What Makes a Modern Dessert?

By Donna Borooah

Cacao Barry recently launched three new chocolates – one milk and two dark. They are using a new fermentation process, which has a higher yield from each bean (more profitable for the farmer) and better flavour (more desirable for the chef). To show off the new chocolates, they hosted an evening with three chefs demonstrating “Modern Techniques for On Trend Desserts.”

Modern cooking sometimes waters down flavours, but the focus of these demonstrations was to make the chocolate the star. Each chef had a unique approach.

Chef John Placko, Modern Culinary Academy: Chef Placko focuses on texture to explore each element of his desserts. He uses the molecular gastronomy techniques often associated with modern cooking, but he wants to demystify them so they are used more broadly. He prepared an exciting range of chocolate desserts including chocolate snow with popping candy, chocolate microsponge and flexible ganache.

Chef Royce Li, Shoko Chocolates: Working with classic techniques, Chef Li aims to create unexpected flavour combinations. He served bonbons that were a modern play on classic campfire s’mores. Instead of graham cracker, chocolate and marshmallow, he made caramelized white chocolate mixed with cookie crumbs, truffles filled with smoked chocolate ganache and marshmallow toasted over an edible vermicelli wick.

Chef Rodney Alleguede, Pastry Chef: Chef Alleguede makes desserts that honour traditional European dishes but updates them with bolder, cleaner flavours. He made profiteroles, a French favourite, topped with craquelin and filled with coconut ganache and pineapple confit, a modern twist.

So what makes a modern dessert? Modern isn’t just one thing. It doesn’t have to be defined by scientific techniques or hard-to-find ingredients. Modern is an evolution from what we’re used to.