Monday, April 27, 2009

Finally Spring and my chocolate showpiece

When I look up the sky today

It finally feels like Spring in Chicago this past weekend! I take a long solitary walk around the neighborhood for the first time without my winter jacket. Everywhere I past, I see flowers blooming. And that barren trees in front of my apartment? They turn out to be cherry blossom trees! Everything has finally come alive after the interminable winter. I couldn't help smiling when I look up and being greeted by the dense and snowy white blossoms.

spring chocolate showpiece

The gorgeous weather beckons pictures to be taken outdoor. So I carry my chocolate showpiece out and start snapping away. Perhaps the noon heat is a little too much for the chocolate. After a couple of shots, my rose shows sign of melting. Time to bring it indoor!

As you can see, I am not much of an artist. It took me two attempts to come up with something that vaguely resembles a rose. My leaves are horrible and the white curly looking things? Mine just didn't make the cut. In the end, my friends come to my rescue and pass me their remaining curls so I can finish my showpiece.

chocolate showpiece

I would like to think of this chocolate showpiece as a collaborative effort. It warms my heart that my artistic friends come over to help when crisis strikes. They attach the right pieces in the right places when I couldn't make up my mind. Not only that, they stop me in the track when I am ready to attach one too many leaves on the showpiece. That's what true friends do. They tell you the truth, not afraid of hurting your feeling, while having your best interest in mind. And they come through when you need a hand.

chocolate showpiece

Too many times I see "friends" back stabbing each others when the other is not looking. I felt particularly bad during the last exam when someone let her friend's products turned brown to the point of burning in the oven without saying a word. I felt so bad that I went to tell that "friend" to check on her products. Even an acquintance would do that. But she would rather let her friend's products fail, so hers may look better. What kind of friends do that?!

I am thankful that I make some real friends in school. Friends whom I can depend and trust. Friends whom I know will not let my pate a choux or breads turn black without uttering a word. I imagine they will either yell at the top of their lungs for my attention, or quietly pull the products out before it's too late. That's what we will do for each other. Without a doubt, this showpiece is the shining evident of our friendship. :)


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Petit Fours

It has been awhile since I last updated my blog. What have I been up to, you asked? Well, the usual. School in the day time and dreaming about pastry at night. Except, I am also spending a considerable amount of time thinking about the direction I am heading after graduating from pastry school. It scares me a little to think that I will be out in about 8 weeks time. How time flies and yet,there's still so many things to learn!

020 copy

We are making chocolate showpiece in class this week, which time passes painfully slow. Hopefully, I have pictures to show end of this week! Meanwhile, here's some pictures from the petit fours classes sometime ago. All the mini pastries are definitely not good for my waistline! They are deceptively dainty that I dont feel guilty snacking a few everytime I open the fridge. As a result, I polished everything I brought home in no time. I think I must have gained a few pounds after the petit fours classes.

Petit Fours

But guess which item I enjoy making the most? The macarons of course. There's something captivating and magical about these little cookies. It's always a thrill to see those frilly feets form as the macaron shells baked in the oven. Although we are supposed to fill most of them with vanilla buttercream, I bring some shells home to fill with lemon buttercream filling, made with homemade meyer lemon curd. It's by far my favorite flavor.


If only I have all my equipments and tools with me in Chicago, I would be baking macarons everyday and experiments with many flavor combinations. Like many recipes that I want to try, I guess that will have to wait until I return to Atlanta.

The mere thought of leaving this city I have come to love makes me sad. I think I am going to comfort myself with the macarons I saved in the freezer for time like this.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

And the lucky winner is..........

Anna! I will contact you for your address shortly.Thanks for participating guys! I wish I have enough gift vouchers for everyone.

Beautiful Kanzan

Here's a picture of cherry blossom taken on the same date last year in Atlanta. Trees in Chicago are still stubbornly barren, which makes me wonder if Spring has eluded us?

Has Spring arrived in your part of the world yet?


Sunday, April 05, 2009

Sweet Giveaway!

A few weeks ago, the nice folks at See's Candies dropped me an email to ask if I would be interested to create a dessert with their candies/chocolate. Not only are they sending me the goodies, they also agreed to give one of my readers a $25 gift voucher! Aren't they sweet?

see's candies

As you can see, I got some chocolate from their Easter Candy selection and will be making something with my friends at a party later. My initial plan was to post a dessert with this giveaway post, but it was a hectic exam week, so that didn't materialise. Also, I am hoping that the winner of the $25 gift voucher can have enough time to select candies from their Easter Candy selection. So this giveaway post has to come before I show you what I make with them.

I am sure you don't mind that. Do you? To stand a chance to win $25 See Candies gift voucher, simply leave me a comment! The closing date is Tuesday 12:00a.m central time. A lucky winner will be chosen at random and announced on Tuesday morning. Good luck everyone!


Friday, April 03, 2009

Rant of a pastry student in distress.

croissant and coffee

Today is the last day of my exam but I couldn't help feeling a little apprehensive. So far, it just seems that whatever things that can go wrong have gone wrong. While products are edible, they are far from being aesthetic. Some of stupid mistakes were made more frustrating considered the number of practice we have in class. Perhaps it is harder to work with a smaller batch as we are required to half the recipe during the exam.

It looked silly to whip 2-3 eggwhites in the stand mixer with the tip of the whisk barely touches the eggwhite. This happened 20 minutes before the end of first day exam as the kitchenaid mixer was occupied by my partner's eggwhite. Seeing the rate at which it was whipping, I knew there would not be enough time for mine. One needs to be unorthodox when the unexpected occurs. However, have I predicted that there is an unlikely chance for me to whip eggwhites till peak manually, I would have practiced it at home! That would perhaps give me a little more elbow strength and stamina to help the situation. Anyway, I was relieved to turn in my piped meringues on time.

croissant and coffee

Today is supposed to be a breeze since we have completed most of the preparation by the second day of exam. I am now hoping that my previously frozen croissant dough will proof and rise well. Unproof croissant was never my concern until yesterday when one of my classmates was almost brought to tears by her croissants that remained stubbornly unproof. That made me worried with my croissant. What if mine do not rise like the ones in the pictures? Will I be able to stand the sight of croissant or eat another one for breakfast like I used to do in the last fortnight?
almond croissant
I will find out the answer in the next few hours. Meanwhile, wish me luck for today! And check back on Sunday, I have a sweet giveaway for you. :)

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