Sweet Success at Gluten-Free Dessert Class
Just desserts. That’s what I ate for dinner last Thursday night.
There was chocolate. There was sugar. There was even heavy cream. It wasn’t the least bit healthy, but sometimes you just have to chalk it up to a good time and plan to balance it out tomorrow.
Why so many sweets? Well, I scored a spot in a Gluten-Free Dessert Class at Sur La Table, hosted by pastry chef Monica Glass. If you haven’t heard us gush over her before, Monica is the chief dessert maker at 10 Arts Bistro & Lounge in Philadelphia, also known as the site of a scrumptious Blogger Breakfast held before Appetite for Awareness 2010. Monica whipped up gluten-free French toast for the bloggers, then hopped over to Appetite for Awareness, where she demoed a dessert using pears. They were sophisticated dishes that seemed to be more “watch and enjoy” rather than “do it yourself,” but I was content to smile and nod.
Lo and behold, those pears were part of the curriculum. In addition to Gingered Pear Panna Cotta and Poached Pears, we would be making Chocolate Hazelnut Tarts, Chickpea Shortbread and 10 Arts’ infamous Chocolate Fudge Brownies. (A heck of a menu, right?)
There were about 14 of us in the class, divided into two tables. My group worked on the panna cotta and shortbread, while the other group made the poached pears and tarts. We all made the brownies.
As we worked, I naturally inquired what brought each attendee to the class. Almost everyone was affected by celiac disease in some way, whether they had it or a family member did. And while none of us had met before, we managed to find connections in the group. Todd and Tracy had been at Appetite for Awareness 2010 and knew one of NFCA’s Board members. Linda was one of the all-stars who volunteered at Appetite for Awareness. Amanda, one of the few who didn’t have celiac, was an aspiring pastry chef and knew the gals at Food for All Market, a gluten-free shop in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia I just happened to visit a month or so ago.
Maybe you’ve already experienced this at a support group meeting or gluten-free event. That “small world” feeling you get when it seems like everyone knows someone who’s crossed your path. There’s also an amazing sense of normalcy that goes along with it. The group talked about everything from symptoms, to misdiagnoses, to concerns about proper food prep when eating out. By the end, we joked around like old friends – a drastic change from the timid way we first approached the table.
Best of all? The class was pretty darn empowering. Some were experienced bakers; others were still learning the ropes, but we all agreed that the recipes, while gourmet, were easy enough to make at home. And, oh, did we reap the fruits of our labor…