The Food Guy, Steven Keith Eating his way through the state, plate by plate

My, What a Good-Looking Dessert You Have

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If you happened to catch my column in this week’s Daily Mail ( you read all about the opening night of this past weekend’s indulgent West Virginia Culinary Classic at Stonewall Resort.

And you’re probably wondering, “What does one do the morning after gorging themselves on SO MUCH delicious food?”

By gorging themselves on an overflowing breakfast buffet, of course. Then making (and eating) multiple desserts. All before 10:30 a.m.

Said sweet treats came from an interesting culinary demonstration I sat in on about making plain desserts extraordinary with a little plating razzle-dazzle. Your family or dinner guests may not complain if you serve them a simple brownie or slice of cheesecake. But you can definitely get your fill of “oohs and aahs” if that dessert is served on a sugar-dusted, sauce-drizzled or otherwise blinged-out plate.

And that’s just what the friendly folks from Gordon Food Service showed us. Through several demonstrations (followed by an awesome “do-it-yourself” dessert-building finale) we learned how ridiculously easy it is to take a simple cookie or slice of pound cake and turn it into one of those fancy (read: overpriced) desserts served in restaurants. 

Here are just a few of their suggestions:

  • Mini-desserts are all the rage these days. People want to indulge, but would like to do so by keeping their waists slim and their wallets fats. Restaurant desserts are usually huge, with an equally oversized pricetag. Make your own mini-shots by drizzling your sauce of choice around the inside of a small glass or dessert dish, then filling it with alternating layers of pudding, mousse, whipped cream, peanut butter, jam, whatever. For the piece de resitance, add those fillings from piping bags for smoother shapes and curves.
  • Have a scrapbooker in the family? Borrow some of her stencils, places them over a plate, then sprinkle on powerdered sugar or cocoa to fill the designs. (Use whichever colors provides the most striking contrast with your plate color.) Carefully lift the stencil and you have a gorgeous pattern to accentuate your dessert. If you don’t have stencils, cut out your own designs or shapes with paper and scissors.
  • Use a sauce to drizzle a nice pattern (or completely random squiggles) on each plate before adding the dessert to it. So easy, so striking.
  • Run a toothpick through the middle of a dollop of sauce to create a heart shape. Or drizzle concentric circles of sauce around the plate (larger each time as you move toward the outter edge), then place a toothpick in the very center and drag it in radiating lines toward the outside. Instant spider web.
  • Or just “paint” your plate! Add dollops of sauce and then run a clean paintbrush or pastry brush through each one and across the plate to create colorful streaks.
  • Use small cookie cutters to cut shapes (flowers, hearts, butterflies) out of slices of brownie or pound cake. Place these atop mousses or other desserts for a cute garnish. Or, use the brownie/cake “frame” you now have and fill the center (a cut-out heart with raspberry sauce, for instance) for a totally different look.

Bottom line is, play around and HAVE FUN! They say we eat with our eyes, and that’s probably no more true than with desserts. Make people “ooh and aah.” 

NEXT UP: Check back tomorrow for a bite-by-bite account of the weekend’s closing night banquet. Delish!