Restaurants give chocolate desserts playful treatments

Chocolate, the star of many of the country’s favorite desserts, is getting playful treatments this fall as restaurants work to convince their customers to go ahead and splurge.

We saw a preview of things to come over the summer, as restaurants got creative with ice cream sandwiches [6], and Cold Stone Creamery introduced cake bites [7] coated in chocolate ganache and “cone-olis” coated in chocolate chips as part of its new line of catering items.

Now, chefs are evoking childhood memories of candy bars with their chocolate desserts, as well as stuffing it in pastry and coming up with new ways for customers to customize their chocolate desserts.

Pinkberry's chocolate hazelnut frozen yogurt

Frozen yogurt chain Pinkberry recently launched a chocolate hazelnut frozen yogurt along with suggested pairings to go with it. Here, it’s pictured with chocolate sauce, chocolate hazelnut wafer rolls and roasted hazelnut pieces. But Pinkberry has other “curated” combinations that it’s recommending, including Nutella, strawberries and bananas; dark chocolate chips and mixed nuts; strawberries and milk chocolate crunch; and granola, bananas and almonds.

Maya's Mexican chocolate peanut butter bar

Maya restaurant in New York City sells about 200 orders per month of its frozen Mexican chocolate peanut butter bar, which is served with a crunchy peanut butter cookie, a swipe of salted caramel and milk chocolate ice cream for $8. As the weather cools, restaurateur Richard Sandoval said this frozen bar will be replaced by a mousse.

Bistronomic's chocolate hazelnut bar

Candy bars also are evoked at Bistronomic in Chicago, where chef Martial Noguier serves his signature chocolate hazelnut bar, made with bittersweet chocolate mousse layered with crispy praline and served with an orange sauce for $8.



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Benny’s Chop House's milk chocolate s’mores cheesecake

S’mores are another nostalgic treat that chefs are riffing off of, such as the milk chocolate s’mores cheesecake at Benny’s Chop House in Chicago, for which chef Aaron Lindgren combines chocolate, graham crackers and a house-made marshmallow. The dish sells for $8.99.




Kachina Grill’s beignets

Kachina Southwestern Grill, which is scheduled to open this month in the Denver suburb of Westminster, will be serving beignets filled with chile-spiked chocolate and served with a dipping sauce made of cajeta, a Mexican caramel made with goat milk. They’re $7 per order.

Havana Central's Drunken Monkey

The beignets echo the dessert empanadas at three-unit Cuban chain Havana Central, based in New York. The Drunken Monkey dessert empanadas are made by combining melted chocolate, cream cheese, heavy cream and chopped vanilla wafers. Next, smashed ripe bananas are mixed in and the whole thing is spiked with cream liqueur. The mixture is cooled and spooned onto a cassava empanada wrapper and then fried. Two of the empanadas are served with a scoop of ice cream for $9.95.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] [9].
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary [10]