Michael Gillet may be a newcomer to Las Vegas, but he’s already making his mark in the dessert capital of the world.
The French born-and-trained pastry chef arrived last year by way of prestigious properties in L.A. and, before that, New York City and beyond to assume the role of corporate pastry chef at the Sugar Factory American Brasserie, opening March 4 at Paris along with chefs Michael Sellmann and Bryan Ogden (Bradley Ogden’s similarly talented son).
The 30,000-square-foot, 24-hour restaurant/retail store/chocolate lounge/beer garden will serve a wide range of fare, including pizza, pasta, steak, seafood, burgers, sandwiches and all-day breakfast. As corporate pastry chef, Gillet is responsible for the sweet stuff—namely, the house-made cupcakes, pastries and dessert pizzas. He also created a special red-velvet fondue that will be available in the adjacent, adults-only Chocolate Lounge.
His signature creations are the dessert pizzas, including triple-chocolate, raspberry-lemon brûlée, caramel custard, Carolina pecan pie and peanut butter, jelly and milk chocolate. All five begin with the same not-too-sweet crust. Pastry cream replaces tomato sauce, and lays the foundation for gobs of sweet toppings.
“Depending on the flavor of the pizza I’m making, I make a different flavor of pastry cream,” Gillet says. “In this case, we’re making the chocolate one, but if I’m making the lemon one, I’ll make a lemon one.” The raspberry-lemon version is Gillet’s personal favorite, yet he anticipates the chocolaty version to be the top-seller.
The crust is undoubtedly the trickiest part.
“The dough should get almost twice the size, and it should feel soft to the touch,” Gillet says. “If your dough is elastic … it means that you worked the dough too much and you have to re-do it.”
To save time (and headaches), use pre-made dough, like the regular and whole-wheat varieties available at Fresh & Easy. Or, “go to your neighborhood pizza shop and buy some raw pizza dough,” Gillet suggests. “It’s very simple.” After that, it’s all up to you—the options are limited to your imagination. Gillet’s only advice: Don’t let the chocolate melt before it gets into your mouth.
Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Pizza
(Yields two 10-inch pies)
- 2 pre-baked and cooled 10-inch pie crusts
- 1 cup chocolate pastry cream, chilled
- Toppings, approximately 2 ounces each:
- dark chocolate chunks
- dark chocolate shavings
- milk chocolate chunks
- milk chocolate shavings
- malt balls, halved
- brownie bites
- dark chocolate-covered crispies
- white chocolate chunks
- chocolate sauce
Using the cooled, baked crusts as a base, build the pizza starting with generous application of pastry cream as you would tomato sauce on a traditional pizza. Evenly distribute the larger toppings—the dark chocolate chunks and shavings, milk chocolate chunks, malt balls and brownie bites—across the crust. Bake for 1 minute in a 365-degree oven, then remove, add the remaining toppings and finish with a drizzle of chocolate sauce on top.
Wine pairing — Beringer Nightingale 2005
“The richness of the chocolate pizza is complemented perfectly by the light, crisp, refreshing sweetness of the 2005 Beringer Nightingale wine,” Gillet says. $14 glass, $60 bottle; $28 at Total Wine & More.