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Does one have to serve dessert at a dinner party?

xcskier20 Oct 3, 2010 05:49 PM

My husband and I have absolutely no sweet tooth. I have always made something for guests at small dinners we've hosted, but got to wondering if that was really neccesary. Do all dinners parties need a dessert, or perhaps I can make something really easy? Would I been shunned if I stopped making them?!

  1. c
    csdiego Oct 14, 2010 12:22 PM

    I'm picky about desserts. I'd prefer a nice cheese course with some fresh or dried fruit and/or (candied?) nuts to mediocre cookies or ice cream.

    On the other hand, I'm the type of person who will eat whatever is set in front of me without fussing too much. But I couldn't help feeling a little deprived if there were nothing sweet at all (and it doesn't have to be very sweet) to mark the end of the meal.

    1. f
      Fydeaux Oct 14, 2010 06:27 AM

      It looks like you've the majority answer to your question. As for suggestions, if I wanted to serve a simple but elegent dessert, I like the idea of ice cream with liqueur for topping. I think what I would do is find some really good vanilla ice cream or custard and set out a small variety of liqueurs (Kaluha, Cointreau, creme de menthe...do they still make Sabra?) and let your guests top their own.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Fydeaux
        sunshine842 Oct 14, 2010 07:28 AM

        You mean...it actually gets to your ice cream? Hmmm.

        With Cointreau and Kahlua (and limoncello....and frangelico...and port....get the idea?), I'm usually trying to figure out how to subtly lick the inside of the liqueur glass without being seen...

      2. s
        susan1353 Oct 12, 2010 10:50 AM

        Sometimes I'll just make a very rich hot chocolate for dessert. Satisfies almost everyone.

        1. silkenpaw Oct 12, 2010 12:13 AM

          I have a major sweet tooth and I don't feel a meal is complete without desert. Fruit, good store-bought cookies or chocolates would be perfectly acceptable as far as I'm concerned.

          1. r
            rednails Oct 8, 2010 04:42 PM

            This reminds me of something that I did a loong time ago, about a year or 2 after I moved out from my parents home, literally from coast to coast. One of my uncles was coming to town with his wife, and I invited them to dinner. Novice cook that I was (I was about 23, 24 or so) I prepared the best meal that I could, but didn't plan anything for dessert. When we got to, ahem, dessert time, my uncle realized that I didn't have anything, so he literally took one of my roommates out with him to find something for dessert. I think they came back with donuts...my memory is a bit fuzzy on exactly what it was. But you get the idea.

            Now I'm a more accomplished cook/hostess, and I plan each party very carefully. So, if I were you, I would keep it simple. I'm not inclined to the cheese/fruit thing, personally, and would go with a tray of assorted mini sweets from a local bakery if I didn't want to make anything myself (which I usually do). If you don't want to keep the left-overs, you could sent them off with your guests. Can't see how they would turn it down.

            1 Reply
            1. re: rednails
              theoreticalphenogroup14 Oct 10, 2010 06:05 PM

              There are some good ideas here for alternatives to desert, some of which I've resorted to myself. However, for a formal or relatively formal dinner party, recall that dessert is a course. My "go to" signature dessert is a fruit tart (couldn't be easier with a store-bought crust). When my children were young and I wanted to cut corners, I would serve Irish coffee after dinner. This went over very well. I, also, like a cheese + fruit plate, coffee, & apertif.

            2. Kajikit Oct 8, 2010 03:17 PM

              You could substitute a nice cheese and fruit plate with port if you really don't want to make dessert... or some petit fours or deluxe chocolates with liquer. But having something sweet to finish the meal is customary.

              1. w
                WNYamateur Oct 7, 2010 09:00 AM

                Let me share something odd that happened last week. I served 6 tasting courses to 8 well-dressed, fairly well-to-do women at a wine tasting last week. These are tasting portions, so we strive to keep them small, and most plates come back pretty clean.

