After a good meal, thereâ€™s nothing better than a sickly, sweet and indulgent dessert. Catering for a dinner party or event can be a lot of work and the dessert is the last attempt at winning people over. Itâ€™s also the last dish people eat, so a great way to set a final impression on the guests.
The French are the masters of classic cooking and culinary technique, so itâ€™s no surprise that they lead the way in the dessert world. Many come and go, but there are French classics that stand the test of time and to this day are adored by people all across the world. Not only for their tastes and textures, but their luxuriousness and flamboyance. Here are five of the best:
CrÃ¨me Brulee â€“ This is the classic baked custard dessert, with a smooth and luxurious texture and a crackable sugar topping. A great crÃ¨me brulee should be rich with vanilla and egg yolk, baked to perfection and finished off with a sprinkling of sugar. This is when heated with a blow torch or put under the grill to allow caramelisation. The addition of chestnuts or green tea can bring the flavours to a new dimension if you want to experiment.
Tarte Tatin â€“ A tarte tatin is probably the quintessential French Dessert and if done well, always goes down a treat among the most passionate cooking aficionados. The secret to a perfect tarte is the pastry, as it must be buttery and soft, but not overcooked. The texture has to be just right and this is created with plenty of butter running throughout the layers. Apples or other fruit are then allowed to caramelise in the oven until golden. This is the perfect dessert when served with some clotted cream or Chantilly.
Crepe Suzette â€“ Everyone loves a good pancake, and a crepe Suzette is the ultimate example of such. This is a rich recipe where a light and thin crepe is fried off with a mix of caramel, oranges and liquor. Once the alcohol is added to the pan, it is usually set alight add to the flavour. This creates a sweet, luxuriously texture made with a blend of extraordinary flavours. The secret to this recipe is to ensure the oranges have caramelised properly, and you donâ€™t overdo it with the alcohol.
Mille Feuille â€“ This literally translates to â€˜a thousand layersâ€™ which is a fitting description for this dish if done correctly. This is the traditional custard slice, but the pastry is difficult to get correct. It must be aerated and folded just the right number of times to give a light texture, but it cannot be burned. These pieces of pastry are then used to create a multi-layer sandwich with fruit and crÃ¨me Anglaise. This vanilla cream creates a taste explosion. The secret with this dish is to ensure the pastry is just about crisp enough and has as many layers as possible.
Croque en Bouche â€“ This is possibly the greatest looked French dessert of them all and can be found at high end banquets and catered events around the world. The dessert is basically compiled of profiteroles, or small choux buns, injected with cream and set into a pyramid or tower structure with caramel and sugar-work. It is an extravagant dessert that feeds many. The secret is to build the tower with care so the caramel can hold it in place, if done incorrectly it will fall or look like something completely unappetising.
Steve is a keen pastry chef, who works for a catering company in Brighton called Red Anywhere. They specialise in catering for weddings, private and corporate events of all sizes.