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The Five C's in a dessert buffet

Some people are anti-buffet while there are others who love them - to each their own, I guess!


I love buffets…I mean really good ones, and having eaten in many, I’ve come to realise a few things that differentiate a good buffet from one that is truly extraordinary.


Buffets that can be considered as good are those that present everything on display, in an attractive and tempting manner. But that’s just the beginning. Having passed the ‘visual’ test, (nowadays they have to be instagrammable as well), the ‘proof of the pudding’ as they say ‘is in the eating’. This is where that initial moment of truth hits one’s taste buds; a litmus test where over 90% of what one serves on one’s plate must taste good - to the extent that you can’t resist going for a second serving of certain dishes.


Where a good buffet often stumbles is in the Dessert selection. Usually the selection tastes bland and/or is over-loaded with sugar. Dessert, being the final part of the meal, leaves the final impression that many customers take away of their dining experience. Many are the times my family and I, have left, saying “Good buffet, but the desserts could have been better”. And that’s a shame, because even if the mains and other dishes were good, the desserts ruined the overall price-performance expectation.


Most pastry chefs don’t seem to understand that providing an entire dessert section, (unlike developing a great plated dessert in an a la carte restaurant), takes some planning. The dessert section must strike a balance of items on offer and complement that sense of place in a positive manner.


One might well ask “How then can a buffet include a better dessert selection?” A good starting is the 5 C’s. The rule of 5C stands for Chocolate, Citrus, Coffee, Caramel, and Cheesecake. These are the basic types of desserts, which should be present in every quality menu and buffets are no exception.


Mmm…chocolate. Who can resist it? Chocolate desserts are always a winner, be it dipped, drizzled or otherwise. Savouring a good quality dark chocolate dish always satisfies my sweet cravings. Be wary though - when it comes to health that not all chocolates are created equal. The percentage of cocoa in dark chocolate can vary wildly, and the less cocoa it contains, the more likely it is to have high levels of sugar and additives. 70%+ dark chocolate is a good starting point.


Citrus: Add some zest to the dessert zone. They say when life gives you lemons, forget the lemonade. Instead, a delicious lemon meringue pie with a crispy base, tangy citrus centre and a towering layer of meringue is indeed a popular dish.


Deliciously decadent yet impossibly light, an iconic dessert that literally means ‘cheer me up” (in Italian) is Tiramisu. Because of the added espresso that gives it a distinct coffee taste, it is a ‘must have’ special.


For those who don’t have a sweet tooth, the classic crème caramel can be their Achilles’ heel. When made perfectly creamy, with a hint of bitterness in the subtly vanilla flavoured sweet caramel, it can be an incredible last component to a lovely meal. Unfortunately there are some very thick cooks who really mess this one!


As for cheesecakes, I’m not really into them, but there are those who will swear that the tried, tested and true recipe of a chewy sponge cake crust in which the silky smooth cream cheese core nestles is… worth dying for.


Ilzaf Keefahs is a freelance writer who enjoys focusing on hospitality related matters that he is passionate about, and likes to share his views with hoteliers and customers alike. He delves into the heart of hospitality to figure out both customer service and consumer trends that impact the industry



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