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SWEET AS Sugar Rush

Mug Cakes

Something about winter can kickstart your sweet tooth, making it the perfect time to learn how to create the goodies yourself.

For the super beginner, or extremely time-challenged, a cake in a cup might be the fastest way to secure a sugar ‘n cocoa fix. Mug Cakes: Chocolate by Sandra Mahut ($19.95, Hardie Publishing) might be a great starting point, especially if using the microwave is about as much “baking” as you can handle.

If you’ve got a little more experience under your belt and love a classic sweet recipe, Merle’s Kitchen ($40, Random House) by Merle Parrish, Country Women’s Association cake champion, might be a go. Nothing like a pudding or some lamingtons to get that old school feel happening. Tackle a sponge, maybe.

If your cake making attempts continue to resemble a post on the cakewrecks.com website, it might be worth considering professional advice. The DIY Cake Class at Rochelle Adonis  has got you covered (Wednesday, August 19, $140 per person, bookings essential). You’ll leave with a beautiful cake you baked, prepped, and presented. They’ll even show you how to bind/arrange fresh roses to decorate.

Recommended for “confident bakers”, Baking: The Next Step at the Riki Kaspi The Cooking Professor Cooking School with chef Tirtza Pisk (Tuesday, July 28, $110 per person, bookings essential) could be the one for you. Expect to learn to make Babka, cinnamon rolls, Concorde cake, lemon meringue tart, and pastry crust for quiches. That should keep you going through the colder months.

Speaking of pastry, there’s a French Pastry Class at Taste Budds Cooking Studio for those who want enjoy Parisian treats at home (Saturday, August 8, $100 per person, bookings essential). Think crème brulee, profiteroles, éclairs, mille-feuille, lemon meringue pies, and chocolate tarts. Good times. Bon appétit.

If it’s all about chocolate, or more accurately, the taste of cacao, get a group of friends and book a chocolate making workshop with Andersen Cacao Creations ($97 per person, minimum six people). Organic raw ingredients and the company’s handcrafted chocolate equal some delicious results. (Requires a freezer on site, for chocolate setting.)

Do you like to sit down to a delectable afternoon mix of sweet with savoury? High Tea Heaven at the Matters Of Taste Cooking School (Saturday, August 1, $130 per person, bookings essential) will have you mastering an elegant array of eats. Covers lemonade scones with raspberry cointreau cream, vintage cheddar puff pastry quiche, black cherry chocolate cheesecake tarts, and mini fresh poppy seed bagels with smocked salmon, crème fraiche and dill.

For the skilled ready to up the stakes, Dessert Divas by Christine Manfield ($80, Penguin) is a showcase publication of stunning sweet creations, making food into aesthetically beautiful art on a plate. (Masterchef viewers might recognise Gaytime Goes Nuts.) Be warned, these take time as well as confidence in the kitchen, but the book is a breathtaking addition to any cooking shelf (or coffee table) collection.

If plating really is your thing, or more accurately, the one thing holding your dishes back, Rochelle Adonis is offering a Plated Dessert Techniques class (Wednesday, August 5, $140 per person, bookings essential). This is a must for anyone who would love their cooking to look as good as it tastes.

GILLIAN O’MEAGHER

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