brittany dessert diva.jpg
Photo by Leslie Kelly
Brioche buns at Betty make for an even better burger.
Brittany Bardeleben's happiest when she's making desserts that evoke memories of


Pastry Chef at Crow and Betty Psyched About Summer Fruit

brittany dessert diva.jpg
Photo by Leslie Kelly
Brioche buns at Betty make for an even better burger.
Brittany Bardeleben's happiest when she's making desserts that evoke memories of Mom or Grandma, but with an upscale twist. Her carrot cake served at Crow and Betty is elevated by a drizzle of exotic pineapple caramel. Crisps and crumbles are often topped by a boozy ice cream. As the summer season approaches, Bardeleben celebrates the arrival of berries by keeping sweets simple.

In today's Grillaxin Q&A, Bardeleben dishes some of her greatest hits and laments one miss that left her feeling slightly bitter about apricots. Read about Bardeleben's tart start in part one.

SW: When you go out, do you always order dessert?

Bardeleben: Yes, it's almost like a professional courtesy. My favorite pastry chef is James from Besalu. I just think his pastries are magic. What's funny is that a lot of restaurants don't have pastry chefs anymore. It's a tough time and the pastry chef is usually the first to go. I'm really fortunate to work somewhere where they recognize that it's important to have a person dedicated to making desserts. It's the last thing a diner is going to have, their last impression of a place.

SW: What's your routine?

Bardeleben:I come in mornings and get the pie going and the brioche going and then whatever needs to be done. I like for each restaurant to have its own signature desserts. Cobblers and crisps fly out of Crow. Betty is all about the pie.

brittany's instructions.jpg
Photo by Leslie Kelly
Pastry chef Brittany Bardeleben illustrates plating instructions for her desserts.
SW: These pictures you draw of the desserts are beautiful.

Bardeleben: Well, I'm really kind of anal. I just want them to be plated right. I do all the crumbles and crisps in individual ramekins. The cooks love plating those because all they have to do is warm it up and add a scoop of ice cream. I try to look for pretty pieces of paper that match the desserts, make them look nice. You've got to put love into your desserts.

SW: Have you had any big flops?

Bardeleben: I usually do a lot of testing before putting it on the menu. My co-workers are happy to help out with that. Last year, I put an apricot crisp on with Cognac ice cream. It sold OK, but I was never really happy with it. Apricots are tricky. But sometimes when they're cooked, they almost turn more sour. It was very tart. It wasn't bad. It wasn't a total flop, but I threw the recipe away when I was done with it.

SW: Do you have a favorite ingredient, besides all the great fruit?

Bardeleben: I love working with booze. It can be a little challenging when you're making ice cream. When I was making that Cognac ice cream, I was using the most flavorful cognac and the more you use, the softer the ice cream. But it has almost a velvety, soft serve ice cream texture. I also use a lot of wine. I'm doing a raspberry Syrah reduction for the chocolate cake. Red wine and berries are really good. I did a raspberry Merlot sorbet. That was one of my favorite sorbets ever. I did a Calvados ice cream on top of a Johnnycake apple cobbler. I love whiskey. I love doing an apple upside down cake and dousing it with whiskey. I've made Guinness ice cream. We serve it with a brownie and a shot of Jamesons on the side. I can't take credit for that. That was the former pastry chef.

SW: How do you come up with new stuff?

Bardeleben: I'm always thinking. I might be sitting there watching a movie and my mind will wander. I'll be thinking of flavors that work well together. I have two or three steno pads around the house, that I fill with notes.

SW: What's coming up?

Bardeleben: I want to do a blueberry cobbler this summer and get my hands on some cinnamon basil. I love doing herbal ice creams with fruit desserts. Last year I did blackberry turnovers with tarragon ice cream and that was a big hit, so I'm going to do that again this year. Chocolate and cherries is one of my favorite combinations, so I'm going to do a malted chocolate ice cream with Bing cherry compote. I can't decide what I'm going to do with apricots this year. I might ignore them completely. I don't want to sound like I'm mad at apricots. I've had lots of good experiences.

SW: Do you get fruit at the Queen Anne Farmers Market?

Bardeleben: Yes, that's one of my favorite things to do on Thursdays in the summer. (The market makes its summer season debut tomorrow.) That's where I get most of my berries. I love buying from the farmers.

In tomorrow's Grillaxin, Bardeleben shares her recipe for shortbread cookies, which go wonderfully with ice cream and fresh fruit.

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