                Rather than an actual dessert, we served a savory goat cheese tart with a dessert wine as the last course. At least half of each of the small servings were left on the plate.

                I chalked this uo to its richness, and being the last of 6 courses. But one of the guests confided in me that I had at one point described this as "dessert". She said that once I'd called it dessert, these women were conditioned to leave at least half of it on the plate!

                4 Replies
                1. re: WNYamateur
                  Aravisea Oct 7, 2010 10:41 AM

                  I am very interested in your savory goat cheese tart recipe. Sounds like my kind of dessert - and I'd finish it! :)

                  1. re: Aravisea
                    WNYamateur Oct 8, 2010 05:55 AM

                    The recipe is Ina Garten's (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/goat-cheese-tart-recipe/index.html), made with plain goat cheese instead of the Montrachet. We considered eliminating the shallots & basil, but we left them in and just let the wine make this into a dessert.

                    The funniest thing is that we used Elle Krieger's Roasted Ratatouille Tart (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/el...) for an earlier course, which has just 2 T of butter in the crust, vs. Ina's which has 13!!

                    1. re: WNYamateur
                      Aravisea Oct 14, 2010 12:06 PM

                      Thank you so much! I should probably be a little more put off by that much butter, but what the heck. Can't wait to try it.

                  2. re: WNYamateur
                    silkenpaw Oct 12, 2010 12:32 AM

                    You'll never see ME leaving half of my desert on the plate. The meal is just an excuse for desert, as far as I'm concerned.

                  3. s
                    SeoulQueen Oct 5, 2010 08:29 PM

                    I think a small or simple dessert would be nice as some people have a sweet tooth and will probably be looking forward to the dessert. Or some people will not eat as much during the meal in order to save room for dessert... I do this sometimes. Normally won't have dessert but if I am at a restaurant know for their desserts, I will make sure I leave room for be able to order one and try it.

                    Dessert doesn't have to be anything elaborate, some fruit and cheese or some cookies or even a tray of nice chocolates to pass around with the coffee/tea will do. For me, I just need a little bite of something sweet to remove the savoury taste from my mouth.

                    1. pikawicca Oct 5, 2010 08:17 PM

                      I do not have a very sharp sweet tooth, but I believe a dinner party needs a "final course." It can be a traditional, sweet dessert, fruit, or cheese, but it has to be SOMETHING. Otherwise, how do you bring the meal to completion?

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: pikawicca
                        c oliver Oct 5, 2010 08:22 PM

                        I agree. It's a signal that the meal is over. And they can go home. Or not. But that's the signal. We have two friends that we always "get in trouble" with cause we always whisper "don't go" and then we open one last bottle of wine.

                        1. re: pikawicca
                          Passadumkeg Oct 9, 2010 06:42 PM

                          Coffee, cognac and a Cuban!

                          1. re: Passadumkeg
                            c oliver Oct 9, 2010 08:37 PM

                            You're sounding like Veggo.

                            1. re: c oliver
                              Passadumkeg Oct 9, 2010 08:57 PM

                              I'm not a sweet fan, but some of my best after dinner memories in Europe involve The Holy Trinity.

                            2. re: Passadumkeg
                              scubadoo97 Oct 12, 2010 12:28 PM

                              Now we're talking.

                          2. j
                            jeanmarieok Oct 5, 2010 07:55 PM

                            The men at our dinner parties would protest loudly if there was no dessert.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: jeanmarieok
                              c oliver Oct 5, 2010 08:20 PM

                              Why the men? In my experience, women want sweets more than men.

                              1. re: c oliver
                                iluvtennis Oct 7, 2010 06:54 AM

                                The men are the bigger dessert cosumers around me, too. Most of the women i know are always watching their weight.

                            2. Cherylptw Oct 5, 2010 07:28 PM

                              To me, a dinner party is lacking without dessert, period. It would be ok to take someone up on an offer to bring dessert. It's easy to say you'll make provide dessert depending on who the guests are (assuming you know all the guests) but what do you do if you invite someone who brings a dinner partner? Do you just ask all your guests in advance if they'll want dessert?

