Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Chocolate Bonbon Classes @ Bonnie Gordon College

Okay, I admit it – I’m a bit of a kitchen nightmare. 
The last time I tried to create a culinary masterpiece, I succeeded in producing a dried-out turkey and a second-degree burn on my arm. So I was a bit hesitant to try a baking class at the Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts. Luckily, I was in good hands with the school’s helpful instructors. Plus, I had a total blast eating working with chocolate.
The College was founded by Bonnie Gordon – one of Canada’s leading wedding cake designers. After 10 years of making cakes in Toronto and NYC, Chef Gordon retired to educate and mentor aspiring chefs. She taught classes from her cake studio for two years, while developing a curriculum for the school. Since its opening in 2008, the college has undergone two expansions and now teaches the fine art of cake design, decorating, and sugarcraft. 

Bonnie Gordon
First, we went on a tour of the school. Everything embodies Chef Gordon’s high standards for the best in taste and design. The facility gleamed of stainless steel and state of the art tools and equipment. The use of prepared and artificial products in baked goods is discouraged. And the College is proudly staffed by top industry professionals who share passion and creativity for sweets. 

Back in the kitchen, instructors Marisa and Michael gave a crash lesson in tempering chocolate. I was impressed by their expertise and infinite patience, as well as the hands-on learning opportunities. I actually got a chance to make ganache and a batch of truffles (without scalding myself)!

Thinking of a career change? The College offers certificate and diploma programmes in pastry arts, baking and cake design. It also includes curricula on surviving and thriving in the biz – in one course, students even learn marketing and food photography. 

If your goal is to become a better baker, the continuing education program offers 1-2 day courses. It’s a good investment if you plan to host a wedding, shower, or special event in the near future. Why not make the food yourself and save some serious dough (no pun intended)?

Here are our top five picks for readers:

1. Introduction to Mini Cakes 
Learn to bake, cut, and decorate adorable Mini Cakes. This is the perfect treat for any event, such as wedding or baby showers. Serve these buttercream babies and look like a Domestic Goddess. Level: Beginner Cost: $160
2. Introduction to Chocolate Bon Bons  
Want to create a special wedding favour? Learn to make your own chocolate truffles and give a personalized gift for your guests. From this class, I learned what products to use, how to temper chocolate (man, it’s fussy!), and ganache techniques. I left with a box of beautifully designed treats that were melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Level: Beginner Cost: $275
3.  Designer Cookies 
One of the College’s mantras is that “we eat first with our eyes.” This course teaches how to bake and transform simple cookies into works of art. There’s also a segment on packaging the cookies into lovely gifts. Level: Beginner Cost: $225
4. Cupcake Couture
It’s no wonder cupcakes are so trendy at weddings these days – the bite-sized cakes are tasty and easy to eat while boogying on the dance floor. If you want to make fancy cupcakes for your guests, this is the class for you. It teaches the essentials of cupcake baking and haute couture decorating. Best of all, you learn a variety of recipes, such as red velvet, buttermilk chocolate, swiss meringue buttercream, and vanilla frosting. Level: Beginner Cost: $250
5. Cake Design from Start to Finish: Pretty Party Cake 
Brides, listen up: you can save money by making your own cake. Designer cakes can cost up to $1500 and it’s consumed in one day. With this class, you will leave with a two-tiered cake in fondant and culinary skills for life. Note that the Introduction to Cake Decorating class may be a prerequisite. Level: Intermediate Cost: $250

The Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts
670 Caledonia Rd. Unit 100
Toronto, Ontario M6E 4V9
Tel: (416) 440-0333

Photo credits: Lisa Jackson and the Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts

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