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Chef Daniel Boulud on the decadent, lasting impression of dessert

February 16, 2016 at 6:15 PM EDT
Dessert -- it’s one of the sweetest things in life. Chef and restaurateur Daniel Boulud explains why we should never go without.

GWEN IFILL: Finally tonight, an ode to desserts.

Daniel Boulud is a James Beard Award-winning chef with restaurants around the world. Tonight, he celebrates a meal’s sweet spot, dessert, and explains why we should never go without.

DANIEL BOULUD, Chef: A meal is a crescendo. And the crescendo wouldn’t be complete without the dessert.

The last impression I think you want to leave, a long lingering, sort of, dreamy feel of the end of a meal. And I think dessert, it energizes you, the sugar. I think you get a little bit of the sugar rush.

WOMAN: The best part of it is you soak it in a lot of rum.

DANIEL BOULUD: That’s Ghaya, our pastry chef.

So, right now, we’re doing a baba au rhum. It’s an old classic dessert where it’s maybe not a children-driven dessert, but, you know, once you start to grow up, you love baba au rhum because that’s the only chance you have to have a little bit of alcohol in your dessert.

And for us, we take this classic idea of the baba au rhum, but we make a delicate baba, which is soaked in an aged white rum, 3-years-old white rum with vanilla. And then we have pistachio, a crust of pistachio on top.

And we serve that with a pistachio whip cream, and the crunch of the little pistachio, and then on the side, also, is a salad of citrus, so there’s grapefruit, there is orange, there is a little bit of kumquat confit in sugar and all that.

So the citrus is there to sort of play with the rum, play with the baba, cool off a little bit the rum. The cream is there to give richness to either the baba or the citrus. And the sweet together, it’s still a very light, refreshing dessert, and yet a very classic French baba au rhum.

Dessert is very artistic. Dessert is sort of an expression of art in a very natural way and in a very sort of decadent way as well. In cooking, yes, it’s a little bit more like jazz, I mean, where you can jam a little bit. You can take — you can be spontaneous.

With pastry, it, I think, goes a little bit more like classical music. The repertoire is set, and it’s a question of just creating the layers of intensity. The texture, we respect the taste. I don’t think dessert is really the problem in a diet of people.

You have to eat dessert with moderation, but I think it’s important to continue to keep yourself and your soul happy with a bit of sweetness. And I’m having chocolate every night at home. I have always bar of chocolate. And I break a little piece, and I suck on slowly and feel like, ah that’s so good. OK, that chocolate, maybe we should do something with it tomorrow.