New Year’s 2011: Desserts That Pop
Pear Intermezzo: Sugar-Blown Pear, Bartlett Pear Sorbet, Candied Walnuts, Shiso, and Salted Caramel Gastrique
Pastry Chef Patrick Fahy of Blackbird – Chicago, IL
Strawberries and Cornflakes: Cornflake Custard, Strawberry-Yogurt Ice Cream, and Marinated Petite Strawberries
Chef Tony Conte of The Oval Room – Washington, DC
Pistachio Tarte Soufflé, Roasted Sweet Cherries, Pistachio Sablé, and Belgian Kriek Sorbet
Pastry Chef Anthony Chavez of 2941 – Falls Church, VA
But New Year’s Eve is a mixed bag, a celebration of “out with the old, in with the new”—meaning feelings of nostalgia and throaty, sentimental renditions of Aulde Lang Syne. And New Year’s Eve can also mean sparkle and glam, a night on the town capped (or started) off with popped Champagne. Expectations are jumbled, ranging from the nostalgic and familiar to the luxurious and celebratory—a variety of needs that all need to be met before midnight.
One of the easiest and simplest ways to please the varied—and variously sober—New Year’s crowd is with dessert. Whether it’s the sweet, lush nightcap to answer hours of year-end revelry or an intimate celebration of its own shared amongst friends, dessert is the surefire draw to get chilly patrons off the street and into your seats. It’s up to you how to feed them. And of course, when you’re serving New Year’s dessert, an actual nightcap is typically in order, so don’t shy away from dessert pairings this holiday.
New Year’s diners will love the spectacle of sugar-blowing, a retro-skill revived from its heyday in the 1980s: it takes an elegant, holiday-appropriate flavor profile to a celebration-worthy level of gastro-glam. And it’s a great challenge for any chef whose New Year’s resolution involves expanding his or her repertoire.