Dessert Garnishes Article -
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Dessert Garnishes

From homey slices of pie topped with whipped cream or ice cream to an elaborate "degustation plate" of multiple sweets, every dessert deserves a garnish.

A garnish can be anything that adds visual appeal and complementary colors, flavors, textures, or temperatures to the dessert you're serving.

Mix and Match

Some classic dessert garnishes:

Sauces (cold or warm): chocolate, vanilla custard (crème Anglaise), caramel

Fruit purées: raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, mango, kiwi, peach

Fresh fruit: (sliced or whole) raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, pomegranate seeds, mangoes, kiwi, peaches, star fruit, pineapple; caramelized banana and/or pineapple

Citrus: fresh or candied zest, fresh or candied rounds

Edible flowers: pansies, rose petals, marigolds, tulip petals, orchids, violets, nasturtiums, orange blossoms, snapdragons

Herbs: mint leaves, lavender sprigs, lemon thyme, rosemary

Powders: confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg

Ice cream: any flavor; if you make your own, try a sour cream or crème fraîche ice cream (substitute sour cream for half of the heavy cream) for a sweet-tart contrast.

Whipped cream: plain, sweetened, or enhanced with liqueur or flavored extracts. Try whipping half heavy cream, half crème fraîche with a little sugar for a tangy-sweet topping.

Chocolate: shavings, curls or other chocolate designs

Nuts: whole or chopped, plain or candied, toasted or raw (ground raw pistachios are a beautiful garnish); long shreds of fresh or toasted dried coconut

Cookies: any kind, but tuiles and butter cookies are the most versatile

Plate Painting

Fruit sauces can be made any time of the year, with fresh or frozen fruit. Simply let frozen fruit thaw and then mash it or puree it in the blender. For a really smooth sauce, pour it through a strainer to get out any seeds or pulp. Adjust the flavor if necessary by adding sugar and lemon juice.

Put your sauce in a plastic squeeze bottle and "paint" the plate with them. It's especially pretty if you use two sauces with contrasting colors.

  • Make a pool of sauce in one color, and then place small polka dots of the other sauce on top of the pool.
  • Drag the tip of a toothpick through the middle of each polka dot to create a heart shape.
  • Create stars by starting at the middle of each dot and dragging the toothpick outwards several times.


All you need to create delicate chocolate curls is a block of chocolate and a vegetable peeler.

  • Rub the heel of your hand over the surface of the chocolate to warm it up slightly (you can also zap the chocolate in the microwave for just a few seconds to make it slightly softer--but if the chocolate is too warm, it won't curl properly).
  • Pull the peeler firmly along the side of the chocolate block. The bigger the piece of chocolate, the bigger your curls can be.
  • Store them in a cool, dry place until you're ready to use them.
  • Lift and arrange the curls using toothpicks so the heat from your hands won't melt them.

If you are comfortable tempering chocolate, you can make all kinds of elaborate designs by piping onto a sheet of parchment paper. You can make hearts, flowers, butterflies, curlicues, fans, letters--anything at all. Use a picture or drawing underneath the parchment as a template. Once the chocolate has hardened, lift the designs off the parchment and garnish your dessert.

Jan. 18, 2010 1:36 am
Thanks so much for this!
Apr. 3, 2010 7:05 pm
Just what I was looking for.
May 9, 2010 12:25 am
May 31, 2010 8:07 am
great info!
Jun. 3, 2010 8:16 am
I needed this...thanks!!
Jul. 11, 2010 4:56 pm
Great Information.. printing it and keeping it! :) Thanks :)
Jan. 3, 2011 10:49 am
I have so much to learn and this is a great source to start. Thank you!!!
Jan. 21, 2011 10:52 pm
good info
Jan. 25, 2011 3:12 pm
Great info. Thanks.
chef lalith 
Apr. 8, 2011 9:11 am
thanks for the informations
Apr. 12, 2011 1:30 am
Suzette Simmonds 
Nov. 9, 2011 4:22 am
Thank! Great information
Jan. 19, 2012 7:44 am
What are some foods that have granish in it we need this for school so can you please help me with this I need it before tomorrow Maisie graham
spongebob is cool 
Jan. 25, 2012 12:43 pm
i LOVE this! i made it for my boyfriend AND my husband. They both loved it and want me to make it again.
Apr. 17, 2012 5:24 am
There is a lot of great ideas here! I love the tip about the chocolate curls and the toothpick. I could never figure out how to not break the curls. Never thought of the toothpick trick! Thanks :)
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