Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Sign in to follow this  
Fat Guy

Most impressive dessert you ever did see

Recommended Posts

Fat Guy   

A dessert I had last night at the Mark Hotel here in New York City reminded me of what a sucker I am for showmanship in pastry. I don't think I've ever enjoyed a dessert service as much, and was hoping maybe we could all share our tales of wildly elaborate and impressive desserts.

The very clever New York pastry chef Chris Broberg, who was long at Lespinasse (during both the Gray Kunz and Christian Delouvrier eras) and later at Petrossian (working with Philippe Conticini), has been at the Mark for about a year now and has really whipped the pastry program into shape (there's definitely something of a dream-team coming together in the Mark's F&B department, which I'll post about on the NY board at some point). I'd been meaning to stop in for the longest time, and finally a promotional dinner for Mandarin Oriental hotels (the Mark is a Mandarin Oriental property) presented an easy (and free) opportunity.

The dessert that Broberg did for this dinner was a chocolate dome. It looked like a pretty normal chocolate dome: a half-sphere of chocolate with a semi-hard, shiny chocolate coating and a nice gold-leaf decoration in the middle. It was surrounded by pieces of candied fruit and such.

This was, at first, a little disappointing. I thought for sure Broberg wouldn't mail it in like this. Then again, an Upper East Side hotel with a rather low-key restaurant -- maybe he's just collecting a nice paycheck and living the good life. Or maybe for a banquet he just isn't going to do the good stuff. But when the waiters put down the dessert they said, don't eat it; the chef will be out to "explain the dessert." At this point things took a turn for the better.

Broberg and some of the line cooks appeared bearing pitchers of hot liquid chocolate, essentially the super-rich hot chocolate you'd get as a beverage at L'Aduree or Angelina's in Paris. A cook went over to the dessert of one of the women at our table and started pouring the chocolate onto the dome. He did this for about 10 seconds as a pool of chocolate started to surround the dome. Which I thought, hey, was a pretty cool touch.

But then, totally unexpected -- poof! -- the whole exterior of the dome started to disintegrate! And then, as the cook stopped pouring, the whole center part of the thing kind of collapsed into something that looked like the moon after being wrecked by a continent-sized asteroid. There were audible gasps, woahs, and holy-shits from most every person in the room. Inside the dome, it was revealed, was a whole other deal of crunchy nutty stuff and cocoa nibs all mixed in with the dome's fluffy chocolate interior and the gooey hot chocolate sauce.

Well, I'll be damned if that wasn't the most impressive dessert presentation I've ever seen. Not to mention at least three women (and one man) offered their bodies to Broberg after the meal (which is a lot even in a room full of media people).

I should add, this dessert was actually quite delicious on top of all that.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Reminds me of a dessert I only heard about, from the French Laundry a couple years ago- not sure whether it was from during Durfee's tenure or after- but the mechanics sound similar. A thin disk of chocolate was set atop some component (it's all fuzzy now), and at table, a hot liquid (maybe it was olive oil?) was spooned over the chocolate, thus melted it and creating a 'sauce.' Something tells me chefg would know about this.

Sort of a 'kinetic pastry.'


Michael Laiskonis

Pastry Chef

New York

www.michael-laiskonis.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Fat Guy   

Ducasse was doing something with molten chocolate poured over cooler chocolate at ADNY early on, and my memories of it are likewise fuzzy. It had some sort of geeky Ducasse-speak name like "CHOCOLATE, bitter and sweet, for your enjoyment." As I recall the bowl came out with various chocolate things in it and the hot liquid was poured over in order to do some last-minute melting. But it wasn't nearly as dramatic as this thing with its collapsing-planetoid effect.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had that Ducasse thing, and no, it was nothing like the production you're talking about here. Just sort of hot and cold and gooey, but not as distinct -- or distinctive. Wow!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have never experienced any pastry showmanship. And with as many desserts as I've ordered, that's a sad thing. Almost as pathetic as having to keep a Hershey Bar in the car in case my fellow diners are the sort who have "no room" left for something sweet.

