We’re always a bit sad to see a great meal come to a close, but we can count on the arrival of mignardises to lift our spirits. This parting gesture from the kitchen—usually an artful arrangement of confections like gemlike pates de fruits, say or tiny macarons—is a tradition that dates back to 18th-century France. Miniature sweets were de rigueur then: Once pastry chefs had finished their work for the day in their brick ovens, they placed small treats inside to bake in the low, residual heat; the name mignardise comes from the Old French word for “precious” or “cute.” Nowadays, chefs dazzle us with their stunning array of after dinner sweets: It’s a chance for them to show off their skills, create a final impression that embodies the spirit of the restaurant, and more important, extend the pleasure of the meal.
In this year's SAVEUR 100, we take stock of our favorite things: recipes, people, places. We consider every last one a new classic.