That little nibble was actually delicious! So much so that I quickly finished the cookie, and then was horrified by the implications of what I'd done. I waited for a full 24 hours, expecting symptoms like vomiting, stomach pains and shortness of breath...but nothing happened. That cookie was still edible (quite tasty even) nearly 10 months after purchase. In spite of their deliciousness, I quickly disposed of the remaining treats, afraid I might succumb to temptation again.
When we make our own desserts, we don't use chemicals that keep our treats fresh for 10+ months, so the desserts need to be made just before we eat them in order to taste great. Preparing a dessert the day before is fine, and for something like a tiramisu or cheesecake where the flavors need to blend, two days before can be even better. But when you make something a week early and "pop it in the freezer" (even homemade ice cream) it will simply not be as good.
I became convinced of this when I took a platter of tiny cupcakes to an event at my church. The cupcakes had been in the freezer for a couple of months, but had been made from scratch and well-wrapped and frozen as soon as they'd cooled. I'd topped them with my daughter's fresh homemade strawberry buttercream, which is a topic for it's own post - it's unbelievably good. But after the event, several of my cupcakes had gone uneaten, and many more were in the trash (most with the buttercream licked off). I might have had a different result had I brushed the tops of the cupcakes with simple syrup before frosting them, but once I tasted the leftovers, I knew: their time in the freezer had left them with an off-putting, stale flavor.
I would hate for anyone to feel bad about taking a homemade dessert to a party or event, but you might consider making a simple dessert rather than concocting something complex in advance and freezing it. Alternatively, prepping the ingredients - toasting the nuts, combining the dry ingredients, etc. in advance will make quick work of the actual recipe when you do make it. Since the cupcake incident, I've learned that freezing leftover cake batter (instead of a baked cake) can work well: seal in a ziploc, squeeze the air out and freeze flat. Once it thaws (about 4 hours at room temperature for sandwich-sized ziplocs), you can clip off one corner of the bag and quickly fill cupcake pans. In the case of my sad little cupcakes, preparing new cupcakes from a boxed cake mix would have also been a substantial improvement.
Here are a few quick and simple desserts:
Almond Cake (15 minutes plus cooking time)
Apple Crisp (20 minutes, including peeling the apples, plus cooking time)
Chocolate Fudge Brownies (5-10 minutes plus cooking time, allow 3 hours to chill)
Chocolate Mousse (10 minutes plus 1 hour to chill)
A plate of fresh-made chocolate chip cookies are always a hit, and will taste amazingly better than purchased cookies or those made from pre-made dough. My favorite recipe uses butter flavored Crisco - hardly a health food - but because the butter-flavored Crisco is actually dairy-free it can be made vegan by using vegan chocolate chips (Trader Joe's chocolate chips for example) and substituting almond milk for the milk. For extra deliciousness, sprinkle each cookie with a pinch of kosher salt before baking.
Dessert has only one purpose: to taste fabulous. If it fails at that one thing, it's not worth eating.
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