Deconstructed carrot cake

Elements of Developing an Original Dessert

When ICC re-launched the Professional Pastry Arts program in 2014, the curriculum was updated to better serve today’s pastry chef, educating our students to understand the science and technique behind a wide range of pastry skills to unlock their creativity—to think beyond a single recipe.

It was during this time that Restaurant Day was born, providing students with the opportunity to demonstrate everything they’ve learned in the 600-hour program to their friends and family in a fun and unique dessert tasting. Every Restaurant Day menu is different, designed, created and produced by the students with a unifying theme to best represent their experiences in the program. Throughout the years, over 250 original desserts have been created—including a Matcha Cake Trifle, Carrot Beignets, Coquito Cheesecake and Sweet Corn Fraisier—showcasing the creativity of the next generation of pastry professionals completing ICC’s program.

Restaurant Day 50

Semifredo from a studentEvery Restaurant Day features a different menu curated with never before seen desserts. For the 50th running of the Restaurant Day program this September, the ICC students, staff, deans, alumni and invited guests came together to celebrate the momentous occasion. This restaurant day was even more special than usual—it commemorated the dessert creations of all the previous classes, while showcasing our current pastry student’s hard work. From black sesame mille crêpes and port-poached fig tarts, to this lemon-raspberry semifreddo (pictured here) and everything in between, our guests left with their sweet tooth satisfied. Plus, students were excited to see special guest, ICC Dean of Pastry Arts, Chef Jacques Torres, at Restaurant Day to evaluate their desserts!

See our full gallery of photos from Restaurant Day 50, including all 8 original desserts created by our students, on our Facebook page here!

The Elements

The RD 50 classWhen you stop and think about all of the elements that go into creating a dessert, it can be daunting to figure out how the pros do it. Through our Professional Pastry Arts program, students work endlessly for 115 days to learn and develop all of the skills that they need to create their own original desserts. We sat down with our Director of Pastry Operations, Chef Jansen Chan, who is the mastermind behind Restaurant Day 50 and many other pastry projects at ICC to discuss the essential elements that are required to create a dessert. Check out these tips below to help you come up with your own sweet creations at home!

  • Textures are essential to dessert composition. It provides contrast and complexity, pleasing the palette. From a graham cracker crunch, to a fluffy mousse, variety in texture is everything.
  • Flavors that go together can create perfect harmony on a plate; however, flavors that do not make sense together can completely throw off the balance of a dessert. Example: acidic fruit, such as oranges, pair well with bitter, dark chocolate to highlight one another’s flavor. Combining delicate flavors, such as jasmine tea and elderflower, confuse the palette.
  • Temperature control is a lot harder than it sounds. Having hot and ice-cold elements are delightful to eat together, but managing the placement and service of such items takes good planning and execution.
  • Contrast brings together many different elements like texture, flavor, and temperature. Have you ever eaten molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream? Simple and divine, the warm, moist chocolate center is amazing against each cold, refreshing bite of ice cream. Pastry chefs strive to create these interesting contrasts daily.
  • Complexity and cohesiveness sound like different principles, but they actually effect one another, so they need to be carefully considered. If a dessert is well-conceived and exhibits the right amount of complexity, it will feel cohesive. It is important for desserts to have a certain amount of depth, while still looking like one idea on a plate.
  • Knife skills are often attributed to cooking, but they are also important for baking. How do you think a petit four has a perfect edge to it or an orange sûpreme is achieved with precision? It is because the pastry chef has achieved extraordinary knife skills.
  • Baking skills are second nature to pastry chefs, but these skills must first be taught. From day 1 of the Professional Pastry Arts program, students are first taught the essentials of baking, both theory and practical skills, in order to build any type of plated desserts.
  • Plate design and composition is the synthesis of all the elements on the plate. No matter the diversity of ingredients, the finished dessert needs to be appealing to the eye and manageable to consume. Understanding basic design principles, such as spacial organization and color use, takes practice and creativity.A student plating
  • Recipe writing and the science behind a recipe is no joke! Most people don’t realize that there are structural elements to a good recipe and steps for recipe development, but in ICC’s immersive Pastry Arts program, students learn to write and even create their very own recipes.
  • Time management is the final piece to the dessert creation puzzle. Whether it’s managing their mise en place over several days or placing the last garnish on a plate, students always need to know how to manage their time in order to perfectly execute their plate.