D is for DESSERT!
I spent a lot of time pondering over what I should choose as my topic for the letter "D". I was at my computer in the wee small hours of the morning, starving, and, for some reason, I started thinking about dessert. That surprised me since I am not really a dessert person. I can pass it up when dining out and I seldom eat dessert at home. I forego the calories unless it is something really spectacular. I must say, I have traveled to some wonderful places about the globe and my taste buds have thrilled to the delight of many extraordinary desserts. My hips
are not so pleased at this bounty.
According to Wikipedia, dessert is traditionally served at the end of a meal and is a sweet course or a strongly flavored one such as a cheese. My preference is for sweets though I certainly don't mind following that up with a selection of wonderful cheeses and a nice glass of port. Watch out hips!!
I also learned that, according to Debrett's, pudding is the proper term ( but we Americans have never been proper, have we? ). Dessert should be used if the course consists of fruit and sweet is colloquial. It is good to know that Canada, Australia and Ireland share our lack of proper terminology. I rarely eat pudding and I think dessert is the perfect word for everything.
My all time favorite dessert is crème brulée which is French for burnt cream. In England , it is called Trinity cream and, in Spain, it is crema catalana. It is a lovely dish of rish custard at the base with a layer of hard caramel on the top. Its origins date back over three hundred years.
In the last ten years, I discovered a wonderful Brazilian chef who owns three Miami restaurants that I never miss if I am even 300 miles in the vicinity. Chef Joao Carlos Olivera ( Juca ) has become a friend and his desserts ( as well as anything he serves at Tutto Pasta, Tutto Pizza or Zucchero ) are worth hours on the treadmill.
The fabulous passion fruit mousse at Tutto Pasto, Miami
( once I ate two at one meal - I will NEVER share this with anyone! )
Soffiato di Guayaba at Zucchero in Miami
Sinful flourless warm guava cake, oozing with a luscious filling and ice cream
Pave with fresh coconut and pineapple at Zucchero, Miami
The Chocolate Cake at the Icon Restaurant, Seattle
Flan, a favorite in Latin America and Mexico
The other thing that can always tempt me is marzipan, my eternally favorite confection made of sugar and almond meal. I like it plain or in a dark chocolate bar, the best of both worlds!
Wonderful marzipan delights at La Boqueria market on La Rambla in Barcelona, Spain
Taormina, Sicily store with is marzipan fruit creations
The dessert sampler in Portofino on Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas
A "Bushwacker" - made by Jerson, one of my favorite Indian bartenders with Royal Caribbean
Sometimes a cocktail can be almost like a dessert ( one that packs a punch! )
Several years ago, by chance, at my local grocery, Manila Market, I discovered these most addictive candies. I normally steer away from anything that says "gummies" - I abhor gum drops. However, mangoes, second only to mangosteens ( not related at all - see a prior blog on that delectable fruit ) are my passion so I tried them - and the rest is history. I have purchased cases of them. They are the gift I give everyone, including crew members on my frequent cruises. When anyone sees me on a Royal Caribbean ship, they give me a big hug and ask, "Where are the mangoes?" I never disappoint them!
I also like bread pudding. It is served world wide under a variety of names, usually with a sweet sauce, often with brandy, whiskey or rum ( any of the three is just fine by me ). Being a Southern girl by birth, I also like pecan and sweet potato pie and my childhood favorite, banana pudding!
Banana pudding - the recipe always gets doubled at my house!
NILLA WAFERS ORIGINAL BANANA PUDDING
Printed from COOKS.COM
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. all-purpose flour
Dash of salt
4 eggs, separated, at room temperature
2 c. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
35 to 45 Nilla Wafers (reserve 10 to 12 for garnish)
5 to 6 med. size fully ripe bananas, sliced (reserve 1 for garnish)
Combine 1/2 cup sugar, flour and salt in top of double boiler. Stir in 4 egg yolks and milk; blend well. Cook, uncovered, over boiling water, stirring constantly until thickened. Reduce heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; add vanilla. Spread small amount on bottom of 1 1/2 quart casserole; cover with layer of Nilla Wafers. Top with layer of sliced bananas.
Pour about 1/3 of the custard over bananas. Continue to layer wafers, bananas and custard to make 3 layers each, ending with custard.
Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry; gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Spoon on top of pudding, spreading to cover entire surface and sealing well to edges. Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes or until delicately browned. Cool slightly or chill.
Just before serving, garnish with banana slices, then stand Nilla Wafers upright around edge of dish. Makes 8 servings.