Is This a Dessert or Side Dish? And Will It Fool the Kids?

(Image credit: Anne Wolfe Postic)

When my youngest sister was in grade school, she broke her arm. I don’t remember how it happened, but I do remember she got to spend the afternoon in the hospital where, as she later bragged, she got two desserts with her lunch, as opposed to the zero desserts we were served regularly at home. Not fair! Actually, pretty fair in retrospect, since the desserts were likely lime Jell-O (which counts as a side at the hospital) and a dry slab of cake with waxy icing.

How do you decide what qualifies as dessert?

When we were younger, Jell-O was a dessert. Apple sauce, on the other hand, was a side dish, as were canned peaches, pears or “fruit cocktail.” (Must be the happy memories, but I will still devour canned fruit if it’s put in front of me. Yum, in a syrupy, aggressively fruity way.)

The other night, I was making dinner and spotted some pears I had bought earlier in the day. It was cold outside and baked pears seemed really appealing. I stuffed them with almonds, dried cherries and a little blue cheese, drizzled them with honey and baked them. Then drizzled them with honey again before serving. Somehow, the second drizzle of honey made them seem more like dessert, so I served them after our meal.

But did I trick my family into eating something healthy? I think I did. The youngest (age 7), didn’t finish his whole pear, indicating that he knew the course was not quite dessert. I, however, loved the roasted pears and am trying to think of more non-dessert desserts.

Would you count those pears as a side or a dessert? What are some of your favorite not-so-sweet desserts?