Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Student in the Kitchen

After my move to Chicago, I hadn't taken any cooking classes since my addiction to classes at the Institute of Culinary Education in NYC. But last week I headed to the French Pastry School to take a 3 day Chocolate and Sugar Candies class from 4-9pm. It was taught by Sebastien Canonne, Pastry Chef of the Year in 2004. Everyone in this class had been to professional culinary school and were all working at either top hotel or restaurant kitchens. And then there was me, the stay at home mom...hahaha. Tempering chocolates and working with melted sugars really intimidated me and I was ready to overcome my fear. .
Working with chocolates and sugar candies is high maintenance. Precise temperature control was the key. I really wasn't used to babysitting my pot with constant whisking and constant thermometer patrol. A temp under the target temp will create a candy that will not set, a little over and the ganache will separate or the sugar will burn. Learning how to use industrial chocolate equipment to dipping ganache in tempered chocolate by hand was so dreamy to me. I was in heaven. People must have thought I was on X...with this constant shit grin on my face and moans from licking everything around me...my finger...my spatula...my pot. I wasn't about to leave my cooking tools dripping with yummy morsels of ganache, caramel, or fruity gumminess for the dish washer. We made ganache that were dipped in dark chocolate or piped into chocolate shells: peanut butter, hazelnut praline, lemon, coffee, pistachio cinnamon. We made salted caramels and chocolate caramels; mint, ginger and lemon marshmallows; traditional French nougat; and my favorite of all ... Pate de Fruits: pear vanilla, passionfruit, cassis, and raspberry.

I took home so much chocolate and sugar candies, I didn't know what to do with it all. I can't stop thinking and talking about my class and look forward to attempting some of these recipes at home. I'll definitely be taking another class from the French Pastry School. It was really nice to be around people in the industry. I highly recommend looking for cooking classes to take. I forgot how much I enjoy being a student in these culinary schools.


Blogger Jer said...

Good for you for just getting out there. And at such an advanced level no less. Sounds like a terrific learning experience and will inspire you to do more. Have you thought about returning to the bakery maybe part time? For my birthday last year Pete bought me a week long techniques class at ICE in NY and I have still yet to use it. I really need to go do that as your post made me miss Anne Burrell and those industrial sized kitchens. Remember that huge box of morels we were given to clean and cook with that probably cost more than a nice pair of Tods. Man that was such a treat.

02 May, 2006 23:50  
Blogger Cath said...

Go Elaine! This is pretty hardcore! Can't believe how much stuff you made (I know I say that every time but really!)...

03 May, 2006 10:34  
Blogger Kate said...

Elaine I just love the look of all this. How fab. All those sweets yum. I am envious it looks full on but fun. I'll have to start looking for something here.

04 May, 2006 13:37  
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