One unit down, countless to go

School so far has been, in a word, exhausting. It’s probably just an adjustment period, but I am so. exhausted. all. the. time. For those that don’t know, in addition to school, I also work full-time. I knew when I signed up for this that it would be a challenge, that I’d be a little more tired and a lot busier; but I had no idea just how beat I’d be at the end of the week. On weekday class nights I don’t get home until after 11 pm (so that’s eight hours of work and 5 hours of class, plus commuting time), on nights I don’t have class, I have homework to do and some semblance of a social life to keep, and considering I have to be up at 6:30 am to get to work the next day, you can imagine how tired I am after a whole week of that.

So I’m hoping you’ll also understand why it’s taken me a while to post again, given my lack of free time and propensity to spend said free time napping with a cat on my back.

How inviting does this look, though?
How inviting does this look, though?

Our cookie unit finished up in no time. Other than the lunettes and diamants, we made vanilla crescents, spritz cookies, Russian tea cookies, sablés (vanilla and chocolate), almond biscotti, gingersnaps, and brownies. Everything was delicious, but my favorite (and I think everyone’s favorite) was the gingersnap, which was actually more like soft gingerbread cookie. These were chewy, spicy and sweet, and would probably be great in an ice cream sandwich—one of our chefs suggested lemon-ginger ice cream, but I’m more of an egg nog girl, myself. They were also really simple to make, although they do involve molasses, which can be a pain to deal with. (Tip: lightly spray your measuring cup with cooking spray [or butter it] before you measure out the molasses, and less of it will cling to the sides when you pour it into the mixer.)

Ginger "snaps." Soft and chewy and spicy and SO GOOD.
Ginger “snaps.” Soft and chewy and spicy and SO GOOD.

Sorry this post isn’t more exciting. To be honest, this part of school isn’t all that enthralling in terms of what we’re learning—most cookies are fairly easy to make, technically speaking, especially when they don’t involve any meringue or complex techniques. The things we’ve made are similar to other recipes I’ve made in the past (and probably what you’ve made, too, if you’ve ever made a butter, chocolate chip, or sugar cookie), so I’m treating this kind of like a warm-up unit to get me acclimated to being in a professional kitchen and working with a partner (not as easy as you’d think!).

One other subject we’ve been dealing with that was all but totally new for me is food safety and hygiene. Part of our curriculum includes the ServSafe exam, so we’ve been spending part of every class going over things like minimum cooking temperatures, shelf clearance, how to prevent backflow in a kitchen sink, how to check a supply order, and all the different viruses and bacteria that can kill you in your food. FUN STUFF! Well, maybe not fun, but actually really important, even more for someone who wants to own her own business someday. 😉

Study sesh! Go to pastry school and you, too, can spend your free time learning about E. Coli and Hepatitis A!
Study sesh! Go to pastry school and you, too, can spend your free time learning about E. Coli and Hepatitis A!

Next up is our unit on pies and tarts, which I am really looking forward to. I’ve made a pie or two in my day, but tarts are another story—probably best saved for another post—and I’d really love to get better and learn more about them… other than how to eat an entire tart in one sitting, because I’m pretty sure I’ve already got that one down.

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