Last week, I attended an event hosted and sponsored by the folks behind the Got Milk? campaign. A morning cooking class with a bunch of bloggers and baking enthusiasts would be led by the pastry chef behind Bittersweet Treats, Danielle Keene, and Blooming Gelatin Arts owner, Michelle Quilas. With summer literally knocking at our doors, this class would present a few of the most perfect milk-based desserts for your family, friends or large parties. It would be a girls only kind of day, plus Amir was occupied with a long work day, so I traveled over the hill to the Eatz cooking school for a few hours of instruction.
It was only 11:00 am when I arrived, but just as I walked in the door and spied the table of sweets to my immediate left, I knew a sugar high was on the way. Bloggers spilled through the door, one by one–Susan, Nicole, Ericka, Monique, Catalina, Samantha, Marsha, Rachel and Amy–and we crowded around the rectangular table in the middle of the room. Danielle Keene, the pastry chef and ex-contestant of Top Chef Desserts, led us through two quick demonstrations.
The first was her recipe for a Chocolate Pudding Tart with Swiss Meringue. The buttery, crumbly crust pair with rich, creamy pudding and torched meringue joined forces like the A-Team. It was a knock out. Next up, a sweet and fresh Mint Chip Ice Cream with fresh mint in the base–absolutely no mint extract. That is one of the key tips to making a better than ever mint ice cream. The other tip? Make sure you temper the chocolate, chill it, then break it up into pieces before stirring into the thickened ice cream. That will keep it from freezing into hard chunks.
After a quick clean up, we moved into a quick lesson on gelatin food art. This was a subject completely new to me, and I think I am still astounded, even days later. Michelle Quilas is the co-owner of a company that creates colorful edible art with milky gelatin. There are no crazy ingredients, and the only special equipment you need is a syringe. Maybe that makes you a little nervous, but once you start sticking, it feels like second nature. At least in this respect. A plain, sweetened gelatin base serves as the canvas, if you will, and from there, you poke, prod and shape to create flowers with colored milk-based gelatin. We all made our own flowers after marveling at Michelle’s ability to make four flowers within seconds before our eyes.
At the end of the lesson, there was a prize drawing with the grand prize being an ice cream maker. No winners here, but those who walked out with gifts were quite lucky. On top of our gelatin flowers and chocolate pudding tarts, we also filled to-go boxes with desserts created by Danielle and Michelle. Everyone also received a gift box, including a popsicle maker, gelatin, ice cream scoop and more. There were too many photos to post here, but click here to check out the entire album on Facebook!
We are constantly raving about Southern California’s weather. It’s hard not to when most of the year is spent basking under the sun. That’s what makes eating outside so enjoyable, whether you’re al fresco at a restaurant or standing over your grill. Either way, you need to wrap up the meal with a cool dessert. Danielle Keene partnered with Got Milk? to show you a few of her favorite desserts for all of those summer days, and her recipes will be on the company’s website. Michelle Quilas’ gelatin desserts are unique presentation pieces that will no doubt be the talking point of your party. She has joined forces with the California Milk Processor Board and the Hispanic sector of the Got Milk? campaign–Toma Leche–to share her recipes as well, which are available online. We’ve made ice cream galore since last year and shared a handful of the recipes with you. They’re all right in line with the weather that approaches, and we’ll have even more as the days go by. In the spirit of sharing, here is one of the great desserts Danielle prepared for us. I grabbed one and spooned it up right on the spot!
What are your favorite milk-based summer desserts?
Lavender Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Berry Caramel Sauce – Serves 8 (Recipe by Danielle Keene for Got Milk?)
1 vanilla bean, split
2 1/4 teaspoon dried lavender
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup milk
3 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup crème fraiche
1 tablespoons powdered gelatin
In a saucepan over medium heat, bring vanilla bean, lavender, sugar, 1/2 cup milk and 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream to a simmer. Cover, remove from heat and set aside to steep for 30 minutes. In a separate bowl, mix gelatin powder in remaining 1/2 cup milk to hydrate. Reheat vanilla mixture and pour over gelatin mixture. Whisk until combined and gelatin is dissolved. Whisk in crème fraiche and strain. Cool to room temperature.
With an electric mixer, whisk remaining 1 ½ cups of heavy cream to soft peaks. Gently fold in vanilla bean mixture in two parts. Pour into small greased ramekins and chill for 6 hours or overnight. Unmold and serve with blueberry caramel and fresh fruit.
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 3/4 cup fresh berries (in season), pureed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
In a saucepan over high heat, combine sugar and water. Boil until mixture is an amber color. Add berry puree and butter. Whisk until dissolved. Strain and serve over panna cotta.
Make sure you check out all of the pictures from the event here!
Click HERE for the printable recipe.