Living the sweet life: happy Dessert Day!
It’s National Dessert Day today in the United States. But we think that – just like a good tiramisu – Dessert Day should be shared, which is why we’ve decided it’s worth celebrating our favourite course here at Eativity, too. Any excuse to eat cake, eh?
The word “dessert” comes from the French word “desservir”, which means to remove that which has been served, or clear the table. So basically, dessert is a meal that’s served after all the other dishes have been taken away. The French are certainly renowned for their decadent desserts, although we reckon a good old Aussie pavlova topped with ripe seasonal fruits could stand up to a crème brûlée any day.
Another nationality known for its dreamy desserts is the Italians. From cannoli to panna cotta, from sfogliatella to semifreddo, the Italians sure know how to live la dolce vita. Eativity was lucky enough to speak with an Italian pastry chef on this day of desserts – a skilled artisan who has brought the sweet life to Melbourne from his home in northern Italy, via a few stops in Paris and Milan along the way to really hone his craft.
Alessandro Bartesaghi is the Executive Pastry Chef at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC). He’s worked there since 2011, creating spectacular sweet creations for events and occasions large and small. Last year, he was named the winner of the Regional Semi Finals Asia Selections in the C3 Valrhona Chocolate Chef Competition, and was supposed to be travelling to the finals in Singapore this March past.
Of course, COVID-19 has thrown a spanner in those works, and that’s not the only career disruption that Bartesaghi has experienced – since Melbourne went into lockdown, he has been unable to work at the MCEC. But this has not stopped the talented chef from continuing to do what he does best – create amazing sweet delicacies.
“I’ve been cooking pretty much every day, maybe too much,” he says. “My wife is saying, ‘Stop cooking, please!’. But because I have so much spare time right now, my mind is working even more creatively.
“One of the things I like most about my job is the out-there recipes we create, and coming up with new ideas. But when you try to force the creativity while you’re busy, it’s a lot more difficult. When you relax, like now in lockdown, that’s when the ideas come.”
Bartesaghi has been conceiving new designs for cakes, working on his technique and studying the chemistry involved in creating different types of sweet treat.
“I have time to do more test batches, so I can see the results when you are changing things slightly, whether it be the ingredients or the technique or something else,” he explains.
Bartesaghi also began to share his pastry creations on his Instagram account, which has – not surprisingly – started to gain an ardent following. But what we really wanted to know was – who is getting to eat all of these magnificent desserts?
“My neighbours have been pretty lucky,” Bartesaghi says with a laugh. “Last week I made something, and my wife wouldn’t even taste it, so I just gave to my neighbours. They are all getting quite a lot of sugar right now.”
Well, it sounds like Eativity is going to have to move its HQ to Bartesaghi’s street. All in the name of research, obviously.
Because Bartesaghi loves to share (as his neighbours can surely attest), he has been kind enough to pass on a simple cookie recipe that anyone can master.
Chocolate and peanut butter cookies
Makes 12 cookies
75g caster sugar
75g brown sugar
135g unsalted butter
40g crunchy peanut butter
3g salt flakes
160g plain flour
30g Dutch cocoa powder
4.5g bicarb soda
70g dark chocolate 70%
40g roasted peanuts, crushed
1. Mix sugars, salt and peanut butter
2. Combine bicarb soda, flour and cocoa powder
3. Mix in dark chocolate and peanuts
4. Divide into 12 pieces of approximately 50g each
5. Shape and bake at 170 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes
You can follow Bartesaghi on his Instagram page, where he not only shares mouth-watering photos of cakey goodness, he also sometimes includes the recipe, too.