Tips to add some pizzazz to your pastries

When stepping into a bakery, your nose can often smell a delicious cake or pie even before you sample the delicacy. But while professionally prepared pastries might be the most delectable desserts, even homemade baked goods can get makeovers to look like something out of the pages of a classic cookbook.

Those on dessert duty at the next family function or gathering of friends can rest assured that there will be a dessert considered worthy by even the most sophisticated pastry palate. Those who may not have the skills of a pastry chef or master baker can employ these tips to add pizzazz to their pastries.

Don’t fear the fondant

– This moldable, rollable and easily carved confection is made of sugar. The pliability of fondant enables it to be cut into patterns, sculpted into different shapes or simply draped over cakes to give them a pristine finish.

Put squeezable ketchup and mustard containers to work

– Use a container with a thin spout to drizzle chocolate, raspberry or strawberry sauce onto a plate before placing a slice of cake or another dessert.

Use cookie cutters to make fun shapes

– Many desserts appear more labor-intensive if they are cut into cute patterns and shapes. Instead of square brownies, use a circle or heart-shaped cookie cutter for more flair. When making a fruit or nut pie, cut out the shape of the fruit that is inside from the top crust. When it bakes up you have an effective steam vent and a decorative way to tell guests what type of pie you are serving.

Serve dessert on fine china

– Offer an ice cream sundae in a plastic cup and it may seem more suited for a backyard party. Serve the same ice cream in a crystal champagne flute and the entire dessert takes on a new persona.

Experiment with new flavors

– Rather than chocolate sauce, work with mocha or even hazelnut toppings for cakes or ice cream.

Create a trifle

– Layers upon layers of dessert can seem more impressive. Trifles may seem like a lot of work, but many times they can be thrown together with ready-made ingredients. For example, create a strawberry-vanilla-banana trifle by layering cubes of vanilla pound cake, ready-made vanilla pudding, slices of banana, and canned strawberry pie filling together in alternating levels in a tall vessel. Top with whipped cream, and you have a delicious and eye-catching dessert. The same concept can be used to layer just about any combination of ingredients.

Add some extra decorative elements

– Scour the baking aisles of local craft stores and choose a few decorative elements to add whimsy to your dessert. There are many edible baubles and decorating tools that can add some flair to your pastries. Cakes topped with luster dust will have a sparkly sheen. You can even personalize pastries with edible ink markers.

Don’t underestimate the power of chocolate

– Chocolate shavings on top of cake, melted chocolate fondue, or simple cookies dipped into hardened chocolate can transform a drab dessert into a divine delicacy.

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