Plated Desserts

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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plated desserts refer to sweet offerings, usually served at the end of a meal but also as snacks, that are individually composed on a plate, in a bowl, or using another serving vessel. They are generally for the enjoyment of a single diner, although they can be shared.

Presentation has long been an important aspect of desserts, particularly in public settings such as restaurants and hotels. The nature of desserts—intended to be celebratory and indulgent rather than nourishing—is no doubt one reason for that. The fact that desserts tend to be made in advance and served cold or at room temperature, allowing for time to shape, mold, and decorate them, might be a factor, too. Complex dessert decorations go back centuries, particularly for cakes. In his 1846 British cookbook The Modern Cook, Charles Elmé Francatelli, chef to Queen Victoria, advised decorating wedding cakes with “blossoms or sprigs—or, even wreaths of orange-flowers,” and he garnished genoise cakes with pistachios, currants, meringue pearls and leaves, and stripes or dots of “any kind of bright preserves.” See cake decorating.