Something about plated desserts feels classy and elite to me. If I were to feel like a true pastry chef, I feel like I would have to master the art of these. However, I doubt I would ever work in the pastry kitchen of a restaurant. So, our dessert menu project from pastry school will have to suffice for life experience.
We had three units of individual plated desserts. Three! That is a lot, and I think most of us were a little sick of them by the end. I could fill pages of this blog with photos of visually stunning dessert plates, but I’ll stick with the ones I concocted for our dessert menu project, for which I created my imaginary dessert restaurant, Spiked, featuring cocktail-inspired desserts.
(Disclaimer: Again, neither this restaurant nor the URL is real.)
From my menu, the chef selected the Margarita and the Rum & Coke for actual presentation and taste-testing.
The Rum & Coke was intended to be a glass full of brown sugar rum ice cream sandwich cubes, coated or sprinkled with chocolate pop rocks, with a side of sour cherry compote and cherry cola sorbet. Unfortunately, the classroom fridge and freezer blew out the night before presentation, which melted everyone’s ice cream. So in a pinch, I remade the rum ice cream and scooped it into the cup, sprinkled with chocolate pop rocks, and inserted a chocolate tuile straw for decor. Tastewise, it was still a success!
The Margarita was my favorite, and is also the concept that inspired my recent eggnog bombe. This dessert is a citrus tequila mousse bombe with Grand Marnier crème brûlée and a lime cookie. On the side is an orange tequila sauce, lime cookie crumbs, crème anglaise and a candied lime.
Please excuse the iPhone photos! That’s all I had available in class.
Happy holidays! My 2015 new year’s resolution is to establish a new Milo’s Bonbons website/storefront (with a blog section to keep providing updates of course). But before we bid farewell to 2014, here is one more post from the holiday season — my plated dessert version of the classic eggnog.
This bombe is made with a rum crème brûlée tucked inside a crème anglaise Bavarian cream dome, on top of a cinnamon nutmeg shortbread. I plated this with a pear compote, shortbread crumbs and a curled wafer for my office holiday party potluck. This dessert was great while it was still cold and semi-frozen. Admittedly once it hit room temperature, I thought the flavors and textures were a little flat. (Certainly not as interesting as my original incarnation of this dessert as a citrus margarita bombe, which I created for my pastry school plated dessert project. I’ll recap that project shortly!) Then again, I don’t actually consume eggnog so I’m probably not the best judge for what eggnog should taste like . . .
But, this was a good opportunity to practice the preparation and service of a plated dessert. Main takeaway: stick with simple baked goods for an office potluck to avoid sleep deprivation.
When I asked Darren what type of desserts or flavor preferences he might have for his birthday, he was quick and precise in his answer: German Chocolate Cake.
It turns out that his mom would make him a German Chocolate Cake for his birthday when he was growing up and he wanted to continue that tradition for his celebration. I was happy to oblige of course, but talk about pressure to meet or exceed the expectations of childhood longing!
For this intimidating task, I turned to Cook’s Illustrated for guidance, and as always, I’m glad I did. The Cook’s Illustrated German Chocolate Cake uses whole eggs instead of separated eggs, which the kitchen testers found actually improves the cake texture. I also think the use of sour cream instead of milk/heavy cream has something to do with this, as the sour cream gives the batter a luscious thickness and structure that helps prevent any cake sinking.
The end result was a cake with a fine crumb and silky melt-in-your-mouth experience, and a very distinctively chocolate taste. I highly recommend this cake!
The coconut-pecan filling was great too, but honestly most recipes for the filling should be relatively good. I recommend toasting both the coconut and pecans before mixing for enhanced flavor.
I cut two 10″ cakes in half for 4 cake layers, each brushed with rum simple syrup, and topped with coconut-pecan filling. I then coated the sides of the layered cake with dark chocolate frosting. I originally intended to make small tempered chocolate cut-outs for a geometric decoration, but ran out of time. Hopefully I can execute that vision sometime in the future.
Finally, for presentation, I made a “Happy Birthday” using two birthday candles, some cardstock and spray glue (one of my favorite crafting items every). It’s hard to say how this cake stacked up to all German Chocolate cakes that came before, but the birthday boy and guests were happy, and that makes me happy!