Desserts worth celebrating

Desserts worth celebrating

It’s a well-known truth that the very first spoonful of any dish satiates our palate. After that, enjoyment drops away.

This fact alone should give menu writers cause to ponder. Why don’t we eat dessert as the first dish on a menu?

Great sweets speak of skill mastery in composition, balance of flavours and textures, with impressive presentation. Whether you enjoy them in high end restaurants or humble cafés, whether they are purchased as part of a luxe degustation or from an industrial warehouse, here are some sweet treats worth celebrating.

The Classics

Voronoi Little Cocoa Chocolate with flavours of Jaffa, Palette

The iconic Voronoi Little Cocoa Chocolate with flavours of Jaffa at Palette, HOTA, is one of our most photographed desserts. A collaboration between two artisan craftsmen, Executive Chef Dayan Harthill-Law, who has spent in the kitchen of Heston Blumenthal, and chocolatier Alicia Chapman of Little Cocoa, this is truly a case of eating art. So much so that cracking through the white chocolate tumbler coated in the Voronoi pattern of the HOTA building, to reveal inner delights of miso ice-cream, layered toffee and banoffee flavours inside feels as though we are destroying a masterpiece.

Citrus Illusion, JW Marriott

There’s more than a touch of illusion, too, in the Citrus Illusion, the realistic citrus-looking dessert featured at Citrique at the JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa. A perfectly formed citrus (mandarin, orange, lemon) chocolate shell is filled with a light lemon curd, white chocolate, and citrus sponge, surrounded by myrtle meringue, giving its flavour profile a native Australian edge.

Beetroot, strawberry, yoghurt at The North Room

The simply named Beetroot, strawberry, yoghurt at The North Room is anything but simple. Instead, we find a stunning assemblage of beetroot meringue shards and freshly cut strawberries plunged into a base of sour yoghurt crowned with beetroot powder and accompanied by strawberry sorbet. Beautifully presented in shades of blushing ruby, this dessert is a taste sensation, its balance teetering between savoury and sweet. This dessert poses the question: Why do such different flavours and textures excite our senses so much?

Chocolate meringue pie, Nineteen at The Star

“You won’t need a high-roller budget for a filthy rich dessert,” says Delicious magazine, “- go for chocolate meringue pie with Pedro Ximenez ice cream.” While lemon meringue pie is refreshing, the Chocolate meringue pie from Nineteen at The Star is the indulgence you never knew you needed; a touch of luxe and a perfect way to end your meal.

Also at The Star Gold Coast, Chase Gojima’s Goma Street dessert at Kiyomi has been recognised as one of Queensland’s top ten dishes. In this East-meets-West dish tempered dark chocolate and caramelised white chocolate mousse is served with black sesame ice cream on a bed of biscuit crumb, a stylish Asian take on chocolate-coated biscuits and ice cream.

The cutting edge Asian-inspired bar and eatery Eddy + Wolff takes ice cream in a more savoury direction with their Soy sauce ice cream. Flavour bomb ingredients include soy caramel, chilli, garlic, Korean crumb and rose petals; quite the hypnotic mix.

For a lighter, more traditional dessert, nothing beats a great soufflé. Though soufflés are an endangered species, Little Truffle’s Berry souffle with white chocolate sauce is sure to satisfy. Light and air-like, as the spoonful of dessert dissolves in your mouth it’s just like eating the most delicious cloud, leaving you feeling like as though you are floating.

The Contenders

Lemon meringue, Kaffe Europa

As dining trends towards casual venues, we also enjoy great desserts in bakeries, cafés and warehouses across the Gold Coast.

Some of the pastries in casual venues rival those presented in upmarket restaurants, especially classic sweets produced by chef pâtissiers at cafés and pastry shops such as Custard Canteen, The Pastry Emporium, 5B2F, My French Pastries, Kaffe Europa, Mark Daniel’s Patisserie. and Cubby Bakehouse… and the list goes on.

Delice aux Noisettes, Aux Fines Bouches

One of our favourite pâtisseries, Aux Fines Bouches, is situated in Burleigh’s industrial area. Highly awarded chef pâtissier Richard Le Deunff handcrafts every element of his pastries – fillings, glazes and toppings – crafting his own praline, roasting, caramelising and grinding nuts, even making the chocolate leaves to complete each piece. Every one of his sweet delights is a masterpiece, many being his own creations. If you forced us to choose one pastry alone, it would be Delice aux Noisettes, Richard’s own creation, inspired by Richard Hawke. Richard describes this delicate slice as ‘a marriage between hazelnut (or Gianduja) and milk chocolate, with the two elements presented in different ways (mousse and chantilly)’.

