AFTER a lifetime spent in restaurants and catering, there is one observation I can make without reservation. Few things can come between lovers on a date like the dessert menu.
It shouldn't be this way. You've got the night off, someone is minding the kids, the bottle of wine is empty and a second is on its way. That sounds just about perfect. Then the dessert card arrives.
At the risk of drawing social stereotypes, most couples invariably divide into dessert aficionados, and those for whom something more savoury is preferable. Yet this presents a problem. After you've shared your entrees, shared your mains, and shared long innuendo-laden eye contact, you're expected to share dessert too.
And for those with a sweet inclination, that does not mean cheese.
When she orders salted caramel souffle, she intends to try the chocolate creme brulee as well, gentlemen. If he finds the caramelised fig tart irresistible, then he's counting on you to order the vanilla and raspberry vacherin, ladies.
Fermented milk just doesn't cut it, apparently.
So, you have a couple of choices.
Order a small cheese selection to share in advance of dessert. That adds another course to the evening, but hey, I reckon you'll manage. Or alternately, perhaps it's time to change the way we think about cheese, and start using it as an ingredient in some new kinds of desserts.
The rich, aromatic qualities of cheese are an excellent building block from which to craft sweet dishes.
Paired with nuts and candied fruits, you can create elegant tarts, rich cakes, or a souffle, although that takes a little more practice.
A cheese-based dessert might be more than delicious, it might be the missing element in bringing a perfect finish to a wonderful evening.
serves / 10
250g self-raising flour
2 tbsp rapadura sugar
1 tsp fine salt
½ tsp ground white pepper
100g extra-virgin olive oil
125g prunes, pitted and chopped
50g glace ginger
150g vintage cheddar cheese, grated
Antipasti and cheeses, to serve
Preheat oven to 180C. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix well. Stir in the oil.
Whisk the eggs and yoghurt until smooth, then fold into the flour mixture. Stir in the prunes, pistachios, ginger and cheese.
Spoon into a lined 20cm cake tin and bake for 40-45 minutes, until a skewer can be inserted and removed
cleanly. Serve with antipasti and cheeses.