Dessert Design

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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dessert design refers to the presentation of the course, generally consisting of sweet foods, that comes at the end of the meal.

Derived from the French verb desservir, dessert is what arrives after the table is “unserved” or cleared, and after our nutritional needs have been met; it is, in that sense, superfluous. See dessert. In his Grand dictionnaire de cuisine (1873), Alexandre Dumas wrote that there are three types of appetite: that which comes from hunger; hunger that comes with eating; and “that roused at the end of a meal when, after normal hunger has been satisfied by the main courses, and the guest is truly ready to rise without regret, a delicious dish holds him to the table with a final tempting of his sensuality.” Dessert requires this third type of appetite; its aesthetic display and sensuous experience are of primary importance.