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What Are the Three Basic Elements of a Plated Dessert?

Desserts come in thousands of shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors. Whether baked, fried, or chilled, all desserts have one thing in common—their sweetness. 

Read on as we delve into the world of plated desserts, explain their history, and discuss the three elements most important to making a memorable plated dessert. Lastly, we’ll discuss crafting healthier versions of your favorite treats using any Skinny Mixes dessert sauce.

Where did Desserts Come From?

No one truly knows what the world’s first dessert was—humans have been eating honey for over 10,000 years, according to modern science. One dish stands out as one of the first documented desserts, however. Its name is ‘Ashura,’ and it is believed to be the dessert that the biblical figure Noah created either just before or after his boat finally landed on solid ground. 

According to legend, Noah was nearing starvation and did not have enough of one item, so he mixed what he had to make a sweet porridge. Today, modern Ashura recipes from Turkey involve mixing whole grains like wheat or barley with fruits and a generous amount of sugar or honey. 

Modern Desserts Emerge

Desserts that we would recognize today began appearing all over Europe, particularly in France, in the 15th and 16th centuries. As global trade surged due to vast European shipping empires, new and exotic ingredients from around the world began to arrive in Europe. Around this time, we begin to see the first signs of fruit pastries, macarons, and fruit tarts. 

Around the time of the French revolution, we began to see what we would call “haute cuisine” today. This began French chefs experimenting with various recipes, including complex plated desserts. 

The Three Elements of a Plated Dessert

Modern plated desserts can be broken down into three primary components:

The Main Item

Flourless chocolate cake, creme brulee, a few scoops of a favorite ice cream flavor, or even a simple cookie can form the base of a plated dessert. If you’re glancing at the dessert menu in a restaurant, the main item will likely be included in the first words you see for each dessert listed. 

The Crunch or Garnish

While one could say that the modern plated dessert could have four elements, we’ve decided to include these two together, as many desserts simply feature one or the other. 

The crunch element isn’t so much about the flavor–it's more about the texture. Cakes, cookies, ice cream, and similar items tend to be soft and dissolve easily in the mouth. Adding a crunch component, whether it's walnuts, cornflakes, or puffed rice, helps to add textural diversity to the dessert. 

With the addition of the crunch component, the diner gets to experience two competing textures, allowing them some added satisfaction of being able to chew their dessert rather than just enjoying some delicious mush. 

The garnish component typically offers some diversity of color on the plate. It could be something as simple as a mint leaf, a classic red maraschino cherry, or some sprinkled powdered cacao. Rarely does the garnish overpower the flavor of the main dish itself—it is there solely as a “wow” factor. 

The Sauce

Walk through the sauces and syrups section of a modern confectionery supply store today, and you’ll probably see every color of the rainbow. If it exists as a flavor, someone has added sugar to it and melted it into a sauce. 

Chocolate sauce, salted caramel sauce for ice cream, and even modern festive holiday flavors like pumpkin spice and peppermint mocha are all widely available. With these simple items and a bit of drizzling and toothpick artistry, modern chefs today can wow just about anyone by making artistic use of the sauce. 

The sauce component is the piece of the puzzle that can carry us over the edge. Sadly, sauces typically come with a ton of sugar and calories, which is why Skinny Mixes is dedicated to creating a sugar-free variety of sweet sauces for dessert. Not only are all our delicious syrups void of sugar, but they’re also gluten-free and zero-calorie! This means you can feel free to drizzle and swirl our sauces until your heart's content and give an extra guilt-free oomph to any dessert you’d like.