Dessert is typically served once the main dinner courses are eaten. Dessert is thought to be mostly about sweet tasting goodness, but it can also be strong foods like cheese, or cheesecake. Dessert as a word stems from an old word used in French called 'desservir' which translates roughly into the phrase "to clear the table."
Not until the 19th century came to a close, and the middle class rose to prominence that sweet tasting foods were introduced into the mainstream population, due in large part to the industrial revolution and its machinations with the sugar processing industry. Prior to this only noble people and those of royal birthright were able to enjoy the sweet taste of dessert foods, unless it was given to the general populace for a holiday snack, which didn't happen too often. With the revolutionizing of the way sugar was being processed, its costs were driven down to where the public could finally afford to have their own access to it. As its use spread farther and wider, so too did the creation and popularizing of desserts.
Nowadays dessert recipes are a buzz of excitement whenever they are brought up in conversation, because of their reputation for capping off an excellent meal. The main reason behind this is that, if the host were to serve a bland main course, but a fantastic dessert, chances of the guests remembering the main course are slim. It is the dessert that they will rave about in the days ahead.
Most of the cultures throughout the world have both a main meal and a separate dessert afterward. However, there are some cultures, China in particular, that instead of separating the two into distinct meals, will blend sweetness into the meal itself. But, dessert is still viewed as a separate snack, instead of an entire course in itself, and it doesn't need to be consumed directly after the main course. There are even restaurants that serve nothing but desserts, due to its popularity.
How are your dessert-making skills? Do people talk about your desserts long after the party is over? When you plan your next get-together with family or friends, try to come up with a dessert that is out of the ordinary fare that you typically serve after a meal. One dessert that has been popular, then cooled off, then become popular again at least as far back as the 1970s is chocolate fondue. There aren't too many people who haven't had a taste of it at least one time in their life. If you'd like to tackle a new dessert dish then look for one of the numerous dessert fondue recipes that exist on the internet and you are sure to find one that will please even the staunchest dessert afficianado.
Dark chocolate has made news in recent years, being named a food that is good for the health of your heart. Dark chocolate is good for the fact that flavonoids are kept as part of it, more so than the other types of chocolate like white and milk chocolate, chocolate syrup and even cocoa. Studies have shown that having great amounts of flavonoids in your diet will help fight against cardiovascular disorders. This study isn't telling you to stock up on chocolate bars, however. It is saying that moderate amounts of dark chocolate can be beneficial to your health, by including it in your desserts.
Aside from the debate of whether or not chocolate is healthy for you, it is not easy to fight off the temptation when facing a bubbling fondue pot of cascading chocolate just begging for you to drip it onto a fruit or other snack. Bananas and strawberries love chocolate baths. Another concoction using chocolate fondue would be something salty like potato chips or pretzels. Salty and sweet is a symphony of pleasure that your taste buds will not soon forget.
Banana Split Dessert
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
½ cup butter, melted
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 can crushed pineapple, drained
1 large container Cool Whip®
1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
Red maraschino cherries
Layer into a 13 x 9-inch glass cake pan as follows:
First layer: Mix 1 stick softened margarine with graham cracker crumbs. Press into bottom of pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 5 minutes.
Second layer: Melt 2 sticks margarine and mix in confectioners' sugar. Beat until cool. Add eggs and vanilla extract and beat at high speed for 15 minutes. Spread over crust.
Third layer: Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Slice bananas lengthwise, drenching each slice in pineapple juice to prevent darkening. Lay on banana slices. Pour on pineapple and cover with Cool Whip®.
Sprinkle nuts over the top. Garnish with maraschino cherries. Chill. Freezes well.
Toffee Bar Dessert
1 cup Crisco shortening
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 to 1⅓ cups semisweet chocolate pieces
¼ cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cream Crisco and brown sugar in bowl. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Add flour and salt; mix until blended. Put dough into ungreased 17 x 11 x 1-inch pan. Smooth out dough. Bake for 12 minutes or until edges begin to brown.
Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate pieces over hot baked layer. Cover with foil and let stand 4 minutes.
Remove foil and spread chocolate evenly over top. Sprinkle with nuts. Let stand 10 minutes.
Cut into large squares while still warm; place on dessert plates. Serve plain or topped with whipped topping.
NOTE: May also be cooled completely, cut into bars and served as cookies. Makes 5 to 6 dozen bar cookies. Recipe may also be baked in 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan for 18 to 20 minutes.
Makes 12 servings as dessert or 24 bar cookies.
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