Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer School: Plated Desserts

I know it's been a few weeks since I've last posted. I had the entire month of May off from school, and I had ambitions of writing some reflective posts about my first year in culinary school, but, well, that obviously didn't happen. I have lots I'd like to share so at some point I'll get around to doing that but for now, I'll be posting some updates about my summer school class, Plated Desserts.

Before class even started, I was excited about taking this class during summer school. I figured it would be nice to have only one class in my schedule which would give me some time to work and take advantage of some other summer interests, like beach time and what not. It will be a slowed down pace from the typical semester and managing the emotions of four classes per week. Plated Desserts meets Mondays and Wednesdays from 7:30am to 1:00pm, so it will be a nice start to the day two days out of each week through mid-August.

I love plated desserts. I think a lot of people do. When I order dessert in a restaurant, there's great anticipation for me to actually see the plating of the dessert and then to actually taste it. We eat with our eyes first, so the plating is really a critical component, and I'm really interested in knowing more about this process - figuring out components and making them both delicious and visually appealing. I'm not sure I'll ever work in a position where this will be my role but I'd at least like to have that as a possibility.

This week's class was centered around classical American desserts and classical plating. There are guidelines for the components of classical plated desserts, which include a 3-5oz. main item, 1-2oz. of sauce(s), garnish, and a crunch factor. For some desserts the crunch factor is included, whereas for other desserts, it gets incorporated in the garnish. The four components should work together in harmony to create a balanced dessert; this can also be accomplished by contrast as well, but the key here is balance.

We worked in four groups to make eight different desserts. We used a variety of sauces - caramel, chocolate, strawberry coulis, creme anglaise - as well as vanilla bean ice cream and vanilla bean chantilly cream as components. And because this was classical American plating, we used the ever popular mint leaf for a pop of color.

The first dessert my group worked on was Peach Cobbler. We created a filling from sliced peaches, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt. This was spooned into serving dishes, dotted with a dab of butter, and topped with a sweet cream biscuit crust or streusel.

To plate the Peach Cobbler, we used an underliner, the dish of cobbler, a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, and peach slices for garnish.

The second dessert my group worked on was French Silk Pie. To make the crust for this, we made our own oreo cookies which were crumbled with butter to form the crust and we then made a chocolate mousse filling.

To plate the French Silk Pie, we used chocolate sauce to pipe graduated dots, a quenelle of vanilla bean whipped cream, and a sprig of fresh mint.

Here are the remainder of the desserts that the other class members worked on.

This is the Chocolate Bread Pudding on a base of creme anglaise with chocolate sauce and topped with vanilla bean ice cream and a garnish of mint:

This is the Creme Brulee with a nut sablee:

This is a Chocolate Layer Cake on a base of creme anglaise with vanilla ice cream and a whipped cream quenelle garnished with mint:

This is the Chocolate Truffle Torte with creme anglaise and strawberry coulis design with whipped cream and a sprig of mint:

And finally, this is the Apple Pie with caramel sauce dots, vanilla bean ice cream, and cinnamon:

All in all, it was a great first week and a great start to summer school. I am really looking forward to building on the knowledge and skills from this first week of class. Is your mouth watering from the photos?


  1. they all look amazing carol- awesome job :D

  2. Wow! Your class has been busy! Lovely presentations :)

  3. I'm so glad you are taking this course! I firmly believe that dessert is the most important part of a meal - it is the last thing people remember and can make or break a service. I'd let you plate up my banquets any day!