that make your holiday spirits bright or begin new ones that allow you to enjoy the joy of the season. Heading to a gathering? Our Holiday Pre-Orders close TODAY and we would love to be sure you have something special to bring to those you love.
When we dreamed up our Hot Chocolate Bombs during the hot months of summer we didn’t realize how big of a hit they would become this Winter season! With the Hot Chocolate Bombs flying off the shelves as excited customers rush home to make a cozy cup of hot chocolate to enjoy while spending time with family or friends, while watching a movie or reading a book, we decided it was time to share a step by step on how to use our Hot Chocolate Bombs.
We’ve had a few requests for this blog post so we are excited to be sharing with you how to make the most delicious cups of hot chocolate we hope you’ll get to enjoy this winter season!
Step 1 – Heat up milk.
Heat up the milk of your choice in a pot or in your mug in a microwave. If you’re heating it up in your mug, make sure you leave enough room for the bomb to be added into the mug without it overflowing. We recommend taking the mug you’d like to use and fill it 3/4 of the way with milk to heat. Make sure your milk is nice and hot for a quick and efficient melt of your Hot Chocolate Bomb.
Step 2 – Drop the bomb!
Once your milk is nice and heated up (make sure it’s steaming a bit!), gently drop the bomb into the milk. Use a spoon to gently roll and stir the bomb as it melts to mix the chocolate into the milk.
Step 3 – Stir, stir, stir.
Once the Hot Chocolate Bomb is fully melted be sure to stir with a spoon and scrape the bottom to be sure there aren’t any melted chocolate clumps at the bottom of your mug. Use your spoon to get all around the edges and be sure your bomb is fully mixed in.
Step 4 – Enjoy!
The bomb has melted away and now a rich cup of hot chocolate is ready for you to enjoy! Sip slowly to savour this delicious treat.
Our Hot Chocolate Bombs are no longer available for Holiday Pre-Order but we will have limited amounts available at both shops when we are able! Stop by our locations at The Forks or Academy Road to pick up your bombs today!
When you first decide to expand your menu, the idea of it all is so exciting! Having your team be creative in the kitchen to dream up new products and mouth-watering flavours, seeing the variety of finishing touches from a passionate team that elevates the product, and aiming to create something your customers will love is all a thrilling piece of adding a new item to your menu.
As the testing of items and flavours moves from testing to the final touches stage, the stress can kick in… will customers like the product? Will they like the flavours? Will it sell as well as we think it will? All of these questions and more begin to creep into your thoughts and you realize how strategic you must be to introduce a new item to your menu.
We are sharing a few of our top tips for expanding your menu, along with some examples from the changes we’ve made to our menu over the years so you have a real-world example of things that worked and those that didn’t.
Tip 1 – Consider your space.
One of our biggest challenges with expanding our menu is always cooler space. Our coolers are packed so if we want to add a new menu item, it either needs to be an item that doesn’t have to be kept in the cooler or we have to swap out a menu item to make room for the new one. This is something you’ve probably seen us do often under the guise of ‘putting a recipe into the JRC vault’. We did this with our mini cheesecakes when we wanted to make room for cream puffs.
Tip 2 – Consider the customer.
What have your customers been requesting? What are their favourite flavours? What price point do they feel comfortable spending? All of these questions and more regarding the customer should be taken into consideration. We’ve introduced items to our menu that we thought our customers would LOVE that ended up not being popular at all– our tarts being one of those items. All that effort into dreaming up a new item, recipe testing again and again until we created a beautiful item for our customers and, as it turned out, they weren’t that into it! While our team was so proud of the product they made, it wasn’t a fit for our client base so off the menu it went. Even when thinking of expanding the flavours you offer, consider the majority of the customers you serve and what they like the most.
Tip 3 – Consider your team.
If your team is anything like ours, your team is filled with amazing, incredibly talented and creative bakers who love to try new things. Consider the strengths of your team– what do they like to make? What are their hidden talents? Do they love chocolate work? Do they enjoy making candy? Are they a wizard with flavour ideas? Consider what your team is capable of doing and what they would like to try their hand at and allow them to experiment while keeping the customer in mind. Some of the best ideas can come out on the fly as your team members are working away and chatting about fun items they’d love to make one day.
Tip 4 – Package like a pro.
The final touches, including any specific packaging an item might need, can be just as important as the product itself. Consider our new Hot Chocolate Bombs; they are stunning but, since they are a sphere and a gift item, they needed to be packaged. Instead of just putting them into the pink bags we already have on hand, we decided to create custom packaging that shows off the beauty of the bomb itself. Each bomb sits on a bed of pink crinkle paper in a clear vinyl box and is sealed with a white and gold foil sticker that has the instructions printed right on it! This packaging is very on-brand for us– our pink, white and gold foil colour palette along with a clear box that matches other specialty items like our mini meringues.
The way you package your product sells your product. If you’re introducing a new item to your menu, be sure to consider the packaging for a consistent and beautiful customer experience.
Tip 5 – Reassess and adjust as necessary.
The time spent introducing a new menu item also includes tracking sales and customer comments once it is launched, then reassessing after a few weeks and adjusting anything that needs it.
When we initially removed cream puffs from our menu it’s because they weren’t selling as well as when we first introduced them to our customers. When we brought them back we knew we needed to make changes to make them more in line with what our customers wanted. We replaced dipping each and every cream puff with fondant or chocolate (which was making them too sweet for some customers) with colourful craquelin that gave the same look without the sweetness. Then, we made them mini! For our shop, anything mini tends to sell well– it has the adorable factor our customers love! Mini cream puffs mean a lower price point and customers can try all the flavours in one visit! These little adjustments were necessary for the longevity of the item on our menu.
Expanding your menu can be fun and challenging and is always work that, when approached with the right attitude, will always help you learn more about your loyal customers and will allow you to serve them better. Treating your customers well curating a menu of sweet treats that effectively utilize the skills of your team while simultaneously serving your clients treats they love is what this industry is all about.
Good luck with expanding your menu! We hope you enjoyed these tips and can put them to use when you consider adding a new treat to your menu.