Archive for the ‘Cooking Classes’ Category

Cupcakes, Cupcakes, Cupcakes

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

Well, looking at some of my recent posts I realized that I hadn’t posted a really good recipe lately, so I thought I would pass this one your way…since we all need to pack on a couple more pounds before summer…right?!?  Well, even if packing on a couple pounds doesn’t sound appetizing to you, once you see these cupcakes you won’t care what the results are…you’ll just want to eat one…or two or three!

These photos are from a recent class I taught at Prep Kitchen Essentials in Seal Beach, CA.  The class was of course all about cupcakes and this time we focused on really decadent, yummy cupcakes and not so much on the decorating aspect of it.  Here was the menu…

Hummingbird Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Samoas Cupcakes (Courtesy of Chockylit)

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Filling & Chocolate Ganache Frosting

I would have to say that the Samoas Cupcakes were the biggest winner of the day.  Everyone in the class agreed that they were definitely worth the extra effort and couldn’t stop talking about how yummy they were. If you haven’t visited Chockylit’s blog,, then you have to!  You will get lost in the delicious looking photos and the yummy flavor concepts.  Well, without further ado here are the photos and the recipe for the Samoas Cupcakes!

Samoas Cupcakes

Brown Sugar Butter Cupcakes

24 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cup light brown sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

2 teaspoon vanilla

1. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
2. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beat for 30 seconds after each.
4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
5. Measure out milk and vanilla together.
6. Add about a fourth of the flour to the butter/sugar mixture and beat to combine.
7. Add about one third the milk/vanilla mixture and beat until combined.
8. Repeat above, alternating flour and milk and ending with the flour mixture.
9. Scoop into cupcake papers about half to three-quarters full.
10. Bake for 20-22 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Toasted Coconut Topping

2 eggs

10 ounces evaporated milk

1-1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

3 cups shredded, sweet coconut

1. Spread the coconut onto a sheet pan. Toast in a 350 degree oven, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until the coconut is an even brown color, about 10 minutes.
2. Crack the eggs into a small saucepan and beat lightly to break up.
3. Add milk, sugar, and butter. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until thick, bubbly, and golden, about 15 minutes.
4. Press mixture through a metal sieve and into a bowl to remove any lumps.
5. Add 2 cups of the coconut, reserving the remainder for assembly, stir to combine.
6. Let the mixture cool.


1/2 cup water

2 cup sugar

4 tablespoons light corn syrup

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoon butter

1. Combine the water, sugar, and the corn syrup in a deep saucepan and cook over medium heat.
2. Stir together with a wooden spoon until the sugar is incorporated.
3. Cover the saucepan and let it cook over medium heat for 3 minutes.
4. After 3 minutes, remove the lid, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil.
5. Do not stir from this point on, but it is important to carefully shake the pan so that one area of the caramel doesn’t burn.
6. Continue to cook until the caramel turns an even amber color then remove from the heat and let stand for about 30 seconds.
7. *** This is the dangerous part *** Pour the heavy cream into the mixture. Wear oven mitts, stand away from the pan, and be careful. The mixture will bubble up significantly.
8. Stir the mixture, again being careful. Add the butter and stir until combined.
9. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside to cool.

Note: You will have leftover caramel, it stores well refrigerated in an airtight container for about a month.

Chocolate Ganache

16 ounces bittersweet chocolate like Valrhona 61% cocao

2 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoon vanilla

1. Chop chocolate and transfer into a heat proof bowl.
2. Heat cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan, pour cream over the chocolate.
3. Let sit for 1 minute then stir until combined.
4. Add vanilla and stir until combined.
5. Let cool to room temperature.


1. Using a small pairing knife, cut off the top of the cupcake in the shape of a cone. Flip the top over and cut off the cone.
2. Fill the cavity with a teaspoon of caramel.
3. Replace the top of the cone.
4. Smooth on a light coating of chocolate ganache.
5. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes to harden the ganache.
6. With your hands, press out a disk of the coconut topping and place on top of the cupcake. Press to shape the mixture into a dome.
7. Press in some more plain toasted coconut on top of that.
8. Drizzle the top with lines of ganache. Note that you may have to warm the ganache over a water bath to get it to drizzling consistency.

Hope you try them out and enjoy them as much as I did!







