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Library lessons give kids sweet treats

Veteran pastry chef gives kids lesson in chocolate at Valencia Library

Posted: February 15, 2009 1:09 a.m.
Updated: February 15, 2009 4:55 a.m.

From left, Julia Thibodeaux, 10, Lauren Santilli, 10, and Carolyn Thibodeaux, make chocolate-covered marshmallows.

Anxiously grinning with a mouth covered in chocolate, 8-year-old Emily Niemi dipped a chocolate-coated marshmallow in a bowl of sprinkles.

It was a creation she learned to make from pastry chef Theresa Fredrickson, at the free "Sweets and Treats" chocolate-baking demonstration Fredrickson hosted Saturday at Valencia Library.

"We thought this would be a great idea to do on Valentine's Day," said Emily's mother, Kathy Niemi, of Valencia. "Candy is always a great motivator."

Niemi and her daughters, festively dressed in matching red blouses centered with a heart, found Fredrickson's sweet tips to be fun and helpful.

Fredrickson, of Canyon Country, is a veteran pastry chef whose passion for sweet treats led her to the profession about 20 years ago.

"I wanted to make my son's birthday cake when he was 2 (years old)," she said. Fredrickson began taking every baking class she could find and attended the Le Cordon Bleu-affiliated culinary school in Pasadena.

She teaches cake-decorating and other sweet workshops through the Santa Clarita parks and recreation department.

Fredrickson showed her classroom-size audience how to marble, dip, decorate, mold and melt chocolate. She also demonstrated how to create truffles and mini no-bake cheesecakes.

She squeezed small dollops of cream cheese fillings into small pockets of graham cracker crust as the audience looked on with intrigue at the bite-sized delights.

From the simplicity of dipping a marshmallow to the more complex art of creating a marble chocolate mold, attendees of diverse ages seemed to catch on when their turn came to play chocolatier.

An audience favorite seemed to be the dipped marshmallows.

"At a party a few weeks ago, they had those marshmallows and I must have ate 30 of them," said John Thimes of Stevenson Ranch.

As someone who enjoys desserts and never had to worry much about what he eats, Thimes said learning how to make the creations himself would be worthwhile.

"Well, I thought I'd try my hand at it because, let's face it, sometimes at 10 at night you get hungry," he said.

Julia Thibodeaux, 10, said she attended with her mom and best friend because they "wanted to have some fun and they love chocolate."

As for the Niemi's, they went home properly equipped to a have a laid back but sweet holiday.

The girls said they were excited to help mom bake treats in the kitchen.

"I'll help her eat them, too," said 10-year old, Erin Niemi.


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