                              Just assemble & put out some Greek yogurt with a drizzle of good honey & walnuts in small glasses. You could satisfy those who'd want dessert and if not, you'll have the yogurt for breakfast. Cheese is not dessert, I don't care if you do serve it with dessert wine.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Cherylptw
                                gaffk Oct 5, 2010 07:50 PM

                                Yes, make it easy. Personally, not happy with yogurt, honey and nuts though. Have 1 thing chocolate and 1 thing fruit--mix and match with honey & nuts.

                                Still think the best is just fruit and chocolate. Maybe a good dessert wine.

                                1. re: gaffk
                                  Cherylptw Oct 9, 2010 06:19 PM

                                  Ok, I'm a chocoholic so I'd be happy with just chocolate, nothing else needed but if these people don't eat dessert in the first place & unless they intend to serve sugar free, regular chocolate is sweeter than yogurt or honey. And dessert wine is like liquid sugar, so I don't understand why they would even want to serve it.

                                  1. re: Cherylptw
                                    gaffk Oct 9, 2010 06:39 PM

                                    I too am a chocoholic and would be fine with that and a nice cup of coffee. But I also enjoy a nice dessert wine as well (the ones I have had have definitely not been liquid sugar).

                                    And I enjoy fruit as well. So I'm thinking if the host\hostess does not enjoy dessert, but feel their guests may, a selection of fruit and chocolate is easy to do and will satisfy most people. (Remember, OP said they didn't have sweet tooths, not that their guests did not.)

                                    And I'm not sure what is meant by "regular" chocolate, as most people I know prefer dark, which is certainly not sweeter than honey.

                              2. bagelman01 Oct 5, 2010 06:47 PM

                                If you don't serve dessert how do you get your guests in a wind down, soon it's time to leave mode?

                                Dessert is a great the evening is almost over signal.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: bagelman01
                                  SeoulQueen Oct 5, 2010 08:24 PM

                                  Offer them coffee or tea - that's also a good sign that the meal is winding down and the evening is almost over.

                                2. EWSflash Oct 5, 2010 06:17 PM

                                  Wow! I'm just amazed at the number of people who think dessert is mandatory. I'd never have guessed the cards were stacked so high in the direction of dessert = definitely yes in a million years.

                                  Lucky for me during family celebrations at our house , my mother-in-law knows "how I am" about dessert and will usually bring at least two. That's only one reason why I love her.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: EWSflash
                                    lagatta Oct 5, 2010 08:09 PM

                                    Once again, it depends on the guests. I'll definitely serve dessert if I know people will eat it - and take away any leftovers (I don't keep sugar at my place). But most friends are simply not interested. I always buy a good pâtisserie (French or Lebanese) for those who are, just as I buy Coca-Cola for certain friends on the wagon (and pour it down the drain afterwards if they don't take it home).

                                    If not, cheeses, nuts and stuff are the last course.

                                    I suspect most people writing in about this are from the US, but I have US friends who don't fancy dessert either.

                                  2. x
                                    xcskier20 Oct 4, 2010 03:48 PM

                                    Thanks everyone for the replies so far! While some friends don't like sweets as we do, you all have reminded me that dessert is expected, and given me some great "low-fuss" ideas.

                                    1. wekick Oct 4, 2010 02:51 PM

                                      After reading all this I think a tray with an assortment of small cookies, chocolates, cheese or fruit would be great. Most people don't want a huge dessert but a little sumpin-sumpin. We have a french bakery that makes little tiny pastries very reasonably.

                                      1. LA Buckeye Fan Oct 4, 2010 12:56 PM

                                        I don't have a sweet tooth either. But if I went to the trouble of making a nice meal, I wouldn't want my friends walking away thinking something was missing. So it's selfish on my part to serve it, I want them to think my meal was perfect. (it never is, but I like to think that it is)

                                        1. MinkeyMonkey Oct 4, 2010 12:45 PM

                                          I don't think you HAVE to serve dessert but, since you usually do, I think they'll notice it if you change.

