How To Spoon Out The Perfect Quenelle For Elevated Desserts

Homemade desserts are many things: unique, sentimental, and delicious. One thing they tend not to be, however, is very aesthetically sophisticated. This isn't always an issue — no one has ever turned down a chocolate chunk cookie because of how it looks — but sometimes it is nice to elevate a plate in the presence of guests or during a special occasion. If you are looking for a way to do just that, we recommend adding a quenelle to the top of your desserts for some extra flair.

If you have ever been to a fancy restaurant and ordered a dessert, it may have come with an oblong, rounded dollop of ice cream on top. That style of garnish is called a quenelle. To make a quenelle, place your spoon on the surface of whatever ingredient you are using, holding it horizontally. With the concave side facing away from you, steadily but decisively push the spoon away from you until half of the quenelle is formed, then rotate the spoon to face you and drag it back toward you until the quenelle is complete. There are several hacks we recommend to increase your chances of success. Using a long, narrow spoon with a deep curve will ensure your quenelle comes out perfectly egg-shaped. You can even invest in a special type of spoon for the occasion: a quenelle spoon. Warming the spoon in hot water and making sure the ingredient you are quenelling is properly chilled will also help ensure good results.

What types of ingredients make good quenelles?

When it comes to deciding what to quenelle, all you really need to be sure of is that it has the right consistency. Look for ingredients that are soft enough to be scoopable but thick enough to hold their shape once plated. For example, common items to make quenelles out of include ice cream and sorbet, as well as looser ingredients like whipped cream and mousse. You can also make them out of savory ingredients. Popular options in that camp include proteins (often fish or poultry), which are then transformed into a paste, shaped, and cooked to create dumplings of a sort. Simpler savory quenelles include those made from paté or butter.

As long as the ingredient you are shaping has the ability to stay firm after it is scooped, there is no limit on the unorthodox types of quenelles you can make. Try it out with certain cheeses and dips, or even less gourmet menu items like mashed potatoes or peanut butter. You should not have to change your strategy much, though with less wieldy items, you may want to grab a second spoon to keep the ingredients from spilling.