Spruce up your table with a spring dessert

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Spring dessert trends are blooming along with the flowers this year and delivering a bouquet of taste delights. You can liven up your Easter celebrations or Sunday brunches with a finale that will leave your friends buzzing.

According to a study by food industry research firm Technomics, 48 percent of diners say they are willing to pay more for desserts made from scratch. However, with a little hands-on training, home cooks can improve their skills and capitalize on these delicious spring dessert trends themselves.

Think healthy

This year’s desserts lean toward the healthy side of the food spectrum, and you can create them without sacrificing any of the taste.

“I think that the interest is in the healthier dessert trend,” says Chef Olivier Burgos, chef-instructor here at the Culinary Institute LeNôtre. “Lactose-free, gluten-free, less sugar – this is where we are going as chefs and where we are taking the rest of the world. All you have to do is make a few simple touches and your dessert will be even better, just a bit healthier.”

Chef Burgos recommends stocking your Spring pantry with fresh, healthy ingredients like fresh fruits, dates, sweet potatoes, honey, coconut oil, avocado and other whole and non-processed ingredients. Burgos says not to fret that using healthy options limits the dessert recipes you can bring to the table. You can continue to make both traditional and trendy sweets that won’t hit your waistline (or pocketbook) as hard.

“We always think it takes a lot of sugar, a lot of butter and chocolate to make a dessert,” Burgos says. “But you can replace butter with coconut oil. You can make quinoa flour. You can use avocado, add a little cocoa and end up with a chocolate icing for a cake. No one will know. Buy less, buy fresh and use it.”

Plan smart

Burgos says two recipes that capture the spring dessert trend are a fresh fruit skewer with a chocolate fondue and a homemade apple pie made with fresh, organic apples and fresh cinnamon sticks.

He adds that if you’re planning a spring party or Easter dinner, one tip to make your preparations easier is to think about dessert first and not as an afterthought.

Chef Burgos shares his favorite recipe for fresh fruit skewers and chocolate fondue:

INGREDIENTS

  • 250g heavy whipping cream
  • 1 Vanilla Pod or 1 to 2 teaspoons of high-quality vanilla extract
  • 350g dark chocolate (chips or roughly chopped if from a block)
  • Fresh fruit – strawberries, banana, apple, pear, etc., cut into 1-inch chunks

PREPARATION

  1. Split the vanilla pod down its length with a small, sharp knife, and scrape out the seeds using the dull side of the knife.
  2. Add vanilla seeds to cream and heat in a small saucepan until tiny bubbles show and cream begins to lightly simmer. Remove from heat, add the chocolate and whisk until smooth and full incorporated. Immediately transfer to a fondue pot heated at low or with a low flame, or serve straight from the pot.
  3. Use a fondue fork, bamboo skewer, seafood fork or salad fork to dip the fruit pieces into the hot chocolate sauce. Eat immediately.

If the fondue begins to feel a little stiff, add a tablespoon of heavy cream and stir..

“The dessert is the thing you have to prepare first,” says Burgos, who brings more than 20 years of experience to the Culinary Institute LeNôtre. “You can do it the day before and put it in the refrigerator. The last thing you want to do when you’re having a celebration is spend time running around.”

And while keeping track of spring dessert trends can bolster your arsenal of after-dinner delights, at the heart of cooking, whether you’re studying to be a world-class chef or looking to impress your friends and family, is creating joy in the kitchen.

“Do something you know how to do,” Burgos says. “Don’t try something new on your guests. If you make a great cherry pie, do it. You should make something you love and can nail. Dessert should be a pleasure.”

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