This wedding cake was a Black and White Chocolate Cake (vanilla buttermilk cake layers filled with alternating layers of dark chocolate pastry cream and white chocolate mousseline buttercream) covered in a lightly almond-flavored fondant.
Both tiers were wrapped with a shiny rust ribbon and decorated with simple sunflower and rust colored flowers with black branch piping in between. The result was a simple but elegant cake for what looked to be an idyllic wedding setting in White Rock yesterday!
This week, we learned how to work with caramel to make a variety of chocolate confections. Making caramel is luckily something I'm very familiar with so at least I wasn't totally out of my element with that!
These are Strawberry Anise Caramel-Filled Chocolates. The foil cups were interesting to work with. You had to coat each cup with chocolate individually and they were quite time consuming. The combination of strawberry and star anise is an interesting one too! There is a whole hazelnut at the bottom of each cup to give some crunch and the strawberry anise filling surrounds it. Each chocolate is capped off with chocolate, drizzled with a pink white chocolate and topped with a pistachio piece.
These are Caramel Balsamic Truffles. Hmmm, I've never been much for balsamic vinegar... so one might imagine how enthusiastic my reaction was to find out we were going to put it in a caramel... It is actually quite good though, although left to my own taste preferences I probably wouldn't add the vinegar if I made them again. The balsamic caramel was piped into truffle shells and coated with chocolate, icing sugar and cocoa powder.
These are Quince and Caramel Ganache Chocolates. I had never tasted quince before - it has a very strong aroma and a distinctive taste, and honestly one that I'm not sure that I like... That being said, I love the mold we used for these chocolates and the addition of the bronze lustre to them was fantastic!
These are Chocolate-Covered Praline Blatten Krokade... sounds ridiculous when I say it, but believe me, if a German pastry chef tells you what they are, it sounds fantastic! Essentially the inside of these chocolates is a caramel that you work like a dough with praline paste to incorporate many layers of each. It's rather like a puff pastry when you bite into it but with praline and caramel. They don't look that impressive... but are likely the most delicious tasting one we made this week!
We also made a Caramel Nut Chocolate with walnuts but it hadn't set by the end of class because it was hot outside so hopefully we'll get to try that one next time! It looked like it would be really yummy!
The next class is sadly the last one but it should be fun - chocolate showpieces! Oh and we are going to make one or two types of marzipan pralines because we haven't done any of those yet! Should be good :)
This wedding cake was a fudgy chocolate cake covered with caramel and iced in a caramel-butterscotch buttercream. Yum! I didn't like the original buttercream that this recipe called for so I made up my own and I find it addictive, although it is quite rich so it wouldn't be for everybody!
Each tier was wrapped with strips of fondant "tree bark" and the couple's initials were carved into the middle tier and brushed with brown food coloring. A few eggplant tulips and some lime green leaves completed the design.
Two lime green and smoky grey (the wedding colors) dragonflies were also added on wires.
The catch is that the wedding is in Tofino several days from now and I was on pins and needles worried that the cake wouldn't make it there without any damage. Luckily, however, I've already heard that the cake made it there fine and the bride and the groom both loved the cake!!
I was happy with how the cake turned out and I'm so delighted that I could make a cake to be part of such a gorgeous wedding! I've seen pictures of the flowers, colors, design, etc and it is going to be fabulous! Congratulations S & T!
This week's chocolate class was about giandujas, nougats and other confections. I learned that I will probably like anything classified as a gianduja (nuts ground with chocolate)! YUM!
These are pistachio almond gianduja squares and wow, are they ever good! They're very rich but so good that one just isn't enough! I've seen canned praline paste at Gourmet Warehouse before and always wondered what it was used for. If these are any indication, praline paste is a very, very good thing!
This is Nougat Montelimar with Almonds. The recipe comes from a town in France called Montelimar. Apparently, the town is world-renowned for its nougat, although to be honest, I'd never heard of it before. The recipe was quite delicate and I'm not sure how soon I'll be trying this one at home... just as well, since I'd need to buy a blow torch or a gas range before I could do so!
These are cranberry pistachio nougat-filled chocolate bars. I really want to try one but haven't yet since I only have these three little pieces of it. This is the only thing we made this week that I think has a chance of being as good as the pistachio almond gianduja squares....
I haven't tried these Strawberry Pate de Fruit hearts yet either, again because there are so few of them and they're so little. The fresh B.C. strawberry puree that was boiled up to make these smelled divine however so I'm thinking they'll be quite tasty!
These little goodies are Chocolate Caramel Hazelnut Dragees. Basically roasted hazelnuts (also local - from Agassiz) covered in caramel and then coated in chocolate and dusted with cocoa powder... Now these I have been eating tonight and I am definitely a fan!
This is soft chocolate nougat covered in dark chocolate. I may do this one again but I'll include some nuts or dried fruit in it as I found it a bit plain as it is.