                                          Our friends finally stopped trying to serve us dessert after having us over for dinner. With my guy on a diet and me not being that big of a dessert person anyway, they now know that we don't need it.

                                          When we have friends over, we only make dessert if we know they'll want it. C. is really trying to lose weight, A. can't have sugar, K, C and M don't actually like dessert so we just go by those guidelines.

                                          I like the idea of letting the guest(s) bring dessert IF they ask "what can we bring?"

                                          We've also done the old "We have dessert but aren't sure if anyone still has room. Should we bring out the cake?" routine which works pretty well.

                                          1. h
                                            heidip732 Oct 4, 2010 12:33 PM

                                            Count me in on the needing dessert after dinner. Actually, I'll plan what I'm eating if I know what's for dessert! After my dinner parties, we'll always leave the table and serve dessert and coffee in the living room, after taking a bit of a break from eating.

                                            One of these days, I'm actually going to order and eat dessert out at a restaurant, before eating my meal!

                                            1. alejandraordersdessert Oct 4, 2010 12:09 PM

                                              I personally always serve and expect dessert to be served at the end of a dinner party. i'm the kind of person always orders dessert (see my handle and it's also the name of my blog! lol!) so it's definitely an important part of the meal for me. I agree that it can be something simple and store bought---a platter of cookies from a local baker or a pound cake with fresh whipped cream and berries--many people do expect something sweet at the end of the meal so it will seem odd to never serve it. I should note that it may also help signal the end of the evening; otherwise you may have folks who hang on waiting for the dessert not realizing that the meal is over.

                                              My fiance's family often just serves fruit for dessert...sliced watermelon or grapes, for example--and it always feels weird and lacking to me. I find myself going home and scouring the cupboards and freezer for a proper treat. I also like the suggestion to ask the guest to bring...people invariably ask what they can offer and you can say something like "Oh actually, could you bring something to share for dessert? Tom and I don't have much of a sweet tooth so we're terrible judges of what's good."

                                              1. Pia Oct 4, 2010 11:46 AM

                                                I agree, you need to offer something for dessert, but you don't necessarily need to make it yourself. I like the coffee and chocolates idea. Ice cream and those cigar-shaped cookies (like Pepperidge Farm Pirouettes) are good. Fresh fruit with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream works, or you could turn it into a trifle with a store-bought angel food or pound cake. You could also pick up an assortment of pastries or small cakes from a good bakery and everyone could try little pieces.

                                                Or, if you know the guests well and someone asks to bring something, you can ask them to bring dessert -- personally, I love to bake, but rarely get to do it for a big enough crowd to justify making a cake or something elaborate, so I love it when someone takes me up on my offer to bring dessert!

                                                1. CocoDan Oct 4, 2010 11:16 AM

                                                  Dessert is a must! Remember Estelle and Frank Costanza (Seinfeld) when they didn't get dessert at George's future inlaws meet the parents dinner? "WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE ARE THEY THAT DON"T SERVE CAKE ?"

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: CocoDan
                                                    lagatta Oct 4, 2010 11:24 AM

                                                    Doesn't it come down to what your friends like? If I know I have a friend or two with a sweet-tooth coming over, I'll definitely pick up something nice at a local pâtisserie - but they have to take the leftovers home. Most of our crowd rarely eats sweets, at least after a big supper.

                                                  2. sunshine842 Oct 4, 2010 06:21 AM

                                                    Me, too...a simple fruit dessert is fine (and sometimes preferable!) -- but to not have any dessert at all is sort of like ripping the last three pages out of a novel....it leaves people hanging with no way to end!

                                                    Incidentally, while the cheese course is at most meals I've had in France, there is almost *always* something sweet just before the coffee (because coffee is always its own course here).

