The difference between cooking and baking is that cooking is more go-with-the-flow, more artsy. Baking, on the other hand is a science with chemical reactions happening in the pan and much less of a margin for error. No one likes a flat, rock hard cake, so freestyling it and whipping “about a cup of flour” into the mixing bowl just won’t cut it as much as “about a cup of tomatoes” into a soup or pasta sauce recipe. So when Charleston Cooks! contacted me and invited me to come take a class, I gravitated towards something where I’d have the chance to really learn some life-changing, off-the-cuff advice from the professionals and chose Thanksgiving Desserts.
Bright and not-too-early on a Saturday morning, I headed over to Charleston Cooks! at Cross Hill Market with my friend Emily in tow for a much needed friend date. She’s had her hands full with a baby that’s already walking at nine months(!), so this was a great chance to hang out. The bright and spacious kitchen at CC! is everyone’s dream kitchen. Picture your perfect kitchen, and this one will automatically take its place.
We started out gathering around a station that was pre-set for the five desserts we’d be tackling in class: brown sugar buttermilk pie, white chocolate cranberry cheesecake, gingerbread donut fritters with brandy cider sauce, pumpkin chiffon tart with maple candied pepitas, and honey apple cake with cream cheese frosting. With five people in the class, we each got to tackle a dessert ourselves, except the cheesecake was pre-made, but the pumpkin chiffon needed two sets of hands.
One of the first and probably most important baking things that I have NEVER HEARD was that all cold ingredients need to be brought to room temperature (except one thing, but I forgot what it was! Maybe buttermilk? Maybe Chef Cara will comment and remind me), and that butter and cream cheese can even be left on the counter for hours at a time to help achieve this. Who knew that already? I’ve already put that good tip to use since the class, so it was 100% worth it!
I dove into the honey apple cake with cream cheese frosting, and the great thing is that all of the ingredients for the class are set out, pre-measured and grouped accordingly. They also have magic little kitchen fairies that come and take away your dirty dishes and leftover scraps, which is something they really need to consider selling in the store! Chefs Cara and Milo went around from station to station, assisting everyone and sprinkling us with knowledge, and as parts of each person’s dish were baking or completing, we had the chance to walk around and see what everyone else was up to.
Once all of the desserts were ready we divided them up onto plates and settled in with a glass of wine, yep, at 11:30 in the morning to review our newly found skills!
My favorite was the pumpkin chiffon pie because it wasn’t as sweet as the others, which was a nice contrast. Plus, the candied maple pepitas (the brickle, LOL) would be an amazing treat on its own! Next, I really enjoyed the fritters, a dense little flavor burst that was still warm from the oil, as well as the cheesecake which had a surprise Oreo cookie crust.
After the class was over and we were all sweeted out, they unleashed us into the store with a 10% discount that class participants get to enjoy and each got ourselves a little treat to take home that we learned about that day. I chose a portion scoop that is made to scoop out the exact perfect amount of batter for a cupcake and deposits it neatly into the cupcake liner, which I found extremely handy when making my in-class dessert.
If you’ve been thinking about taking a class at CC!, just pull the trigger and do it! Or ask for one for Christmas. It’s an amazing experience that tastes great at the end too.Check out their list of upcoming classes!
Charleston Cooks! provided a class for myself and a friend free of charge. All opinions and purchases that I made were my own.