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Dessert shouldn’t only look good — it must be tasty, too
November 14, 2012 - Anita Hanaburgh
By ANITA N. HANABURGH If there’s no dessert in heaven, I’m not going. Ever wait through the whole meal to get to the dessert? Sometimes I cut back on the food in a restaurant in anticipation of ordering a great dessert at the end. I have actually held off eating the entree in order to accommodate my desired sweet dose. Usually, when I eat out, I want dessert. Most restaurants offer a gracious, if not delicious, serving of desserts. Most restaurant have many interesting choices to accommodate all the “after-dinner treat lovers.” Although I have never found a dessert I didn’t want, lately I have noticed a distressing dessert trend in upscale restaurants. I could be getting crotchety, but desserts have changed, and I’m not so sure I like it. Desserts today are beautiful, with flowing chocolate, impeccably smooth and covering a white sponge layer cake wedge with a ribbon of raspberry filling. Beautiful, yes. Delicious, maybe. I think I want the dessert to look a little worse and taste a little better. I could be wrong but it seems that the restaurants are working hard to serve desserts with a perfect look. Whether made from scratch or purchased from gourmet dessert bakers, these desserts tend to have more eye appeal than palate appeal. Fine-dining restaurants are looking for desserts that will deliver a “wow” factor to the customer. These desserts sound beyond delicious. Let’s take a Coffee-Crunch Ice Cream Pie with Whiskey Chocolate Sauce or Chocolate Mousse Yorte with Lime Coulis. These sound so interesting and delicious that I just have to order them, and I frequently do. Last month, I ordered a Citrus Napoleon in a Filo Dough Crust with a Lemon Custard and Pomegranate Coulis. Oh, busboy. It sounded so decadent, I had to have it. It looked as decadent as it sounded. The taste? “Ho hum.” But I’m finding there is something about these “eye candy” desserts that doesn’t quite deliver. Two bites are fine. By the third, I feel something is lacking. I want a tasty, satisfying dessert. Maybe they are too tasty or have too many tastes. I want something sweet, but maybe they are too sweet. I want something special, but maybe they are too extraordinary. Maybe I’m just fussy. Maybe I’m old fashioned. Perhaps this has all happened because our chefs are creative and talented enough to make these extravagant delicacies. Also, there are myriad unbelievable, ready-to-go delicacies that a restaurant can order. With no work involved, these come presentation-ready for the ritziest event. Perhaps I am the only person who isn’t thrilled with all these offerings. Oh, busboy, I think that “homemade” is a good look and a good taste. I don’t want perfection, but I do want it to taste good. But lured by the sound and sight, I do order the “Mocha Flowing Chocolate Volcano” when I want something like hot apple pie bubbling over with a wedge of cheese and maybe some vanilla ice cream. I don’t even care if the crust is too brown or the apples too soft. It’s okay to dress it up with cinnamon or pecans so the restaurant pie is different than Aunt Betty’s. I asked my husband what he would like to see served for dessert in a restaurant. He said hot oatmeal cookies and milk. I knew the answer, and I knew he would like this, too: SIMPLY DELICIOUS?APPLE?CAKE 1/2 cup butter or margarine 1½ cups packed light brown sugar 2 large eggs 2 cups all purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 and ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon salt 1 cup sour cream 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 2 cups peeled, cored and chopped apples ( I leave mine unpeeled) Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly grease a 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish. Cream together butter and sugar until light. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after the addition of each. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients, alternating with the sour cream and vanilla. Fold in the apples. Pour into the prepared baking dish, Sprinkle topping over the cake. Bake until golden brown and set, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Drizzle the lightly cooled cake and let it harden. Serve lightly warm. For the topping, combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 cup butter or margarine. Mix until it resembles coarse crumbs. For the glaze, combine the 1/2 sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 2 tablespoons water. Mix until smooth. Restaurant watch: If you see a dessert you would love, why not suggest it to your favorite restaurant?
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