                                                    I've received huge raves over something as easy as bananas foster or slices of fresh pineapple warmed in a little brown sugar and rum and lemon juice over vanilla ice cream.

                                                    For "Oh surprise, we're having company!" dinners, I've even just sliced some apples, let them simmer in some cinnamon and Calvados while I served dinner, then served it in a small bowl with a dollop of creme fraiche. Simple, cheap, not too sweet, and very satisfying.

                                                    10 Replies
                                                    1. re: sunshine842
                                                      gaffk Oct 4, 2010 06:47 AM

                                                      Fresh pineapple warmed in brown sugar and rum . . .sounds like something yummy I need to try.

                                                      1. re: gaffk
                                                        sunshine842 Oct 4, 2010 08:06 AM

                                                        It's absolutely delicious, and comes off like a million bucks...and there's absolutely nothing to it. (you can flambe it if you're really feeling adventurous, but I usually just bring it to a slow simmer -- enough to cook off the harshness of the alcohol and melt the sugar.)

                                                        1. re: sunshine842
                                                          gaffk Oct 4, 2010 10:09 AM

                                                          Can't wait to try this. I think I can guess on the brown sugar and rum, but approx how much lemon juice do you use?

                                                          1. re: gaffk
                                                            sunshine842 Oct 4, 2010 10:33 AM

                                                            Just a quick squeeze -- a teaspoon or so? (and only if the pineapple is very, very sweet -- otherwise you don't need it)

                                                            It's more or less just a variation on Bananas Foster...

                                                            1. re: sunshine842
                                                              gaffk Oct 4, 2010 11:02 AM

                                                              Thanks for the tip!

                                                              1. re: sunshine842
                                                                greygarious Oct 9, 2010 06:49 PM

                                                                "Bananas" Foster can be almost any fresh fruit - plums, pears, peaches, cherries, orange segments..... rum or another liqueur, butter, brown sugar. What could be bad?

                                                                1. re: greygarious
                                                                  sunshine842 Oct 10, 2010 01:54 AM

                                                                  exactly, greygarious -- and it gives you something a little bit sweet and rich without being difficult, time-consuming, or over the top with calories.

                                                                  I tend to serve it with a dish of creme fraiche -- still a bit of rich, without the sweet of ice cream. One of our closest friends is diabetic, so the tiny bit of sugar doesn't bother him after a full meal, and with creme fraiche instead of ice cream, makes it something he can enjoy without concern.

                                                                  (and it's easier on everyone's waistline than a big pastry!)

                                                                2. re: sunshine842
                                                                  gaffk Oct 13, 2010 03:20 PM

                                                                  Sunshine--Tried this last weekend when my sis and her family came for dinner. Her hubby and sons are not big on chocolate as my sis & I are, so thought this would be perfect. It was a big hit! (It was a very sweet pineapple, so didn't even use the lemon juice.)

                                                                  I am hosting the family Christmas this year, and they have already requested this be one of the dessert options.

                                                                  1. re: gaffk
                                                                    sunshine842 Oct 13, 2010 10:36 PM

                                                                    Glad everybody liked it!

                                                                    (another variation -- it's become fashionable on this side of the ocean to serve carpaccio of pineapple...yes, just thin slices -- warmed like above without the sugar but with a splash or rum, and drizzled with dark chocolate. Yum.)

                                                                    1. re: sunshine842
                                                                      gaffk Oct 14, 2010 05:43 AM

                                                                      Sounds delicious (esp the drizzle of dark chocolate).

                                                        2. gaffk Oct 4, 2010 06:12 AM

                                                          I side with the majority here--it's just not a complete meal without dessert. I would also point out though (as someone with a serious sweet tooth and a lover of cheese)--cheese is not dessert. If you're looking for something simple, I agree, just put out some fruit and chocolate or pick up something tasty (and sweet) from the bakery.

                                                          8 Replies
                                                          1. re: gaffk
                                                            invinotheresverde Oct 4, 2010 08:16 AM

                                                            Oh, but cheese and dessert wine certainly is!

