Menu Planning: How Do You Decide on Dessert?

Dessert — the final piece of a meal. The last note that seals a good dinner with a taste of something sweet. That's how I think of it, at least. It's a last grace note for guests to linger over, perhaps followed by a cup of coffee or a digestivo. So I look for desserts that complement the meal that went before them, not too heavy and not too sweet. What about you? How do you decide what to have for dessert? Do you choose a recipe you've been just dying to try? What are the primary considerations for you, when making a dessert?

Like I said above, I always look for something that ties a dessert back in with the rest of the meal. So, for a recent menu of Indian-inspired meatballs, rice, and spinach, I looked for a dessert that was at least inspired by tropical and Indian flavors. I created a quick coconut milk pudding from a little gelatin, honey, and coconut milk, and dropped in slices of banana. It was very light and not too sweet, and a good final note on what was a heavy and spicy meal.

That's just one instance of the way I personally like to plan menus and to fit dessert into the meal.

What about you? How do you plan dessert into your meals?

Related: Cooking By Feel: What Are Your Best Fast Desserts?

(Image: Leela Cyd Ross)

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Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.