Glance down any dessert menu and you're bound to come across it sooner or later. There aren't many chefs who wouldn't include a chocolate option, and Matt Owens, head pastry chef at Circadia, part of the sport and leisure division of Compass, certainly wouldn't dream of leaving it off.
"When people go out with the intention of spoiling themselves, chocolate is usually the first thing that comes to mind," he says. Of all the desserts Circadia produces for numerous hotels and major events, about half involve chocolate in some guise, be it as a sauce, ice-cream or the main element.
Whether you're buying desserts in or making them from scratch, there are different forms of chocolate used in their production, such as couverture for mousses or parfaits, dehydrated mousse powder for mousses, and cocoa powder for a steamed chocolate sponge.
But while there are many different options - tortes, parfaits and fondants, to name but a few - it doesn't have to be complicated to impress. "A simple, steamed sponge can be fantastic, keeping flavours simple to bring out the full flavour of the chocolate being used," says Owens. Consider the situation they're being served in, too - a café might serve something rich like a torte or gâteau, but in a restaurant, where diners have already completed two courses before embarking on dessert, lighter options such as a d‚lice, parfait or brûlée might be more appropriate.
Temperature is important when serving chocolate desserts. If it's a cold dessert you don't want it sitting around in the kitchen melting, but on the other hand, for delivering the optimum flavour, something like a chocolate tart shouldn't be served straight from the fridge. And chocolate doesn't like moisture, so when storing desserts, make sure they're adequately protected by wrapping up well.
If you haven't the time or resources to make your chocolate desserts from scratch, we offer a roundup of ready-made ones currently on the market.
Brakes Dark Chocolate and Brandy Torte
Dark chocolate biscuit crumb base, covered with a rich French brandy-flavoured chocolate cream truffle, in a crisp bitter Barry Callebaut dark chocolate case and finished with a chocolate cigarillo. Supplied frozen.Size/weight:
128g minimum eachPrice:
£19.40 per pack of 12Chef's comments
- Presents well.
- Good simple finish.
- Doesn't spoil when defrosted.
- Appealing aroma.
- Smooth, buttery texture.
- Good base.
- Good flavour chocolate case.
- Mild brandy flavour.
- Looks handmade.
- Good value for money.
- Ideal for brasserie operation or conference banqueting.
Bernard Matthews We Demand Chocolate
Chocolate fruit and nut torte on a crunchy chocolate biscuit base covered in chocolate fudge sauce. Supplied frozen.Size/weight:
1.45kg, precut into 12 portionsPrice:
- Looks rich.
- Simply finished.
- Appealing aroma.
- Very smooth texture.
- Suggest serving with raspberry coulis.
- Suitable for pubs.
Scholler Chocolate Chips Ice-Cream
A blend of two varieties of Swiss chocolate with Swiss chocolate pieces.Size/weight:
5-litre tub - recommended yield is 80 servingsPrice:
£15.90 per tubChef's comments
- Good colour and aroma.
- Eats well, nice smooth texture, chocolate chips work well.
- Tastes good quality.
- Good value for money.
- Good as an accompaniment to desserts, or could be eaten on its own.
- Could be served in most types of catering establishment.Contacts
Bernard Matthews 01603 872611
Brakes 0845 606 9090
Limburg Pƒtisserie/Tastefully Different 01453 834234
Schöller 01483 205500
3663 0870 3663 000
Woodward Foodservice 0870 600 6465Brakes Chocolate, Fruit and Nut Case
Individual chocolate pastry cases filled with chocolate ganache, mixed dried fruit and nuts, decorated with white chocolate leaves. Supplied frozen.Size/weight:
120g minimum eachPrice:
£19.40 per pack of 12
Limburg Patisserie Individual Mousse Desserts
A set praline chocolate mousse. Supplied frozen.
6cm or 8cm diameter rounds; 33 x 5cm barsPrice:
36p for the 6cm portion
3663 White Chocolate and Raspberry Storm
A muffin base filled with whole raspberries, topped with creamy white chocolate mousse and finished with whole raspberries and white chocolate shavings.
1.57kg, precut into 14 portionsPrice:
3663 Chocolate Irish Truffle
Chocolate truffle base layered with Irish cream mousse and topped with marble chocolate ganache. Supplied frozen.Size/weight:
1.66kg, precut into 14 portionsPrice:
Woodward's Triple Chocolate Riot
Three layers of chocolate sponge and mousse on a chocolate fudge biscuit base topped with chocolate cream rosettes, milk and white chocolate pieces and drizzled with chocolate fudge. Supplied frozen.Size/weight:
2.4kg minimum, precut into 14 portionsPrice:
£17.30 (£1.24 per portion)
Scholler Chocolate Cream Duo
Streams of light and dark cream between three layers of sponge on a base of crispy shortcrust pastry. Supplied frozen.Size/weight:
2kg - recommended yield is 16 piecesPrice:
Woodward's Chocolate Pot
Rich chocolate mousse in an individual ceramic pot. Supplied frozen.Size/weight:
£22.80 per pack of 12 (£1.90 per pot)