In Remembrance of Desserts Past

julia licking

What is it people say about pleasure?

That it is “found first in anticipation, later in memory”?

Although many sites on the Internet (that waggish rapscallion!) attribute the line to Flaubert, the author may actually be Julian Barnes, who gave this line as a thought to his version of the verbose flâneur in Flaubert’s Parrot.

This detail is neither here nor there.

(Though pleasure may reside in both.)

But let me get to the point: crowdsourcing!

My friend M organizes the greatest dinner invites. Once a month, she has me over for a meal, to which I bring the dessert. At the end of the night, we negotiate the following month’s menu: I pick something interesting and/or challenging for her to make, and she decides on some parameters for my part.

We felt a bit lazy last night and didn’t get beyond the food theme of “Mexican(ish).” So now I’m looking for recommendations from any culinary types — of either the cooking or the eating variety — out there: favorite Mexican (or Tex-Mex) desserts? Preferably something with a bit of a wow-factor, be it taste, presentation, or culinary skill required.

[This is how anticipation gets going. As for the memory side of pleasure…]

Remembrance of Desserts Past

M’s first request was for a chocolate-peanut butter pairing, as this is her favorite flavor combination. I went with this chocolate & peanut butter mousse tart from Everybody Loves Sandwiches. I modified the crust slightly by using chocolate graham crackers, which I highly recommend. Even if your neighborhood corner store spoils you by carrying the non-chocolate variety.

[Don’t let the lightness of the word “tart” mislead you — this thing’s a behemoth! I was feeding leftovers to my building’s doormen and -women for DAYS.]

2015-04-19 20.34.07
April 2015

The following month, M nominated this lemon-blueberry layer cake, reciped by Sally’s Baking Addiction (and familiar to users of Pinterest the world over). As someone who has neither three cake pans — nor an oven large enough to hold three, even if I did — I opted for two layers, rather than the three recommended in the original. Verdict: right call!

[Before you ask: Yes, I am the sort of person who keeps spare candied lemon slices lying around for just such decorating situations. Don’t judge.]

2015-05-10 17.54.43
May 2015

June was Cherry Month, chez Alice-n-cats, and yielded (according to M) “the greatest dessert of all time!” Her original request had been for a goat-cheese cheesecake. Not having the small-scale springform pan required for any cheesecake small enough to let the rich tang of the goat cheese come to the foreground, I opted for David Lebovitz’s individual goat cheese custards baked in ramekins instead.

Topped with these cherries in red wine syrup, AKA nectar of the gods, AKA the dessert I suspect M will be begging me to recreate from now until the universe collapses.

[I have no photographic evidence of the dessert in question. In its place, I hope you enjoy this photographic evidence that I own a cherry pitter.]

June 2015
June 2015

And finally, last night’s pavlova! Vanilla meringue layered with Grand Marnier whipped cream and mango puree, and topped with diced kiwi, mango, and strawberries macerated in balsamic vinegar.

[While pavlovas can look quite fancy-schmancy, they’re also incredibly easy and versatile. Check out these ideas from Serious Eats on how to trick out your pavlova.]

July 2015
July 2015

What about you? What rituals do you and your friends enjoy from anticipation, through event, into memory?

And if you’ve got any favorite Mexican(ish) or Tex-Mex desserts to recommend, please leave suggestions, recipes, and/or recommended links in the comments! 

27 thoughts on “In Remembrance of Desserts Past

  1. A cherry pitter AND candies lemon slices ? I am duly impressed… the only time you’ll find lemon in my fridge is when they are stuffed into the empty slots of a Corona Light 6-pack lol ! =) As for the cherry pitter, I knew they existed (thank you Williams Sonoma for iterating I am decidedly less-than in the cooking department), but never knew people actually used them. You probably have a zester that gets regular use as well… again… I am in awe. =)

    Beautiful desserts, I don’t eat them or any sweets really, but on occasion will have a bite of ice cream to prove my humanity to my sweet tooth-endowed boyfriend… but I digress. =) This happens a lot with me.

    I have nothing of substance or import to add, but could not resist commenting. How fun this ritual seems ! Julia Child is an absolute icon, adore that woman ! =) Good luck with the Mexican inspired treat, will lurk about waiting for a report of the final product… =)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I actually have not one but TWO lemon zesters — but yes, only one of them gets regular use. The other is reserved for times when long strips are called for, certain cookies etc. Or the occasional hot toddy with a lime twist.

      I eat desserts mostly because that gives me an excuse to make them (ice cream is a separate matter, of course, and not included in this discussion). Every April I get to make a massive birthday cake for a party another friend throws — a fact which I only bring up as an excuse to share this video, generated spontaneously by my phone (via an app I didn’t know existed) and which you may find as amusing as I do.

      Or maybe not? I DO realize it’s awfully presumptuous to make youtube recommendations on the basis of so short an acquaintance…

      Be sure to play with the sound up: It’s the musical track my phone picked that gives this its extra TRIUMPHANT CAKE IS TRIUMPHANT vibe:

      Liked by 2 people

      1. 2 zesters ??!! Now you’re just showing off… lol ! =)

        That video ? HYSTERICAL ! =) =) Thanks for taking the time to read and respond… I knew you’d be cool like that. =)

        And just so you know, you had me at hot toddy with a twist… =)

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Mmmmm I don’t have any ideas for you, but this sounds like an awesome and delicious tradition you have going on with your friend. I also love the quote at the beginning. I think most of our pleasure comes from anticipation.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Anticipation, for sure! And I’m betting the planning-anticipation stage for the wonderful trips you describe was fantastically fun. 🙂

      Remembering also extends the pleasure — and is really about the only reason I can think of to justify all this food-picture taking I (and others!) do…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh wow, that all looks yummy. I am going to have to try some of these. Kudos for the Julia Childs gif. One look at that and I knew this was going to be good. She’s awesomesauce!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Sorry no suggestions for a Mexican dessert. I eat too many chips before the meal to have any room after so never even think about dessert. I did want to say love your gif! I first saw Julia Childs cook on PBS (I think) she was cutting a whole chicken. That poor chicken was so mangled, I think it even landed on the floor at one point. I honestly thought it was a joke or a candid camera type thing. Amazingly lady!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Ok, this is how much of a doofus I am:

    I thought Flaubert was a character from Dilbert.

    I tought you were going to tell us that Julian Barnes was Julia Childs real name.

    I thought pavlova was the name of a tennis player.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You posted this comment 4 days ago — and I am *still* giggling at the image of Julia Child living a secret parallel life as a preeminent writer of nonlinear historical novels!

      From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU FOR THAT. (Doofuses unite!)


  6. I love this post, the picture are great! Perhaps people would like to see the food that precedes the wonderful desserts! Maybe that can be next month…
    Life is too short to eat a bad meal.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I’ve always meant to try making a pavlova, but never have. I’m much more of cook than baker, baker, dessert maker any more. But once upon a time I used to make a chocolate soufflé that had Tia Maria in it. That’s about as Mexican-ish dessert as I can think of.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Those desserts. Just WOW.

    As far as Tex Mex or the like, well, I can offer my Tex MEx casserole featuring salsa, kidney beans, cheese, and Fritos. Not glamorous but great comfort food. However, there is NO wow factor at all to it. And, it’s not a dessert. So you can see my dessert ideas, which are – zero – would probably be in the same range…. Oh well. I’ll return to my original thought, which is – WOW. you are a great cook.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sounds quite similar to a comfort food of my own! And you’re right — very little snazz when it comes to a vaguely modified Frito pie — but when comfort’s what you want, it often hits just the right spot!

      (Also? Thanks! 🙂 )

      Liked by 1 person

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