Executive Pastry Chef Alekka Sweeny is busy helping everyone from the oven oblivious to the cookie connoisseur give a little sugar this holiday.
"Give Me Some Sugar," which opened its doors in Roscoe Village last month, is an expansion of Sweeny's cooking class business, which offers cookie, cake and candy making and decorating tutorials near the corner of Belmont and Leavitt.
"They are like little mini works of art," Sweeny said of the creations she helps her students make in a two-day cookie decorating class. The skills she teaches in her small classes – usually about 10 to 12 people, she said – can be brought home, and are particularly useful for those looking to give away edible creations for the holidays.
"They can ask all their questions, they can get hands on attention from professional pastry chefs and leave with the confidence to do it on their own," she said, adding that everything from the ingredients to the tools are provided.
Several of Sweeny's classes have taken a festive theme as the holiday's approach, including Ginger Bread House lessons, Christmas themed cake ball baking and chocolate candy making.
"If people want to make edible gifts for the holidays, that's definitely the class for them," she said of the candy making classes, offered Dec. 20 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. The class teaches how to turn high-end chocolate into ganache to make truffles, and also lets customers whip up turtles and toffee.
Jerry Korab, a chef instructor and kitchen manager at "Give Me Some Sugar," said it's his job to make sure students are able to recreate what they make in class at home. For him, this means preparing everyone for potential kitchen catastrophes.
"If they have a disaster, it won't actually be a disaster they can't fix," he said, adding that he will take a chunk out of a cake or making an icing mistake and showing student's how to remedy it.
Korab said students have already shown off the baking they've done themselves after classes by emailing the shop and posting photos to Facebook. He said he was particularly impressed by one cake with a multi-colored turkey made from icing one customer submitted.
"The stuff looks real nice," he said. "I'm guessing that people are getting it."
One final perk Sweeny said might be useful for the holidays: learning to bake could score you a date.
"Last Saturday I had one guy in class learning how to decorate a cake for his mom in class, and those women were all over him," she said, adding that breaking the ice is made even easier, as all classes are BYOB.