As we transition out of summer and into fall, nights are getting colder, and local produce is shifting. As a result, our menu is changing to reflect the new season.
I think root vegetables are closely associated with fall, and so we have a parsnip cake on the dessert menu. It’s similar to a carrot cake, and we serve it with a warm coffee-toffee sauce and a homemade hazelnut-mocha ice cream.
Donnie, our lunch sous-chef, has been having a lot of fun coming up with new desserts for us in the past couple of weeks. His shifts are primarily lunchtime shifts which aren’t huge dessert times, but I think he started with one new dish and just ran with it. Every day I come in for my dinner shift he’s excited to tell me about some new thing he came up with, whether it’s an entirely new dessert or a different accompaniment for an existing dessert. He has been tweaking each recipe tirelessly to get the perfect end result, and I think it has paid off.
Along the same “root vegetable” theme as the parsnip cake, he made a sweet-potato pound cake. It has the desserty richness associated with pound cake, and a flavor profile along the lines of a pumpkin cake or zucchini cake. Of all of the new desserts this is my personal favorite to plate, and I think it’s a lot of fun. We serve it with two homemade marshmallows on skewers that we toast (with a blow torch! what could be more fun?) and put with a chunk of walnut brittle-another of my favorites. Smeared on top of the cake is maple butter. When I was little my favorite part of trips to Vermont was maple candy- a treat I hope no New Englander has missed out on- and this maple butter tastes almost exactly like it.
Donnie also came up with a new apple cake for the menu- I can’t think of what to compare it to because I can’t remember tasting anything quite like it, but I can tell you that the smell of it is something surreal. It’s, well, a cake, in simple terms, baked with apples, raisins, and spices, and served with a whiskey creme-anglaise. I honestly can’t think of anything more comforting on a cold fall night than whiskey, except maybe pairing it with warm apple cake. The dish is topped with a baked apple chip, and if there’s any hint of a chill in your bones I recommend this dessert to you hands down.
The last of Donnie’s new desserts (I told you he’s been having fun) is a cheddar cheesecake. Another thing I had never had, and never heard of before. The cake has a very interesting texture, and a citrus-y freshness (orange zest) that cuts the strong cheddar taste, and it’s not nearly as savory as you would think a cheddar cheesecake would be. I think it tastes more or less like a regular cheesecake, but less rich and less dense. Once again going with the theme of alcohol being comforting in the chilly weather, the cake is served with beer-braised apples and homemade whipped cream.
As the dessert station is the station I work at most often, these changes are particularly exciting for me. I think it’s important to be excited about the food you’re serving, and to be able to have fun making it and serving it. As always, the attitude of everyone at EVOO makes that easy.
I will update again soon with pictures of these desserts, and given Donnie’s attitude lately I’m sure I’ll update again with more new desserts, or with changes to these.