Feb 07


Christmas Cabaret 2009

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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:

Each cupcake was topped with a gum paste snowflake which had been dusted with some pearl shimmer.

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

For a Printer-Friendly version, click here.



1kg         raspberries or strawberries (can use frozen berries)

500g       sugar

30g         cornstarch or potato flour



  1. Combine defrosted berries with sugar and bring to the boil slowly.
  2. Dissolve cornstarch with just enough water to dissolve it.
  3. As soon as it boils thicken with dissolved starch.
  4. Puree in food processor and strain all the seeds out.
  5. Wrap and cool in the fridge.
  6. 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



  1. Combine milk with cream and bring to the simmering point with the fresh vanilla.
  2. Beat 12 egg yolks with 300 g of sugar in your (Kitchen aide) mixer until nice and creamy, approximately 10 -12 minutes.
  3. Pour hot milk and cream into the creamed mixture nice and slowly to make sure it doesn’t curdle.
  4. Add dissolved cornstarch
  5. 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).
  6. 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.
  7. When cold, store in appropriate container in fridge.

Note:  May be flavoured with any desired liqueur.

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  1. Laci
    February 7, 2010 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    can you share recipes? looks beautiful! would love to know how to make the sauces and the chocolate cigarellos???? amazing! lots of work, but turned out beautiful.

  2. February 8, 2010 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Wow! Fantastic. Some of my earliest and fondest cooking memories involved culinary arts classes in school. It’s where I feel in love with cooking. I had a great teacher, but you would knock her socks off! 🙂

  3. February 8, 2010 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Laci and Jenn!

    Laci, I’ll get some more information about the recipes up in the next few days. For now I’ll just let you know that we played around with two brownie recipes, and the favorite was Barefoot Contessa’s! (Ina Garten’s recipe). I’ll post the coulis and vanilla sauce recipe here soon.

    Here’s the Chocolate Decorating Technique DVD we watched to learn how to make chocolate cigarellos – it’s excellent! Ewald Notter (of the Ewald Notter School of Confectionary Art), published this choclatier video … it’s so inspiring and he shows so many chocolate techniques! We unfortunately ran out of time though and ended up purchasing the cigarellos from Qzina’s in Toronto.

  4. February 8, 2010 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    I am so inspired by what you did with your students. My first memories of baking began with my class in junior high. I never looked back. Thanks for what you do.

    And Ina’s recipes always seem to be the best! She rocks!

  5. February 9, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    Hey Marian! An idea for next year…what about bread pudding? My favorite is when the raisins are exchanged for chocolate chips of course. But you could make large batches in full sheet pans, or even jelly roll pans and then use a biscuit cutter/large cookie cutter to create cute single servings. Then you could plate it with a browned butter vanilla bean sauce. Or if you had a ton of ramekins you could make them all individual, but I doubt a school would justify 180 ramekins 😉 hmm…I will think about some other ideas! By the way, I am so impressed with your class, we made microwaveable monkey bread in my cooking class, way to go Marian!

  6. February 9, 2010 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    Hi, M! I have been so busy lately (lots going on with my parents) that I haven’t had much chance to check in. Finally did tonight. Just wanted to say how really lovely your cabaret turned out. Wow, everyone did a fantastic job!

  7. February 10, 2010 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Lisa; I love Ina’s recipes; it’s true – they always turn out!

    Linzy; Thanks so much for your bread pudding suggestion! We’ll start experimenting with recipes this semester, so we’ll begin with the b.pudding. We can’t use 180 ramekins, but will try the sheet pan and biscuit cutter. If you have any more ideas, I would LOVE to hear them!!

    Thanks for the compliments as well, Lisa, Linzy and babskitchen!

  8. February 10, 2010 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    Everything looks so professional and yummy!! Too funny-I thought of bread pudding too. Must be because it’s what I love when it’s cold out-nice and warm from the oven. Maybe a white chocolate one with praline sauce? Or a chocolate one dusted with confectioner’s sugar? Making me hungry!!

  9. February 10, 2010 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    @ suesue:
    I like your thinking suesue, I love bread pudding, especially in the winter 🙂

  10. February 11, 2010 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    STUNNING!!! How did I miss this post??? Just amazing!!

  11. February 12, 2010 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Suesue; thanks for another great idea!! I’ve never tried making the praline sauce… it sounds delish!
    Linzy and Amanda; thank you!

  12. Lindsay
    February 15, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Permalink


    Just out of curiosity, what tip are you using to ice the cupcakes? They look great!

  13. February 13, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    These pictures are amazing! The students did a great job! Gotta bookmark this page for inspirations for next Christmas.

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  1. By Christmas Cabaret | Sweetopia on November 11, 2011 at 2:47 am

    […] If you’d like to make frozen lemon soufflé you can find a recipe and video here. A recipe for strawberry coulis can be found here. […]

  2. By Cheesecake Recipe | Sweetopia on December 27, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    […] 3 batches of strawberry coulis {Click here to find the recipe}. […]

  3. […] marshmallows.   6 large piping bags of whipped cream.   3 batches of strawberry coulis {Click here to find the recipe}.   200 white chocolate discs.   200 frosting edible image school logos adhered to […]

  4. […] marshmallows.  6 large piping bags of whipped cream.  3 batches of strawberry coulis {Click here to find the recipe}.  200 white chocolate discs.  200 frosting edible image school logos adhered to chocolate […]

  5. […] marshmallows.  6 large piping bags of whipped cream.   3 batches of strawberry coulis {Click here to find the recipe}.   200 white chocolate discs.   200 frosting edible image school logos adhered to […]

  6. […] make the raspberry buttercream, I used home made raspberry coulis (you can find the recipe here if you like) and a smidgen of pink gel coloring, as the coulis actually turns the icing a slight […]

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