Lessons 19-21: Melting Point

Over the past few Pastry & Baking Arts lessons we have had the fortunate timing to learn about frozen desserts during a record-breaking heat wave in NYC.

We’ve been preparing and churning egg-based (ice cream) and water-based (sorbet) ice using an ice cream machine that I wish I had stocked in my kitchen for these hot summer nights. We also made bombes — ice cream that has been molded into a shape. My partner Jennie and I chose banana ice cream and added our own twist by filling them with sorbets we had made — chocolate, passion fruit and strawberry-raspberry. The one downfall of making these frozen treats now is that there’s no way they would survive the heat after leaving the ICE kitchen. Worrying about my ice cream melting got me wondering if I can survive the heat of the kitchen. I’m beginning to realize the unique challenges of being a student in the evening and weekend classes. I have heard from students who are exhausted at the end of the day because they don’t really have a day off.

Now I’m one of those students and I’m starting to feel the pressure of managing my time so as to remain productive at work, but also prepared for class. It has been difficult but the thing is, the four hours that I spend in class are probably the best four hours of the day and the experience has been completely rewarding. We have only a few more classes with Chef Nicole, ending our first module and first quarter of the in-class program. As part of our final exam, we will have to make crème anglaise and a chocolate soufflé — two recipes we have made both with our partners and individually. I find the moments of working alone, whether it’s piping, decorating tulipes or practicing a soufflé, are when I’m most conscious of my mise en place, my speed, and my judgment of when to boil, whip, cook, temper or bake.

And then when the dessert is made and we all try one another’s, there’s this great feeling that comes over me when it tastes good, and when others tell me it tastes good. This feeling of creating something that others enjoy is new for me. I’ve heard chefs describe it, saying, “I love seeing the smile on someone’s face when they take a bite.” That feeling makes the potential meltdown moments worth it. I just hope that when Chef Nicole tastes my chocolate soufflé during next week’s exam, I see that smile on her face. Next up: We’re making pâte à choux and moving out of the kitchen for our Career Services Workshop. And of course, our practical exam will end the module. Wish me luck!

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