When the world’s greatest pastry chef comes into your kitchen at 10 a.m., you eat dessert at 10 a.m.

By Justine Sterling
Updated May 23, 2017
© Abby Hocking

That’s what happened last week when Jordi Roca of Spain’s El Cellar de Can Roca visited the Food & Wine Test Kitchens and plated two breathtakingly beautiful (and equally delicious) desserts. One was inspired by a perfume, and the other was Roca’s very surprising interpretation of vanilla. Roca explained that when he tasted vanilla, he tasted four components: licorice, caramel, cocoa and, shockingly, black olives. Below, see how Roca deconstructed the flavors of vanilla and put them all together in one beautiful dessert (pictured above).

1. Roca starts by delicately placing a tiny slice of vanilla sponge on the plate using a palette knife (typically used by artists).

2. He spoons Dippin’ Dot–esque frozen balls of cream of licorice onto the plate.

3. He adds jiggly cubes of caramel jelly.

4. He sprinkles on some dehydrated black olives as well as some caramelized black olives.

5. To make a delicate garnish, Roca makes delicate squiggles with cocoa gel, which he dries in an oven.

6. He drizzles on black olive oil (dried black olives blended with olive oil).

7. He garnishes the dish with the cocoa squiggles.

8. He plates a perfect scoop of vanilla ice cream made with eight different kinds of vanilla. The ice cream is the actual vanilla and the components on the right are his interpretation of that flavor.

9. He finishes the dessert with a little powdered cocoa.