Dessert First

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years of cooking, it’s that saving the best for last isn’t always a great idea. As a kid, I was told to eat everything on my plate before I could have dessert. That always irritated me. It taught me that if I was “good” or did the “right thing,” I’d be rewarded. All the while, the dessert would be taunting me from across the kitchen asking, “Well, are you good enough to have me?” As I grew into the awesome adult that I am, I learned that I AM GOOD ENOUGH! I deserve to have dessert first. You deserve it, too. 

Why Dessert First Is A Great Idea 

Here’s an idea: We should normalize putting dessert in the appetizer section of all menus worldwide. Wouldn’t that be fabulous? 

Throughout the history of food, dessert has been that one thing we all look forward to after a gorgeous dinner. But, oftentimes, we don’t have room for it after our savory feast. But enjoying yourself is one of the most beautiful parts of dining in, out, and with friends. Why deprive yourself of a small slice of the good things in life? I have found that when I choose what I truly want right now (and I say that with my best Veruca Salt impression), I get my pleasure fix and I tend to eat a healthier savory meal. If I’m out with friends or family, we order and share the dessert, which ends up being just enough to satisfy. Then we order our meal. I have found that I order less food with this approach. 

What If Dessert Isn’t Your Thang? 

For whatever reason, some don’t enjoy sweets or indulgent desserts. I’m not really sure we can ever be friends. (I’m kidding!)

One of my favorite cookbooks is Anthony Bourdain’s Appetites: A Cookbook. When I first opened this gem, I immediately flipped to the back to check out the dessert section. But there wasn’t one. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Was Anthony playing a cruel joke on me? Actually, it turns out there was a dessert section: just one page that read “F— dessert.” Although he didn’t really mean those words, he wrote that if he had to live without one course, it would be dessert. Blasphemy, Anthony! I had to step away and process the words I’d read. 

After calming myself, I understood where Anthony was coming from. If he didn’t have a bite of chocolate or something sugary, his go-to was a cheese course. “Not just any cheese will do. What I want after a good meal is that king of cheeses: Stilton. And I would like some good Port with that.” I’ll meet you halfway, oh, wise one. But, in homage to you, I’ll at least have that cheese course before dinner.

My Favorite Desserts For The Season:

Since we’re so close to the end of the winter season, let’s snuggle into warm desserts that scream “cozy!” 

Chocolate Fondue: Whip up a batch to share at home using pretzel sticks, large marshmallows, halved strawberries, pineapple, or your favorite cookie. 

Cobbler or Bread Pudding: The beauty of these is that they make plenty for leftovers. Heck, yeah! 

Bubbly Fruit Crumble: Blackberries, blueberries, or a mixture of both—whatever your poison—with a healthy scoop of ice cream on top will deliver every time. 

Chocolate Pecan Skillet Cookie: Do I even need to explain this one to you? What are you waiting for? Google it and make it tonight! 

Small Sweet Bites: Any dessert that’s small enough to pop right in your mouth when your sweet tooth comes knockin’. Mini frozen cheesecakes or lemon bars are a few ideas you can create and store for later indulgences. 

So, the next time you’re out for dinner and find yourself debating whether to order dessert first or save it for last, just remember—you not only get to enjoy your sweet treat while it’s still fresh and delicious, but you also set yourself up for an excellent overall dining experience. 

Watermelon Feta Dessert 

I love making this dessert every single time because I get to play with shapes and composition. Spending a little time on plating gets you excited to eat your creation. Give it a try! 

1 small seedless watermelon (rind removed), cut into 1-inch thick slices
1 package of feta, block form 
Cinnamon for dusting 
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (you will only use enough for drizzle) 
¼ cup chopped red onion* 
1 set round cookie cutter tins 

Using the cookie-cutter tins, carefully cut the flesh from the watermelon slices into various rounds. Then, arrange the rounds on a large platter in an asymmetrical composition. You can lay the more stable pieces on their sides, standing upright to add aesthetic. 

Slice the feta block into various size squares. Place each square on top of or around the watermelon rounds. 

Mix the powdered sugar into the condensed milk. Using a teaspoon, drizzle the condensed milk over the watermelon and feta, ending with a sprinkle of cinnamon. 

*For a salad option, you can top with chopped red onion.

Makes 4 servings

Author

  • Ruthie Martinez

    Ruthie owns Black Fig Food catering and is proprietor of the online cooking platform Elevated Plant Plate. Learn more at blackfigfoodprograms.com and blackfigfood.com.

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