How to Plate A Dessert

Chocolate Torte with Salted Pear Caramel Sauce and PistachiosEver since working at a restaurant, I’ve learned the importance of how to properly plate a dessert. Think about it, food must be visually appealing before someone’s going to put it in their mouth, especially dessert which is the treat that is savored at the end of a meal. So it needs to look good. A properly plated dessert must have at least 3 components: the dessert, a sauce, a complementary textural element and a garnish.

In this tutorial, I will demonstrate how to plate a dessert using a chocolate cheesecake torte that I recently made for Valentine’s Day (Yes, the Boo loved it very much). Because my torte is rich and creamy, I’ve chosen to go with some crunch for my complementary textural element. If my dessert were crunchy, then I’d go with a softer complementary textural element such as ice cream. Get it? The key is balance and a play on textures.

Here are the different components of my dessert:

-The Dessert: Chocolate Cheesecake Torte
-Sauce: Salted Pear Caramel Sauce
-Complementary textural element: Crushed Pistachios
-Garnish: Whipped Cream

Salted Caramel Sauce, Chocolate Torte, Whipped Cream and PistachiosThe first step is to put the sauce down on the plate. Here, I’ve used the “swoosh” method. You know, how restaurant chefs seem to paint the sauce on the plate. Well, now you can do it too! Here, I’ll teach you. Simply place a spoonful of sauce down on one side of the plate. Then, using the back of the same spoon, spread it out in a single swooping motion.

Salted Pear Caramel Sauce GarnishHow to make a sauce garnishSalted Pear Caramel Sauce GarnishThere you have it, a beautiful “swoosh!”

To make things interesting, I’ve cut my torte into triangles and arranged them like so, with one lying flat and the other standing up. This adds height to the overall plate.

Plated Chocolate Cheesecake Torte with Whipped CreamAnd what’s a chocolate torte without whipped cream? A nice little quenelle brings some balance to the left side.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetA generous drizzle of sauce is always encouraged.

Mandarin Orange SupremesI like my desserts to have an element of tartness that can cut through the sweetness. Usually, this element comes in the form of fruit, which also gives you the opportunity to add a pop of color to your dish. I just so happened to have a mandarin orange lying around, which is a classic pairing for chocolate. I pile up a small bed of mandarin supremes at the base of the plate and finish it off with a trail of sprinkled pistachios.

Plated Dessert with Chocolate Torte and Salted Pear Caramel SauceTada! As you can see, the plate is nicely balanced on all sides facing the viewer. All components of the dessert are playfully interconnected, enticing the viewer’s eyes to jump  around the plate.

Plated Chocolate Cheesecake Torte with Salted Pear Caramel Sauce Chocolate Torte with drizzle of salted caramel and pistachiosI must say that this plate looks seductively delicious…I can’t wait till this photo shoot is over so I can finally reward myself.

Chocolate Torte with Salted Caramel Sauce and Pistachios Chocolate Torte with Salted Caramel SauceOops…too late ;)

So the next time you want to plate a dessert, just remember to include 3 elements: a sauce, a garnish, and a complementary textural element. Following these basic steps will turn your next dessert into a fancy plated dish that you thought only restaurant chefs were able to achieve.


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