‘Tis still the season to be eating–especially when it comes to dessert! There are all sorts of sweet treats being shared this time of year, from cookies and pie to red velvet cake and caramel corn. Some people use grandma’s old recipes, but when I am home this week, I’ll be using Zac Young’s creative takes on the traditional to impress my family. I (and my tastebuds) recently had the extreme pleasure of learning from the executive pastry chef of Flex Mussels and season one finalist of Top Chef: Just Desserts at a class called “Sweet Journeys” at the De Gustibus Cooking School in Macy’s Herald Square. (Edible Manhattan profiled the cooking school’s make-over in 2008.) It was there I learned Zac’s love of frying and his passion for flavor as his concoctions ran the gamut… from pumpkin donuts served both spiced and glazed to apple “pot pie” with a cheddar cheese crust alongside Bourbon ice cream to BACON peanut caramel corn and drunken frozen s’mores to finish. (It was also there I learned just how useful alcohol could be in the kitchen.)
I left the session not only incredibly full, but also inspired to try my hand at desserts my mother doesn’t make. So now with a few days off to play, I think it’s a great idea for everyone to bake instead of buy. Why not get the relatives involved and bond! Many people will be eating jelly donuts for Hanukah (it ends tomorrow night) so how about firing up the fryer and making some at home together?
Another take-away from Young is to remember the sweet and the savory–the balance is divine! Now cherishing apples with cheese; the bacon and brown sugar combinations because they add up to be such satisfying snacks! And even if I am just preparing this for my kid brother in the Midwest instead of a Manhattan restaurant, presentation matters: the dash of Disco Dust as seen on the s’mores goes a long way. It’s that extra special touch that shows you care. Joy to the world!
I’m just telling myself holiday calories don’t count… but if there’s any time to do it, it’s before New Year’s! The clock is ticking.
Lastly, if you need a way last-minute holiday gift for a foodie friend, a class at De Gustibus would hit the spot. The spring semester will be here soon and there’s plenty of food and wine involved at each lesson!