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Scarsdale Teacher Takes Students On Culinary Adventures

Marie-Helene Sarfas puts pot de crème into molds. Photo Credit: Contributed
Marie-Helene Sarfas pours ganache on top of no-bake tart. Photo Credit: Contributed

SCARSDALE, N.Y. – Chocoholics are enjoying many tasty treats in Marie-Helene Sarfas' Scarsdale Adult School course, Chocolate Addiction. Just this week, students learned to make a simple, no-bake chocolate tart out of common household ingredients, a petit pot de crème infused with orange zest and cardamom, and a chocolate fondant.

Last month, Sarfas took her students on a culinary adventure in travel, without the jet lag, giving lessons on how to prepare several different tagine dishes.

Born and raised to the north of Paris, Sarfas has been living in the U.S. for 16 years and teaching at SAS for six. Recently returned after a two-year hiatus in London, Sarfas is happy to be back in town, once again welcoming students into her home kitchen. She has taught many different cooking classes, from appetizers to entrees to desserts, but always in the style of French cuisine.

Chez Marie-Helene greeted students recently with fresh coffee and tea as well as homemade cake and specialty chocolates. After all, it is never too early in the day for chocolate, and nobody should cook on an empty stomach.

Along the way to preparing three chocolate desserts, Sarfas answered many a question about techniques, ingredients and the differences between brand availability in U.S. markets versus European stores. For example, in France, bakers typically use chocolate with 50 percent cocoa whereas in the U.S., chocolate for baking is generally bitterer and contains between 60 and 70 percent cocoa. When does the quality of the chocolate really matter? When there are fewer ingredients in the recipe, it is more important to select a high-caliber chocolate to showcase. How do confectioners keep their ganache so shiny? The ideal temperature for heating is 27 degrees Celsius; be sure to stir with a spatula rather than a whisk to keep air bubbles from marring its appearance.

With winter fast approaching, Sarfas will soon turn her attention to soups. This two-week course begins Friday, Jan. 9. Students will learn to make butternut and celery root soup, celeriac and chestnut soup with bacon strips, Jerusalem artichoke soup with almond whipped milk and several others.

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