Last weekend Mama B and I got in some quality time at the Classic Cooking Academy, an awesome local culinary school that offers a variety of different classes for non-professionals like us.
We had purchased a LivingSocial deal for a dessert class and settled on one called “Custards and Creams,” taught by Chef Susan Kolman. The process she put together was easy and straightforward: Chef Susan provided the recipes for three desserts and taught us certain aspects from each of them throughout the morning. We’d learn a few steps and then go back into the kitchen to do it ourselves, little by little until we had completed our masterpieces.
Our first task was to make the cookie crusts for our Chocolate Cream Pies. Mama Bender did a lot better job with pinching her crust, while I went for the rounder look on the right.
In other words, my crimping skills were lacking.
It still turned out pretty tasty in the end, though.
Chocolate Cream Pie
Yield: One 9″ pie
Chocolate Tart Shell (yields enough for two pies)
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make chocolate tart shell:
- Sift flour and cocoa powder.
- Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add egg and vanilla, beat until smooth.
- Add flour and cocoa powder, blending until incorporated.
- Gather dough into a ball, wrap and chill for approximately one hour or until firm.
Note: Freeze leftover dough for up to one month.
- 1 cup milk
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup sugar #1 (keep separate from sugar #2)
- 3 egg yolks
- 3/8 cup cornstarch
- 1/3 cup sugar #2
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon bittersweet chocolate
Sweetened Whipped Cream
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
To make Chocolate Cream Pie:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Roll pie crust to 1/8″ thick and line pie pan. Crimp edges of dough. Chill until firm.
- To blind bake: Line pie crust with parchment or plastic wrap. Fill with beans or rice. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until crust is set; then remove the rice or beans and continue baking until crust is dry and baked through. Cool on a rack.
- In a heavy saucepan, mix sugar #1, 2/3 cup heavy cream and milk. Bring to a boil.
- Beat egg yolks in a bowl. Mix sugar #2 and cornstarch. Add to eggs. Beat until smooth.
- Temper eggs with hot milk by slowly pouring hot milk into the egg mixture while stirring constantly with a whisk.
- Return to heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for two minutes to thoroughly cook starch. It should begin to look shiny and smell sweet.
- Strain into a clean bowl. Stir in butter and chopped chocolate. Cool until warm.
- Pour warm cream into fully baked pie shell. Cool and then chill.
- Whip 1 1/2 cups heavy cream with powdered sugar until thick.
- Pipe or smooth sweetened whipped cream decoratively over the top of the pie. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings.
Next up we made Honey Yogurt Panna Cotta with Caramelized Apples.
This recipe was a bit less complicated, but no less delicious.
I really liked the orange in the panna cotta, but would probably opt for a new topping next time. The caramelized apples were good but I think it could be even better. Any ideas?
Honey Yogurt Panna Cotta with Caramelized Apples
Serves 6 to 8 people
Honey Yogurt Panna Cotta
- 1 package (.25 ounces) gelatin
- 1.25 ounces cold water
- 1 1/4 cups skim milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/8 cup honey
- 1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt (alternative: sour cream)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Zest of one orange (alternatives: tea, coffee beans, lemon, basil, thyme, etc.)
To make Honey Yogurt Panna Cotta:
- In a small bowl, soften (bloom) gelatin in cold water. Set aside.
- In a saucepan, bring milk and orange zest to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover and set aside to infuse for approximately 10 minutes. Strain out orange zest. Re-measure milk and add additional milk, if needed, to get to 1 1/4 cups.
- Combine milk, heavy cream and honey in a saucepan. Heat to a simmer – do not boil. Remove from heat. Add the gelatin, stirring to dissolve. Set aside to cool to lukewarm.
- In a medium bowl, stir yogurt until smooth. Gradually add lukewarm milk, stirring to combine. Add vanilla.
- Fill ramekins or glasses until approximately half full. Refrigerate until set.
- 4-6 apples (we used honeycrisp)
- 1/2 lemon
- 1 ounce honey
- 1 cinnamon stick
To make caramelized apples:
- Peel and core apples. Cut into 1/2-inch chunks. Toss with lemon juice.
- In a sauté pan, warm honey and cinnamon. Add the apple chunks and toss to coat. Cook apples, stirring occasionally, until soft but not mushy.
- Remove from heat. Remove cinnamon stick. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Prior to serving, top chilled panna cotta with caramelized apples.
Last but not least, we made a water bath for our Crème Brûlée.
And I got to try my hand at burning the sugar topping. It was fun.
Crème Brûlée was the easiest recipe of them all – just three basic ingredients!
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 egg yolks
- 1.25 ounces sugar
- Flavoring (vanilla, coffee bean, herbs, spices, etc.)
To make crème brûlée:
- Infuse cream with flavoring (i.e. heat cream to warm, add flavoring and allow to rest at room temperature for 30-60 minutes). Strain before making custard and re-measure to be sure none of the cream has been absorbed into the flavoring. Add additional cream, if needed.
- Warm cream to 110 degrees F. This helps to melt the sugar and liquefy the eggs to ensure a smooth custard. If the cream is too hot, it will cook the eggs and the custard will not set.
- Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar.
- Slowly add cream to beaten eggs, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir gently to avoid creating bubbles.
- Strain to remove egg fibers.
- Pour custard into a shallow baking dish.
- Bake custard at 325 degrees F in a water bath. To test whether it’s done, tap side of mold. The custard should jiggle just slightly – you want it to be set, smooth and silky with no bubbles (and no brown crust).
- Cool in water bath. Then remove from water bath and refrigerate overnight.
- Just before service, sprinkle top of custard with granulated sugar. Torch to caramelize the surface. Sprinkle with second coating of sugar and torch again. The goal is to have a thin layer of caramel.
Storage: Custard can be made ahead and kept refrigerated for one week before pouring into dishes and baking. It should be served shortly after torching and can’t be frozen.
We were very happy with the final results of our culinary morning, and hope to take another class at the academy soon. High up on my list of desserts I need to learn how to make next: macarons!
Have you ever made any of the above desserts? If so, any extra tips?