Been there. Never done that. When I admire the beautiful platter of Honey Cakes above, I can’t take credit for the creative plating, the golden color of the cake or the luscious, burnt honey and vanilla bean flecked beehives. That’s the expertise of Chef David Guas at Honey Summit 2011. Although I’ve been in my share of professional kitchens and witnessed magic, fireworks and love in a pan… I’ve never really had anything to contribute. That is, until the final challenge of Honey 101 at The Culinary Institute of America, Greystone.
As my Team Three teammates, Helene Kennan, David Guas and James Barrett strategize the contents of the Mystery Basket, I look over my Vanilla Cupcake Recipe on the iPhone. As they talk halibut, fava beans and chile rellenos, I pull from my pocket and unfold the same recipe also scribbled on a piece of paper. You know, just in case.
Helene said to me the night before, “You’re making cupcakes tomorrow.” James reassured me, “We’ll deal with the basket, you just make the cupcakes.” So today, master Pastry Chef David Guas and I are making cupcakes and we’re starting with my recipe… my little contribution.
Team Three has a plan and secret weapon, David Guas. How can we go wrong? David gives my cake recipe the go-ahead and even raises an approving eyebrow at my use of brown sugar. As the cake batter comes together, so do David’s ideas about elevating my simple recipe with a burnt honey buttercream frosting. “They don’t have to be in the shape of cupcakes, do they?” David asks rhetorically.
We burn some Orange Blossom Honey and fold it into our vanilla buttercream. We glaze some cashews with Wildflower Honey and roll them in chocolate powder. And by we, I mean David.
When the cakes come from the oven, David trims them so they look uniform and professional. Then he pipes the burnt honey buttercream into perfect beehives atop each cake as I look on.
The kitchen is alive around me; sauces drizzling, chefs rushing about.
I stand motionless, staring as Chef David puts the finishing touches on our dessert. He’s mumbling something about a non-edible garnish.
I can’t believe we made cupcakes at The Culinary Institute of America using my cupcake recipe. Even if they aren’t in the shape of cupcakes.
Rather, our Honey Cakes hit the judging table with all of these other honey infused Mystery Basket masterpieces:
White Tomato Bisque with Sage Honey Foam and Basil Oil
Frisee and Spinach Salad with Macerated Pears, Honey-Glazed Walnuts, Crispy Panchetta, and Point Reyes Bleu Cheese
Manchego Chile Relleno with Spiced Honey Sauce
Baby Bok Choy and Baby Spring Vegetable Salad with Honey Dressing
Pan Seared Scallops with Caramelized Honey and Citrus “Sweet and Sour” Sauce, with Sauteed Corn, Toasted Almond and Pancetta
Seared Halibut with Grilled Bacon Steaks, Fava Beans with Melted Leeks — Get the recipe here.
Harissa Spiced Honey Glazed Tri-Tip
Sweet Clover and Almond Brittle Parfait with Sage Honey Balsamic marinated Strawberries
4 X 4 Honey Bourbon Cake: Buckwheat Honey Cake, Wildflower Honey Mascarpone Filling, Eucalyptus Honey Icing with Star Thistle Honey Macerated Berries and Wildflower Honey Candied Walnuts
Buttermilk Honey Cakes with Burnt Orange Blossom Honey & Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting and Wildflower Cocoa Cashews (with non-edible honey dipper garnish)
Once again, we gather and enjoy our “one bite of everything” plates. Chefs compliment each another as they taste inspired uses of honey in every dish.
It’s not long before the first Honey Cake is sampled. I’m nervous and anxious as I await the review. Then, a voice from the crowd proclaims, “These taste just like Tastykake Krimpets!”
Check out my other adventures from Honey Summit 2011 at The Culinary Institute of America: Dinner at Wine Spectator Restaurant, a trip to Marshall’s Farm and crash course in Honey 101.
Special thanks to The National Honey Board, The Culinary Institute of America and EvansHardy+Young for making this culinary experience possible.
Photos #3 #4 credit Andrea Schepke, EvansHardy+Young.
Laura @ Family Spice says
Very cool! I love those bee hives made of frosting! I hope you got to sample all those delicious meals ; )
Average Betty says
Hey Laura! It was such a cool experience… and yes! That last “one bite of everything” plate is the real deal. Everything was so delicious :)
Stuart Reb Donald says
Very cool. Gaus has a tremendous reputation and is from New Orleans I believe so you know he’s a great chef.
Average Betty says
Hey Stuart! Yes, he is from New Orleans — Bayou Bakery! :) He is an awesome chef and teacher. Such a fun time!
where is the recipe 4 the honey cakes and bhive frosting
need recipe 4 honey cakes and bhive frosting
Average Betty says
Hi char, the exact recipe for the cake is my Vanilla Cupcake recipe: http://www.averagebetty.com/recipes/vanilla-cupcake-recipe/
For the frosting, Chef David Guas altered the Vanilla Buttercream (from the Vanilla Cupcake recipe) and I don’t have the exact measurements or method he used. Sorry …