As seen on TV: SAIT instructors Kevin Conniff, Victoria German and Madeleine MacDonald talk spotlight and tackle holiday treats

Three SAIT instructors wearing Christmas decor
SAIT instructors who were behind the reality television screen

In the past few years, three instructors with SAIT’s internationally recognized School of Hospitality and Tourism appeared on different television competitions. Most recently, Baking and Pastry Arts Instructor Kevin Conniff graced season 10 of the Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship.

Madeleine MacDonald (Mixology Masters), Victoria German (Big Bake: Halloween) and Kevin Conniff are on set once again, this time in SAIT’s kitchen, to talk spotlight and tackle holiday treats. Grab a cup of something warm and snuggle in for some comforting viewing.

Chef Victoria German, Baking and Pastry Arts instructor,  returns to SAIT’s holiday content with a quick and easy, crowd-pleasing lemon posset with a brandy snap garnish.

Lemon Posset with brandy snaps

Lemon Posset
Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients
1 cup (250 g) fresh lemon juice
Zest of 5 lemons
1 ½ cups (312 g) granulated sugar
4.5 cups (1060 g) whipping cream
½ teaspoon (1 g) ground ginger

  • Place lemon juice, zest, and sugar in a pot and bring to a boil until sugar is dissolved. Remove from direct heat but keep warm.
  • In a second pot bring cream and ginger to a boil and pour into lemon mixture. Stir well, then strain and pour into a jug to fill serving dishes.
  • Chill in fridge overnight to set.
  • Serve with a dollop of whipped cream, raspberries, and brandy snap if desired.

Brandy Snaps
Makes about 25, 5 cm wafers

Ingredients
1 cup (250 g) unsalted butter
1 1/4  cup (250 g) granulated sugar
1 cup (250 g) corn syrup
2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
About ¾ teaspoon (3 g) ground ginger

  • Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a pot dissolve butter, sugar, and corn syrup over medium heat.  Bring to a light boil, then whisk in flour and ginger.
  • Allow mixture to cool enough to touch, then pinch off dime-sized pieces and press down firmly onto baking sheet with thumb  these will spread out as they bake so make sure they have room!
  • Bake for 5-6 minutes, then allow to cool completely.

Chef Kevin Conniff’s mousse and sweet potato brown butter Swiss roll set him up as a contestant to beat on the Holiday Baking Championship.

The picture-perfect dessert  according to judge Duff Goldman — is so good, you might even call it “Kevinly.” Judge Carla Hall coined the term to describe Chef Kevin’s cinnamon roll in episode one.

Two chefs making swiss rolls

Swiss Roll Cake
Makes two half-sheet (46cm x 33cm) cakes. Divide by two for one cake.

Ingredients
1 ½ cups (350 g— approximately 24 yolks) egg yolks
2 1/4 cups (525 g—approximately 18 whites) egg whites
2 cups (420 g) sugar, divided
2 ¾ cups (350 g) cake flour
¾ teaspoon (3 g) ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon (3 g) ground nutmeg
¾ teaspoon (3 g) ground cloves

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 2 shallow 46cm x 33cm baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Sift together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves into a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
  • With an electric mixer, beat egg yolks and 235g of sugar together until they are pale yellow and the volume increases.
  • In a large mixing bowl beat the egg whites on low speed until they begin to foam. Add in 175g sugar in 3 batches, ensuring each is fully incorporated before adding more. Increase speed to high and continue to beat until stiff peaks are formed.
  • Gently fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture and add in half of the dry ingredients, continuing to gently fold until incorporated. Add in remainder of egg whites and dry ingredients in the same way. Continue to gently fold batter until all ingredients are blended, but do not overmix.
  • Pour batter onto prepared baking sheet and use a knife to smooth into an even layer right to corners. Place in the oven on upper 2 racks and bake 12-15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway, until the centre springs back with a light press of the fingertip.
  • Allow to cool on a rack for 10-15 minutes.

Sweet Potato Brown Butter

Ingredients
1 cup (210 g) butter, browned
4 cups (840 g) sweet potato, peeled and diced small
2 cups (450 g) sugar
2 vanilla pods
4 cinnamon sticks
1/3 cup heavy cream

  • In a pan on medium heat, heat brown butter, and then add sweet potatoes and sauté until softened.
  • Add brown sugar, cinnamon sticks and vanilla pods, adjust for sweetness. Stir everything together until sugar has melted.
  • Remove from pan from heat, remove cinnamon sticks and vanilla pods and discard. Add remaining contents to a blender and puree on high speed. Add a bit of heavy cream at a time to adjust consistency. It should be spreadable, but not runny.
  • Scrape pureed mixture into a bowl and cool before us.

