Sarah Barber presents The Mad Hatter

Sarah Barber, who is since January the Executive Pastry Chef of the Cafe Royal Hotel, is well known as one of the most creative pastry chefs in London. Before taking the position at Cafe Royal she was Head Pastry Chef at Corinthia Hotel, Me London Hotel, Yauatcha (part of Hakkasan group) and Dinner By Heston Blumenthal. Previously she worked also at Mandarin Oriental, The Ritz and the Connaught Hotel. At Cafe Royal she has also opened the first dessert restaurant in London. We were curious to know what is her favourite chocolate dessert created within the last 12 months, so we asked her about it.

My absolute favourite is “The Mad Hatter” which was created for the menu at London's first dessert restaurant at Cafe Royal, which was launched last month.

The Mad Hatter by Sarah Barber. Photo: courtesy of Sarah Barber
The Mad Hatter by Sarah Barber. Photo: courtesy of Sarah Barber

How would you describe your dessert?
It is a sphere mould filled with a chocolate and cherry mousse, Kirsch cherries insert and a sour cherry mousse. The sphere is then sprayed. It is served with an edible chocolate clock, cherry jam, kirsch Chantilly and a cherry and kirsch consommé. It is my modern interpretation of the classic Black forest gateaux.

What inspired you to create it?
It was created for my “ Sarah in Wonderland” menu, which is full of desserts that are fun. The dessert itself it very playful and has very intriguing elements.

Did it require any special technique?
The fluidity of the mousses is crucial to the refinement of the sphere mould shape. It has to be filled slowly to reduce any air pockets, and it is important how it is remoulded and sprayed.

What was the greatest challenge in creating this dessert?
The greatest challenge was creating the right balance between the acidity of the fruits, the chocolate and the alcohol. I wanted a perfect harmony!

Which Cacao Barry Chocolate was used in this dessert and why have you chosen that one?
I used Cacao Barry Madirofolo 65% plantation because it works so well with fruit tones - in the case of this dessert it enhances the flavour of the sour cherry, creating the flavours of a true black forest gateaux. I also used Cacao Barry Ocoa 70% for the spray, as it has higher cocoa content, giving a fine richness and earthiness flavour to the dish.

How would you invite people to come and try this dessert?
It’s fun, creative and playful - it is a modern twist on the old school classic, so come and have fun with it!