Bittersweet's garden-themed desserts feature ingredients grown in-house (recipe included!)
All photos by Kate Gibbons.
Pastry chef Kris Padalino dug around the garden when she joined the crew at Bittersweet this spring, and came up with some sweet and evil desserts for her first menu. Utilizing the crops planted by co-owner/chef Olav Peterson, Padalino revised the roster, adding a traditional strawberry shortcake, a rhubarb pavlova, microwaved chocolate cake and a Tim Burton-inspired terrarium full of sweets called the "garden of good and evil."
See also: - Root Down dishes up new desserts for summer -- and a cake recipe, too! - Bittersweet introduces $40 tasting menu, paired with wines - Dessert at lunch? How sweet it could be at The Universal
"Who doesn't like shortcakes?" Padalino asks. For this one, she poaches fresh strawberries in brown sugar and adds a basil anglaise, then serves the crumbly butter biscuit with crème fraiche ice cream. The shortcake is a perfect summery treat, and easy enough to make at home (recipe below).
Light enough to seem calorie-free, the rhubarb pavlova is a mix of sweet-tart goodness that melts in your mouth. Meringue kisses dot the oversized bowl of poached rhubarb and a strawberry puree; Padalino finishes the pavlova with a simple syrup and Greek yogurt sorbet.
Stepping away from berries, Padalino combines caramelized bananas, marshmallow fluff, bits of microwaved chocolate cake and hazelnut-flavored gianduja ganache tubes for the simple "chocolate" listed at the top of the menu. Plated with micro-greens, the dessert mixes two of Padalino's favorite flavors: marshmallow and hazelnut.
"I have a thing for marshmallow and hazelnut. I eat Nutella all the time," she admits.
The most interesting dessert on the menu is the "midnight in the garden of good and evil." Served in a terrarium, the "garden" is a fully edible, life-like garden of sweets. Using chocolate cream as "soil," Padalino builds each dessert with matcha crumbs to simulate moss, shredded philo as twigs and branches, and a mushroom made of meringue. She adds a dollop of sour cherry sorbet for color and a bit of tang, and serves with the top on. Smoke magically rises out after the dish is opened, a la Tim Burton movie.
Single, double or triple scoops of ice creams and sorbets are also available, as are coffee and tea from Bean and Leaf.
Bittersweet's Strawberry Shortcake
Roasted Strawberries -Core and quarter 1 pint of strawberries -Place in an oven-safe pan with 1/4 cup of brown sugar -Cook at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes
Shortcake 2 1/3 cup all-purpose flour 1 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp salt 2 Tbs sugar 2/3 cup whole milk 1 whole egg 1 egg yolk 3 oz cold, cubed butter
-In a food processor, place all dry ingredients and pulse twice. -Add cubed butter and pulse until crumbled. -Combine milk and eggs. While pulsing, add wet to dry until soft dough forms. -Turn out onto surface and wrap in plastic wrap to cool. -Once cooled, turn out onto floured surface. Cut/form into desired shape. -Egg wash and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes (or until lightly golden brown)
Creme Fraiche Ice Cream 6 cups whole milk 2 cups cream 2 cups sugar 2 vanilla beans 3 cups creme fraiche 24 yolks
-Scold milk and cream with vanilla beans and half the sugar. -Whisk remaining sugar and yolks. -Temper liquid into yolks. Add creme fraiche. Cool and spin in ice cream machine.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Denver dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.