Soundtrack: Roses, Outkast
went to a french pastry class at sur la table because i was feeling fancy.
basic puff pastry is layers of dough and butter folded over and rolled out many times so that when the butter melts while the dough is cooking you are left with a flaky airy delight. puff pastry is pretty easy to make, but much much easier to buy and there are some really good ones on the market that will save a ton of time.
once the dough is folded you can slice off pieces and lay out flat to bake into palmiers ‘elephant ears’. before cooking the slices are generously coated with a granulated sugar/sugar in the raw mixture. (you can also slice the pastry dough into rectangles – do not fold after the final rolling out – and bake off to use in a napolean type desert layered with fruit and whipped cream.)
the other pastry recipe we mastered was basic pâte à chou which you can then pipe into balls (to make profiteroles) or long rows (to make eclairs). once baked the insides hollow out and you can fill with ice cream or vanilla pastry cream.
generously dust in powdered sugar or cover in dark chocolate ganache.
basic puff pastry recipe
basic pâte à chou recipe
also…as a snack the teacher made a massive batch of popcorn with butter, salt, and freshly grated parmesan cheese. it was a delectable eating day indeed.
Venue: Sur La Table
went to a fondant based cake decorating class at sur la table. fondant is a concoction of sugar, water and corn syrup – but it’s best bought in a tub rather than made at home (aside from those who are super ambitious). it tastes like a cross between candy corn and marshmallows, so pretty much it’s right up my alley. most well know for adorning wedding cakes or crazy Ace of Cakes style masterpieces.
as evidenced by my makeshift flower above, we unfortunately did not spend enough time learning how to make decorative accents…
the majority of the class was spent prepping the cakes – cutting into layers, filling with buttercream, crumb coating.
..and then learning the best ways to work the fondant to ensure even coloring and cake covering.
this is an awesome tool to use in order to ensure a smooth fondant layer. this would further be helped had i payed greater attention to leveling my crumb coating initially.
seeing as the class was already running over time, i didn’t think that we’d get around to learning how to make flowers so i threw this together from my leftover scraps. i still kind of like it though.
correct flower prep
luckily i was able to stay late to learn the proper flower making technique – cutting into rounds – rolling the first round into a tight spiral and then wrapping with remaining rounds.
the edges of the cut rounds are flattened and fanned out with your fingertips to make a more delicate petal type appearance.
my finished creation.
Currently Screening: An American Werewolf in London
i love macarons, and have had the extreme pleasure to have enjoyed them from one of the very best candy stores in the world (Sprungli, Zurich). my favorite type, were i to chose, i think would be fleur de sel caramel. though i didn’t get to make this particular flavor combination, the cooking class taught me how to make almost perfect looking macarons with a variety of fillings. the cookies look like little vividly colored jewels and, while not candy, they were far too pretty and i enjoyed making them far too much not to post.
Menu: Lavender Macarons with White Chocolate Ganache – Lemon Macarons with Lemon Buttercream – Coconut Macarons with Cocoa Custard – Mint Macarons with Dark Chocolate Ganache
by the end of the filling process the group started experimenting with different flavor combinations (ie – we got the bags mixed up and just decided to go with whatever was handy)
the process of making the cookie is pretty involved – including multiple siftings, vitamix grindings and something called macaronnage, but i figured i would just include the general recipe because the texture and taste of these cookies is so interesting that it’s hard to tell what comprises it. macarons are made with almond flour – a lesson, unfortunately, learned by a girl in my class with a nut allergy who was forced to look on during the entire process, though she did get in some good ganache making practice.
Basic Macaron Ingredients:
7oz powdered sugar
4oz almond flour
4 large (4oz) egg whites, room temp
pinch cream of tartar
3 and 1/2oz granulated sugar
Lavender - dried lavender, purple food coloring
Lemon - lemon extract, yellow food coloring
Coconut - desiccated (super dried) coconut, brown food coloring
Mint - peppermint extract, green food coloring
Venue: Soho House, West Hollywood
went to a Honing Your Hosting event last night, anticipating the holidays and curious about their tips to improve upon my themed endeavors. first station was homemade truffles.
as opposed to the soft consistency of the chocolate base from the rum balls i had recently made (i blame the sour cream) – the base they started us out with just had equal parts chocolate (dark) and cream. this made for candies that held their form nicely during the rolling process and had a uniform looking final product.
step: chop up chocolate into small pieces and put into a bowl. pour warm cream over it – off of heat and stir to combine. at this point when you’re adding in the hot cream you can apparently add in a splash of a booze of your liking. the combined mixture is chilled and then scooped into small amounts to be rolled – wear latex gloves.
dip chilled chocolate balls into plain melted chocolate – they did this using a toothpick which made it easy to shake off the excess. sprinkle on edible gold leaf for super fancy looking truffles. or roll in chopped nuts (they had pistachios and walnuts on hand), graham cracker crumbs mixed with some melted chocolate (to form a crumble), cocoa nibs or cocoa powder. the coating of chocolate hardens nicely after you let the candies sit for a bit after rolling.
since my preference was (and is always) the champagne tasting portion i just watched and learned how to make the featured drink – Grey Goose La Poire Almond Froth.
1 and 1/2 parts Grey Goose La Poire Flavored Vodka
1/2 part brandy
1 part unsweetened almond milk
3/4 part agave nectar
in cocktail shaker filled with ice add all ingredients and shake vigorously. strain into glass and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg. happy entertaining.
Currently Screening: The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
so last friday i took a ‘barista class’ at Sur la Table. i was sucked in by the promise of learning how to make those pretty designs in milk foam more so than anything else, which unfortunately we didn’t even get around to somehow. the two hours, instead, were dedicated to the intricacies of harvesting the beans and the attributes of the different machines with which to brew said beans. not exactly what i was looking for….
however, attending the class did inspire me to attempt a Coffee Lollipop recipe which i will be posting next.
i didn’t take any pictures, since really it was more of a lecture format – but here’s a picture of how i spent part of my weekend. enjoying a delicious cappuccino with the pretty milk foam design i was not destined to learn, a mimosa, and Just Kids by Patti Smith. heaven.
some of the fun/useful facts i learned about coffee:
- it was discovered growing wild in Ethiopia when goats ate the berries then started acting super animated
- super dark looking roasted beans/grounds are not necessarily better as it can destroy the flavors – fyi for when buying in grocery store bulk
- never put coffee beans/grounds in fridge or freezer
- if using a paper filter to make coffee run water through it first to rinse filter and warm carafe
- espresso has less caffeine in it than coffee because there is less time spent in contact with water when extracting.* noted for after dinner beverage order
i have a ton more information thanks to my…enthusiastic…note taking but it’s a bit much. especially for a candy blog.