Looking forward to watching this thread. Maybe I can experience some pastry showmanship during my trip to Chicago. Sure haven't found any in Austin.


Edited by claire797 (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Fat Guy   

Chefette I'm telling you there were a number of really hardcore, hard-to-impress, jaded food-media types there -- even some Brits -- and everybody who saw this was totally awestruck. It's pretty much all anybody talked about for the rest of the night. I know it's so gimmicky as to sound borderline nauseating when I describe it, but it was a really effective piece of dessert showmanship. I'm going to e-mail Broberg for some more details on the dessert (I think he said it was Guittard with high cocoa butter content) so that when Klc shows up and starts asking questions I can appear not to be a complete idiot.

So what about you all? What's the most impressive dessert you ever did see?


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been lurking with this all along Shaw. I'm just so glad to hear Chris is back! and has a showcase for his talent.

It will be interesting to see if different criteria for "showmanship" emerge here; all too often the fun architectural or hokey "showmanship" came at the expense of taste. For me, I enjoy things interactive--like pouring tableside--things that exaggerate the hot and cold dynamic--and very thin brittle things which crack easily and are integral to the dessert.

But the ultimate showmanship does take place in the mouth.

I never tasted this, but I read a description of a dessert at Vetri in Philadelphia which has stayed with me over the years--warmed olive oil poured tableside onto a chocolate disk, melting it and mingling with the dessert below. Sounded like nice showmanship.


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Chad   

Coolest dessert I've seen was white chocolate ravioli. Probably old hat to most of y'all, but I was impressed.

White chocolate softened, rolled thin and pressed into both sides of a ravioli press. The interior was filled with chocolate mousse and the whole thing pressed together to form these beautiful little white raviolis. Served with some sort of raspberry/chocolate sauce so the whole thing looked like a pastel version of ravioli with a good tomato sauce. Quite cool, I thought.

Chad


Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
fresh_a   

Laduree!


Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

blog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
NeroW   
Are you sure that the amount of wine you had consumed by that point in the meal was not influencing you?

Yeah, FG. Are you sure you weren't tripping out?

Just kidding. The visiting Chef from LCB London made a giant Halloween chocolate sculpture today here at school, looked like a witch's hat, but we didn't get to eat it, so I guess it doesn't count.


Noise is music. All else is food.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
joler   

I was going to get all excited telling you about the apple gateau with sweet potato creme anglaise and cinnamon chantilly topped with spun sugar that I had last night but when I read your account...well...now I feel as if I've just dined at I-Hop. :sad:


"Never eat more than you can lift" -- Miss Piggy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
TrishCT   

For shock value there's Kitty Litter Cake (someone out there has a link to it).

I know it's not in your league, but it's either that or a DQ Belly Blaster... :cool:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's all kinds of showmanship, folks, I don't think Shaw intends any criteria to be excluded.


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Fat Guy   

Those who know me well know I'm all about inclusive.

Sheer abundance and variety can constitute showmanship in and of themselves, as with the dessert carts and Viennese tables of old -- not to mention at Ducasse. There's a showmanship aspect to minimalism, even. And I actually think Steve Herrell's ice-cream mix-ins concept (he did create that, right?) is a brilliant example of dessert showmanship. But I think it's hard to top stuff that explodes, collapses, etc. -- destruction sells.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
chefette   

Well, I did see a really marvellous, compelling dessert once that was just too beautiful and compelling. A little arched bridge and bonzai tree in chocolate with a steam of kiwi sauce and a cherry parfait. One of Msr. M's brilliantly beautiful and artistic creations in our Nation's Capitol.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
NeroW   
A little arched bridge and bonzai tree in chocolate with a steam of kiwi sauce and a cherry parfait.

That's awesome!

Where was the parfait placed?

Do you have a picture?