Ron Ben-Israel Class at CalJava

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

So sorry for the lack of posts, but life has been quite crazy lately.  Besides the fact that I am currently sitting on my couch in miserable pain from strep throat (which added to the lack of posts), last week I had the pleasure of taking a 3-day class from Ron Ben-Israel at Caljava International School here in California.  I only take one or two of these types of classes per year since they are quite costly and so when I heard that Ron Ben-Israel, one of New York’s top cake artists, was teaching I knew I had to go.  So thankfully my mom and dad gave me half the money for the class for my Christmas present and I was able to come up with the rest.  You should definitely check out this schools website…they have top-notch teachers like Bronwen Weber, Kerry Vincent, and Colette Peters, among many others. Students come from all over the world to take these classes and they are clearly worth it.

This particular class by Ron Ben-Israel focused on learning how to do different types of sugar bows, sweet pea sugar flowers, and working with a monochromatic color scheme.  I will be posting throughout the week on this class, but this first post is going to show the beginning stages of the sweet pea sugar flowers and how we prepared for designing our cake.

We first had to randomly pick our color that we could do our cake in…I got yellow, which I was pretty happy about.  Ron went over how he makes his own sugar paste and how he stores and wraps it so it stays fresh.

Then we looked at some of the previous cakes that Ron had made that incorporated his sugar bows and tried to come up with a design for our cake.  

I actually came up with two different cake designs, but in the end I really didn’t stick to either of them completely.  But here is my picture of my original idea for my cake…

Well, onto the sweet pea sugar flowers!  Ron came up with his own design for a sweet pea sugar flower cutter and that is what we used.  I believe that you can buy them at Caljava, but I am not certain.  He said he still might want to make some adjustments to the cutters in the future, but one great thing about this is that you just have to use one cutter for the whole flower.  I am going to show you the step by step photos of me making the sugar flowers, but of course they will not explain completely how to make them and to give instructions online would be quite tedious, so if you want to learn how to make sugar flowers I would recommend either taking a class, buying a DVD on sugar flowers, or buying a sugar flower book.  I hope you enjoy the eye candy though! Sadly most of the photos from this class had to be taken down due to complaints about giving away too much information.  

Those were some photos from Ron’s demonstration, but here are my photos from making them myself.

**Photos had to be taken down…sorry


Once the flowers are done you hang them upside down so they will dry properly.  After they dried we colored them with petal dust…but I will save those photos for another post!

Hope you enjoyed the photos and make sure and check out Caljava’s and Ron Ben-Israel’s websites!




Purse Cakes Plus “Baked” Cookbook Giveaway!!!

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Thanks to everyone for your sweet comments about my niece’s birthday cake!  I had a great time doing it and it is so nice to receive such lovely compliments from all of you.  As a fun reward for being such a great blogging community I am going to do another giveaway (the real thanks goes to the “Baked” marketing team for giving me the books…THANKS!!!)  So make sure and check out the end of the post to get all of the details!

Before I share my mouth-watering photos of their salted caramel sauce I made I first wanted to show you the cute purse cakes that my students made last week. These cakes were filled, frosted, sculpted, and decorated in about 3 hours, so props to them.  Also, this was the first time most of them had attempted a carved cake, so I was doubly impressed! Hope you enjoy the photos!

Now onto the giveaway!  I have to say that I am absolutely smitten by the Baked cookbook!  The whole book is filled with gorgeous photos and mouthwatering recipes!  It has been by my bedside for the past month getting looked at over and over again.  I recently had the chance to try out their salted caramel sauce and I have to say that it is my new favorite flavor…this sauce will knock your socks off!  Here are the tempting photos I promised!  I will post the yummy recipe on Monday when I announce the winners!  

I forgot to mention that I am giving away TWO Baked cookbooks so get excited because your chance of winning just went up!  All you need to do to enter the contest is name the type of purse that you think I should make for my new purse cake that I am making next week!  Remember the deadline is Sunday night…can’t wait to hear all of your ideas!


