March 7, 2012 11:08 AM Subscribe
How can I make restaurant-quality desserts at home?
posted by Bardolph to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a fairly experienced baker and make a lot of desserts. I try to use only highly-rated recipes from respectable sources like Epicurious, and I'm fairly sure I'm avoiding most rookie prep mistakes. Yet I still had a moment of depressing epiphany during dessert (at The Olive Garden, of all places) last week, wherein I realized that not only had I never made a cake as moist and creamy as the one I was eating, I didn't know how to make one that good, even if I tried.
Thus, I am wondering: does anyone have tips on how to take home-made desserts to restaurant-quality levels? I'm especially interested in creams, frostings and fillings, and in regulating the qualities of texture/mouth-feel and intensity. Every single time I've tried pastry cream or custard, for instance, it's had a disappointingly bland eggy flavor without the rich vanilla/creamy finish of commercial versions. Or simple buttercreams will come out with an unpleasantly harsh "raw confectioner's sugar" taste, only to go waxy and unctuous when I add more butter. Or chocolate frostings will end up tasting cocoa-y and lacking the intense chocolate punch of commercial icing.
These are simple recipes, theoretically, so I'm puzzled as to what I could be missing. What does my local Applebee's know about desserts, that I don't?