Food as fuel, yes, but drinks and tantalizing desserts, are considered the nightmare of our figures. Maybe that is why “desserts” spelled backwards is “stressed”, I guess. The French, no strangers to desserts, will see an exuberant dessert and drool an ‘oh-la-la’. They know the famous “palate cleanser“ has a way to cheer people up and love being dazzled at the finish of a meal. And for Christmas the hopes are high!Most of us know that resistance is futile to these decadent but often delicious sweet offerings. Delicious treats, sweet cheats, are woven into any gathering, from nostalgia pie to ultra modern hand-dipped ice cream in meringue, finished off with a mini blow torch. And yet dessert’s content and style, has changed drastically.
Dessert with the double s derives from the French “desservir” meaning “to clear the table”, whereas “desert” comes from the Old French “deserver” meaning “to deserve”… And it seems that the ancestor of the term “pudding” was the Latin word “botellus”, meaning sausage, from which came boudin.
It takes about twenty minutes for our brain to realize that our stomach is full, so if dessert could only wait for 20 minutes before being dished up… I hear the smart cookie already thinking “If you cut back on the amount of starchy foods you eat during dinner, you’ll free up some carbohydrate for dessert!”
Although the trend in American homes is about one-dish meals, only 12 percent of dinners eaten at home include a dessert, over here in Europe, new trends are taking the dessert course down a whole new road, giving it its share of craziness. You only lose me with the hybrid desserts, they’re not my thing.
It’s hard to make money on desserts in the restaurant business today, a pastry chef and a special designated area in a kitchen, doesn’t come cheap, line cooks do! It’s also more profitable to have more clients, than having staying clients taking desserts. A cocktail means “twice as much money” as a dessert…
So what’s the trend? Gone are the gooey, large desserts, new are the shareable desserts, you’ll get three or four bites of the tiny temptations each. Diminutive desserts “petit fours” or “macarons”, have long been known by the French, we have to give them the credit of elegant dining!
Artful chefs gather audiences in restaurants, when putting on the final touches to a dessert. Suddenly vegetables pop up more and more on dessert menus, becoming the creative sweets. The bitterness of a roasted eggplant making the perfect match with goat cheese, or even a cake with celery compote and pineapple becomes acceptable, as when cooked with sugar, celery becomes more like green apples. Then there is the green tomato pie dessert. Innovative chefs even incorporate tomatoes in sorbets or gelatos, mixed with peaches and nuts. How does a combination of white chocolate mousse, ice cream, dill and cucumber, made with no eggs or cream but with sea weed, dill, pickled cucumber, rye bread and lemon (Michelin star restaurant Texture in London), as dessert sound to you?
Newbies daily arise on the horizon, sweet or savory. I even found dessert stuffed sweet potatoes on line and “Bacon S’mores” (marshmallows, crackers, chocolate and bacon), it also seems that bacon tastes lovely with brown sugar and maple syrup…
Even main courses can’t escape the sweetness, Brussels sprouts are now served with pecans and ginger honey sauce and sweet potatoes get an extra touch of sweetness and heat with some brown sugar, cinnamon and cayenne red pepper.
Desserts do have become healthier. Bleached white flour, offering little nutrition, was declared unhealthy years ago. Countless people have wheat/ gluten allergies. No wonder the world of desserts becomes more and more innovative daily. And I’m not even talking about people with diabetes, sugar is getting more and more reduced, often replaced (agave nectar or Xylito, a natural sugar substitute found in berries and oats) and less popular in desserts and so is butter! More and more we’re going towards very healthy desserts pushing obesity out of this world.
Recent research has proven that dessert is the key to winning someone’s heart. So no excuses, let’s stay fond of making life a little bit sweeter, even if that means indulging and being a bit naughty with a luxurious twist, for only once… On my way to find “out-of-this-world”- desserts for my very own whimsical Christmas party. Making and dishing them up, is no burden whatsoever.
I’d like to thank chef Wim De Bremme from the Belgian restaurant “Het Jagershof”, situated in Knesselare, for allowing me to use his pictures showing his magnificent yummy dessert creations!