Noise is music. All else is food.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not exactly showmanship but I was impressed a number of years ago when after a long and delicious meal 9accompanied by some luscious Nuits St. George) at Chateau de Marcay near Chinon, we asked the waiter for a glass of champagne. We waited and waited. We asked what progress was being made on getting our drinks. Finally, the waiter appeared with two coupes bearing glace of champagne! I'm not sure if something got lost in the translation, or if the chef was having fun with us. BTW, it was just the thing to end the meal with.


I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
malarkey   

well surely everyone has at some point had bananas foster prepared table side. Its always impressive not to mention extremely delicious. But that's old school.

Impressive: at a restaurant in Rome: frozen fruit brought to the table in a large bowl. opened to reveal they are filled with sorbet made from the fruit. Very beautiful dessert presentation. And tasty.

Baked Alaska: also old school, but with a twist (sherribabee will like this) Also flambeed, not table side, but on the table, liquor drizzled directly on the table top, so whole dish/presentation is surrounded by a ring of flames. No, it didn't burn the table up LOL.


Born Free, Now Expensive

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Fat Guy   

Flames are good. I'm in favor of flames. Flames are right up there with exploding and collapsing things. But I think I'm pretty much desensitized to the old gimmick of just lighting some liqueur on fire in order to create flames. I would need much more serious flames to be impressed at this point.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
chefette   

Are you as impresssed with the guy who slices your entire banana without ever touching it with his hands or peeling it - then he opens it up for you on your plate with his white gloved hands and voila! sliced banana. So its really the waiter that you are interested in - not so much the dessert. Alas, poor hard working pastry chef forgotten in the back (oops, I forgot if all you are doing is setting things on fire for the guests there is not so much work in the back of the house. )

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Fat Guy   
Are you as impresssed with the guy who slices your entire banana without ever touching it with his hands or peeling it - then he opens it up for you on your plate with his white gloved hands and voila!  sliced banana.  So its really the waiter that you are interested in - not so much the dessert.

I personally prefer waitresses to waiters or desserts, but that does sound pretty cool.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Similar Content

    • By Kasia
      Millet groats cookies with tahini and chocolate.
       
      This time I prepared millet groats cookies with tahini and chocolate. They are not so sweet, have lots of sesame seeds and are crunchy with a beautiful, homely smell.

      Ingredients (30 cookies)
      3 tablespoons of tahini
      120g of brown sugar
      100g of butter
      1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
      a pinch of salt
      1 egg
      130g of millet groats flakes
      75g of flour
      ½ teaspoon of baking powder
      ½ of baking soda
      100g of dark chocolate

      Heat the oven up to 180C. Cover a baking sheet with some baking paper.
      Pulp the butter with the brown sugar, vanilla sugar and salt to make a fluffy mass. Pulping constantly, add the tahini and then the egg. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder and millet groats flakes. Break up the chocolate and add it to the dough. Mix it in. Make little balls from the mixture, around the size of walnuts. Put them on the baking sheet. Keep the cookies separate. Bake for 15-17 minutes. Leave to cool down.

      Enjoy your meal!
       
       

    • By Bijay@Sugar Daddy Bakes
      I am a Baker and Cake Decorator in India. India has a huge Vegetarian Population that does not even eat eggs/gelatin. So I am constantly looking at finding vegetarian options.
       
      Issue at Hand:
      Regular Butter Cream - American Butter Cream ( Icing Sugar 10X + Butter + Milk/Lemon Juice / Cream) is an option ..and a lot of decorators use this as it sets hard, and they also add shortening into it ..and I am like , Nope I can't eat that , much less serve it. Its too Sweet /Gritty and Crusts and just tasteless. It has also made sure that people in my country to completely throw out any butter cream cake . You say Butter Cream and they say - too Sweet/gritty.
      I have been successful in the last two years to break that impression by making European Meringue based butter cream - I love Swiss Meringue Butter Cream . It is smooth, just sweet enough , takes colour well, pipes well , and is mostly temperature stable. But I can't serve it to people who don't eat eggs.
      I have so far been making a substitute - Ermine/Rue/Cooked Butter Cream - a Flour + Milk+ Sugar custard (AKA Pastry Cream minus the eggs) and whipping butter into it. It tastes good - people like it ..nut its a misery to work with - will not hold shape , will not colour well , and most of all weeps and weeps some more when we chill the cakes.
       