Cupcake Class Plus A Yummy Recipe

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

My cooking classes are in full swing and this time I have some fun photos from Prep Kitchen Essentials latest class on Cupcakes!!!  We had a great menu full of tasty cupcakes, fillings, and frostings and also played around with some fondant and marzipan.  We used the fondant to make little embellishments for the top of our cupcakes by imprinting them with scrapbooking stamps.  To check out this technique you can look at some of my past posts.  I will also show the easy pumpkin making technique in another post this week.  So here goes the menu for the class:

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cream Frosting

Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate Chunk Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Ganache Glaze

Candy Bar Cupcakes: Brown Sugar Cake, Caramel Filling, & Peanut Butter Chocolate Ganache Frosting


As you can see we had a great time and they came out with some yummy creations.  As always, I couldn’t leave you without one yummy recipe from the class so here it is!

Candy Bar Cupcakes

adapted from Demolition Desserts

Caramel sauce

1/2 cup water

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or fresh lemon juice

2 cup (14 ounces) granulated sugar

½ c. light corn syrup

2 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

In a medium saucepan with high sides, mix together the water, cream of tartar and sugar. Add the corn syrup and stir until just combined. Place the pan over high heat and cover. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture comes to full rolling boil. Remove the lid, and cook until the syrup is a dark amber, 5-7 minutes. Remove the pan and add the butter. Carefully add the cream, standing back because it will sizzle and pop. It may form clumps, but that’s fine. The lumps will melt when the caramel is put back over the heat.

Place the pan over medium-low heat and stir gently with a whisk. Bring the mixture back to a boil and as soon as you see bubbles around the edge, remove it from the heat and strain the mixture into a heatproof container. Stir in the salt and vanilla and set aside to cool. Use immediately or refrigerate up to 2 weeks. 

Brown sugar cupcakes

3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

16 tablespoons (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened but still cool

1 ½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoon granulated sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 ½ cup whole milk 

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 24 cup standard muffin pan with paper liners

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add the salt and set aside. In a large bowl, using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a handheld mixer, cream together the butter and sugars on medium speed for 3-4 minutes or until light and fluffy, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until incorporated. Beat in the vanilla.

On low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions and the milk in two additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and beating after each addition for about 15 seconds or until combined. Divide the batter evenly among the cups.

Bake the cupcakes, rotating the pan after 10 minutes, for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cook in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, loosen the cupcakes from the pan, then let them cool completely in the pan before removing them.

Fill the cupcakes with the caramel sauce by putting the sauce in a 8-ounce squirt bottle with the tip cut to about 1/4-inch wide, plunging the tip into the center of the cupcake, and squeezing. When you see the top of the cupcake rise just slightly, stop squeezing the bottle and slowly pull the tip out of the cupcake. Don’t worry if some of the sauce comes out of the top; it’ll be covered with frosting. 


4 tablespoons (2 ounce) unsalted butter, softened but still cool

1 ¼ c. powdered sugar, sifted

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoon whole milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

10 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped

7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 heavy cream

6 tablespoons peanut butter


1 cup salted, roasted peanuts

Fleur de sel for sprinkling 

In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds to 1 minute until light and creamy. Gradually add the sugar while continuing to beat, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. When all the sugar has been incorporated, add the salt, milk, vanilla and lemon juice, beating well after each addition. Then continue to beat on high speed for 5-6 minutes until fluffy. Set aside.

In a heatproof bowl, combine the chocolates. In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or just until it comes to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the peanut butter. Let mixture cool for 10-20 minutes, then whisk in the butter frosting. You should have about 1 1/4 cups.

Spread the frosting over the filled cupcakes with an offset icing spatula. Garnish with the peanuts and a few grains of fleur de sel. 

New Cooking Classes

Friday, September 5th, 2008

Cooking classes are definitely a huge passion of mine.  As some of you might know, before I went into the pastry field I was actually studying to be an elementary school teacher.  All of my life this is the job I thought I was going to go into and was blessed to be able to work as an aide for many years.  I absolutely loved teaching, but felt that God was leading me into a new passion and I jumped head first into it and have never turned back since.  However, God knew He didn’t give me the love for teaching and sharing my passions with others for nothing and has helped me find ways in this new field to share and bless others.  I feel so honored to be able to help and guide others that share my same passion for desserts and food and inspire those that never knew they had it within them.  I have loved being able to teach classes at Prep Kitchen Essentials in Seal Beach and at my church Rockharbor in Costa Mesa and now I am excited to announce a new opportunity that I have been given.  This month I am starting to teach cake decorating classes at MiraCosta College in Oceanside, CA.  I am teaching three separate courses that consist of three classes each.  Here are the three classes…

Module 1 – Basic Cake Decorating (9/08-10/08) $120

This relaxed and friendly course takes you through the basics of using a
variety of icings to decorate typical cakes required for birthdays,
graduations, etc.  You will be shown techniques related to piping, use
of modeling paste for flowers and ornaments, and the covering of cakes
using a variety of icings tools and equipment. This will be taught as a
beginners level course.  Perfect for either the recreational cake
designer or the individual who wishes to gain professional skills.

