If you live in San Diego, you know Extraordinary Desserts as an iconic part of the city’s culinary scene. For more than two decades, Karen Krasne has created stunning desserts and pastries, gilded and gorgeous with her signature gold leaf and fresh flower decorations. Classically trained and constantly creating, Karen has long been considered one of the best in the biz and the lines of customers out the door any night of the week at both of the Extraordinary Desserts locations are proof positive of the draw her desserts have.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Karen and her fantastic team for nearly two and a half years as her publicist. I often get the inside scoop on “what’s new,” get spoiled with samples at our meetings, and get to work with media and influencers to further visibility for Karen and the Extraordinary Desserts brand.
While my professional expertise with Extraordinary Desserts has expanded over the years, it is very safe to say that my personal experience with baking has not. Admittedly, I tend to take more of a “working mom picking up store bought cookies approach” to things as opposed to a “from scratch” one.
I’m the person who LOVES to watch all types Food Network shows, yet could count the number of things I’ve actually made on one hand.
So, when Karen told me she was resurrecting her popular Kitchen Secrets with Karen cooking class and invited me to attend, I jumped at the chance, eager to have a kitchen-side seat and hopefully pick up some tips to get me motivated.
After arriving at the Little Italy location and enjoying a lovely glass of wine to start the evening, our intimate group of eight was escorted into the kitchen where all the magic happens. Seated around a large stainless steel prep table, Karen and her dynamic duo of assistants welcomed us and got right to work. Looking around the table, I could tell I was in the presence of some serious home bakers. They were there to pick up all the knowledge Karen was about to drop and I wondered if they could tell I was out of my league.
First up – Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding. As Karen expertly sliced fresh croissants, explained the nuances of selecting the right bitterness of chocolate, and taught us a nifty trick for drying vanilla beans, notes were being scribbled furiously. As the massive bread pudding was being assembled, the addition of the secret ingredient elicited some serious ooohs and aaaahs – Karen’s Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies. SAY WHAT?! This recipe is basically my version of HEAVEN.
Next on the agenda were the gorgeous Devonshire Pavlovas. Perfect meringue nests filled with mixed berries and velvety Devonshire cream.
After Karen prepared the ingredients and explained each step in detail, including a demonstration of how she transforms egg whites into perfectly glossy meringue, we got to try our hand at making the nests for the Pavlovas.
Not bad for a first timer!
Then, the piece de resistance – getting to assemble our own Pavlovas as our delicious party favor, complete with fresh flowers and gold leaf, of course.
I must say, as a complete novice, I was pretty pleased not only with how my Pavlova turned out, but that I left the class feeling a new level of confidence, ready to add some more sophisticated baking recipes to my (very limited) repertoire. Who knows? Maybe that decadent Chocolate Bread Pudding will make an appearance on my holiday table!
If you are interested in taking a Kitchen Secrets class with Karen, 2017 will bring new dates and new recipes to experience! Follow Extraordinary Desserts on Instagram for the latest class updates: @extraordinary_desserts and online at http://www.extraordinarydesserts.com.