May 18, 2009

Dessert Special

Carrot Cake with Candied Carrots and Carrot Shooters

Given my extreme inability to make decisions, it’s a miracle that I can figure out a dessert special every night at work. And truth be told, I can’t always. Sometimes I get part way through an idea and have to call for reinforcement. Like the day I made carrot cake. I had no problem making a carrot cake with nuts, raisins and spices, topped with an orange scented cream cheese icing but figuring out how to make it look interesting, (and not from 1972) left me drawing a blank. When in doubt, the guy with the tall hat and name embroidered on his jacket is probably a good person to ask. His answers, however, are sometimes more than I bargained for. I was looking for a little something to garnish my carrot cake with and ended up making candied carrots and carrot shooters to order.

Chocolate Caramel Walnut Tart Wrapped in Raspberry Jelly with Raspberry Confetti

Dessert specials allow for a little more freedom like being able to make carrot shooters. It was nice for one night, but it’s definitely not something I’d want to do at the height of summer business. Kind of like the day I made a Chocolate-Caramel-Walnut Tart and needed something to garnish it with. The tart on its own is quite nice, but needs some colour to look good on a plate. Chef suggested I do something with raspberry syrup and agar agar… that snowballed into wrapping rectangular pieces of tart in a raspberry jelly and then sealing the jelly with a blowtorch and sprinkling raspberry jelly confetti around the tart in a pool of crème anglaise. Once again, it was interesting for one night, not so fun for the whole summer.

Bread Pudding with Chocolate Sauce, Creme Anglaise and Vanilla Ice Cream Coated in Chocolate Crumbs

As much as I’d like to get an industrial ice cream machine and make every summer dessert ice cream based, it’s not going to happen, (sadly). That means I have to come up with new summer desserts for a menu change happening very shortly. This task should not be as difficult as it is for me. I’ve been pouring over cookbooks and looking through blogs for inspiration and coming up empty. I see tons of beautiful desserts and things that I love, but they don’t necessarily translate well in my work kitchen. Some items are too fancy, some are too plain, some are out of season, some are too fragile, we don’t have the equipment, the time, the right customers or the labour force for others. I’ve been told to employ the K.I.S.S. strategy to my summer dessert making, but with so many options, (and also restrictions) I can’t seem to narrow it down to five new menu items.

Lemon Curd Tart with Fresh Strawberries, Creme Anglaise and Strawberry Coulis

So I’m asking for your help. Bloggers and blog readers are notoriously generous and full of great ideas and I want you to help me choose some new dessert options for work. What are your favourite desserts to make and eat? What would you like to see on a restaurant menu? While you’re being creative with your suggestions, keep the following in mind:

-The dessert has to be able to be refrigerated for storage, without compromising quality.

-It has to be able to stand up to extreme heat and humidity, (meringues and sugar garnish are out).

-It has to be relatively easy to make, (because I’m not working 7 days a week for the rest of the summer).

-There needs to be a chocolate dessert, a fruit dessert and something cakey, (those don’t have to be together, but have to exist somewhere).

-It has to look pretty on a plate.

-I don’t have an ice cream maker :(

-It has to be able to be mildly mass produced, (and without taking me forever to do so or occupying all of the stoves and ovens and bench space).

Thanks for the suggestions… if I end up choosing any of your ideas, I’ll be sure to let you know! And will probably then ask for your mailing address so that I can send you something as thanks for helping save part of my sanity…

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries for a Wedding


Matt said...

Those desserts are all gorgeous. I love the concept of the carrot shooters! What exactly was in those, and how sweet were they?

Snooky doodle said...

wow all these desserts are a feast for theeyes and surely a treat :)

Marta said...

Let's see if I can think of something... how about tiramisu, brownie cake and a summer fruit tart/galette?

Sweet Charity said...

Five items huh... lets see... something cakey and fruity, something creamy, something savory, something with coffee, something chocolate.
1) seasonal fruit shortcakes with chantilly.
2) pannacotta with fruit compote, or fresh berries that've been hit with a little balsamic.
3) cheese plate: 3-5 good cheeses, or one perfect blue, jellies, fruit, nuts, crackers
4) affogato di gelato- with a cookie or three to dunk (I like it best with mascarpone gelato, though vanilla is good too)
5) chocolate pates- i like plain dark but you could do a trio too.

Peabody said...

Carrot those sound interesting.

icedteaforme said...

1) cakey...what about some vanilla madeleine cookies (could be 1/2 dipped in chocolate) plated with buttercream filled fresh strawberries like 3 of each with a swirl of chocolate on the plate rim

2) I always order this if it is on the menu....super simple crepes filled with a custardy filling and topped with berries, cherries or kiwi, some seasonal fruit but I am not a chocolate fan

3) Large chocolate cupcake, sliced into three layers then layered with mocha whipped cream, chocolate curls and a maraschino cherry on top

4) creme brulee...another all time fave of mine....could be a mocha flavor or

5) lemon curd tart with whipped cream...another huge fave

6) cheddar pecan wafers a hint of cayenne served around a small ball of fresh, real cheese, cream cheese...not the silver foil package and some pecans and cheddar wedges to adorn the plate

Sara said...

Let's see...

