Lessons 68-70: You Take The Good, You Take The Bad...

Sometimes, Pastry & Baking Arts forces you outside your comfort zone.

In my last posting, I expressed my less-than-enthusiastic feelings about making cakes. Of course, I do realize there are those that love making cakes and not everyone in my class shares my feeling. The point I’m taking away from this is that it's nearly impossible to love every lesson. Some things you just have to learn, like preparing chocolate ribbon cake. It started off as something different.

In her dry, humorous way, Chef Kathryn instructed us to take a block of modeling chocolate and warm it up — in our hands, under our armpits or even sitting on it (with gloves and plastic wrap, of course). I thought, "Now this is fairly simple.” Once we warmed our chocolate into a pliable form and let it rest, we took out the pasta rollers and began what was for me, one of the most difficult class projects yet — pulling a pliable, but ready to crack into a million pieces piece of chocolate through the machines over and over again.

On the second day of production, it got slightly easier when using a rolling pin. In the end, as I was painting on the 24-karat, edible gold on the edge of my ribbons, I did forget the frustrations of the previous day. Cookies, however, are a different story. Chef Kathryn told us our cookie production days were going to be the closest thing in the curriculum to working in an actual kitchen.

I was excited. Firstly, I love cookies and secondly, I absolutely love the energy of a true, working kitchen. We split into groups and worked out a production plan, ensuring we prepared our list as efficiently as possible, taking into consideration the time it would take to make doughs, shape and decorate cookies, as well as oven temperatures. For example, the biscotti had to be baked once on the first day and then again the following day, so that was up first on our production schedule.

The class got busy making a variety of all cookies imaginable: ginger shortbread, pecan sandies, macarons, madeleines and so on… And then we set up our table, displaying our delicious cookies in our candlelit kitchen and invited our guests in. It was so fun to watch the faces of an ICE Culinary Arts class, as well as the friends and significant others my classmates had invited, gasping at how beautiful everything looked. Then, they started to taste and I knew for sure I wasn't the only cookie monster out there! Next up: We are closing out the module with plated desserts and our practical. Can you believe, only one more module until we're off to our externship and on our way to graduation day?

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