Caramel mousse

Ingredients
1 ¾ cups (370 g) sugar
½ cup (123 g) butter
1 ¼ cup (288 g) heavy cream                                                                               
1 cup (247 g— approximately 5 large eggs) eggs
About 8 sheets of gelatin (17 g) gelatin sheets                                                                             
4 cups (945 g) heavy cream

  • Soak gelatin sheets in cold water until softened. Gently squeeze excess water from them and then set aside in a bowl.
  • Heat a heavy-bottomed, high-sided pot on medium heat.  Add sugar and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until melted.
  • Lower the heat and stop stirring, but keep a close eye on the sugar to gague colour.
  • Once the sugar turns a dark amber colour (about 6 to 8 minutes) remove from the heat and add in the butter. Stir until melted and blended together.
  • Fold in the softened gelatin sheets.
  • Fold in the heavy cream.
  • Allow to cool slightly before using.

Put it all together!

  • Place slightly cooled sheet cake top-side down on a large piece of parchment paper.
  • Using a spatula, spread an even layer of sweet potato butter over the entire surface of the cake, about 2 cm thick.
  • Spoon caramel mousse over the layer of sweet potato butter, and then use a spatula to spread it evenly, covering the sweet potato butter completely.
  • From the short end of the sheet cake, use the parchment paper to help start rolling the cake, then roll snugly until you reach the other end. Don’t worry if some of the filling oozes out, that just means more for ‘quality control purposes’!
  • Wrap tightly in parchment, tucking in the ends, and place in the fridge to cool completely and help set the filling and make it easier to slice, about 4-6 hours.
  • To serve: remove parchment and place roll on a serving dish seam down. Top with whipped cream or butter cream if desired, or a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Slice into thick slices and enjoy!

Hospitality and Tourism Management Instructor and mixology master Madeleine MacDonald mixes it up with two concoctions to complement the flavours in the exquisite desserts.

Madeleine Macdonald mixing cocktails

Santa’s Secret is her take on a negroni-inspired holiday cocktail made to pair with Chef Kevin’s dish. Note: use what you have on hand (no need to go out and purchase the equipment listed in the recipes below).

Santa’s Secret
Method: Stir/Strain
Glassware: Tulip

2 tablespoons (1oz) Buffalo Trace Bourbon
2 tablespoons (1oz) Campari
2 tablespoons (1oz) Gonzalez Byass Nutty Solera Sherry
2 Dash Angostura Orange Bitters
Garnish: Orange Oil

Equipment and Materials
Note: Use what you have on hand!

  • Jigger
  • Mixing glass
  • Bar spoon
  • Julep strainer
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Ice

Procedure

  • Add ingredients to mixing glass.
  • Add ice and stir till chilled.
  • Strain mixture into the tulip glass.
  • Garnish.

To keep things light, Tinseltown is an alcohol-free spritz to sip along with Chef Victoria’s lemon delight.

Red cocktails in glasses

Tinseltown
Method: Build
Glassware: Wine Glass

3 tablespoons (1.5oz) Pomegranate Juice
1.5 tablespoons (0.75oz) Fresh Lemon Juice
1.5 tablespoons (0.75oz) Ginger Syrup
½ cup (4oz) Leitz Eins Zwei Zero Sparkling Rose (Non-Alcoholic)
Garnish: Pomegranate Seeds, Rosemary, Straw

Equipment and Materials
  • Jigger
  • Bar spoon
  • Ice

Procedure

  • Add ingredients to wine glass.
  • Add ice.
  • Top with Leitz Eins Zwei Zero Sparkling Rose (Non-Alcoholic).
  • Garnish.

Pro Tip

Sub the Leitz Eins Zwei Zero Sparkling Rose (Non-Alcoholic) for sparkling wine to make this drink alcoholic.

Ginger Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 inch piece of ginger (cut into small cubes)
Pinch of salt

  • Add all ingredients into a pot and place on stove on medium-low heat
  • Stir frequently to combine. DO NOT BOIL
  • When sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and blend
  • Fine strain through a sieve and coffee filter (May take a couple hours)
  • Discard pulp and store syrup in a food safe container for up to 2 weeks

Food and hospitality programs #HereAtSAIT

If recipes put a twinkle in your eye and get you excited to tackle a taste of the holidays in the kitchen, it might be time to check out the food and hospitality programs #HereAtSAIT.

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