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Holiday cooking may provoke a state of panic as you try out a buche de noel or tuna tartare recipe for the first time, but Gothamist assures you that with local classes and instruction abound, the home-chef need not fear their next party. Gothamist recently attended a recreational class entitled "Make-Ahead Holiday Cakes" at the Institute for Culinary Education, located on 23rd Street between 5th & 6th Avenues, which granted five hours of delightful access to a professional teaching kitchen with instruction from Chef Jeffrey Yoskowitz, a former chef and bakery owner who teaches both professional and recreational courses. The cakes class is just one of this season's numerous holiday course offerings which also includes Holiday Cookie Design, Jewish Sabbath and Holiday Breads, and several sessions of a New Year's Eve make-and-take hors d'oeuvres class on Saturday, December 30th and Sunday, December 31st. The classes run approximately four to five hours and range in price from $95 - 185 per person.

Chefs provide ample instruction, walking through basics like differentiating between baking powder and baking soda, how to execute mixing and folding techniques, how to test for doneness, and how to read a recipe, while also allowing several hours for assisted cooking and several dishes to take home at the end of the class. Gothamist walked away with a lemon buttermilk bundt cake, Linzer torte, and traditional Viennese nut cake, bringing the treats home to happy friends and housemates. Classes hover around 10, with separate cooking and baking stations for each student, fully equipped (in the baking class) with professional mixers, measuring cups, pots, pans, and whisks, as well as an open pantry of ingredients to use at one's leisure.

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The ICE is offering over forty classes between Christmas and New Year's--a perfect way to learn cooking techniques, and also great last minute gift for a friend or loved one. The New Years Eve's Make-And-Take Hors d'oeuvres course is taught by chef-instructor Melanie Underwood who will guide students through preparation of smoked chicken, wild mushroom and fontina quesadillas, individual pancetta tarts, deviled eggs with smoked salmon and capers, crabs cakes, and more. The course is scheduled for Saturday, December 30th at 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., and on Sunday, December 31st at 10 a.m. Each class lasts four hours and costs $120. Students can register online at www.iceculinary.com or call 212-847-0700. Gothamist highly recommends a course any time of year, but especially now, during the holidays -- they are fun, educational, and delicious!

ICE is located at 50 West 23rd Street between 5th & 6th Avenues.