A piece of cake can look a bit lonely on a plate all by itself. Dressing up the plate with a little garnish or a little sauce can go a long way in making a plain chocolate cake look like something very special – perfect for a romantic dinner, a dinner party or just when you want to do something nice for yourself.
Adding a few fresh berries or a small dollop of whipped cream is the easiest way to add to the presentation. A sprig of mint looks nice on chocolate desserts and ice creams. But these are simple garnishes, and to really make an impact, you’ll want to add a swirl of sauce or a splash of coulis to the plate. Chocolate sauce and a fruit coulis (smooth puree) add a little extra flavor to each bite of your dessert, and you can be a lot more playful with them than you can be with a sprig of mint.
You’ll want a small pastry bottle – a plastic bottle with a small tip – or a small pastry bag to do your decorating with. Transfer a thin sauce to the bottle – storebought caramel sauce, chocolate sauce and vanilla sauce will work well, as will any thin fruit puree or creme anglaise – and squeeze a design of spirals or swirls onto the plate before adding your dessert. For an even more impressive effect, pipe a flat area of one color of sauce. Use another sauce to pipe straight lines through the blank palate created by sauce number one, then drag a toothpick through both sauces at a right angle to the lines you just drew. The result is pictured above and is a beautiful canvas on which to plate the perfect dessert (I used vanilla and caramel for that photo).