Short of genocide, there's nothing that a little chocolate won't fix
Let's face it, from the time we were little children, we've learned to labor through a meal to get to dessert. So, unless you're having Rosanne over for dinner, you'd be smart and serve fairly light portions to have plenty room left over. Remember, this is supposed to be a treat, so go for flavor and richness, not quantity. There are several pretty straightforward ways to tackle dessert, and if you do it right, she might just tackle you.
You can either go with something store-bought or homemade. Depending on what it is you want to serve, there are key advantages to both. I'll use as basic categories: Fruit; Baked Goods; Custards; and the ever-wonderful fifth food group, Alcohol to simplify the discussion.
Fresh Fruit is never wrong.....by itself, or sprinkled with a touch of cinnamon or powdered sugar. Or perhaps drizzled with a light helping of a light cream, caramel, or chocolate sauce. Saves yourself cooking and prep time and it's pretty good for you too. And, you can also put some fruit in yogurt for a low-fat alternative.
Apples and pears do particularly well when you poach them. Either in a white wine, port, or liquor, heat it all on medium for 20-40 minutes, tightly covered. You can usually use the liquid left over to make a sauce to coat the fruit when you're done cooking. Sprinkling a little sugar and spices adds a bit of depth. Can't do that with a blonde, now can you?
This is just well chopped up fruit that's been heated in a pan and had some sugar, butter, and flavorings added. As well, I usually flash the pan with a little rum or cognac. Almost any fruit does well as a compote. You can serve this with ice cream, on custard, on anything baked, or rolled in a crepe. Or on anything you find particularly tasty.
B. BAKED GOODS
Unless you have the "Grandma" gene, you'll find it's easier to just get a cake mix than bake one from scratch. Or better yet, find a great bakery and just buy one. I know, it sounds like a cop-out coming from a foodie, but then again, I am single and I know you have much better things to do with your time......
Cookies are great because they're pretty hard to screw up and they store really well. It might not be the most sophisticated dessert, but they're great to eat anyway. Not to mention you might just get your significant other to slowly munch on them with a tall glass of milk. In her Catholic Schoolgirl outfit.
Simply put, Pie rocks. Buy the pre-made crust because, well, it's just not generally worth it to go through the labor of making a crust yourself. In fact, most crusts have quick recipes on the back. Apple Pie will probably be your favorite because you chop up the apple, add a little sugar and cinnamon, then bake. Now if that isn't brainless, I don't know what is. Well, maybe accepting a date with Paris Hilton might be, but you get the point.
Ice cream is so close to custard I decided to put it here. Besides, its my website, I can do what I want. Moving right along...its always a good idea to have some great vanilla ice cream handy as it works well with so many other things like pie, compote, etc.
You can buy a good ice cream maker yourself for a reasonable price and make some pretty cool flavors, like green tea or ginger....which is why you really would want to have a machine to begin with. If its just good standard vanilla you want, get it store-bought.
Oh, and unless you are dating a corporate executive or an accountant, DO NOT place frozen ice cream on another human being.
There are plenty of great custards and puddings out there, but by far the granddaddy of them all is crθme brulee. Literally translated as "burnt cream", it's a simple to make, but decadent, dessert. Not to mention you can make this well ahead of time and it keeps in the refrigerator for a good bit. Now, that's not a license to eat it after its been sitting in your frig for a month. Which reminds me, the Poison Control Center number is 1-800-222-1222.
Pudding is a general term, which includes custards, but may not be solely egg-based. Rice pudding and tapioca are both great, but will involve a little work. Otherwise, buy the store-bought stuff and run around the block yelling, "I WANT MORE PUDDING!!" much to the dismay of your friends. Don't do it drunk, or you'll end up doing it naked. Not that it's ever happened to me.
Nothing screams classic decadence like a great chocolate mousse. Ok, maybe diamonds and champagne, but mousse is not only really easy to make....pay attention here.....its quite smear-able.
Mousse is essentially whipped sugar, eggs, and cream with flavoring. The classic mousse of course is chocolate, but don't let that stop you from making any other flavors, like ginger, champagne, cognac, or strawberry. Easy, huh?
Champagne is a more specific term for sparkling white wine, particularly meaning sparkling white wine made in the Champagne region of France. It is usually mostly composed of Chardonnay grape, but can contain juices of other grapes such as Pinot Meunier, and Pinot Noir(which makes "Rose" or "Blancs de Noir" bubbly). Here, when I say Champagne, I really mean any sparkling white or rose wine.
Champagne is especially perfect for any celebration and my recommendation is to spend as much for that bottle that you really want. That doesn't mean you have to spend a paycheck as there are plenty of really solid bottles at $30 or less, but usually really really good Champagne can be somewhat expensive at $100 and more.
I drink it either as a stand-alone dessert or with any other dessert dish. I happen to have an affinity for Champagne if for no other reason than it makes my girlfriend very giggly as she sits there and repeats, over and over, "bubbles!"
Non-sparkling, or still wine, makes for some great after-dinner drinks too. When the sugar content passes around 11% or 12%, I would consider that to be a sweet dessert wine. There are plenty of choices from France, the US, Australia, New Zealand, to name a few. Just ask at your wine shop.
Typically, a dessert wine will be made from any combination of Sauvignon, Semillon, and or Muscadine(or Muscat) grapes. If you try a quality one, you'll be amazed at the explosive flavors of the wine. Because they usually have focused and concentrated flavors and a heavy syrupy texture, dessert wines are mostly found in half bottles of 375ml.
Bordeaux, and more specifically the Sauternes and Loupiac regions, is world famous for its white dessert wines and are typically my top choice, except be prepared for sticker shock. Most decent ones will set you back at least $20 for a half bottle and up to......you should sit down for this.....$200 or more for the world famous Chateau D'Yquem. Big ouch factor.
The Italians make a Muscat wine called Moscato D'Asti, which has a slight edge to the palate and a hint of effervescence. Nice in-between if you want to try something in the middle of champagne and a still dessert wine.
Just like Champagne, Cognac is basically a brand name for Brandy that is made in the Cognac region of France. It is essentially distilled Champagne, aged to a minimum of 4 years to over 100.
Since Cognac and Brandy are typically made from the same stuff bubbly is made from, expect some incredible flavors. Just like a glass of Champagne, Cognac and Brandy can stand alone, but I prefer them with a dessert dish.