At The Chocolate Duck in Farmingdale, eight women gathered on a recent Thursday night with one common goal: to learn how to create their own homemade treats to share with family and friends (or, better yet, just eat by themselves).
"I wanted to learn the right way, rather than trial and error," says Broder, 35, carefully dipping a cherry into a pink fondant and juice mixture to create a chocolate cordial.
On the other side of the counter, Deborah Connolly is making her own pecan turtle. "I am not good at this one," she says, strategically placing nuts into a ball of caramel. For Connolly, an accountant from Selden, the class is all about keeping up tradition - she remembers making chocolate-molded Santas every Christmas with her mother.
Those looking to create their own sweets - dark chocolate truffles, butter toffee almond, milk chocolate caramel clusters, homemade marshmallows - can learn step by step at candy-making workshops. Best of all, each participant goes home with a goody bag.
Holiday Sweets Workshop
WHEN | WHERE 6-9 p.m. Dec. 7 and 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 15, Viking Culinary Center, Garden City
INFO 516-877-1010, vikingcookingschool.com
Students will learn how to make homemade marshmallows, which wll be dipped in dark chocolate as a topping for hot white chocolate. Other goodies to be prepared include butter almond toffee, cranberry bliss bars and gingerbread scones with a maple glaze, according to the center's culinary director, Gerard Molloy. Additional techniques include learning how to cook with sugar, preparing dough from scratch and handling real chocolate to create a different spin on traditional hot chocolate.
Chocolate Molding and Candy Making
WHEN | WHERE Three-session series 7-9:30 p.m. Dec. 7, 9 and 14 at The Chocolate Duck, 310 Main St., Farmingdale
INFO 516-249-0887, chocolateduck.com
Pastry chef Christina Bisbee will teach students basic to advanced molding techniques, including hollow and solid molding, painting on chocolate and creating popular holiday treats, ranging from peanut butter cups and nut clusters to marshmallows, coconut bars and peppermint patties. Students will work with modeling chocolate to create a hand-rolled basket that will be filled with a variety of handmade, flavored truffles - raspberry, Grand Marnier, amaretto, hazelnut and cappuccino.
WHEN | WHERE By appointment, Craftcave, 120 Hillside Ave., Williston Park
INFO 516-877-2499, craftcave.com
Students will learn melting, pouring and unmolding techniques, from basic to advanced levels, says Craftcave owner Bob Sherman, whose store stocks more than 3,000 styles of candy molds. Popular holiday projects include gingerbread-style chocolate houses in a Christmas or Hanukkah theme, chocolate Christmas trees and Hanukkah bushes, chocolate sleighs, Santa Claus and reindeers, menorahs, dreidels, lollipops, chocolate-covered pretzels, dipped and filled chocolates. Depending on the class, participants also will learn embellishing techniques, including hollow molding, mold painting and working with edible glitter.
Holiday Chocolate Workshop
WHEN | WHERE 7:30-9 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays in December (no classes week of Dec. 20), Candy Lane, 197 Higbie Lane, West Islip
COST From $25 a session
From melting and molding chocolate to assembling and decorating a masterpiece, students will learn how to make their own creations. Mold selections include snowmen, wreaths and candy canes, ornaments, Christmas trees and Santa Claus as well as toy soldier lollipops and one-pound chocolate houses. Classes include preparation of other holiday sweets, such as chocolate-covered pretzels, peppermint bark and chocolate loaf.