Monday, September 14, 2009

Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate

I always scan the listing of cooking classes and events in the Raleigh paper and sometimes I get lucky. When I saw the headline Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate, I knew I had struck cacao. I called the Williams-Sonoma store to see what they were doing and they told me Chef Mark Tachman was going to be making chocolate creme brulee, dark chocolate ale cake with sugared peanuts, chocolate biscotti, and white chocolate mousse in puff pastry. I asked if attendees would get samples. When the answer was yes, I couldn't get my credit card out fast enough. Woowee!!

Now, let me clarify - I have no intention of making any of these desserts. I just wanted to see them made and eat them. And guess what? This is the Chef that made the peanut butter mousse!! I didn't even know that when I signed up! He is a dessert god.

Here are all the goodies:

Here are some things I learned:

1.) Once again, the thing I thought I wouldn't like, I loved.

I hate beer - I know, I'm a freak. So the idea of chocolate ale cake wasn't really rocking my world. But the beer taste wasn't strong at all - it just made the cake really, really moist. YUM!!!

2.) I don't understand biscotti.

Biscotti gets baked twice which is why it is so dry and hard. After one baking it's pretty good. Why, biscotti, why?

3.) If you have to buy a blowtorch to make it, I'm not doing it.

They used a little blowtorch to caramelize the sugar on the creme brulee. I mean, who needs a little blowtorch? That is WAY too complicated. It's not like you're using fire to make desserts every night.

4.) Chefs aren't as perfect as you think they are.

The puff pastry (which had the white chocolate mousse in it) was delish. And Chef Tachman said you could use Pepperidge Farm or any other refrigerated pastry. Saves you a lot of trouble and tastes great! You don't have to be perfect or do everything yourself - smart!! A lesson we can all learn from.

5.) A squeeze bottle of caramel (or raspberry sauce) can make anything look fancy.

When Chef Tachman showed us how he would plate these desserts at the restaurant, you could see how a little sauce swirl and a sprig of mint could add a lot of glamour. And he made some spoon-shaped sugar cookies that he would stick in the creme brulee. Cool!!

6.) Live is better than video.

Webinars are all the rage. Why leave the house when you have the Food Network? Because part of the fun was joking with the other attendees. We cheered the front row when they realized one of the burners was on and was cooking a cutting board. We got to pass around a piece of once baked biscotti. And we got to EAT! All the fun was getting to meet the Chef and the other attendees and the terrific staff at Williams-Sonoma.

So keep your eyes peeled for classes and opportunities in your area. Get out and really experience things - don't just roll the video. And if you figure out biscotti, let me know.

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