A few weeks ago I attended the Viking Cooking School for a class called “Cupcakes and Cake Balls.” It was fun. We were divided into 3 groups and each group made one flavor of cupcake and one flavor of cake ball, so a total of 6 different flavors.
I was in the red velvet group and we had some *ahem* setbacks with our cake balls. It was good practice though, and I think I know what to do differently next time. I had to use the picture of them all finished on the fancy platter so it would look like they kind of turned out. Although it didn’t work for my group, I thought the styrofoam was a good idea for holding your cake ball pops while they are cooling. For more complete instructions, check out Bakerella.
We also made cupcakes and I learned some fun techniques. I was in the caramel apple group. Our cupcakes were baked without a liner and while they were cooling in the cupcake pan we poked holes in the tops of the cupcakes and poured a caramel syrup over the tops that soaked in. We shaped almond paste into a carrot and an apple and used these to decorate the tops of the carribean carrot and the caramel apple. A whole clove was used for the apple’s stem. We also dipped the tops of the decadent chocolate fudge cupcakes into a melted chocolate mixture. I’d never done that with cupcakes and it was super easy and fun. I don’t think I’m authorized to post the recipes here, but I’m sure you could find similar cake recipes to use.
The most interesting things I learned:
1. All of us at the class live at a high altitude, so the head chef told us to adjust for this by halving all leavening in our recipes (baking powder & baking soda). I tried it later and it totally works.
2. Not all pre-made fondants are the same. The head chef brought two brands and they were completely different textures.
3. For fondant rolling, put cornstarch into a double layered cheesecloth square and tie it up with a rubber band. Just dab it onto to your work area so that your fondant doesn’t stick, kind of like flouring a surface to roll out sugar cookies.
4. The head chef taught us how to make a frosting bag from parchment paper. I’m not going to attempt to describe it here, but it’s a great option when you don’t want to put melted chocolate in your good frosting bags and then waste all of the chocolate when you clean out your bags. She said we could put the parchment bags in the fridge with the unused chocolate and after it cools you can just peel off the parchment and reuse the chocolate.
5. And last but not least, I learned that I would definitely do more baking if I had four chefs offering advice and cleaning up everything as I went along.
My box of goodies to take home. You can see why I leave my party photography and baking to the pros.