Paris Brest, Rise Bakery

The newly opened Rise Bakery at Sanctuary Cove makes an excellent hazelnut Paris Brest, a rich but not too sweet version very true to the French classic. Created in 1910 to promote the bicycle race from Paris to Brest in Brittany, the Paris Brest is made up of a split doughnut-shaped choux pastry filled with crème mousseline, topped with a nut-studded praline. This recognisable but versatile dessert is popular throughout the world, many chefs adding their own spin to the classic.

Portuguese Tart, Lisboa available at Barbosa Fine Foods

Mention Portuguese Tart and Lisboa springs to mind. Joe Rocha opened his popup stall in The Kitchens, Robina Town Centre, in 2015. Graduating to a cart and now operating from the Lisboa Caffe in Brisbane, Joe follows an authentic Portuguese recipe, handmaking every part of the tart by hand including the delightfully crisp puff pastry crust. Using cultured butter and organic eggs to make his not-too-sweet silky custard filling, you would travel far to taste Portuguese tarts like these. On the Gold Coast, Lisboa’s Portuguese tarts are available at Barbosa Fine Food Deli, The Kitchens, Robina Town Centre,

Brûlée Tart, The Bread Social

The Bread Social makes an excellent version of the beloved Brûlée Tart of Bourke Street Bakery Sydney fame. You may pass over this tarte in favour of a pastry with a more spectacular presentation, but don’t be fooled by appearances. After one bite there is no going back. Its thick rich custard filling in a short pastry shell is balanced by a burnt sugar coating that shatters at first bite. Luxury in disguise, the flavours and textures of this tart are simply hypnotic.

Chocolate-lined cookie cups, Tarte Bakery

Then there are the desserts and sweet treats whose popularity has gone viral. Mention chocolate cookie stacks (Paddock Bakery), Tiramisu tart (Bam Bam), Biscoff cupcakes (Sugar Royalty), hot chocolate cups (Tarte Bakery), Nutella bomba (Gemellini) and over-the-top waffles (Oh My, Waffle) and your audience will be standing at attention. And that’s before we start talking ice cream!

In the absence of Crêpe brûlée and Watermelon cake, other classic Asian sweets are trending on social media, some with viral popularity. From halo-halo (Kubo’s) to the 30-layer Mille crêpe cakes (Moli Patisserie & Café), ice desserts and mochi, matcha and black sesame, our izakayas and Asian-influenced cafés hold an abundance of interest on their dessert and drinks menus.

Japanese air cheesecake, Harajuku Gyoza

Known for their dumplings and instagrammable desserts, such as the raindrop cake and soufflé pancakes, Harajuku Gyoza brings us its own version of the viral trend dessert Japanese Air Cheesecake! Originally brought to the online foodie community by popular food YouTuber Emmymade after she found the recipe on the back of a Japanese cream cheese packet, this dessert has created waves across the internet. Hand piped by the Harajuku kitchen team to order, some say the air cheesecake looks like either poop emoji or a cute snowy mountain. The top of the dessert is dusted with kinako powder and it is served with a pot of delicious brown sugar syrup on the side to pour over the top.

Souffle Pancakes, Raijin Palm Beach

Insta-worthy attention-grabbing wobbly Soufflé Pancakes can be found at Raijin in Palm Beach. Raijin’s owner Fuji has mastered the art of creating these notoriously labour-intensive pancakes, whipping the egg whites for his pancakes separately, folding them into the mix, diligently cooking them at exactly the right temperature, resulting in pancakes that are airy and cloudlike. Fuji’s use of mochi rice flour and brown rice powder makes his pancakes super light and feathery rather than eggy. Not too sweet, the mild vanilla-tasting pancakes leave the flavour bomb to the topping. Our tiramisu pancake, complete with cream, strawberries, mascarpone and an affogato that demands interactive pouring over the pancakes, completes a sensational dessert. There’s also a Matcha, yuzu and raw choco version.

Matcha tiramisu, Goya Cafe

Talking matcha, Goya Café’s Matcha tiramisu is a lesson in simplicity, adding a Japanese twist to an Italian classic. There’s the beauty of Japanese presentation as well, the dessert served in its own wooden box placed off centre on a black plate, dusted down with matcha powder.

Our latest addition to the list is the exquisitely presented Talay from Chef May Wongtom at the newly opened Nahm Talay Thai, Surfers Paradise. Her seascape is the restaurant’s signature dessert, with rocks (sweet potato balls) interspersed with chocolate shells, edible sand forming a beach beside a sea of butterfly pea flower custard.

Talay, Nahm Talay Thai

So many choices, so little time!

In the end there is only one piece of advice we can give you: “Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.” – Ernestine Ulmer

Strawberry Breton Tart, Bam Bam
Gold Coast QLD, Australia