Café Gourmand - my pudding of choice
When it comes to eating out I always have a slight problem at dessert time. WHICH ONE TO CHOOSE? You see with a sweet tooth I always find it really hard to decide what to have with so many delicious options available. I mean I have NEVER looked at a French dessert menu and thought "Hmmm, nothing on there I fancy!". No, it is always, "Should it be a crème brûlée, a panna cotta, a mousse au chocolat or a pain perdu? Or what about a poire belle Hélèn, a tart tatin, a crêpe, a fondant au chocolat or absolutely anything including caramel beurre salé?" And I've not even looked at the ice cream or sorbet selections yet! Thankfully, a chef sometime around 2005 woke up one morning and had a completely brilliant light bulb moment and created my all time favourite dessert - Le café gourmand.
A café gourmand is a selection of tiny desserts served together with an espresso coffee. Some restaurants choose to serve a selection of miniatures that you can find on the main dessert menu where-as others surprise you with completely different creations. In general you get 4-5 different mini dishes and that all important espresso.
Heaven on a plate! Sort of the pudding equivalent of Italian antipasto or Spanish tapas but for dessert.
If you want to create your own café gourmand at home then a trip to a French kitchen shop is in order. There you can buy specialist plates for your café gourmand with matching espresso cups and the various miniature dishes, bowls and glasses to serve your creations in. A slate also make a good choice of serving platter if you don't want to spend out on a specialist plate.
Given the choice I would always go for a café gourmand. The espresso helps cut through the sweetness and the small size of each pudding means I get plenty to satisfy my sweet tooth without overdoing it.
Oh, and if you are feeling really decadent, I suggest a trip to the restaurant at the bowling club in Flers. The restaurant is excellent and they serve an Assiette Gourmand: this time there is no espresso and you get 2 more desserts than with the regular café gourmand! That is true sweet tooth indulgence. However, you will have to visit yourself to see what desserts you get as my son had eaten it before I thought of taking a photo!!
What desserts would you include in your ideal café gourmand?