A lovely dinner doesn’t feel complete until dessert is served. Desserts should always compliment the menu. Our taste buds focus on sweet, sour and salty. If you prepared a menu that includes sweet and sour, you’ll want to offer a less complex dessert. The best desserts for meals of this kind suggest simplicity – pears poached in a plum wine sauce, blood orange slices sauted in pineapple juice and rum or bananas rolled in coconut and pecans and baked in Cointreau sauce.
For meals that are standard meat and potatoes, your menu’s theme is a good guide. With roast beef or chicken entrees, the best dessert recipes may be typical rice pudding or apple pie. Try adding coconut to your rice pudding and top them with orange slices sauted in brown sugar. Serve apple pie with a slice of a really great cheddar cheese for ultra-sophisticated simplicity. Or, try glazing it with apricot preserves and then broiling until the top turns slightly bubbly.
Planning main menus ahead very carefully is an opportunity to coordinate food flavors. When serving Italian food, for instance, a great idea is to serve one of the best dessert recipes that’s simply delicious – cassata, an Italian cheesecake that’s easy to make. Some cassata recipes call for ricotta, a heavier-textured Italian cheese. Try using mascarpone instead of ricotta. You will need a springform pan for this recipe.
16 oz. Mascarpone or Ricotta cheese. (If you are using Ricotta, sieve until smooth.)
4 eggs separated, slightly chilled
1 1/4 cups superfine sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange rind
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond liqueur
1/2 cup white raisins soaked in Sambucca liqueur, drained (reserve liqueur)
1/4 cup pignoli nuts
1 sponge cake – May be purchased or use standard recipe for sponge cake
Beat eggs yolks until they reach a pale yellow color. Add vanilla and almond liqueur. Blend with beater. Beat egg white until stiff but not dried, adding sugar slowly. Fold egg yolk mixture with cheese and raisins. Add orange rind. Slowly fold in egg whites.
Line bottom and sides of spring form pan with sponge cake. Brush with reserved liqueur. Do not soak. Pour in cheese mixture. Allow to set overnight or at least 6 hours before serving. Sprinkle top with pignoli nuts.
For casual “Saturday Night” menus, the best dessert recipes can also be fun desserts. Try old fashioned ice cream sodas or sundaes your guests can “build” themselves. Don’t throw out that leftover morning coffee. Pour it into your blender, add a dash of cocoa powder and for adults, a little Frangelico liqueur, and a scant dash of chili powder….yes…chili powder. Sweeten to taste. Pour into old-fashioned glasses and add a dollop of chocolate ice cream and a spring of mint.
One of the best dessert recipes for groups is also a lot of fun: Chocolate fondue. Instead of the traditional fondue pot, pour your melted chocolate into individual Irish coffee glasses. Place a dinner plate under each glass. Add strawberries, marshmallows, walnuts, and small chunks of pound cake. Serve with a fondue fork. Unique and fun for guests.