Like the rest of ES, I don’t do desserts. Which is not to say that I haven’t tried. My torrid history of dessert disasters goes back many years. I’m sure my mom still remembers the day my fifth grade best friend and I attempted chocolate chip cookies. Amateurs both, we used the recipe from the back of the package of chocolate chips. Careful adherence to the directions left us with a concoction that was more early-December-snowfall than Pillsbury doughboy. So we tapped into some sandbox wisdom – we added water. Baking the resulting quicksand yielded a burned, slippery looking substance that firmly coated the doomed cookie sheet. Mom was more upset about the wasted ingredients and the lingering smell of burning than the charred cookie sheet, which was logical given the infrequency of her own cookie baking.
Undaunted, through the years I have managed to produce (accidentally) sugarless banana bread, baking-soda-flavored butterscotch cookies and Rice Krispie treats so hard that they actually made someone bleed.
My friend Sarah received a cake-making book for Christmas in order to carry on her family tradition, wherein the birthday honoree gets to choose a cake from the book for their party. The cake is made from scratch, of course, with a long, scary list of ingredients and Mensa-approved instructions. And that doesn’t even take into account the frosting. My children better either ingratiate themselves with Aunt Sarah or learn to love brownies from a box.
All this poses a problem, though, when I am asked to bring dessert to a friend’s dinner party. Believe me, visions of artfully arranged Chips Ahoy have danced in my head, but high fructose corn syrup freaks me out. Fortunately, discount farmers’ market produce has led me to seek out (and find) a dessert that is not only practically foolproof, but also meets some of my beloved recipe criteria: few ingredients, use of food just this side of the compost pile, and general crowd pleasure.