Module 2 – Wedding Cakes (10/08-11/08) $120
This course is suitable for creative cake-makers who may have completed
a beginners cake-decorating course. The course will primarily focus on
the techniques and styles needed to decorate beautiful wedding cakes.
Please do not sign up for this class if you are not familiar with the
basic principles of cake decorating.

Module 3 – Specialty Cakes (11/08-12/08) $120
This course caters for participants who wish to advance their basic
skills.  Learn a variety of new, contemporary techniques using icing and
fondant, allowing you to create beautiful and unique cakes.  On
completion of the course, students will have a greater understanding of
cake design and the satisfaction and confidence to further their

The classes still have spots left in them and are priced quite low for how much information you will be learning in them.  If you are interested in signing up just check out their website and they can give you all the information.  Hope to see some of you there!

Well before leaving I wanted to share some photos with you from my cooking class at Rockharbor.  This class was on appetizers and we had a great time!  The menu was…

Sun-Dried Tomato Dip with Pita Chips

Caribbean Shrimp Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

Crostini with Fresh Mozzarella, Arugula, Prosciutto, & Olive Tapenade


I wanted to pass on this recipe of Ina Garten’s from Barefoot Contessa.  Her recipe for Sun-Dried Tomato Dip is fantastic and extremely easy…a double winner in my book!  I highly recommend that you try it!

Cooking Class Menu Plus the Cookbook Winner

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Hope everyone had a great weekend!  Last Friday night I taught a class at Prep Kitchen Essentials and we had a great time.  The class was on Fresh & Easy Dinners and it turned out to be a fabulous night!  But before I share all the delicious details from the class with you I wanted that thank you all for you for your great inspirational ideas. I loved reading each and every one and couldn’t pick a favorite, so instead I let the random number generator choose the winner (I know…I’m pathetic)!  Anyways, the winner is BRANDI!!! Congratulations Brandi and I hope you enjoy this book as much as I do!  

Well, onto the menu…

Caribbean Shrimp Salad with Lime Vinaigrette


Rigatoni with Grilled Summer Vegetables & Feta Cheese

Bake Pork Chops with Radicchio Slaw

Creme Fraiche & Lemon Sorbet

Here are some photos from the class…First off is the Rigatoni with Grilled Summer Vegetables & Feta Cheese!

Next is the Bake Pork Chops with Radicchio Slaw & Panzanella..

And the last dinner item was my favorite…the Caribbean Shrimp Salad with Lime Vinaigrette!

And sadly I didn’t get any good photos of the delicious Creme Fraiche & Lemon Sorbet, but here is at least one photo of the bowl!

Well, I couldn’t leave without sharing one recipe with you so here is my favorite from the night…enjoy!

Caribbean Shrimp Salad with Lime Vinaigrette 

adapted from Cooking Light

4 servings 

4 cups chopped cooked shrimp (about 1 1/2 pounds)

5 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar, divided

2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce (such as Lee Kum Kee)

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon grated lime rind

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 large limes)

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

2 garlic cloves, minced

Dash of salt

8 cups fresh baby spinach

1 cup chopped peeled mango (about 1 large)

1 cup julienne-cut radishes

1/4 cup diced peeled avocado

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

2 tablespoons unsalted pumpkinseed kernels 

Combine shrimp, 2 tablespoons vinegar, and chili garlic sauce in a large bowl; toss well. Cover and chill 1 hour. 

Combine remaining 3 tablespoons vinegar, oil, and next 6 ingredients (through salt) in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. 

Mix together the spinach, shrimp mixture, mango, radishes, avocado, green onions and pumpkin seed kernels.  Drizzle with vinaigrette and serve.  








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