1. Lemon cheesecake with berries. The Daring Bakers recipe from last month was awesome and pretty foolproof...and also endlessly adaptable. I made a lemon-flavored one, which I think would go great with some summer berries. Also, cheesecake keeps great in the fridge.

2. Boston cream pie cupcakes. I adore Boston cream pie, and I think it would be really cute as cupcakes--plus, there's a hit of chocolate without it being overly chocolate-y for those who want just a little.

3. Smores. This was one of my favorite ever desserts at a restaurant. They had homemade graham cracker cookies, topped with thin pieces of chocolate and homemade marshmallows, and then bruleed with a kitchen torch right before it came out. AMAZING! I bet you could also make it as a really good tart with graham cracker crust, chocolate ganache filling, and a bruleed marshmallow topping.

4. Something REALLY rich and chocolate-y...I'm thinking the chocolate peanut butter cake from sky high triple layer cakes. The recipe is on smitten kitchen and also on my blog. It is super delicious and one of my favorite desserts I have made.

5. Stone fruit cobbler with creme fraiche whipped cream. If you want something fancier, you could do it as a tart or something, but either way the important thing is using a variety of stone fruits--I love making it with plums, pluots, apricots, peaches, nectarines, etc. and the variety really makes the flavor pop.

dipped strawberries said...

Those arrangements are all gorgeous. I love the concept of the strawberries

Mrs. L said...

Carrot Shooters? Who woulda thunk?
And the only thing that now comes to mind is some sort of chocolate cake with fruit (combines all three). Though raspberry would be obvious, maybe a different fruit would work.

Claire said...

What about a dessert "sushi?" You could sweeten the rice (or even use a thick rice pudding (with the right rolling assistance)) and fill the roll with fruit and sweetened cream cheese if wanted. Maybe you could even use a chocolate sheet for the wrapper. That would be cute!

You could also do cake trifles...premake the cake and then assemble on order. It could even be customized with different fruits/chocolates or sauces to choose from and a standard cake and pudding or cream.

Sylvia said...

I identify with you.I had a huge inability to make decisions too.
How about chocolate cake topped with dices of pear's panacotta. I love the pears chocolate combo :)

Anonymous said...

Wow! They all look delicious.

Tanya said...

I really enjoy a simple yellow cake, maybe with a little cornmeal for texture, served with orange slices (crosswise, so they're circular) that have been soaked for a little while in an orange syrup. Douse the whole thing in the syrup (reduction of juice, sugar, lemon juice) and it's summer on a plate. That is, as long as you can find ripe oranges...

You could also try brownie pops with different dipping sauces-- cake on a stick is popular these days, and it's probably a lot easier to cut out little rounds of brownie and stick lollipop sticks in them, than to make chilled balls of cheesecake filling and do the same.

emiglia said...

1. Panna cotta with strawberries mascerated in balsamic (the strawberries can be made ahead and get better as they sit!)

2. Lemon-Ginger cheesecake with gingersnap crust

I'm not big into chocolate, so I don't have any ideas, but I'll put the BF on the job... he comes up with nearly all of my Saturday Cake Day ideas...

PheMom said...

Hmmmm... How about Dorie's La Palette Strawberry tart? Tart dough, smidge of jam, fresh berries, cream - you could make mini tart shells.

I have always loved hot fudge cake with cold whipped cream too.

Dimah said...

They all look fabulous!

Anonymous said...

I think Sara's choices sound delish I'd order them! I like to order a good key lime pie. I love Italian pine nut cookies from the Boston North End bakery, that's always a very favorite dessert as well as their cheesecake miniature topped with luscious very ripe perfect fresh fruit. Some how i am usually dissapointed with chocolate desserts out that have to sit in a refrigerator. The best are usually simple that can have pre-made ingrients and then quickly assembled, so they taste fresher. My favorite cake at home is from the Fanny Farmer Baking Book, Loni Kuhn's Devil's Food Cake with Continental Frosting from the same cookbook, but it is best when it is first made of course. I also love a good Lady Baltimore cake or Lord Baltimore Cake and the same cookbook has recipes for both. Our favorite birthday cake is a german chocolate cake with a whipped cream type European frosting and filling with cherries on top and very high quality shaved chocolate. I get mine from Montilio's Bakery in Quincy, MA. Hope these ideas were helpful. chris

Dragon said...

You can never go wrong with bread pudding. It is so comforting and delicious. I love how you've plated it. :)

foodcreate said...

Your desserts are all tasteful!
Thanks for sharing.
and you can visit me if i cnvisit you:)

Sara said...

Wow, everything looks amazing! I had a fun carrot cake sampler at a restaurant once - I think there was a frozen version, a traditional version, and I can't remember what the third one was :)

Bren said...

chocolate, green tea, mamey, and getting way more into carrot! love the variety!

Gourmet Mama said...

I agree with what Snooky doodle said. The desserts really do look gorgeous. I have a hard time deciding which one is my fave. It's a toss up between the carrot recipe and the strawberries. I mean wow.

aa said...


Cocina Savant said...

I am a huge fan of black forest cake. My idea is a sort of deconstructed black forest cake with chocolate ganache in the middle of two thin chocolate cake layers (flavored with marachino cherry liqueur) with a single chocolate covered cherry on top. Cool blog by the way.

Philadelphia personal injury attorney said...

These desserts look very tasty. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

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