Cheesecake and beyond — pastry chef to demonstrate Brooklyn favorite desserts at local venue

March 8, 2018 Helen Klein
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If you’ve always wanted to learn how to make the borough’s most beloved desserts, Beyond at Liberty View Plaza, at 31st Street and Third Avenue, will be hosting pastry chef Larissa Raphael for a four-part Brooklyn Favorites cooking demonstration series, featuring Brooklyn favorites Rugelach, Rainbow Cookies, Black and White Cookies and Cheesecake, beginning this weekend.

On Friday, March 9 at 6 p.m. and again on Sunday, March 11 at 3 p.m., Raphael will show home cooks how to make Rugelach, those addictive little crescent-shaped pastries rolled up around a filling of jam, nuts or chocolate.

She will follow that with a demo on making multi-colored Rainbow Cookies on Friday, April 6 at 6 p.m. and Sunday April 8 at 3 p.m., a demo on making Black and Whites on Friday, April 20 at 6 p.m. and Saturday, April 21 at 3 p.m., and a demo on making Cheesecake on Friday, April 27.

“It seemed perfect to be doing cooking demos in Brooklyn and pick out some real, iconic Brooklyn fare,” Raphael told this paper. “Who doesn’t love rugelach, cheesecake, black and white cookies and rainbow cookies?”

The series, she added, is already generating buzz. “People have been coming up to me and asking questions,” said Raphael, who — armed with a repertoire of recipes developed over the past two decades — does demos every Friday evening at Beyond. “They seem really interested in it. I think it will be really fun to do the demos and have everyone sample the results.”

For those who are just part-time bakers, or maybe don’t bake a lot at all, Raphael has a reassuring message.

“None of the recipes are particularly complicated,” she said. “Probably the most complicated” are the rainbow cookies, she added. But, even for them, “It’s more like getting through the steps. You have three layers you need to color and get even. Things like rugelach and black and whites are on the simpler side.”

Cheesecake can sometimes pose a challenge, Raphael added, “Because you have to bake it right. It has to set right.” But, if the top cracks (one of the more common mishaps with cheesecake), you can borrow an easy technique from the pros — cut up some luscious fruit and arrange it artfully on top.

“Covering the cracks is something we all have to do sometimes,” Raphael said.

A key, she stressed, is getting comfortable in the kitchen, a message that she strives to convey. While, she said, “The recipes are usually relatively simple…no one is going to walk away with how to make something in their heads.”

Back in their kitchen, therefore, she encourages those who watch her demonstrations to “Have some fun, take some chances [with the recipe], then start to play with it and tweak it. Don’t take it too seriously.”

Raphael has been demonstrating desserts and the occasional light savory dish, such as quiches, soups and appetizers, at Beyond since last May, she said. Prior to that, she served for nearly 20 years as pastry chef at Telepan, a Michelin-starred restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, till the eatery closed.

Besides doing cooking demos, Raphael is also developing her own fledgling business, Riss’ Knishes, working out of a kitchen in Gowanus — and yes, she has demonstrated knish making at Beyond on occasion, as well.

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