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Sunday Brunch

Sunday Brunch

Bite Size Brunchies and Crunchies: Food and Wine Dessert Extravanganza

November 6, 2011

I hope you enjoyed this year's Halloween season and last week's themed article, though now we return to the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. After a few weeks of samples, bite, nibbles, and tastes around the world, we look at the sweeter side of food: desserts around the world! If you missed my previous articles covering the Festival, check out October 15th and October 23rd's articles.


Our first stop is in the Middle East, where the Morocco marketplace offers a crispy, flaky sweet treat called Baklava. While not involving chickens nor volcanoes, baklava is a dessert made from layers of phyllo pastry (an extremely thin sheet of pastry dough from Middle Eastern cuisine) with chopped nuts, and honey. The dessert is found in many cultures in the region, though most credit it to Turkey, as its name is Turkish.

The Moroccan marketplace was set up in just the right spot by a scene fitting palm

The Moroccan version was actually quite heavy in weight and in richness. The layers were crisp and incredibly thin, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were dozens of layers in this serving alone. Some baklava I have experienced evenly distributes nuts and honey, though in this version the filling was concentrated to the bottom half. The bottom half layer was sticky and sweet with honey and chopped nuts, I found it a little odd, but a nice way to experience the super thin phyllo dough by itself with the signature flavors of baklava. Overall, I particularly enjoyed the dessert and found it a great value for the size serving you received.


Next we'll head north to Europe, where the popular classical pastries we know today began. Whether for breakfast or dessert, the Belgian Waffle is an expected treat one would hope to find in the Belgium marketplace. Epcot's Belgian Waffle was a sweet and crispy treat with berry compote and a rosette of fresh whipped cream. With a light and crispy outside and fluffy warm inside, the waffle was just as waffles should be. I could sense a hint of nutmeg or some other sweet spice like cardamom. They used a great waffle iron for these little bites, each waffle of sizeable but manageable thickness with deep wells to hold the fresh berry compote. The sweet berries contrasted great with the sweet spiced, wholesome waffles, while the rich whipped cream helped cut the acidity from the berries. Overall a satisfying treat, making me ready for breakfast!

Nestled among fresh flowers on a quaint wooded corner by the France pavilion,
the Belgium marketplace was one of the most beautiful of the festival


The main focus of my pastry studies in school was in French pastry, so desserts in Epcot's France pavilion have a lot to live up to. Oddly enough, I had not sampled the cr'me brulee at the France marketplace for the festival. Part of it may have been the smell of the escargot being served from the same kiosk, though, if I recall correctly, I lacked a Lactaid tablet that day. My flatmate John tried it and he really enjoyed it! Cr'me brulee translates into 'burnt cream' because of its signature hardened top caused by caramelized sugar. Whether by broiling or a torch, the crunchy top of cr'me brulee is a signature part of the dessert. John's dessert had the satisfying crack as soon as he started to dig in to the dessert. In his own words, John describes the classical French dessert: '[The cr'me brulee was] rich and smooth, [I] loved that it was chocolate and not vanilla.' I just may have to try it before the festival ends!



Though I did not have the cr'me brulee, I did have a dessert crepe a few weeks later! It was not part of the Food and Wine Festival, but the France pavilion regularly features a crepe stand offering dessert crepes with a variety of toppings. Crepes are the French version of the pancake, though much thinner. I chose a chocolate crepe and while incredibly delicious, I was a tad disappointed with its preparation.

By all means, it makes perfect sense how they create these crepes for logistical purposes; I was expecting a tad more effort on France's behalf. The stand is equipped with a crepe griddle, flat and round, perfect for making fresh crepes, though they were only using it to warm up premade crepes. Also the chocolate came out of a bottle of Hershey's syrup. For the price I was paying I was expecting a bit more. At least put the chocolate in a nondescript container to make us think its quality French chocolate! Still, I can't complain, Hershey's makes great chocolate and the speed in which I received my crepe order made up for its shortcomings.

Ireland's marketplace is set in a thatched roof hut by the United Kingdom pavilion

The chocolate theme of our dessert night at Food and Wine continues with Ireland's Chocolate Lava Cake with Bailey's Chocolate Ganache. This is probably by far the best dessert after pumpkin mousse at the festival. Chocolate Lava cake can easily be made incorrectly; believe me, my classmates and I have baked lava cakes a tad too long, completely eliminating the lava portion. Epcot's pastry chefs made the perfect size cake with an overflowing pool of chocolate lava. Upon first watching the chef's unmold the lava cakes onto the small paper plate, I was completely shocked at its miniscule size. Though once he ladled the 'lava' or rather the Bailey's Chocolate Ganache, I was all too eager and pleased with what I was getting.


My friend Alison sampled Ireland's cheese plate, seen on the left, which she found quite satisfying!

If you ever get the chance to enjoy the cake, make sure to let it cool down first. The ganache may actually have been the typical temperature of lava as it steamed in front of me on a warm evening! The use of the biting alcohol content from the Bailey's in the ganache helped to provide balance with the semi-sweet chocolate dessert. Upon first bite, all you taste is pure, unadulterated, rich quality dark chocolate. It would not be fair to say anymore about the chocolate as few choice adjectives could describe such an experience.

Our final stop is actually not to any specific region or country at all, but a marketplace devoted completely to desserts and champagne!

Taking the spot usually occupied by a World Showcase popcorn and soda stand, the offerings are replaced with rich and decadent desserts and champagne.

The Dessert and Champagne marketplace offered soft serve ice cream with Grand Marnier (an orange flavored liquor), three separate desserts for $1.50, and all three desserts for only $3.95! That is probably the best deal found at Food and Wine. I love the smell of savings in the morning, so I could not pass up this deal! I decided to try the one I thought I would like the least first. The Lemon Chiffon was first. It was basically a small square of chiffon cake with lemon custard and a dollop of meringue on top. In a sense, it was a fancy version of lemon meringue pie. I actually enjoyed this quite a bit, taking in the strong lemon flavors.


Next was the Tres Leches Verrine. I knew I'd be really risking my lactose intolerance with this one since it was basically a cake soaked in milk and cream. Usually in tres leches cakes, the three milks used are whole milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream. In this dessert, all I could taste was evaporated milk. It was nice and sweet, and the toasted coconut flakes added a nice touch to the dessert, though it was overall my least favorite of the trio.


Finally, I completed my dessert trio adventure with the White Chocolate Macadamia Mousse with Dark Chocolate Pearls. Sounding the most decadent of them all, this dessert actually did live up to its name! White Chocolate is my favorite kind of chocolate even though it's not actually chocolate and most people think I'm nuts for liking it. Though with this dessert, I actually started to waver a bit on the dark chocolate side. I may have exhausted my tongue with the previous sweets, but overall I felt like this one was too sweet. White chocolate is basically the cocoa butter (the fat component of chocolate), sugar and milk. With everything else in this dessert, I felt like they should have upped the dark chocolate content to provide more balance. The macadamia nuts and chocolate pearls did provide a nice satisfying crunchy component and though the dessert was too sweet, I still enjoyed it!


Epcot's Dessert Trio

With only one week left of the Food and Wine Festival, there is still much to sample! Hopefully I will get to cover everything I have wanted to try and perhaps inspired you to make a trip down for the next Food and Wine Festival. For now, I will attempt to sleep as I try and ignore the rumblies in my tumbly after writing about all these desserts.


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