Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Exquisite simplicity.

I love details, especially delicious ones that you can eat.  A splash of bitters that makes a cocktail seem more thoughtful and special.  An easy homemade compote at brunch to go with French toast.  A grind of fresh sea salt on a boring old pat of butter served with bread…when a bunch of tiny parts form one cohesive whole (especially when it’s a meal) I become so giddy that my guests probably think I’m nuts.

That’s why I’m so in love with this new dessert idea I’ve stumbled upon.  It’s lots of little fancy bits that come together to form something sort of overwhelmingly awesome.  I can’t take full credit of course – I found the idea in an old issue of Domino magazine (RIP, great loss, that).  It was part of an article about preparing a full English roast for 12 people, Yorkshire pudding and all.  Domino suggested a dessert consisting of Stilton cheese, squares of dark chocolate and a good ruby port or sherry.  Yum.

Recently I elaborated on that a bit (a lot), and I would encourage you to do the same.  For me sometimes preparing a big complicated dinner AND a scrumptious dessert for guests is exhausting to even think about…then I end up serving ice cream which is fine but sometimes feels a little pedestrian after a meal I put lots of thought and effort into.  I must boldly state that this is the perfect solution.

At two recent dinners I served guests the following for dessert:
English digestive biscuits
Chocolate (I chose Divine, milk with hazelnuts and dark with nuts and fruit)
Creamy spreadable Swiss cheese
A fig and pecan spread (store bought, by Trempeherbe, of Maine)
Nutella (always a winner)
A choice of a lovely ruby port (Quinta Santa Eufemia) or scotch (Glenlivet 12)

It was basically a fancy “choose your own adventure” dessert.  One night it was enjoyed in front of a roaring fire in the fireplace which was just one more detail that pushed its perfection almost over the top.  Pleasure comas all around.  I’m not kidding.  Maybe it’s my obsession with details…because this dessert is basically just a million details smushed together that make your brain go into overdrive. 

Okay enough gushing.  Just do this.  You will thank me when your guests are completely freaking out.  And if you’re like me and love details, you will be too.   Just the pictures are making you want to assemble it and eat it right now, actually.  And you can add any touches you want – nuts, dried fruit, not-dried fruit like strawberries or pears - all would be awesome.  Serve a champagne cocktail!  It’s got bitters in it for crying out loud!

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