Spring (almost) Cooking classes at Sarah Lawrence

A new semester of deliciousness is about to start at Sarah Lawrence College! These classes are so much fun, packed with as much information as you can absorb, and in the end, you get to take home lots of goodies!

To register click on the class title below. For more information, contact Liz Irimter at eirmiter@sarahlawrence.edu

Come and join us!

Decadent Chocolate Desserts

Sunday, February 7
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Just in time to create something special for your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day. Indulge your senses and explore the richness and variety of chocolate in all its forms. In this hands-on session, we will discuss the production of chocolate, the difference between brands and types, and use it in all its forms to create the most unforgettable and satisfying dessert creations. Featured Recipes: Rich Chocolate Rose Mousse in Chocolate Tuille Cup, Molten Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Truffles, Spiced Hot Chocolate, Chocolate Almond Cream-filled Macaroons

All about Cheesecake
Sunday, February 28
1 – 5 p.m.

Rich and creamy cheesecakes are a popular dessert treat, but many people are intimidated by the seemingly complex techniques used to create them. Come to this hands-on class to understand the principles behind this simple baked custard, and finally master the perfect cheesecake! Feature Recipes: Traditional New York Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce, Marble Cheesecake, Lemon Ginger Mascarpone Cheesecake with mixed berry compote, Italian Amoretto Cheesecake

Spring Cookie Decorating

Sunday, March 28
1 – 5 p.m.

Focus on some of the techniques used to create the most fabulous frosted sugar cookies usually found only in the best gourmet pastry shops! Make beautiful butterflies, luscious lady bugs, fantasy flowers and perfect paisleys. After the class, you’ll be able to adapt your new skills to any design you can imagine.

Crowd Pleasing Hors d’oeuvres

Sunday, April 11
1 – 4 p.m.

The smallest bite can pack the biggest flavor punch. In this class you’ll create many wonderful recipes and learn useful techniques for turning your favorite ingredients into memorable hors d’oeuvres that fly off the plate. Featured Recipes: Bacon Wrapped Dates, Curried Chicken Triangles, Mini Camponata Quiche, Spicy Hummus Cucumber Bites, Mozzarella and Prosciutto Puff Pastires

Crazy for Cupcakes
Sunday, March 7
1 – 5 p.m.

Everyone is crazy for cupcakes right now, and why not? Their adorable and convenient individual size lends itself so beautifully to the most unique and delicious designs. In this class you’ll bake the most delicious cupcakes, and learn techniques to personalize them in charming ways. From Glazed High Tops, to small scenes created with fondant, and even the simplest swirl, you’ll be looking for any excuse to make these tempting treats!

In Between the Cake…

By popular demand, I’ve added a brand new basic bread making class to the fall curriculum at Sarah Lawrence College. So with every free moment, in between the baking, icing, carving, covering and decorating, I’m testing the recipes. Actually, its a great way to do it. I’ve sometimes thought that making bread is just too much of a commitment… the amount of time it takes to let it rise requires a kind of planning ahead that I’m not really great about. My middle name is Immediate Gratification.

But, having to squeeze in these recipes around an already busy schedule, it began to dawn on me that once you know the basic procedures, bread making actually fits very easily into your life. There are few ingredients- most will already be in your pantry. The work load comes in small doses, over a period of time that is much better spent doing something else. And made all that much easier with the use of a trusty heavy duty mixer.

Come and join us in our hands on baking class this October and learn the basics to find a comfort zone with all things yeasty. To whet your appetite, or if you’re not able to make the trip to Bronxville, NY, here is a basic focaccia recipe that lends itself to tons of creative variations.

Focaccia Al’Olio


1 package active dry yeast

2/3 cup warm water 105-115 degreed F

1 cup all purpose flour


½ cup water

1/3 cup dry white wine

½ cup olive oil

2 ½ cups all purpose flour

2 tsp salt

¼ cup olive oil

1 tsp large flake salt

2 tsp fresh thyme leaves

First make the sponge, by stirring the yeast into the warm water until it dissolves. Allow this to sit about 10 minutes until its foamy, to be sure the yeast is still alive and active. Add 1 cup flour and stir to combine. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let this sit in a warm, draft free area for about 30 minutes, until its very bubbly.

Combine all the liquid ingredients (water, wine, olive oil) with the sponge, stirring to combine. Combine the 2 ½ cups flour with the 2 tsp of salt, in the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attached. Mix a bit to distribute the salt. Add the sponge/liquid mixture and mix until completely combined and forms a soft dough. No kneading required. The dough will still be moist and stick a bit to your hands. This is good… its what gives you the air pockets and light airy crumb. Grease a large bowl with olive oil or pan spray. Place dough into bowl and cover. Sit bowl in a warm, draft free spot and let rise for 1 hour. Dough will double in size.

Preheat oven to 425.

