A step-by-step guide to better sweet treats.

Sponsored by Haliburton International Foods.

Though desserts are usually a strong profit driver in quick service, today’s consumers are more discerning than those of the past. No longer satisfied with a simple scoop of ice cream, diners want unique creations they can’t get anywhere else. By menuing these types of signature desserts, restaurants can be go-to destinations when consumers want to indulge their cravings.

Although signature desserts require more creativity, they don’t have to be hard to make. Robert LeSage, corporate chef at Haliburton International Foods, walks readers through the step-by-step process of building a better dessert, using his Raspberry Buttermilk Cake as a model.

This dish uses buttermilk, an ingredient LeSage sees trending in the industry, and balances the sweet notes of the white chocolate mousse with sour and crunchy elements to create a craveable, upscale dessert that is perfect for summer menus.

1. The Crunch

Because this dish is composed of a light mousse, adding texture can improve mouthfeel and add new dimensions to flavor.

“I think you need a crumble component,” LeSage says. “When you eat something soft and it has one texture, it’s mushy and lacking in flavor.”

To combat this, LeSage uses candied pistachios to add texture  to this recipe, but he notes that nuts, brittle, chocolate, or cookie crumbles can also be used for a similar effect.

2. The Sauce

This element serves multiple purposes. First, it adds visual appeal, and second, it adds depth to the flavor profile of the dish.

“Sauce looks beautiful, and in this case,” LeSage says, “it’s bright red, and raspberry goes well with white chocolate. The peach gives you a wet component.”

LeSage also notes that sweet sauces, like fruit, or savory sauces, such as basil or mint, can be used to create a a balanced dish.

3. The Main Component

The delicate layer of white chocolate mousse is the central piece of this dessert. With no added sugar, the mousse is sweet, but not overly so. It serves as a delectable, yet simple backdrop for other flavors.

“The main component is really traditional white chocolate mousse cream, and it’s really soft and really fluffy,” LeSage says. “A lot of people like white chocolate, and it’s plain so you can use all kinds of flavors with it. It comes off as light, and it’s not a heavy dessert.”

4. The Balance

Sweet element on top of sweet element can quickly become tiresome to consumers, so adding an acidic component can keep the sweetness of a dessert from overwhelming diners.

“To counteract the sweetness of the white chocolate mousse and to give the dessert a bright punch we added an acidic component,” LeSage says. “I’m using lemon curd. We made several from key lime to passion fruit orange. With our curds, we can change the viscosity, but this is thinner so that it can be served as a sauce or a center filling.”

5. Cake Base

Like sauce, this element also serves two purposes—both for flavor and practical reasons.

“We’re trying to get at one of the most popular dessert trends, using buttermilk, which provides extra sweetness and makes the dessert really moist,” LeSage says. “Additionally, the mousse is very delicate and airy, so lifting the cake up with a spatula would damage the mousse without the cake. It serves as a protective bottom base.”

Serving balanced desserts may seem like a challenge, but when broken down into key components, a signature dish like this Raspberry Buttermilk Cake can be extremely easy to make.

“I think some chefs might be overwhelmed by the picture but it’s a simple dessert, and it can be made ahead of time and pulled out for service and served with one sauce,” LeSage says. “It’s pretty easy, especially when you have companies like us that make these sauces and curds premade so you thaw and put ingredients on the plate, and it elevates the dish.”

By Peggy Carouthers

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