Today was sadly my very last day of my Advanced Patisserie and Plated Desserts class. It was filled with ups and downs. I amazingly got 100 on my final exam and was told by my chef that it's been years since he recalls a student getting 100 on the exam (score!). I went into my practical exam with a clear idea of what I wanted to create. I had been assigned crème brûlée , and chose to spike it with some amaretto, serve it in an almond lace cookie cup, make some caramelized almond drops, pipe some chocolate onto the plate and then use it to fill sauces to demonstrate a whole mess of skills we learned in the class. Here's where some of the downs come into play... talk about stress.
First of all we went through three batches of almond lace cookies before we had them come out large enough to bend into a cup that would whole the entire crème brûlée. Also, I caramelized some sugar to make the almond drops, and as you may recall from the time another group had made them, they basically hang along the edge of the table supported simply by a cutting board weighing down the toothpicks. One of my group mates "touched" the cutting board and all my almonds came crashing down. After making some replacements, I managed to cause most of them to come crashing to the ground as well. I came away with barely a handful of usable almonds. Then later, when I tried to remove the toothpicks after they had cooled completely, I broke a couple more. Then my group mate accidentally broke another couple of them. I had only four left and three plates to serve. I had wanted to put two on each plate, so I quickly cooked another batch of caramelized sugar. I pulled it off the burner before it was completely caramelized because I knew the residual heat would continue to cook it. Alas, the carry-over cooking not only brought it completely to the stage I was looking for, but then went on to BURN the entire batch of sugar even though I pulled it off early. Yup. I guess I wasn't meant to make more, and served only one per plate. Maybe that's the way God intended, because I honestly think it looked great the way it turned out.
My plate was not overly cluttered in any way, I demonstrated bending cookies, piping chocolate, using that chocolate to control the sauces on my plate, along with sugar work. None of the other groups did any sugar work today, but everyone in my group did, so I think that was pretty good. Also considering all my mishaps with the sugar today, God knows I barely managed to get them on my plate by the end, haha. In the end, I got a really good grade, and I managed to put together the plate I had been planning all weekend with only limited obstacles, all of which I was able to fix.
One of my group mates' plates
My other group mates' plate
Another practical exam plate: chocolate mousse in a chocolate "basket"
Molten chocolate cake with a pistachio white chocolate butterfly
This afternoon after my somewhat stressful, but awesome day in class, I decided to use some strawberries and buttermilk in my fridge to throw together a batch of fresh strawberry buttermilk scones! I LOVE making scones. At home I usually make them in my stand mixer, but today I really was not in the mood to drag out my heavy Kitchenaid just to make scones, and instead cut the butter into my flour mixture by hand, old-school all the way! I used my tried and true scone recipe, and just changed the blueberries to chopped strawberries, and the heavy cream to buttermilk (I've also made the same basic recipe and used dried fruit such as raisins, dried cherries, or chopped dried peaches or apricots instead of fresh). Everything else was the same. This is a fairly wet dough, but if you dust it with enough flour at the end to keep it from sticking to you and everything else, it really comes out very nice. You can also hold off on adding the last bit of liquid to see if you really need it to bring the dough together. I add it all, though :) In any case, these scones were a quick and tasty treat which my family will enjoy for breakfast this week. I also like to throw some of the scones in the freezer to bake off in the future. Whatever doesn't fit on the pan ends up in the freezer since I am too lazy to dirty another pan just to bake off a few more scones. I think it's God's way of telling me to save some for later, since I know if I bake them all, they will ALL get eaten by someone with two days. It's inevitable. Scones in my house live a very short life...