                                                            1. re: invinotheresverde
                                                              gaffk Oct 4, 2010 10:08 AM

                                                              I'm all for a nice dessert wine; but somehow still can't view cheese as dessert. Love cheese before a meal or after a meal and before dessert, but just like something sweeter to end the meal. May just be me . . . grew up in a household of cheese lovers but with a dad who insisted on dessert after every lunch and dinner, and by dessert he meant chocolate, fruit and cream, ice cream, cakes, cookies, etc.

                                                              1. re: gaffk
                                                                Firegoat Oct 4, 2010 12:35 PM

                                                                I had a whole brie glazed in a brittle caramel candy glaze with pecans. That kind of satisfies the cheese lover and the savory lover.

                                                                1. re: Firegoat
                                                                  DLeach Oct 9, 2010 08:06 PM

                                                                  That sounds fabulous - I love Brie cheese.

                                                                2. re: gaffk
                                                                  invinotheresverde Oct 4, 2010 02:19 PM

                                                                  I'm not much on sweets, so that must be it.

                                                                  1. re: invinotheresverde
                                                                    gaffk Oct 4, 2010 02:29 PM

                                                                    Yeah, I'm the opposite. There's a local restaurant that has Sunday brunch in my area--really excellent food: cold fish dishes, omelets, breads with interesting spreads, waffles with an array of fresh toppings. But for me the real draw is the dessert table chock full of mini desserts. I deliberately don't eat much of the real food so I can sample an array of desserts (which is why I really appreciate that they make them mini).

                                                                    Also, I've been to wine tastings that pair foods and restaurants with chefs menus with wine pairings. Yet my favorite was a red wine & chocolate seminar--who knew those two paired so well!

                                                                  2. re: gaffk
                                                                    greygarious Oct 9, 2010 06:45 PM

                                                                    I agree with you. I know that a fruit and cheese plate is a popular dessert option in Europe, but I wouldn't want either of those favorites as a dinner party dessert. I like coffee after dining out, and to my taste, neither goes with coffee. At home, fresh fruit for dessert is fine, as long as I'm not having coffee.

                                                                    As already mentioned, putting out an assortment that includes fruit, cheese, candy, and baked goods is a nice idea, and even better if you are able to set this up in the living room or another room, where people use side tables, coffee tables, etc. They can take what they want, and if that's nothing, it won't make them as self-conscious as if they were seated at a table where they were the only one not partaking, or instead pushing food around with a fork or spoon, and taking pretend sips.

                                                                    1. re: greygarious
                                                                      gaffk Oct 9, 2010 06:55 PM

                                                                      Agreed. When I have people for dinner, I always clear the table and put on some coffee while everyone moves to the family room or living room. There, they can enjoy coffe or wine while conversing and I put out the dessert tray. Depending on how ambitious I am feeling (I love to bake and make candy, but have too little time these days), it's homemade cakes, candies and fruit. Or just truffles from the local chocolate shop, and sliced fruit or a fruit tart from the local bakery. Everyone seems to leave happy regardless of how much or how little dessert they eat.

                                                                      I hadn't thought of people feeling self-conscious NOT eating dessert (as growing up, my dad insisted on dessert after every dinner but never insisted we all eat it). But unlike growing up, I do change the venue for dessert from the dining table and allow a bit of a lapse in time--hadn't really thought of its unintended effects, just works better for my dessert set-up and after-party cleanup.

                                                              2. Tripeler Oct 4, 2010 06:05 AM

                                                                Or, ask one of the guests to bring dessert. The portion for you will be someone else's "seconds"

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: Tripeler
                                                                  lexpatti Oct 4, 2010 08:15 AM

                                                                  I very often do that, particularly when they ask "I woudl like to bring something, what?".

                                                                  1. re: lexpatti
                                                                    valerie Oct 5, 2010 07:06 PM

                                                                    I do this too. I am not a baker and I like to focus on the "food". So I delegate out desserts including fruit.

