Skip navigation
Restaurants supersize dessert

Restaurants supersize dessert

Chefs say customers are eating up elaborate concoctions that feature multiple layers of flavors

Culina Kitchen Sink
The Kitchen Sink at Culina, Modern Italian, in Los Angeles.

About 10 percent of all meals and snacks eaten in restaurants include dessert, according to consumer research firm The NPD Group. But when guests do order dessert, they like to go over the top, pastry chefs and restaurateurs report.

Indulgent desserts with large portions and multiple components enjoy widespread appeal, they say.

At The Dutch at W South Beach Hotel in Miami Beach, Fla., pastry chef Josh Gripper serves Gripper’s Chocolate Grail for two, which vies with the restaurant’s signature pies for the position of top-selling dessert.

The Grail starts with a scoop each of white chocolate rocky road ice cream, chocolate ice cream and raspberry sorbet. To that combination Gripper adds chunks of devil’s food cake, dollops of milk chocolate peanut butter cream, raspberry fluff, and milk chocolate raspberry whipped cream, as well as candied peanut butter, hazelnut butter, meringue pieces, chocolate leaves and raspberries. The dessert is finished with a drizzle of chocolate sauce and is priced at $22.

Along those lines, Culina at the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills crafts a Kitchen Sink dessert. The $20 item contains several of the restaurant’s housemade gelati with meringue sticks, sprinkles, caramelized hazelnuts, candied cherries, fresh fruit, chocolate and caramel syrups, and white and dark chocolate garnishes.

Chocolate Sphere
The Chocolate Sphere at Tag in Denver.

Noah French, the pastry chef at Tag restaurant in Denver, said guests are often looking for desserts to celebrate special occasions, so he developed the Chocolate Sphere, a chocolate shell stuffed with marshmallows, brownies, walnuts and vanilla cream. The dish is finished with hot caramel sauce poured over it tableside. The dessert is priced at $12.

Desserts that layer multiple treats are also proving popular this year. For example, Café Pita + in Houston serves a stacked baklava cheesecake for $4.99. Omer Okanovic, chef-owner of the Bosnian restaurant, said the dessert — a wedge of baklava atop a slice of cheesecake — combines two favorite desserts of East and West, exemplifying Bosnia’s multicultural heritage.

Eleven-unit Village Tavern also offers a stacked desert at four of its locations across North Carolina and Alabama. The double-decker cheesecake features a slice of chocolate cheesecake spread with a layer of chocolate fudge, which is then topped with a slice of traditional cheesecake. The dish is garnished with raspberry sauce and chocolate glaze and priced at $6.95.

Michael Jordan's Steak House layer cake
The 23-layer cake at Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse.

features a plethora of layers with its 23 Layer Chocolate Cake, which is available at the three-unit chain’s restaurants in Chicago and at the Mohegan Sun resort in Uncasville, Conn.

Hillary Rikower, pastry chef at the Chicago restaurant, said the dessert is made by very thinly slicing a traditional chocolate cake into 11 layers. Those slices are alternated with layers of whipped bittersweet chocolate ganache, then spread with a shinier chocolate ganache. Each slice is garnished with vanilla whipped cream and a hazelnut tuile. The cake is priced at $14.

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

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.