Even the simplest dessert can look extraordinary when you add a garnish or do something interesting to the plate that it is on. It's what raises the look from nice to spectacular.
Many of us have wonderful desserts that are family favorites that taste spectacular but tend to look a little boring when they are on the plate.
Restaurants spend a lot of time and effort to make their desserts look appetizing and have a kitchen full of simple trick that they use.
With out much effort you can be plating desserts that will have everyone saying WOW!
Depending on the type of dessert you are serving and how you have to keep it either hot, cold or room temperature will determine the type of garnish you will put on it and how far in advance you can put it on.
If you are serving something that is ice cream based then you will have to put the garnish on less than half and hour before you serve it if it is a type of cookie as the moisture of the ice cream will make the cookie start to fall apart.
Cookies with ice cream are quick and inexpensive to do, place the ice cream in a simple bowl or glass, drizzle it with syrup, add some nuts and put in two cookies on an angle. (To learn more about styling read One Glass Ten Uses - Learning Secrets from Food Stylists )
Drizzling Chocolate over a plate. You have seen this hundreds of times on plates of fancy restaurants and it is just oh so easy to do!
Generally it is usually done with chocolate sauce or thick clear syrups that have been placed in a squeeze bottle that has a narrow spout.
A large star pattern is repeated over and over again and the dessert is set in the middle of the star.
Just repeat making the star over and over again until you have the plate filled. Here I topped it with a fanned strawberry.
Fanning fresh fruit. There are so many small fruits that you can carefully slice and then re-assemble on the plate in a fan design either beside the dessert or on top of it.
Simply cut the fruit in slices without going through the top of it. I left the leaves on the strawberry because they were fresh and looked nice. If yours are looking a little sad remove them.
To fan out the fruit simply push it on it's side and gently pull each section out a little bit, When you are putting it on the plate make sure that you arrange the green top as well.
This also looks great when done with small pears.
Dusting. Using either cocoa powder or icing sugar (depending on the color of the plate) you can dust a plate for a constrast in color or if you have a pattern you can dust over top of it and leave the design on the plate.
This is such an inexpensive way to add some style. Restarants have designated sieves that they use, as using cocoa powder in a white sieve tends to color it no matter how well you wash it.
I just use a tiny little sieve that I bought from the dollar store. To make a pattern just simply cut out some paper or card stock, place it over the plate and gently sift the powder over it.
These simple designs are so quick to make up but I have also seen it done in restaurants were they use word stencils that say Happy Birthday or the name of the restaurant. (I didn't have any on hand to try).
Chocolate designs. These little designs are made with melted chocolate. I chose a star but squiggles and other shapes would look just as cute.
Melt chocolate over water in a double boiler.
Place the slightly cooled melted chocolate in a plastic sandwich bag and press the chocolate into the corner. Cut the tip of the corner off.
On a surface that you can put into the freezer (like a cutting board that fits your freezer), cover with wax paper and squeeze out your designs. Don't worry about extra chocolate or tails as you can break these off later.
Place these into the freezer until they have hardened completely.
You can set these chocolate stars on the plate or on top of the dessert
They can also be made well in advance so you don't have to worry about fussing with them at the last minute.
These are simple garnishes to make that really will add a wow to the end of your meal.
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Copyright Ingrid Talpak 2011