Friday, 24 August 2012

Charity Dessert Night in Cheltenham

"We Love Desserts" Charity Night

It was my husband's birthday last week, so as a surprise (and knowing what a sweet tooth he has), I arranged to take him along to a dessert tasting evening with friends. Organised by We Love Desserts, and held at The Beehive in Cheltenham, the proceeds from the evening were split between Sue Ryder and The Eve Appeal, so we could all feel virtuous while completely wrecking our diets...

We were welcomed with a complimentary glass of wine, and a little strawberry chocolate cup served with fresh strawberries (above), to nibble on while everyone arrived and took their places.

As most of the desserts are usually prepared with gelatine, I had to put in a special request in advance to make sure there was a vegetarian option available. I did wonder whether this would mean my experience was completely different to that of my friends, as my desserts were being developed especially for me, but as it happens each course was faithfully converted to veggie form. In fact, the only difference I spotted on the first plate of puds was that the colours on mine were more vibrant (click to enlarge images).

"We Love Desserts" Charity Night"We Love Desserts" Charity Night

Each of the six bite-size portions had its own distinctive flavour, and there was a nice balance of textures: the taller towers were thick and creamy, the smaller ones more like a soft jelly, and of course the chunks of fresh fruit added another dimension.

"We Love Desserts" Charity NightAfter we'd all cleared our plates, a little bit of fun was added in the form of dry ice shots. White wine was poured over lumps of dry ice, for a show of bubbles followed by a very chilly drink. Matching centrepieces gave an even more impressive display, with clouds of gas flooding across the table. I do love dry ice - so pretty.

"We Love Desserts" Charity Night

After that brief interlude, it was back to hard-core dessert eating, in the form of the chocolate course. Again, the vegetarian version matched up well against the original. A rich chocolate mousse, topped with a dark chocolate glaze and a mini eclair, was served with fresh raspberries, a tiny Kilner jar of cream, and yet more chocolate drizzled over the top. Absolutely indulgent.

"We Love Desserts" Charity Night"We Love Desserts" Charity Night

Next up we had chocolate cocktails. I'm not sure if these were actually alcoholic, they didn't really taste as if they were, but perhaps by that stage I'd had too much wine to judge. But they certainly were very moreish, and the tangy fruit puree helped to balance out the sweeter chocolate layer.

"We Love Desserts" Charity Night

The final course of the evening was a white chocolate mouse with black cherry filling, served with fresh fruit and - in a fun twist - a dish which gushed dry ice when a little warm water was squirted through a gap in the plate. By this stage, if I'm honest, I was feeling a little overwhelmed by the richness of it all. Fortunately Andy didn't have the same problem, so I ended up giving him about a third of my mousse to finish off. It's not that I didn't enjoy it, but you can have too much of a good thing, when the good thing is made of pure sugar.

"We Love Desserts" Charity Night"We Love Desserts" Charity Night

As you can probably tell, we had a fantastic time sampling all these various treats. And then we were each given a "party bag" with another, boxed dessert to take home. There was a little mix-up at this stage, because the veggie and non-veggie puds look so similar that the bags got confused - but Andy was happy to eat two helpings of strawberry mallow, and I've been promised a veggie replacement at a future date - which is just fine by me as I won't need any more sugar for a while!

While they're obviously aiming at different markets, the closest competition in the Cotswolds is probably the longer-established-and-more-famous Pudding Club. The Pudding Club focuses on traditional, custard-laden British dishes - a very different feel to these chilled, more sophisticated desserts - but I'd also say that the quality here was much higher. The balance of flavours and textures had clearly been thought out carefully, with a lot of attention to detail in the presentation and serving.

Tickets for future events (currently planned for Cheltenham and Manchester) are available via the We Love Desserts website. I'll certainly consider going again in future, especially if the menu changes with the seasons.


Stephanie V said...

Very cool idea for a fund-raiser. Love dry ice effects, too. Having spent a few days sampling more desserts than I eat in half a year, your photos are a treat for my eyes and my imagination.

Rachel said...

Sounds like the sort of thing my husband would love too - do they do a teetotal version?

Mike Harvey said...

I'm sure my waistline's expanded just reading about this. From your photos and description they certainly went to town on the presentation. I suspect someone there is something of a Heston Blumenthal fan.

Camille said...

Looks delicious! Those dry ice shots are really net!

Kate said...

What a decadent event! Everything looks so good... I think that strawberry dessert in the first picture looks especially delicious.
Visiting from Saturday Sharefest :)

Charlotte Klein said...

Oh, wow, Rachel... These desserts look absolutely amazing. And you're absolutely right: it looks to me that the veggie portions are much more vibrant in photos.

Happy belated birthday to your hubby; hope you both had a magnificent time at the tasting! XOXO

Rebecca Subbiah said...

wow the desserts look amazing what a lovely evening for you both

Jessica Grace said...

Hope you and your honey enjoyed his birthday and those desserts look so incredibly decadent and delicious and what a fun way to celebrate how creative.

Michelle said...

What a great idea for a fundraiser! Everything looked yummy!

Anonymous said...

Oh my GOSH, look at all this!!! I almost drooled on my keyboard >_< These look so amazing, and happy birthday to your husband! <3

Dave King said...

Delicious images, but the goodies on show a tad too sweet for me, I fear. Good to think you both enjoyed the evening and that the charities benefited. Lovely post.

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

What a fun idea for a fund raiser.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rachel,

Thanks so much for your blog post, we really loved reading it and are so glad you enjoyed the night!

xx We Love Desserts :)

Stephanie said...

Oh and now I wish I lived anywhere near you! This looks like my kind of event:) Happy Birthday to yuor hubby!

AVCr8teur said...

They all look lovely as much as they look tasty. I wonder how the veggie versus the non-veggie tasted like.

maria verivaki said...

this sounds quite amazing - i would never have believed that a restaurant could produce the same deserts on the same night using different ingredients

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