Friday, February 11, 2011


In today's Petit Fours class, we made an assortment of confections. Confections is a broad term, and contains a variety of items which usually contains a decent amount of sugar. For today's platters, we made marshmallows, Charleston Pralines, soft salted caramels, and raspberry pate de fruit.

We've made marshmallows before, but this time, the process went much more smoothly, which is nice considering marshmallows are sticky and sometimes sticky batters are difficult to shape. My group made marshmallows without egg whites. We began by blooming gelatin in cold water. We heated sugar, water and honey to 245 degrees F. When this mixture cooled to 215 degrees F, we added the bloomed gelatin and whipped the mixture to soft peaks. We then folded in the vanilla and placed the mixture on a sheet pan to set up. Once set, we used a guitar to slice the marshmallows into squares.

We next made Salted Butter Caramels. We did this by boiling cream, butter and salt in a saucepan. In another pan, we cooked a dry caramel by combining sugar and glucose, and heating it to 293 degrees F. We combined both mixtures and cooked until 250 degrees F. We poured this into a baking frame. After this set up, we sliced the caramels into squares and some into triangles. These were exceptionally chewy and had that great caramel texture that sticks in your teeth, just the way I like them.

To make Pate de Fruit, we warmed fruit puree to 120 degrees F and then added sugar and powdered pectin. After 1 minute boiling time, we added glucose and additional sugar and cooked this to 223 degrees F, where we added citric acid solution. My group attempted to make Blackberry Pate de Fruit, but our candy thermometer wasn't working properly and our mixture cooked too long and the product became hard and un-usable. For the groups who didn't have these problems, their raspberry pate de fruit was sliced into squares on the guitar as well.

Charleston Pralines were made in one large batch by heating pecans, sugar, butter, buttermilk, salt, baking powder, vanilla, and corn syrup to 240 degrees F. When the sugar crystallized, we used spoons to portions the pralines into bite size pieces. These were definitely delicious.

As we do each week in this class now, we displayed our confections on two different platters, which we present to different groups within our building. It's also nice because there's a culinary class that plates their dishes at the same time, so they provide us with lunch around noon and we provide them with dessert. It's somewhat comical because the culinary class is comprised of all males students while my class is all female students (except for one). We gather in their kitchen to eat, and it reminds me of a middle school dance, with men on one side of the room and women on the other.

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