Address: 317 Springvale Rd, Springvale VIC 3171
Phone: (03) 9540 3453
From an interview with Jill (co-owner) and Clement (staff member) that has been edited.
(Jill) Jack – who co-owns Desserts by Night with me – loves dessert.
He has these late night cravings so – back in the day – he’d either go to the supermarket to buy sweets, make something himself or go without.
He wanted a place where people could satisfy those after-dinner cravings, and the type of desserts he wanted were available at some fine dining restaurants, but not at relaxed cafés. A place where everyone can gather over a dessert was missing.
So we opened Desserts By Night in Springvale at the end of 2017. The one in Edgewater, Maribyrnong is run by Jack’s brother. It has a similar sensibility but it is in a different location.
Most people don’t have a sophisticated dessert every day. Rather, they will go out to indulge in some juicy and outrageous food and share a nice moment with friends and family.
That’s the mindset that we want customers to come here with.
(Clement) We make a mixture of French and Asian desserts.
Our most popular dish is probably the crème brûlée.
It is simple, beautiful – with fresh fruit and flowers on top – and it plays to all of the senses. Even the sound of it, when you hear the crust of caramel breaking under your spoon, it is magic.
And I love the mango pudding. It has a jelly of mango flesh that has been seasoned with different things. Fresh mangos are cut and placed around it and, as you move around the centre of the pudding, there are bread-crumbs and mango sorbet.
It also has a foam of lychee which is really airy and, when you put it in your mouth, it instantly disappears. You end up with this intense, vibrant smell of lychee. I really like the different layers of that dessert, but mango season is fairly short.
It is hard running all over Melbourne to get some nice mangos.
(Clement) Having a market with fresh produce just around the corner is perfect.
It provides an opportunity to create something special.
For example, I recently found out that matcha is much bigger than what I thought. In Japan, they use it in everything: cooking, sweets, cakes, drinks and so on.
And Jill helped me discover genmaicha. It is a high quality matcha made with premium first flush green tea leaves, and toasted brown rice powder. It has a beautiful and powerful smell, and it doesn’t have the bitterness of regular matcha.
I came across it two weeks ago and now we have a layered genmaicha cake.
Almost everything – the sorbets, the macarons and so on – is made on site.
(Clement) The menu is a group-effort, but the cakes in the fridge are my little babies.
Making pastries is like playing with Lego. You have all of these techniques and bricks – mousse, jelly, biscuits, anything really – and the game is assembling them. Eventually, you can create something that is really imaginative.
Take the Josephine. It is a strawberry cake but – inside – I wanted a really strong raspberry taste. I have different options. I could have included a jelly, but I wanted the theatrics. I used a coulis so, when you cut the cake, the raspberry oozes out.
We also have a presently unnamed cake, which is a degustation in itself. It has a layer of lemon sponge and adzuki red bean paste, which provides a textural element. It is encased in a lime mousse, and it has two different types of icing: the matte genmaicha icing on the bottom, and a shiny lime gel on top. it is elegant, delicious and timeless in its nature.
All of these designs start on paper. I test things out and keep adjusting until I get the result that I want to achieve. But I think it’s just like art. There is the purpose of the artist but – once it is done – it no longer belongs to them.
It belongs to the person who is enjoying it.
I love to eat and share food.
But what draws me to being a pastry chef is the scope for creativity.
Sometimes the idea behind a pastry will come from the ingredients. I’ll find a new element and build on it. Other times it comes from relationships.
For example, I named a cake after my partner, Helene. A traditional dessert in France is the Poires Belle Helene, which is a combination of caramelised and poached pear, white chocolate, vanilla and so on.
Then there is your audience. Springvale has a big Asian population and, after a while, I found that some of the French desserts were a bit rich for a different pallet. The first time I made a pound bread with choux pastry and a nut praline cream, it didn’t work.
I kept the same idea, but I lightened it with a mascarpone which is not as sweet.
I’ve also been refining a chilli and lime cake for a long time.
(Jill) I told him that it sounds like a Thai salad, but Clement gets inspiration from everything.
(Clement) There are two different parts to it. You get the cool and fresh aromas of the lime. Then, after a few seconds, the heat from the chilli plays on the back of your tongue. The challenge is finding the right chilli which has the heat but not the capsicum taste.
You find the same cheesecake at every bakery, and some people want a dish that surprises them. For people who don’t just want cakes, we have a big menu. We sell a lot of warm desserts and hot chocolates in winter, and we have desserts that aren’t too sweet.
We have gluten free, halal and eggless options as well.
(Jill) Coffee is also a big part of the business.
I studied accounting and was working as an accountant for over 4 years.
But when the shop opened, I did a few hospitality courses to gather insight in the industry.
Now I work as front-of-house and as the barista. It’s a big jump from a desk-job, but I love to take on new challenges. In my free time I enjoy testing new combinations with seasonal special mixes.
We use a Veneziano Forza blend, and we have a specialty range which includes taro matcha and genmaicha lattes, Vietnamese coffee and mocktails. The taro mix is our best seller.
It has an incredible purple colour, we make it with our own mix and in our own style.
We put a lot of care, passion and effort into our work.
Our cakes and drinks are distinct, and we are trying to create a sense of anticipation when a plate arrives on the table.
We travel all over Melbourne to find the right suppliers and ingredients, every part of our cakes are made from scratch, and they are of the highest quality. And – for the product that we are offering – our cakes are affordable.
There aren’t many places with a relaxed setting where you can try a complex dessert.
We want everyone to try Desserts By Night.
Written by Aron Lewin with all photos by Tatiana C C Scott