                                                                    Oh, and yes, even if the hosts do not eat dessert, it should be served. Even just brownies or cookies or fruit. Anything.

                                                                2. jfood Oct 4, 2010 05:00 AM

                                                                  jfood falls into the camp of gotta serve dessert as well. It can be as simple as cut fruit, or sorbet / ice cream.

                                                                  1. c
                                                                    Cachetes Oct 4, 2010 03:28 AM

                                                                    I am a big fan of berries (when available, other fruits if not) and cheese. Add to it some chocolates for the sweet crowd, or some unique cookies if you are feeling motivated to make an extra stop at the bakery.

                                                                    Though Estelle and Frank would disagree:
                                                                    FRANK: And who doesn't serve cake after a meal? What kind of people? Would it kill them to put out a pound cake? Something!
                                                                    GEORGE: So, they didn't give you a piece of cake? Big deal.
                                                                    ESTELLE: It is a big deal. You're supposed to serve cake after a meal. I'm sorry. It's impolite.
                                                                    FRANK: Not impolite...it's stupid, that's what it is. You gotta be stupid to do something like that!
                                                                    ESTELLE: Your father's absolutely right. We're sitting there like idiots drinking coffee without a piece of cake!

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: Cachetes
                                                                      coll Oct 14, 2010 06:06 AM

                                                                      I was waiting for the Frank and Estelle reference. But you really have to hear it for it to stick in your mind.

                                                                    2. Caroline1 Oct 3, 2010 10:09 PM

                                                                      Seems to me you have two choices: serve dessert or get a bad reputation. If I go to a dinner party and no dessert is served, I go away wondering why that selfish witch wasn't willing to share it if it's THAT delicious! But dessert doesn't have to be over the top fancy and a killer when it comes to work. A tray of chocolate truffles with coffee after dinner is fine.

                                                                      1. Passadumkeg Oct 3, 2010 09:49 PM

                                                                        Coffee, cognac and a Cuban is fine w/ me!

                                                                        1. l
                                                                          lexpatti Oct 3, 2010 08:17 PM

                                                                          We too, don't do dessert at our house but if I'm having folks over, I will pick up something lil and rich and just put out a lil platter. I will often get these pizzalli's dusted in powder sugar, very simple and light.

                                                                          Unlike me (or us), most people need to end the meal with someone sweet.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: lexpatti
                                                                            c oliver Oct 3, 2010 08:20 PM

                                                                            That reminds me that I'll make or (more often) buy biscotti. Great for "dunking" in that last glass of wine. And off they go hopefully :)

                                                                            1. re: c oliver
                                                                              lexpatti Oct 4, 2010 08:16 AM

                                                                              I forget about those biscottis, great idea and not ever realllllly sweet - just perfect!

                                                                          2. c oliver Oct 3, 2010 07:45 PM

                                                                            I'm SO not a dessert person but I do think something is expected. I'll generally pour a liqueur (?sp) over some berries which can then be put on ice cream.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: c oliver
                                                                              AussieBeth Oct 5, 2010 08:29 PM

                                                                              This was going to be my suggestion - pop some frangelico over some berries (frozen berries thawed to room temp are fine I think) and let stand for a bit. I recently served this with whipped cream into which I had popped the contents of a vanilla pod before beating. Heavenly - and super easy (I did this with a broken arm).

                                                                            2. b
                                                                              brooklynkoshereater Oct 3, 2010 07:40 PM

                                                                              I always serve dessert not to each person - I'll pass out dessert plates and put out an array of options, this way there is no pressure on those without sweet teeth or those watching their weight to eat something that they may not want to. I'll put out big bowls of fruit (depending on what's in season), platters of chocolates, nuts, and dried fruit, and plates of cut up cookies and cakes. Something for everyone, but no onus on anybody to eat something that they don't want to.

