Every year our secondary school hosts an evening event called the Christmas Cabaret, where dance, drama and music classes, as well as auditioned acts, perform in front of an audience of parents, teachers, students etc. My hospitality classes prepare food for the event.
This past Christmas and last Christmas (see here for last year’s event), we hosted a Christmas Dessert-themed Cabaret. The menu consisted of gingerbread cookie favours for each place setting, chocolate and vanilla cupcakes arranged on cupcake tiers, and the main dessert was a decandent chocolate brownie topped with whipped cream, chocolate cigarellos and a strawberry garnish. Also on that plate; a vanilla sauce and strawberry coulis sauce.
Before I jump to the night of, here are some of the preparations leading up to Cabaret.
Students began by experimenting with dessert choices and arrangements:
180 gum paste snowflake toppers were made for 180 cupcakes:
180 made-from-scratch brownies (forgot to take pics!), and 180 made-from-scratch gingerbread snowflake cookies were made by the students:
Table settings and floral arrangements were planned and created. We went with a blue and silver theme. The greens were gathered, pinecones glued to long skewers and painted & glittered, and ‘flower’ arrangements assembled (more on tablesettings etc. later):
Students decorated 180 snowflake cookies with royal icing and dusted them with white sanding sugar. I forgot to get a picture of all of the cookies decorated and ready to be bagged!
These below are actually not even the ones we used for Cabaret, they were for another event the week after. This is what 180 cookies looks like ready to go though:
The menu for the evening:
Dishes were rented, napkins folded, programs printed, centerpieces put together and tables set:
A gingerbread snowflake cookie was placed at each place setting. Here’s a close-up of one:
Pretty chic venue huh?! Lol. The school’s large cafeteria is where the stage is located. Here’s what half of the room looked like from the stage:
And some of the other half of the cafeteria where our cupcake table was:
Thanks to Ms. Balugas and some students for decorating the cupcake area!
The students made and arranged the wintery cupcakes on two tiers; vanilla and chocolate:
On to the assembly line! Here I am beginning the plating for the demonstration dessert.
Students watched and made 179 more!
Not too many shots of this time period, but here’s an idea of what the desserts looked like when they were ready to go:
Oops, this one above had some mistakes. We got to enjoy it and a few others at the end. The chocolate cigarellos kind of remind me of antennae now. (*Giggle*). They tasted yummy though! I’d LOVE to hear from you in the comment section below if you have some dessert ideas for us for next year!!
Last but not least, serving the desserts:
The students did such an awesome job in all areas of Christmas Cabaret involvement; planning, food preparation, decor, serving and cleaning-up. I’m lucky to be teaching some amazing teens!
If you’re looking for a yummy strawberry (or raspberry) coulis and vanilla sauce recipe, try these ones below. (By the way, we used Ina Garten’s “Outrageous Brownie” recipe from her book, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook).
Strawberry Coulis Recipe
1kg raspberries or strawberries (can use frozen berries)
30g cornstarch or potato flour
- Combine defrosted berries with sugar and bring to the boil slowly.
- Dissolve cornstarch with just enough water to dissolve it.
- As soon as it boils thicken with dissolved starch.
- Puree in food processor and strain all the seeds out.
- Wrap and cool in the fridge.
- For service prepare squeeze bottles with coulee.
Note: May be flavoured with any suitable alcohol.
Vanilla Sauce Recipe
For the Printer-Friendly version, click here.
0.5 Liter 35% cream
0.5 Liter milk
12 egg yolks
300 g sugar
4 tsp cornstarch dissolved in cold milk
1 fresh vanilla bean or 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Combine milk with cream and bring to the simmering point with the fresh vanilla.
- Beat 12 egg yolks with 300 g of sugar in your (Kitchen aide) mixer until nice and creamy, approximately 10 -12 minutes.
- Pour hot milk and cream into the creamed mixture nice and slowly to make sure it doesn’t curdle.
- Add dissolved cornstarch
- Remove from the mixing machine but leaving it in the bowl, heat over a double boiler or water bath until it thickens or until it covers the back of a spoon (85 degrees C).
- Remove from heat and cool in an ice bath; again leaving it in the mixing bowl and stirring periodically to prevent it from curdling and speed up the cooling process.
- When cold, store in appropriate container in fridge.
Note: May be flavoured with any desired liqueur.