Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Macarons, Marshmallows, Red Velvet Cake, Plated Desserts at Vintner's Dinner

In my first Petit Fours class and my second Advanced Bakeshop class, we made French/Parisian Macarons, Gran Marnier Marshmallows and Red Velvet Cake. Magazines like Bon Apetit say that macarons are going to be the next big "thing" in the food world, much like cupcakes have been in recent years. If you're unfamiliar with a French Macaron, a quick Google image search will show you thousands of pictures like this one:

French Macarons can be made in thousands of different colors and flavors. To be considered a macaron, the cookie must be made of a meringue with nut flour (usually almond) and piped into a circle and then baked to have a crisp shell and a soft center. Two of these cookies are sandwiched together with a flavored ganache or buttercream. We experimented with chocolate macarons as well as vanilla ones, and we ultimately decided to produce the vanilla ones with a lemon buttercream filling. The bakery Laduree in Paris, which is shown in the photo above, is the most famous place for macarons. They have a really neat website, if you're interested in learning more - just be sure to change the site to English - unless you're skilled in French. Here are some photos of the Macaroon production during class:

The Gran Marnier Marshmallows are made from gelatin, sugar, corn syrup, water and the Gran Marnier and vanilla for flavoring. After setting up, these were cut into bite-sized squares.

The Red Velvet Cake was made in sheet pans, and then we used circular cutters to cut small bite-size pieces of cake. A cream cheese frosting was piped on top and then garnished with a chocolate decoration.

These three bite-sized desserts, along with the truffles from my Candies and Confectionaries class, were served at a fundraising dinner on campus last Friday, where all of the food was prepared by our department. Here's a picture of one of these trays, where you can see the variety of items:

This event, called the Vintner's Dinner, was a really great learning opportunity. It was really exciting to see the products from my classes served to guests at a high-class function. In addition, I volunteered to plate desserts for the event. Along with 30 other students and our Chefs, we plated 600 desserts for guests, which had a diced apple base, toffee crunch cookie, and bourbon mousse with garnish.

All in all, a really great two weeks of class in preparation for the dinner.

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