Creamy Pineapple-Rice Pudding

Master the Art of
Dessert Plating

Wow the dining room and create lasting impressions with these easy, but beautiful dessert garnishes.

"Desserts should turn heads in the dining room," says Patty Mitchell, C.M.B., senior executive chef at Kraft Foodservice and former baking and pastry instructor at The Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, N.Y. "Garnishing and plating desserts shouldn't be an afterthought. It should be an integral part of how you build your recipe."

But not all restaurants boast a designated pastry chef, itching to build delicate sugar cages or mold fondant into petite flowers. So, how do you deliver wow factor without slowing down the line or requiring too much intricate detail?

4 Garnishes That Add Wow Factor

Creamy Pineapple-Rice Pudding


a tumble of berries is fine, but with a little extra attention, you can add eye appeal and flavor dimension

  1. grill
  2. brûlée
  3. caramelize
  4. make a fruit compote or salsa
  5. glaze with apricot jam
Pumpkin Mousse Tarts with Praline Crunch


a counterpoint of salty, crunchy nuts can be delicious, but consider elevating the experience

  1. roast or toast the nuts
  2. make nut brittle
  3. add warm spices to spiced nuts
Red Velvet Cake with Creamy White Chocolate Ganache


from rustic to upscale, tempered chocolate can add dimension and drama

  1. grate chocolate curls using a vegetable peeler
  2. pour chocolate onto a nonstick mat and let it set, then break into rustic shards
  3. pool chocolate sauce, then swipe through it, using a brush or spoon
Crunchy Double-Chocolate Peanut Butter Cones


cookie garnishes add whimsy, nostalgia and outright child's play

  1. use mini cookies as garnish for milkshakes and sundaes
  2. crumble cookies
  3. add cookie pieces to tempered chocolate for added texture

Cheesecake Garnishing Video

Watch Chef Mitchell demonstrate six simple, signature ways to garnish cheesecake.

Stenciled Cheesecake

Try this easy stenciling technique using cocoa powder.
Click here for the video tutorial.


Watch how to make this eye-catching, unique cheesecake garnish.
Click here for the video tutorial.

Holiday Cheesecake

Learn a beautiful two-color swipe technique that will enhance your plated-dessert presentation.
Click here for the video tutorial.

Crème Brûlée Cheesecake

Add an elegant garnish to your N.Y. style cheesecake.
Click here for the video tutorial.

Cheesecake with Fall Apple Compote

Make your plain cheesecake a seasonal dessert with a beautiful fruit compote.
Click here for the video tutorial.

5 Tips for Beautiful Desserts

Patty Mitchell

Patty Mitchell, C.M.B.
Senior Executive Chef
Kraft Culinary Centre

"There are no textbook rules for garnishing," says Chef Mitchell. "And that's good because we don't want to stifle creativity." Although not rules, she does offer guidelines that she uses when approaching dessert plating.

  1. Make garnishes edible. Everything on the dessert plate should be edible and delicious. Stay away from cinnamon sticks!

  2. Keep it clean and simple. Don't crowd the plate. If your dessert is beautiful, it shouldn't need a lot of garnishes. And keep the rim of the plate clear, so the servers aren't touching the food when they place the desserts in front of the customers.

  3. Make your garnishes relate to the dessert on the plate. The only time you should garnish with fresh mint is if you're serving mint ice cream! Don't put it on there just because you think the dessert needs color. If you have a brown dessert, like apples in puff pastry, then make sure all of those elements are executed well—puff pastry should look beautiful and crisp, apples should have nice color and be fanned out beautifully. A drizzle of caramel might work well here, or a simple flourish of whipped cream. But a well-executed, eye-pleasing dessert can sometimes stand alone.

  4. Layer flavors and textures in your dessert. Textures and flavors hit the palate at different times. Ask yourself, "How can I make this better?" If the answer is a little lemon zest, then add it as a garnish. All the components on the plate should build on the dessert, making it better.

  5. Put thought into actual plates. Try different plates—various sizes and shapes. The right plate can add drama or enhance the theme really well.

Master the Art of Dessert Plating