These are vanilla marshmallows. I found the recipe we used today quite finicky and the end result not as good as the other homemade marshmallows I've made. The instructor did mention passionfruit marshmallows during today's class though and that is something I have to try... and soon!
Next week is all about caramel and different methods for using caramel with chocolate. Mmmmm, now that should be delicious!
Today was my second chocolate class and we mostly focused on moulded chocolates. First off, I will say that all of these chocolates are so much more delicious than the ones we did last week (and at the time, I thought those were pretty good!)
Likely my favorite of this week's chocolates are these Caramel Passionfruit White Chocolates. I LOVE passionfruit and the addition of the caramel to it makes it heavenly. We got to use a very large fancy new airbrush for these chocolates too which was fun! I will definitely be making these again... and again and again!
These Banana Butter Ganache-Filled White Chocolates are pretty spectacular too though! The design was done by hand with colored cocoa butters. They might be a bit bright for me but once you taste one, you probably wouldn't care what they look like....
I don't like coffee... usually... But these Dark Coffee Ganache Chocolates are really good too, even to me! And the coffee flavor is strong in them! We used black cardamom pods in this recipe to pair with the coffee. I'd only ever used green cardamom and I loved the smoky aroma of the black cardamom.
I'd never heard of an egg ganache before but that's what this one is - an orange-Grand Marnier egg ganache filled dark chocolate! The ganache is very smooth and quite delicious, even if it would have a shorter shelf life than ganaches made with cream and butter.
Last but certainly not least, we made a Soft Fruit Nougatine which had the sides dipped in dark chocolate. The nougatine had ginger, as well a variety of dried fruits and nuts, in it and I have never liked ginger... Here's yet another first for today though - this is to die for! The ginger adds a subtle spicy kick to the nougatine and one piece was not nearly enough. I didn't get to bring much of this home but the good news is that the recipe appeared very easy to make!
These chocolates were from last week but we had to leave them there as they weren't done. These dark chocolates have a layer of raspberry pate de fruit on the bottom topped by a layer of raspberry ganache. They were probably the yummiest of the chocolates we made last week!
Next week we're moving on to chocolate confections like marshmallows, sponge candy, nougat, marzipan and candied almonds... Stay tuned!
Yesterday was my first chocolate class at the Pastry Training Centre of Vancouver. I was SO exhausted last night that I could barely stand up - chocolate is HARD work and much more difficult than I had expected! That being said, the class was fun and I'm already looking forward to next week's class.
We started out the day learning to temper chocolate using a marble slab. It's certainly a time consuming process (and quite messy at that!).
We started the day making Milk Spiced Dulce de Leche Cream Ganache which was then piped onto chocolate discs and covered in dark chocolate sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. This ganache is unbelievably delicious and I am already planning to use it as a cake filling - YUM!
When the instructor told us about the next chocolates, I didn't think I would like them at all.... I was wrong! These are dark chocolates filled with a lemon and chocolate mint cream ganache topped with sugared lemon zest. I had never tasted chocolate mint (actually I hadn't known there was a mint plant called chocolate mint before yesterday) but we all tried a leaf or two from the plant before we started on these. The sugared lemon zest is yummy too...
These chocolates were our first experience with butter ganache and the instructor gave us a sample before we started. Apparently butter ganache is not popular in North America... having tried this, we don't know what we've been missing! This one was a vanilla and white pepper butter ganache and it is heavenly!
We also learned how to make our own transfer paper using colored cocoa butters and we used our own transfers to decorate the top of these chocolates.
These milk chocolates are filled with piped coconut butter ganache dusted with coconut powder. Again, butter ganache is something I think everyone should try - it's full of fat and calories but worth every one! YUM! This coconut butter ganache also may get worked into a cake at some point...
Next week is moulded chocolates.... and we'll be using the airbrush with colored cocoa butters so they should be stunning! Can't wait!
This cake was a Cinnamon Caramel Ganache Layer Cake (chocolate cake layers filled with a cinnamon-caramel ganache cream filling topped with a sticky chocolate frosting).
The tiers were wrapped with Kit Kat bars tied with a ribbon and covered with dark chocolate M&M's. The middle tier is a 4" square cake dummy covered in red fondant made to look like a dice. Two gumpaste M&M figures sat on the top tier and their features were painted on with food coloring.
Three fondant playing cards painted with food coloring were applied to the bottom tier.
The "Vegas"-themed Happy Birthday sign was made from fondant with silver dragees for the lights and mounted using fondant-covered wooden dowels. A red fondant star with gold piping was added to complete the look. All in all, I'm really pleased with how this cake turned out. It was enormous - 23" high! - and I managed to get it across the North Shore in one piece too which was fantastic.
36 more days until we leave for Vegas - I can't wait!!
This blog will follow my adventures with cake, pastry and all things sweet!