As many of you know, I’m quite obsessed with all things Food Network. Yesterday I had the chance to meet Sarah Levy of Sarah’s Pastries and Candies and winner of a Food Network Cake Challenge! As I’m not the greatest baker or sweet-maker it was awesome to get to meet such an accomplished pastry chef. Karo Syrup and Mariano’s Fresh Market in the Loop sponsored a baking demonstration led by Sarah. Sarah used Karo Syrup to make three different kinds of desserts: chocolate and almond covered toffee, apricot macaroons, and chocolate truffles.
The theme of Sarah’s demonstration was creating homemade treats as gifts for the holidays. Something decadent like a chocolate truffle wrapped in a cute little box makes perfect gifts, especially for the person who doesn’t really want nor need anything material. I’m thinking about making some of these for my coworkers! Unfortunately we have an expert toffee maker already here in residence at my office, so I will have to try my hand at the macaroons (which were my favorite to sample) or the chocolate truffles. Karo provided each of us with a small booklet of recipes to help us along in our holiday baking as well.
As I’m not a huge chocolate fan, I absolutely loved the macaroons. They were so easy to make with only a few ingredients, even I could do it! If you’re more of a chocolate fan, the chocolate truffles weren’t so difficult either, but everyone always seems to find them so impressive. Sarah did a great job of demonstrating all of the steps of the recipes and she made it seem so simple!
Sarah is a French Pastry School graduate, and has worked at many different kitchens before starting her own company in March 2004. The French Pastry School in Chicago is actually the only exclusively pastry school in the US, hosting students from all over the world. Originally starting at her Mom’s kitchen, Sarah has expanded to her own store at 70 East Oak and a second store inside the Macys on State Street. Sarah says that a lot of her business comes from making wedding cakes for hotels like the Ritz, Four Seasons, Drake and Trump .
Sarah’s new cookbook called, Sweetness: Delicious Baked Treats for Every Occasion, has all the recipes she demonstrated yesterday at Mariano's. All treats are accessible to home cooks, so there is no need for an industrial kitchen or fancy equipment. Each recipe is tagged with an icon indicating its level of difficulty so new bakers are able to work their way up from the simplest treats to more difficult ones. The Karo Syrup website also has listed some of the items Sarah demonstrated yesterday.