                                                                              1. l
                                                                                lagatta Oct 3, 2010 07:21 PM

                                                                                I disagree. Suppose it depends on your circle of friends, but very few of ours want dessert. Is this a cultural thing? Those who do like dessert are forewarned to bring it. There is always cheese, and fresh fruit for those who want it.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: lagatta
                                                                                  Isolda Oct 3, 2010 07:31 PM

                                                                                  I have a sweet tooth, and I would consider cheese and fruit after a delicious meal a perfectly acceptable dessert. In fact, my husband and I have often ordered the cheese course in certain restaurants and had no room for anything else. I think the OP was asking if it was okay to serve nothing (no cheese, fruit or dessert type things) and my answer is still no.

                                                                                2. l
                                                                                  lemons Oct 3, 2010 07:09 PM

                                                                                  Some really good chocolates with coffee? I would point out that in much of France, it's quite proper to obtain dessert for a dinner party from a good bakery and the housewife is quite unabashed about saying, "Oh, the lemon tarts are from Patisserie Foofoo. Pierre adores them." Easier than cheese and fruit. People are always worried about the "polite way" to eat fruit at the end of a fancier dinner.

                                                                                  But serving nothing and announcing "Pierre and I don't eat dessert, so we're not having any," with or without the offer of coffee or after-dinner liqueurs seems a tad ... uh...idiosyncratic.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: lemons
                                                                                    biondanonima Oct 3, 2010 07:40 PM

                                                                                    I like this idea, actually - I find that after a big meal (which is what usually gets served at dinner parties), no one wants a whole serving of dessert, but everyone can make room for a little chocolate or a small cookie. I love to make truffles and I know my friends would be more than happy with a truffle or two rather than a big slice of something (except at Thanksgiving, of course!).

                                                                                    I love a cheese course too, myself - and especially if you make some type of compote (like figs in wine or something) to dress it up a bit I'm sure no one would quibble.

                                                                                  2. decolady Oct 3, 2010 06:33 PM

                                                                                    Absolutely. You must serve dessert. It doesn't have to be elaborate. Go European. Serve the cheese course as dessert. Maybe you will start a new trend. It worked for me.

                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: decolady
                                                                                      Aravisea Oct 4, 2010 07:22 AM

                                                                                      I like this idea. Fresh fruit and a nice cheese or two sounds like the perfect ending to a dinner party meal. But then I fall into the "minimal sweet tooth" category. :)

                                                                                      1. re: Aravisea
                                                                                        iluvtennis Oct 4, 2010 03:26 PM

                                                                                        I have a pretty big sweet tooth but i would actually love this!

                                                                                        1. re: Aravisea
                                                                                          scubadoo97 Oct 5, 2010 05:17 PM

                                                                                          This is a fine way to end a meal. I know a lot of people we entertain are not big on desserts. Fruit, if it's good is a perfect way to end a meal.

                                                                                      2. i
                                                                                        Isolda Oct 3, 2010 06:06 PM

                                                                                        Yes, you do need a dessert. Sorry! It's just expected, and most people do have a sweet tooth. I wouldn't shun you, but I'd offer to bring a cake the next time. You can ask one of your guests to do this, or you can do something really easy yourself. This time of year, I'd make an apple cake or crisp. Even if the rest of your meal is very sophisticated, no one who likes sweets will turn down an apple crisp. Another, even easier option is to serve sweetened chestnut paste side by side with plain nonfat Greek yogurt or fromage frais. You will probably hate it, but your guests will love it.

                                                                                        1. f
                                                                                          fourunder Oct 3, 2010 06:02 PM

                                                                                          People are funny animals. You give a nice dinner party with some great food and drink, but all they remember is there was no desert served.

                                                                                          I would be very happy if you served some nice cookies.....even store bought.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: fourunder
                                                                                            rudysmom Oct 3, 2010 06:05 PM

                                                                                            i agree...even something easy would be fine.
                                                                                            for some of our guests, dessert is just an excuse to drink coffee & dessert wine anyway.

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