Plated Dessert Perfection – The Basic Conditions

Composition of a well balanced plated dessert

A few points to consider:

As per the very first thing many chefs mention is 'keep it simple' which is quite true, let me elaborate through a practical example I deal with. Being a trainee in a kitchen at the emperors palace kitchen is really hard work and in order to impress you have to show you can manage the work so this is what happened under the mentor ship of a pastry chef I was given 100 plated desserts to make for a evening function which of course I could handle. I decided to make a warm custard dessert with a layered jelly and fruit volcanoes which at the time was brilliant and the chef agreed.

Just before serving I painted the desserts and began adding the warm custard to the desserts, at which time the chef could not control himself from laughing, at the time I could not understand why until I viewed my plates and realized that the warm custard was melting the jelly and the plates were looking awful.

Moral of the story is 'keep it simple' until you know what you doing then I would recommend you do the following:

  1. Be creative, show off your baking flair make your mother in law envy your expertise.
  2. Experiment with colors and textures and contrasting flavors never leaves your taste buds unhappy.
  3. If you have a nice dinner party (or in my case dessert parties which are amazing) try to do the following:
  • Visit old classic-savarins are always good, even as classic as black forest cake
  • Death by chocolate-Chocolate fondant with two tone chocolate oozing out, chocolate sabayon, chocolate rose cakes with hazelnut and chili ganache topped with chocolate shavings, with chocolate anything is possible
  • Modern approach-alginate pearls, Silicone molds, flexipan molds
  • Fruit desserts-there are just so many fruit desserts, grilled pears, sorbets, jelly terrines, baked apples
  • Using nuts-pastes, caramelized then mixed with a sticky toffee sauce over a chocolate cake is simple but divine. macaroons, japonaise
  • Rich and indulgent – Flourless tortes, chocolate truffles (fried) Lindt brownies, chocolate fondant,

Usually what I do is to try and decide upon a theme (do not be boring and choose french) maybe Egyptian, Arabian, Japanese and ensure that no matter what dessert you are making everything needs to beible, nothing feels better then having a dessert completely swiped off the plate when it comes back into the kitchen. Now to get into some great details as to shapes, colors, sizes, texture.

  1. For a crunchy texture try to use crusts, cookies, biscuits chopped nut garnishes, deep fried ice cream
  2. For a melt in your mouth soft texture try poached or baked fruits maybe fruit pastes.
  3. Creamy rich textures try to use in the classical sense try parfaits or fruit and chocolate mousses.

Fresh and appealing

  1. Natural shapes and colors
  2. Colorful
  3. clear focus point
  4. foams and mousses (those small bubbles you see in them make it much more appealing)
  5. Important to note when working with gelatin there is a balance between too much and to little try to stick to the recipe, too much will make your dessert to spongy and tough while to little will make not allow your mixture to set properly.

Height and size Always a classic when sitting in a nice restaurant and your dessert is being placed on the table and it has fallen over, I always use to believe that it was the waiters negligence that tipped the dessert over until I become a chef, now I blame incompetent chefs who compile magnificent desserts but do not evaluate its practicality.

  1. Keep desserts at a realistic height, at a height where it may stand without having to feel like you balancing a pin on your finger.
  2. and if you looking to give it super height use a steady base such as fruit, or piped chocolate.
  3. and of course do not allow your dessert to be so big it takes up the entire plate, ensure proper portioning.


  1. Do not mix and match flavors nothing is worse then having a amazing dessert with multiple flavors that do not complement each other.
  2. Food coloring should be hidden in all desserts, keep the original flair and taste and color of all ingredients (id shoot the chef if I found sky blue chocolate on my plate)
  3. Temperature always serves as a mix of elements, hot and cold, frozen or tempered.

Lastly Shape

  1. Natural shapes is at times best
  2. for plated desserts if you really want to show off some knife skills ensure it is to the tee. no one likes seeing a brunoise cut a bit off from the rest
  3. Different shapes on the same plate always give the plate some life (as is the plates ready to dance)

I hope this helps readers in understanding a few principles relating to plating desserts.

Source by Taahir Osman Latib

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