If you've gotta go, I can't think of a more pleasant way. I decided to "take one for the team" and register for a dessert class. The Cocoa Bean in Geneva was referred to me by my friend, Julie, who reveres their cakes. Each year on her birthday her sister gives her a whole cake to enjoy all by herself. No sharing required, unless she wants to. She does not want a new bag of the season, not a piece of jewelry, not a trip to Vegas, not even a dinner out at a five star restaurant. She wants a cake. A whole cake and nothing but the cake. On second thought, I don't want to speak for her. I am sure she would never turn down any of those other aforementioned things, (ahem...Kyle), but this cake must be gooood.
So after hearing this, I knew I had to check it out. While reading the website I noticed on Sunday afternoons they offer classes, so I jumped on the UP-W line and headed west to Geneva. It is a little walk when arriving, but Geneva is so beautiful that it is not a sacrifice....and I was going to a dessert class, for heaven's sake, I could stand to burn a few before and after. Best surprise of the day...another French Market at the train station! More on that in the Spring, since this was the last one of the season.
Could this weather be better? I think not. And neither did the gazillion other people enjoying 3rd Street in Geneva. This street alone could keep this blog going indefinitely. So many people were out and about loving the weather and the shops and restaurants.
Our class started at 12:00 in the working kitchen of the bakery. For a person like me, that was a great place to be sitting. Surrounded by ovens, a marble slab counter, small, medium and giant mixers, and every whisk, spatula and gadget imaginable.
We dove right in with a pumpkin mousse and sponge cake roulade.
Think: dessert rolled like a giant Hostess Ho Ho. (I loved peeling and eating those when I was young...I would still love peeling and eating those if it wasn't culinarily incorrect, which is like politically incorrect only referring to bad stuff we can no longer openly buy in a grocery store and put into our bodies without guilt...shame...and transfats...WHAT? There are no transfats in Ho Ho's???...putting that on the grocery list for next time.)
This homemade Ho Ho was made with vanilla cake with pumpkin mousse cream filling. Pastry Chef Paul (owner) made it two ways; layered with a chocolate ganache and also layered with raspberry. Obviously, this was the raspberry. Dessert #1 in the stomach....this could get crazy.
Next, he made a simple pumpkin bar with homemade cream cheese frosting. Simple and common, but the techniques we learned were very helpful. How to prevent bubbles, or dense cake, or ugly cutting.
Dessert #2 in the stomach... Starting to worry.
Next on the list, a pecan torte in a chocolate crust. I had to stop. I just could not make myself take a bite of another dessert. No matter how much the people around me raved...I had to stop. But you don't think I just skipped it, do you? They said at the beginning they would give us boxes to take things home...always planning ahead.
Lastly, he made crème brulee in a roasted pumpkin shell. The presentation was gorgeous, daarling. Love learning the tricks of the trade. Roasting the pumpkins with cinnamon and sugar, learning about real vanilla, when to use tempering, and hot water baths. (Not with bubbles and lavender, silly, as a cooking method.)
The class was informative and filling...need to go run a 5K. (I should have run the Hot Chocolate 5K in Chicago yesterday, but that might have defeated the purpose since there was hot chocolate, chocolate fountains and fondue after.)
We were all sent home with boxes of goodies. This cake was in the box. Can you imagine making these thin layers?? Also in the box were croissants and pastries from the front of the store, samples of what we saw Chef Paul make, and a serious sugar high. That won't deter me from going again, though. I am much tougher than that.
Their website has the schedule for the rest of the holiday season. Mark this in your calendar for a must do, just make sure to eat lots of vegetables a for few days before. It's all in the training.