Saturday, February 4, 2012

Will There Be Homework?

Two Hour Cupcake Decoration And Chocolate Making Class With Champagne for £29 at Peacock Bar (£78 Value).  Who could pass up a Groupon like that?  Not I -- or my friend Bethie.  I was still recovering from my cold, but I wasn't going to miss this, so I met her at the Peacock Bar in Clapham last night for a 7 pm class.  After looking at their website for directions, I assumed the Peacock would be as lovely as its namesake, so I was a bit disappointed when I got off the train in Clapham and saw the bricks and mortar version.  Still, you can't judge a book by its cover...
The Peacock Bar
The bar was completely empty when I arrived at 6:45, and I was a bit surprised to see tables set up right in the middle of the room with what looked like supplies for our class.  I had assumed the class would be held in a separate room, not right in the middle of a bar!  Bethie and I caught up over a glass of champagne as we waited for the other participants to arrive.  By the time they sent us over to the table to don our aprons and get started, the bar was full of patrons.  Not only was it difficult to hear our instructor -- who I'll call "Victor"-- but as the bar was rather dimly lit, it was hard to see what we were doing at times.    

We started out at the chocolate-making table, where he had small pots of melted white, milk, and dark chocolate and a plate of fruit.  We helped ourselves to chocolate fondue -- yum! -- and then he had us select chocolate molds, which we filled with spoonfuls of the remaining chocolate, mixed with colorful sprinkles, nuts, or coconut.  I picked a tray of molds that looked like gems.  The other options at my end of the table were cars and trucks, a bride and groom, or a set of hamburger components.  The woman across the table from me made the burger.  I'm sure it was delicious!

Victor labeled our molds and whisked them off to another room and then did a brief demonstration of how you can make different flavors of ganache by mixing the remaining melted chocolate with liqueurs like Grand Marnier and Bailey's.  We got to taste the results -- yum again! -- and then he herded us over to the cupcake table, so I'm not sure what one would do with the ganache other than just eat it with a spoon.  It was pretty tasty, though!

At the cupcake table, we were each given a pastry bag and a decorating tip, and Victor set out bowls of colored frosting and little ramekins filled with various kinds of sprinkles and toppings.  He also had several colors of fondant.  He showed us how to fill the pastry bags and then spent the rest of the class playing with the fondant while we were left to our own devices. 
Samples by the "instructor"
We had been hoping for some instruction on how to use the different decorating tips and a chance to experiment with the fondant, but Victor seemed intent on demonstrating what you could do with the fondant, and he only had one cutting board and rolling pin, so we just did the best with what we had.  We did manage to get our hands on a chunk of fondant and tried our hand at making roses - Bethie's turned out much better than mine.  Because it was so dimly lit inside, it was hard to tell what color anything was.  I thought my rose was white, but it turned out to be pink, and I couldn't tell the difference between the white and yellow jellybeans.  I don't think anyone would buy my wacky-looking cupcakes at a bakery, or even a bake sale.
My hideous cupcakes

Bethie, who is much more artistic, ended up with a lovely assortment of cupcakes, most of which were much prettier than the ones our instructor made.
Bethie's creations.  Eat your heart out, Martha Stewart!
As we were boxing up our cupcakes, Victor brought us our chocolates, already removed from their molds and neatly packaged in a bag.  (So I couldn't take a photo until I got home.)  I think they turned out a little better than the cupcakes.
Chocolate gems
As we were wrapping up, Victor asked if we had any feedback, so Bethie mentioned it would have been nice to have a little more instruction in how to use the different decorating tips and the fondant.  His response was that he doesn't like telling people what to do.  Um, OK.  I chimed in that it was difficult to hear him and a bit dark.  He agreed with that, and suggested next time we try the Saturday afternoon class, when the bar isn't so crowded.  Good idea...

Bethie and I had a good time, but we both felt a little ripped off.  It seemed more like a little girl's birthday party than a class, except that it was held in the middle of a crowded bar on a Friday night.  We didn't really LEARN anything, and the conditions were less than ideal.  Had we pooled the £29 we each spent, we could have bought a dozen full-size, professionally decorated cupcakes, a box of Belgian chocolates, and a bottle of champagne and still had money left over.  We couldn't imagine why anyone would pay the regular price of £78 ($123!).  Bethie speculated that this might be a new class they made up just for Groupon to attract new customers.  

In retrospect, I suppose I should have been skeptical of a class that was held in a bar.  Lesson learned.  Unless they are teaching you how to mix a cocktail, don't take a class in a bar...

Or else get there early and take advantage of the 2 for 1 cocktails beforehand, and you won't care.

1 comment:

  1. I think your cupcakes look lovely! Victor sounds like a character!


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