Sweet inspiration

How great desserts go from idea to unforgettable

By Lori Masaki, WAC Pastry Chef

For many pastry chefs, menu development is a direct reflection of their personal tastes as well as their sources of inspiration. Some look at other chefs’ Instagram pages, read cookbooks, or peruse foodie magazines. Personally, I like to look at everyday life for innovative ideas.

What I mean is that I seek inspiration from architecture, music, and even fashion. Essentially, I try to take items that inspire me and make them into dessert. Tough job, right?!

Once I have an idea for something, I look for ingredients that not only taste delicious but are also memorable and unique. A great dessert should create a lasting impression.

It’s also important to provide a dessert menu with something for everyone. That means offering items that speak to the main dessert flavor profiles—citrus, cheesecake/custard, fruits and nuts, savory, and, of course, chocolate!

No matter what we pastry chefs put on our dessert menus, the chocolate choice will almost always be the top pick. This fall in Torchy’s and Hagerty’s, I’ll be introducing a fudgy chocolate cake with whipped dark chocolate ganache, vanilla pumpkin spice anglaise, candied bourbon pumpkin, and dehydrated cranberries. I feel confident that chocolate aficionados of all stripes will be blown away.

As an added bonus, this cake will be gluten-free and vegan.

When creating gluten-free and vegan desserts, I always want the items to taste even better than their “regular” counterparts. This means staying away from soy-based and starchy ingredients that offer no nutritional value. Instead, I use a special gluten-free flour of my own creation. It involves a combination of ancient grains, including amaranth, teff and quinoa flours.

With the holiday season upon us, my inspiration for this cake started with classic winter icons, in this case decorated evergreen trees. The cake has some height, but not too much, and features piped ganache with a feathered, leafy look. The dehydrated cranberries allude to holiday baubles while also offering a nice bit of tang that counters and complements the wonderful sweetness of the chocolate.

I invite you to come by and try one for yourself. And don’t worry. If you’re not a chocolate lover, we’ll have some wonderful dessert choices for you, too!

As published in the November/December 2019 issue of WAC Magazine.

—Posted November 6, 2019

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