      So I am looking for suggestions on finding a starch that will not weep  when frozen in a custard? And my second approach is to move to Aqua Faba to build the meringue and make SMBC. The starch custard option is easy and economical and does not leave me with mountains of Chickpeas .
       
      would  love to hear thoughts . 
       
      Thanks  
    • By Kasia
      Feather-light chocolate whip with aquafaba
       
      There wouldn't be anything special in this dessert if it wasn't for its main ingredient. It was aquafaba - i.e. the liquid which is left after straining chickpeas from a tin. Up to now I have poured it away. From today I will never make this mistake. Joël Roessel, a French chef, was the discoverer of aquafaba. He wanted an alternative to eggs when preparing meringues.

      Protein and starch are the only ingredients of aquafaba. It doesn't have any other additives. Cold aquafaba can be whisked like an egg white. Next time I will try to prepare some meringues with aquafaba, but now I would like to share with you the recipe for an extremely simple chocolate whip. I served it with the sub acid from an apricot mousse. My children were delighted, and so were we.

      Ingredients (for 4 people)
      200ml of aquafaba (from one tin of chickpeas)
      2 teaspoons of caster sugar
      150g of dark chocolate
      6 apricots
      2 tablespoons of lemon juice
      2 tablespoons of brown sugar

      Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie and leave it to cool down a little. Whip the aquafaba in a very clean glass bowl. Add the sugar spoon by spoon and whip constantly until the foam is stiff and glossy. Add the chocolate and stir thoroughly but gently. Put the chocolate whip into some small bowls and leave in the fridge for 3-4 hours. Wash the apricots and remove the stones. Put them into a pan with the lemon juice and sugar. Boil until the apricots are soft and the juice has evaporated a bit. Blend the fruit. Leave to cool down. Put the apricots onto the chocolate whip and decorate with some peppermint leaves.
       
       

    • By Kasia
      Afternoon tea with finger biscuits.
       
      With my children in mind I prepared an extremely simple dessert using natural yoghurt and biscuits as basic ingredients. It was supposed to be for children. By default, though, I prepared a bit more and we were all able to relish it.

      Ingredients (for 4 people)
      400g of natural yoghurt
      200g of finger biscuit
      200g of raspberries
      2 teaspoons of caster sugar

      Put aside a few nice raspberries and four finger biscuits. Crush the rest of the raspberries with a fork and mix them with the caster sugar. Crush the finger biscuits and blend them with the natural yoghurt. Put the raspberry mousse and then the biscuit mixture into a cup. Decorate the top of the dessert with the raspberries and peppermint leaves.
       
       

    • By Kasia
      Small stracciatella cheesecake with fruit.
       
      Today I would like to share with you the recipe for a dessert which I prepared for the beginning of the holiday. The last school tests are behind us, the school reports received, the suitcases almost packed, so now it is time for a reward. My little stracciatella cheesecake isn't that healthy, but sometimes we can overlook one small culinary peccadillo. After all, it is supposed to be a reward. For sure it was light as air, fluffy and melted in the mouth. And the pieces of the dark chocolate were so nice and crunchy. Try it yourself and like me you will fall in love with this dessert.

      Ingredients (17cm cake tin)
      100g of oatcakes
      50g of butter
      250g of mascarpone cheese
      200g of 30% sweet cream
      100g of white chocolate
      100g of dark chocolate
      fruit for decoration

      Put the cookies in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin, and then put them into a small bowl and mix them with the melted butter. Cover a cake tin with the dough. Leave it in the fridge for an hour. Melt the white chocolate in a bain-marie and leave to cool down. Break the dark chocolate into small pieces. Whisk the cream and then add the mascarpone cheese. Add the white and dark chocolate and stir it gingerly and thoroughly. Put the mixture on the bottom with the oatcakes and leave in the fridge overnight. Decorate with your favourite fruit.

      Enjoy your meal!
       
       

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×