The term "garnish" is a very broad one when talking about dessert, but in a nutshell it can be used to describe anything on a plate that is not the main item. Chocolate truffles, whipped cream and fruit are all examples of dessert garnishes. They may seem unimportant to some people, but any good foodie knows that presentation is a big part of any dish. If you are serious about making great desserts, learn how to properly garnish your dishes.
Garnishing your dessert with fruit may be a good idea depending on what that dessert is, but the right fruit can sometimes make a dessert memorable. The most universal idea for a fruit garnish is a cherry on top of a sundae. The cherry is a small part of the dessert, but some people would see a sundae as incomplete if it didn't have that cherry. Another great idea for a fruit garnish is to use strawberries with a chocolate dish. Strawberries go great with chocolate, and adding a few fresh strawberries to a rich chocolate cake smothered in chocolate syrup is always a tasty dessert idea.
Chocolate is a dessert staple, and there are few things that can bring a dessert to gourmet status than creatively adding a little touch of chocolate. Adding chocolate to a dessert is simple, but it will add a memorable finishing touch to any sweet dish. A good example of simple chocolate garnishes are chocolate curls. Simply shave a bar of semisweet chocolate into small pieces. Place the shavings in a cup with 1 tsp shortening for every 56.7gr. chocolate. Melt the chocolate and shortening mix until it is smooth and spread it in a thin layer onto a baking pan. Once the chocolate cools, you should be able to take a spatula and peel away the chocolate in such a way that it comes off in strips. Shape the strips into curls and garnish your dessert as desired.
Nuts are a suitable garnish for many ice cream or chocolate desserts. Pecans go perfectly on a French silk pie, and nuts on an ice cream sundae. An especially tasty and attractive garnish can be made from some pecans and simple syrup. Simply toss the nuts together with the syrup and some salt and bake them for 5 to 10 minutes at 163 degrees C. The nuts should be crisp all the way through after they cool for a bit. If they are still gummy, put them back in the oven for a few more minutes. Just be careful not to burn them.
Desserts can be garnished with just about anything you can imagine. Other delicious garnish ideas include chocolate sauce, caramel sauce or a dusting of icing sugar. If you are feeling especially daring, try using herbs, edible flowers or powdered spices. Chilli powder goes especially well with dark chocolate. Just be sure to show some restraint if you use spices, as they can ruin your dish quickly.