Grease a sheet pan or cookie sheet. Punch down the dough and press it out into a rectangle, about 14” by 10”. Using your fingers, dimple the dough all over. Cover lightly with a clean dish towel and let rise again, until double in height, or about 50 minutes.

When dough has risen for the second time, dimple again with your finger tips. With a pastry brush, distribute the ¼ cup olive oil over top of dough and sprinkle with the 1tsp of large flake salt and fresh thyme leaves.

Put the sheet pan in the oven and turn the temperature down to 400 degrees. For the best results, you want to keep the crust for setting too fast. To aid this, spritz the walls of the oven with water from a spray bottle often during the first 15 minutes of baking. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and center is set. Remove the focaccia from the pan as soon as you take it from the oven to keep it from over baking and drying out.


The highlight of an otherwise gloomy, rainy Sunday, was the last class of the Spring 09 Season. The heat of the ovens warmed us all as we worked on cupcake masterpieces! Can’t wait to start dreaming up the new fall projects…

Here is the basic buttercream recipe used in class…

7 fluid ounces egg whites
14 ounces sugar
1 1/2 pounds unsalted butter

Combine sugar and egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Heat over a double boiler, stirring constantly until very hot to the touch and all sugar has dissolved.

-Put bowl on the mixer with the whisk attachment. Whip whites until stiff peaks have formed.

-Change to the paddle and add butter, in small pieces, waiting for one to beat in before adding the other. Once all butter is added, beat an extra 10 minutes for smoothness.

** You can flavor this anyway you like using:
citrus curd
reduced fruit purees
or anything you can think of!


One of the bigger surprises in my life… I love teaching. Its a great companion to the more solitary life of cakes. I pack a lot into my classes, and students leave with a feeling of satisfaction, as much info as they can absorb while measuring and mixing, and lots of dessert!

So I though I’d share the highlight dessert from this past weekends Decadent Chocolate Dessert class. While not everyone made these chocolate eclairs, EVERYONE asked for one!

Chocolate Eclairs

Pate a Choux
This dough is a basic cream puff dough. A stand mixer makes easy work of it.

1 Cup Water
3 oz butter
1/4t salt
5 ounces flour
5 large eggs

-preheat oven to 425 degrees.
-Combine water, butter and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
-At the boil, remove from the heat and add all the flour, stirring to combine completely. Put the pot back over medium heat, and cook this paste until it leaves the sides of the pan, and then just a little longer to dry it out. (the more you dry it out, the more egg you can get into it and the better the puffs!)
-Transfer the paste to the bowl of your electric mixer. Beat on medium speed to cool the paste slightly.
-Add the eggs, one at a time mixing each until fully combined. Check your dough before adding the last egg… depending on the humidity of the day, you may not need it. You’re looking for the past to be thick enough to stick to your finger, and thin enough to pipe out.
-Place a 1/2 piping tip in the bottom of a piping bag, or alternately, cut a 1/2″ hole in the bag. Transfer the dough to the bag and pipe out batons about 3″ long, leaving at least one inch between them on all sides. (they are going to at least double in size!)
-Coat them gently with a thinned egg wash – one egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water.
-Bake them at 425 for 10 minutes or until they’ve puffed up. Then turn the oven down to 350 to dry them out well.

Chocolate Cream
Prepare the cream filling while the puffs are baking…

2 cups whole milk
2 ounces cornstarch
5 ounces sugar
1 egg
4 yolks
3 ounces butter
1 tablespoon best quality vanilla
5 ounces bitter sweet chocolate
3 ounces boiling water

-Dissolve the cornstarch in 1/2 cup of cold milk. Add eggs to cornstarch mixture
-Combine the rest of the milk and the sugar in a medium saucepan Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and drizzle hot milk mixture into the egg/cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly. As the eggs become more comfortable with the hot temperature, you can add the milk more quickly. Pour this back into the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly with a whisk until the cream comes together. It will take a while, but once it starts, it will move quickly. Keep stirring until the cream has become thick. Cook, without boiling, until you see one or two bubbles pop from the cream, to make sure you’ve cooked out the chalky texture of the cornstarch.
-Pour the boiling water over the chopped chocolate to melt it. Stir the chocolate, butter and vanilla into the hot cream, then transfer this mixture to an ice bath, or the refrigerator to cool.

Chocolate Glaze

4 oz bittersweet chocolate
3 oz unsalted butter
2 oz light corn syrup
1 Tablespoon Vanilla

-Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave at 50% power, stopping to stir often.
-stir in corn syrup and vanilla


-Place a 1/4 inch piping tip in the bottom of a piping bag. Fill bag with cooled chocolate cream.
-With the tip, poke a hole in one end of a cream puff. Squeeze bag gently to fill puff – when filled, cream will start oozing out of the entry hole.
-Dip the top of the filled puff into glaze, set aside to firm.
-Enjoy immediately, or keep filled eclairs in the refrigerator for one day.