Thursday, February 4, 2010

Going Out to Eat and My Fav Desserts

I've decided that, at least for our family, there is a direct correlation between how cold the temperature is and how many times we go out to eat in any given week.

Since I changed my lifestyle a year ago in an effort to lose weight, it goes without saying that our eating out declined dramatically. Not only was that change good for my waistline, but also good for our pocket book.

However, being the main cook in our house day after day is a lot of work and there are just some days that I need a little break from the kitchen. Since the grill doesn't get much use in sub zero temperatures (grilling is just about the only form of cooking Ben excels at...except that he can make a mean batch of French Toast) and I can only endure so many soup, sandwich, or cereal nights, I find we end up going out to eat more during the long months of winter.

Usually we go to pizza places, chain restaurants, or places we know that the ambient surrounding noise is loud enough that our kids' usual table ruckus won't be glaringly noticed. After ordering our dinner, we always pass the time by looking through and drooling over the little dessert menu placed in the middle of the table that inevitably beckons our empty stomachs to save room for (or just simply make room matter how full we are after the main course) the chocolate, fruity, or cheesecake-like masterpieces that look almost too good to actually eat.

Depending on my strength on any given evening, which unfortunately is directly related to the stress-level of the current day, we may or may not order dessert. Most of the time I am content with merely salivating over the high gloss images of cakes and pies painted with homemade whipping cream and sprinkled with decadent chocolate shavings. Although I am fully aware that merely looking at such images will cost me a 3 pound weight gain, there are certain times when refusing to order and consume such a work of art is most definitely a crime.

While we were sitting in Boston's this past weekend enjoying our pizza and garlic bread twists, one such moment occurred as I flipped through the dessert menu and located the Boston Cream Pie. At the very instant my eyes beheld the moist sponge cake filled with warm vanilla custard, dripping with chocolate frosting all while cradled gently in a pool of warm brandy butter, I knew we would not be leaving the restaurant until I had my very own taste of Boston's Hot Brandy Cream Pie.

After the first bite, I declared it the best Boston Cream Pie I have ever had. Ben agreed. And I proceeded to eat the remainder of the cake by myself. I shared a little...but, only a little.

By now, if you've been following my blog for any length of time, you have probably come to realize I have an insatiable sweet tooth (hence my recent insane addiction to all things peanut butter). I like to blame it purely on genetics and can trace its roots back to my grandpa whom we had to hide doughnuts, cookies, or any other home baked goods from because of his diabetes. Despite doctor's orders to stay away from sugary baked goods, his sweet tooth often got the best of him and he almost always found the pie or cake that my mom thought she so cleverly hid in the oven when he came to visit.

Although I've been able to tame my sweet tooth somewhat, I do pride myself in recognizing a good dessert when I see one. And, like my grandpa before me, I've been known on several occasions to locate desserts that may have been hidden from my obvious line of sight.

Anyway, that evening, after the Boston Cream Pie indulgence, I told Ben I was adding it to my favorite dessert list. Acting shocked that I keep such a mental list ( he really wasn't shocked at all because he already knows about my favorite dessert list), he proceeded to inquire about the other items that have made the prestigious cut and appear on my most coveted dessert list. And, since I'm positive that in another life I would make an impeccable dessert critic, I proceeded to inform him, in no certain order, of the desserts that absolutely can never EVER be refused.

Olive Garden: Lemon Cream Cake. Delicate white cake and lemon cream filling with a vanilla crumb topping. It is best served topped with their raspberry sauce. This has been a favorite of mine for as long as I can remember.
Cheesecake Factory: Chocolate Coconut Cream Cheesecake. Coconut Cheesecake topped with Coconut Cream Custard all on a Chocolate Macaroon Crust. I couldn't find a picture, but believe me, it tastes just like the cheesecake version of a macaroon.

Cheesecake Factory: Chris' Outrageous Chocolate Cake. Layers of moist chocolate cake, chewy brownie, toasted coconut-pecan frosting, and creamy chocolate chip coconut cheesecake. I'm not sure who Chris is, but someone needs to give him an award. I have never not been able to finish a dessert until I ordered this behemoth slice of brownie/cake/cheesecake. Again, no picture, but I'm sure a mere picture would not do this beauty justice. Actually, if I had to pick a #1 dessert, I'm fairly certain this would be it.

Famous Dave's: Dave's Famous Bread Pudding. Melt in your mouth house-made bread pudding, smothered in pecan praline sauce, and served with vanilla bean ice cream. Ben was insistent that he did not like bread pudding until we ordered this and he tasted what all bread pudding should be.

Mom's Coconut Cream Pie. I have yet to taste a slice of coconut cream pie as delicious as the coconut cream pie my own mom makes. With a flaky made-from-scratch crust, homemade coconut pudding, and perfectly peaked meringue topped with toasted coconut shavings, this pie is truly a one of a kind work of art. And, since it is also my dad's favorite, it makes an appearance at quite a few holiday celebrations in addition to my dad's birthday.

Cafe Latte: German Chocolate Cake. Three layers of moist dark chocolate cake pieced together with the perfect toasted coconut-pecan and fudge frosting makes for the absolute best piece of German Chocolate Cake that I have ever tasted. Definitely my all-time favorite birthday treat.
(The German Chocolate cake is the chocolate fudge frosted cake on the right in the second row)

Cold Stone Creamery: Founder's Favorite. Homemade fudge brownies, pecans, fudge and caramel mixed into Cold Stone's signature sweet cream ice cream. Hands down, my favorite variety of ice cream!

Boston's: Hot Brandy Cream Pie. The newest addition to my list. This moist sponge cake filled with warm vanilla custard, dripping with chocolate frosting all while cradled gently in a pool of warm brandy butter is definitely a must-have indulgence.

Chihuahua Chocolates: Toffee. Although I'm quite certain that everything that Chihuahua Chocolates makes is excellent (actually, after biting into one of their chocolate covered caramels, I also proclaimed it the best chocolate I've ever tasted), their toffee won its place on my decadent dessert list. I always thought toffee was hard and sticky (kind of like peanut brittle), but their toffee is light with a buttery crisp that is definitely to die for.
Super Fresh Garden Center and Bakery: MN Largest Doughnuts. This little hole-in-the-wall bakery located in Austin MN is home to some of the largest and best tasting doughnuts ever made. The made-fresh-daily doughnuts taste just as good, if not better, than they look. And, they even have a German Chocolate Custard-Filled version that is what earned this little-known bakery a spot on my fav. dessert list. Although I do have a picture, there is no link because I'm fairly certain they do not even have a website.


Natalie said...

why--- why would you post something like this!? LOL

Jen D said...

haha-Natalie! I was actually wondering the same thing as I was putting it together because all I could do was think about which item I wanted to eat for Valentine's Day!