Dessert. In this particular case I’m talking about dessert in a jar. Tiny, sumptuous desserts served up single-sized in a jar. A nifty idea, oui? I was excited as I drove off towards Sur la Table in Durham.This was my third class there, and I hoped this would be as much fun as the pasta classes I took earlier. When I arrived an hour and a half later imagine my surprise when I found out that the class had only four people! This is much better if you want a more hands on experience, compared to a full class of 16.
We started with a strawberry-rhubarb mixture that included sugar, corn starch, a pinch of salt, and vanilla bean paste-yes, paste! The vanilla bean paste is a thick, sticky gel with a gajillion flecks of vanilla bean and it smells heavenly. With a tiny spoon in hand we sampled this gooey vanilla-ness. Wow! You literally can eat this stuff with a spoon! We let the fruit sit and got to work on the pie crust. It’s really hard to jam pie crust into a 6 ounce jar, but I did it and it looked great! Once that was complete I added the strawberry-rhubarb mixture to the jar and cut dough strips to use in making the lattice top for my mini-pie in a jar. It looked fantastic, if I don’t say so myself! It went off to the oven for baking and we went on to our next dessert.
Up next? Chocolate espresso pots de crème with cocoa nibs and whipped cream. In a saucepan over medium heat we mixed heavy cream, salt, espresso powder, sugar, vanilla paste, and chocolate, stirring the chocolate until it melted. In a cup we beat the eggs. While whipping them we added the hot, melted chocolate-cream mixture to bring the eggs to temperature. Once that was done we added the eggs to the saucepan. While pouring the chocolate into the small jars nestled in the pan for their upcoming water bath we sampled the custard. How rich and delicious-and it wasn’t even done yet!!! While the pots de crème cook in their water bath we whipped up some fresh whipped cream with heavy whipping cream, vanilla paste, and sugar.
Perhaps my favorite of all the desserts in jars was the lemon tart with toasted meringue. The tart, lemony curd sandwiched between almond cookies and topped with meringue toasted with a kitchen torch was a refreshing burst of flavor in my mouth. The almond cookies were rolled out on the steel counter and cut with a small circular cookie cutter. Once baked, these golden delights are the basis for the dessert. A cookie is placed in the bottom of the jelly jar. Then, using an icing bag and tip, the lemon curd is piped on top. Another cookie, some more lemon curd. Repeat until you have a small gap at the top. This is where the meringue is spooned on top and toasted under a small flame with a kitchen torch. All I can say is YUM-MY!!!!
After a few hours in the Sur la Table kitchen, I have three delish desserts in jars, I made a perfect pie crust for the first time ever, and I have ideas for portable treats on the go. I had so much fun, as I have in each class I’ve taken at Sur la Table, that I cannot wait for my next class. What shall it be? French? Italian? Spanish? I don’t know, but I’m certain there will be a class in my future! For now, I’m off to sample my goods!!!