A well-made dessert not only completes a meal, fancier versions can rival main courses as the star attraction that makes a powerful impression on diners. A growing number of Kansas City’s talented pastry chefs have upped their game in recent years. They apply technical expertise and creative daring to desserts that complement preceding courses from executive chefs. From sophisticated to homey, these desserts featured on Kansas City Restaurant Week 2015 (January 16-25) menus are sure to hit the sweet spot.
Located in the Northland’s Briarcliff development, Trezo Mare (4105 North Mulberry Drive) is known for its Chocolate Bar, a made-from-scratch interpretation of a Snickers bar. Whimsical as it sounds, this handcrafted dessert recreates the classic candy through the prism of a chef’s aesthetic. Self-taught Pastry Chef Kolika Kirk describes this signature dessert made from crunchy peanut butter and silky chocolate mousse atop a corn flake crust with caramel sauce and peanuts.
“I use 53-percent dark chocolate with salt caramel made in-house. Everything that I can make, I do it in-house,” says Kirk. “The dessert is sweet, salty, creamy and crunchy with an exclamation point. People come to Trezo just for this dessert.”
Executive Sous Chef Alejandro Diaz at Providence New American Kitchen (1329 Baltimore Avenue) in the Power & Light District sets a plate of Sticky Toffee Pudding on the table. The dessert’s simple presentation appeals to the sense of sight, but first its aroma courts the sense of smell. Hints of winter spices and caramel waft upward.
The dessert features warm date cake with Campfire whiskey glaze and ice cream made from Boulevard Brewing Co.’s Smokestack Series beer The Sixth Glass. The beer introduces malt, caramel and dark fruit notes mellowed by the use of rich cream. A spoonful of the silky confection is sophisticated and playful at the same time, evoking childhood. The date cake is topped with pumpkin seed brittle for a bit of crunch that’s offset by petite pillows of orange pudding, made with Pierre Ferrand Cognac, on the side. The textural interplay makes it fun to dip into the dessert to try different combinations. Before you know it, it’s gone.
“I like pairing hot and cold elements on the same plate,” says chef Diaz. “The rich warmth of the cake works with the freshness of cold ice cream. It’s my favorite dessert of the season. It takes you back to family.”
Mostly known for its chicken and homestyle fare, head to RC’s (330 East 135th Street) for an order of Homemade Cobbler as part of the KC Restaurant Week menu. This no-frills dessert is undeniably comfort food perfect for chasing away the chill of a winter’s day. Piping hot cobbler comes in a bowl with vanilla ice cream. Blow on it before the first bite, then tuck in. Diners can choose between apple, cherry, peach and blackberry. Enjoy this old-fashioned treat after a hearty meal at this Martin City destination.
Garozzo’s (526 Harrison Street) Limencello Torte is a classic dessert reminiscent of cake but fluffier. The torte is built with spongy layers alternating with creamy mascarpone cheese infused with limoncello. White chocolate shavings top it off. Whipped cream and an artful drizzle of bright red fruit sauce contrast with this creamy wedge of sweet-tart goodness.
Char Bar’s (4050 Pennsylvania Avenue) chef Jeremy Tawney serves the Velvet Elvis with no apologies in the Westport barbecue and grill-based restaurant. It’s a rockin’, heapin’ hunka banana bread and peanut butter ice cream sandwich. The dessert is loaded with spiced walnuts, rum-soaked Bananas Foster sauce, Cracker Jack popcorn, hot fudge, whipped cream, and bourbon-soaked cherry for good measure.
“The Velvet Elvis has texture from the ingredients – large chunks of nuts with smooth creaminess,” says Tawney. “It’s indulgence and not to be taken lightly.”
If Elvis is still alive, he’s bound to show up and order this dessert fit for a…no, fit for The King of Rock-n-Roll.
The Chocolate Semifreddo at Rosso in Hotel Sorella (401 W 48th Place) sounds fanciful and luxurious and the appearance of this dessert won’t disappoint. Semifreddo is a semi-frozen ice cream or custard. This version uses Gianduja chocolate cream mocha, Frangelico hazelnut cream, and Meyer lemon confit. Citrus such as lemon and orange is a classic flavor combination with chocolate, the aromatic oils offset the bitterness of the cocoa.
No matter where guests dine during KC Restaurant Week, the dessert selections will be speaking their language and keep them talking long after the last bite.
Kansas City Restaurant Week is sponsoring a series of posts about the menus and food of restaurant week, which runs from January 16 through January 25, 2015. For the first post, Pete Dulin sat down with KC Hopps’ executive chef Ryan Sneed to learn more about how he approaches prepping a menu for restaurant week. The Recommended Daily is a Silver Sponsor of KCRW.