Pastry chef Casey Carr brings a playful energy to the dining experience at Henley in Nashville through her creative and memorable sweets. “They’re all nostalgic to a degree,” she explains. “Almost everything I make has some element of my past tied to it.”
Take the classic childhood combo of peanut butter and jelly, which Carr re-imagined as a peanut butter and jelly soufflé. “I thought it was totally awesome, but then some people thought it was maybe just a little too much, so I toned it down and it became a delicious peanut butter anglaise instead.”
Her love of caramel often finds its way into her desserts, too. “It might seem weird, but anytime anyone asks what my favorite pastry thing is, the answer is always, always caramel,” she says. “It doesn’t matter what shape or form.”
Henley’s dessert menu changes seasonally, but The Rabbit Hole, Henley’s experiential, multi-course tasting menu served behind a secret passageway at the back of the restaurant, and the recently launched Rabbit Hole Supper Club, a monthly, mutli-course, family-style meal served in the main dining room, grant her even more freedom to show off her penchant for simple, rustic sweets with an elevated twist.
“One of my favorite desserts for Rabbit Hole was the “choco taco,” she recalls. “It was a chocolate shell filled with chicory ice cream, blackberry jam, and blackberry caramel, with a scotch meringue on top.”
With all of these rotations and changes, one dessert has found a permanent place on the main menu, the Olive and Sinclair chocolate soufflé. While the toppings may change throughout the year, Carr finds something endlessly comforting about a warm, gooey, dark chocolate cake, and deserving of a year-round presence. “And, one person can eat it, like me,” she adds, “but technically, you can share it. If you want to.”
Olive and Sinclair Chocolate Soufflé
Peanut butter bourbon anglaise/$16