Trends in event desserts and a look at two retail sources specializing in baked goods.
By Don Douloff
“Life is short; eat dessert first” isn’t just a droll saying. It’s a mission statement for those who worship at the altar of all things sweet, be it baked goods, frozen treats, chocolate—the works.
They’re on to something, since dessert, when done right, can be the high point of an event menu. The trick is to combine a skilled pastry department with good ideas.
Currently, one- and two-bite desserts and shareable items are popular, says Kevin Prendergast, executive chef at Tundra restaurant, in the Hilton Toronto. Tiny cheesecake lollipops are a big hit, he says.
Tiered desserts remain hot, says Prendergast, as people are looking for options showcasing creativity: berry and pistachio macarons; sugar cookies; jellied orange peel; bite-sized pieces of chocolate ganache.
At Culinary Capers Catering, in Vancouver, traditional and comfort desserts, with a modern twist on presentation, are a hot trend in passed desserts, says pastry chef Kim Collishaw. Plated selections of little desserts, and sweets in jars and glasses, offering layers of flavours and textures, are also big.
“Back-to-basic indulgent desserts, in smaller portions, are very much a trend right now,” says David Chow, pastry chef at Stock restaurant, in Trump International Hotel & Tower, Toronto.
“As much as pastry chefs try to push the envelope with interesting flavour profiles, everyone always gravitates toward the classics,” he says.
Duchess Bake Shop
Duchess Bake Shop, operating on 124th Street, in Edmonton, features a dessert menu covering the gamut, from macarons (the house specialty, in such au courant flavours as salted caramel, dark chocolate, rose, lemon and coconut), cookies (ginger, florentines, oatmeal chocolate and gingerbread), brownies and madeleines, to tarts (lemon cream, key lime, passionfruit-raspberry, chocolate), classic breakfast pastries (croissants, brioche, scones and pain au chocolat). Rigidly adhering to traditional methods, Duchess does everything from scratch (no mixes, preservatives or shortcuts) and uses top-notch ingredients such as French Valrhona chocolate, imported butter and all-natural flavourings and extracts.
Located near the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Nocochi bistro/tea house boasts a serene, art gallery feel, thanks to white-tiled floor; white walls adorned with colourful artworks; white chairs; and pot lighting. Miniature pastries, made from Middle Eastern (mostly Persian) recipes, are the name of the game. Expect house-made, traditionally flavoured Turkish delight, dusted with icing sugar and studded with pistachios, almonds and hazelnuts; dainty baked goods featuring nuts and traditional spices; and jellies made with pure fruit. Croissants (including almond) and muffins (pistachio, almond and chocolate) are also available. Hot-chocolate-on-a-stick, too, along with 21 types of tea.