15 Masques of Sinful Desserts, Chez Dominique Ansel: Part 1

Would you like an adventure now,
Or do you want your dessert first?

A twist on my namesake Peter Pan‘s epic monologues is akin to my childish infatuation with desserts. If it hasn’t been obvious yet, I live for desserts. And Dominique Ansel’s Wonderland from NYCWFF last year cemented this fact into the brick wall of my personality.

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A departure from a childlike theme was a more adult masquerade ball chez Ansel in the pink grandeur of the Four Seasons this year. One which evoked the mischief and veiled nature of desires, so much so that I deduced the first eight sins equivalent to each dessert morsel that I kissed.

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Envy

Secret Garden Basil Chocolates

In India we worship the holy basil, Tulsi. And it was refreshing to see Dominique Ansel take his respect for this herb family to a new level by having spectators snip off a leaf and pick up the lemon curd and sea salt dark chocolate truffles and nibble in one bite. On trend with leafy vegetables for desserts, plus green for envy, it was a refreshing palette cleanser between dollops of sugar inhalations to follow.

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Gluttony

Raspberry and Chocolate Tart

Miro Uskokovic of The Gramercy Tavern returned after a creative concept last year and presented yet another artistic feat by carving a gigantic masque suspended in the air out of chocolate. Beautifully painted red accents on white chocolate almost made me miss the cylindrical vials of solid chocolate. The tarts were visibly dense, with raspberry rose jam on juicy sweet raspberries, a rich chocolate ganache and a dash of crackling sea salt mixed with cacao nibs to break the sweetness. The battle of sweet, bitter and salty continued in my mouth, enveloped in a robe of heavenly ganache that made this the perfect uninterrupted bite of gluttonous chocolate.

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Greed

Carrot Cake with Liquid Nitrogen Pea Tendrils

The talented and energetic Zac Young of David Burke Group and Fabrick had an inventive take on the Garden of Versailles, pushing it into the floral and festive masquerade theme. A classic carrot cake was served with liquid nitrogen pea tendrils and tarragon ice cream. Floral to look at and frozen to the touch, eating the miniature layers in one diving scoop ensured getting the variety of temperatures, textures and barely sweet flavors. Which in turn made me greedily eat several.

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Temptation

Concord Hazelnut Opera Cake

Tara Glick from Marc Forgione‘s famous American Cut had one of my favorite nuts and one of my favorite cakes of Vienna in one tempting serving. It was a spongy and texturally nutty hazelnut cake layered with sweet and cold concord grape buttercream, topped with dulce ganache. While sweeter than my usual dessert outposts, the nutty crackle that was in each bite, accompanied by the crack of sugar crystal granules, made this an immediate candidate for the books of cake history. The accompanying cinnamon, spice and chai chocolate truffles dusted in glistening gold made for an ethereal and sensual palette tasting.

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Deception

Frozen Molten Chocolate Cake

Talking of juxtaposition in food was the frozen molten chocolate cake by Jim Hutchison of the Four Seasons Restaurant. Deceptively simple looking, it was a moussey cake with a solid champagne stuffed truffle center that exploded into freezing teeth numbing alcohol on a mouthful bite. Definitely one of the most hypnotic explosions of the soiree.

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Entrapment

Veiled Poached Apple and Licorice Chocolate

Ghaya Oliviera of Restaurant Daniel provided two desserts that fell in the molten, fudge and mush category, both ornately dressed up for the occasion. One was a poached apple on a sugar cookie with an edible chocolate veil, which was alarmingly soft and melty despite being ice cold. The licorice macaroons that came as a side to an artwork cube of dense chocolate ganache and licorice cake fared better owing to its salacious bite. The splatter blood artwork on this too was reminiscent of Halloween and the fears of entrapment.

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Deceit

Coffin S’mores

Keeping with the spooky and saccharine Halloween theme, Sunny Raymond of the Union Square Cafe presented s’mores, a classic favorite. However, akin to a comical Philadelphia outpost, this time the entire set up was deceitfully dressed up to secretly impress. With a graveyard theme, everything form the brownie dirt to the biscuit walls were edible. My favorite was the cotton candy mist, making me wish that the air around me was constantly made of ghoulish webs of cotton candy that I could eat through the day with. The s’mores themselves were cuboid chocolate coffins with graham cracker crust, stuffed with marshmallow candy, with a sweet biscuit RIP to my diet.

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Seduction

“Spumoni” Donut Holes and Drinks

Doughnuts are quite the trend this year, leaving their eclairs behind. With doughnut holes coming into the limelight owing to their spongy texture and hearty bite, this one by Aaron Dreilinger of Celebrity Cruises was topped with pistacio, amarena cherries and sitting on a bed of light amaretto ricotta creme. As the damsel in the white lacey doll outfit said, eat them warm, when the ricotta was seductively melty and the cherries provided a juicy heat.

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As Pan had noted, its like all of this had already happened, and was bound to happen again. The time to see art, eat art and enjoy a life well lived.

Behold a sequence of the luscious love of liquids to sum up the tale of 15 sins.

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