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Please explain a preference for a not-too-sweet dessert

Here's what I don't get: If you don't like sweet food, why complain about something that's by definition sweet? I mean, people don't ask for a not-too-liquid soup or a not-too-crisp potato chip. (Or do they?) There are plenty of ways to end a meal other than with a sweet (digestifs, nuts, and cheese come to mind). And there are plenty of things that I personally think are too sweet-- cotton candy and toothpaste come to mind. But dessert? I anticipate and enjoy something sweet.

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  1. Then for the love of god, keep away from my rhubarb pie!
    And back off of my fried ice cream,
    and stay away from my whipped cream!

    (Americans love sugar to death -- and shortening)

    2 Replies
    1. re: Chowrin

      Okay, good point-- I don't put sugar in my whipped cream.

      1. re: Chowrin

        Even in France getting difficult to get 'tart' rhubarb in confiture, desserts easier, like crumbles.

      2. I don't think the analogy between "sweet" and "liquid" or "crisp" is apt. It's sort of like bitterness. In certain cases bitterness is nice: it provides a bit of contrast. And a little salt helps bring out other flavors. But a lot of bitterness is awful, and a lot of salt can make something inedible. And a little sugar is good, but a lot of sugar is teeth-achingly bad. If the dominant note of a dessert is just "sweet", that's simple and saccharine (literally) and not appealing to me.

        But yeah, food isn't objective.

        1 Reply
        1. re: lamb_da_calculus

          I'm learning here! I do love lemon (bitter flavor in play) desserts, and put a bit of salt in just about everything.

        2. because there's a difference between sweetness that *enhances* flavor, and cloying sweetness that overpowers. i want to taste the interplay of ingredients in a dish, not just one-dimensional sweetness. and yes, i'm one of those people who doesn't have much of a "sweet tooth," but i can still enjoy dessert...i just prefer the sweetness to be balanced/tempered. i don't go for the toothache on a plate.

          17 Replies
          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            Well, okay. Sure. But who likes anything one-dimensional or not balanced or not tempered? I'm just curious about why this particular criterion gets applied to this particular course. I'll try again: People don't say "But not too salty" or "But not too sour". If you order pretzels or pickles, you expect them to be salty or sour. Maybe I'm just getting "too crabby"!

            1. re: monfrancisco

              Because SO VERY MANY desserts are WAY TOO SWEET.

              1. re: sandylc

                Well said. My family tree has a large proportion of diabetics. Desserts are often fruit salad, diet jelly (jello) or custard/creme brulee made with a small amount of sweetener.

                1. re: PhilipS

                  those sound good with the possible exception of jello, just not much of a fan. it's a texture thing for me I think. custard creme brulee, not too sweet, sounds wonderful.

                  1. re: iL Divo

                    I love jello, but probably not DIET jello. That being said, it is easy for me to complain about diet jello since I have not diabetic. I do enjoy desserts having a more subtle sweetness to them, instead of full blow sweet-to-hell. Thus, a slightly subtle sweeten creme brulee is exactly how I would like it.

              2. re: monfrancisco

                if you want half-sour pickles, order half sour pickles!

                1. re: Chowrin

                  Another good (and very funny) point!

                  1. re: monfrancisco

                    what many people are looking for in a not-super-sweet dessert is "rich" (and creamy!).
                    They know what they want, and there are many desserts that qualify.

                    1. re: Chowrin

                      Case closed! You just answered my question, and clarified my thinking. I do love mousse and custard and lemon tart. Thanks, Chowrin!

                      1. re: monfrancisco

                        okay, but i have to play devil's advocate here and say that there is such a thing as overly sweet mousse...and custard...and lemon tart. i've had 'em ;)

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          I'll concede the point, but only to you (thanks for all the wisdom and black bean dip)!

                          OT-- My Giants live to play another game!

                2. re: monfrancisco

                  I may not say "not too salty" but I've actually been unable to eat some soup that was too, too salty.

                  And once several years ago I had to send the chili back because it tasted of sugar.

                  1. re: monfrancisco

                    actually, i do say "not too salty" for many things - back in my pretzel-eating days i preferred unsalted, i can only tolerate a smidge on nuts or in nut butter, and i only eat low-sodium pickles...though i do love them extra-sour :)

                    but getting back to the sweetness issue, it's been my experience that desserts often *are* one-dimensional. at least to my palate, the sugar gets in the way when there's too much of it. just take a look at some of the standard recipes that have been used for years for things like cookies, cakes, muffins & pastries - all of them call for more sugar than necessary. you can typically cut back on it by at least one-third without adversely affecting the texture, AND it improves the flavor because the sweetness no longer masks everything else.


                    1. re: monfrancisco

                      Gettysburg Pretzel Company has an "extra salty" pretzel that will put holes in your mouth, it's totally encrusted and painful...

                      1. re: monfrancisco

                        "People don't say "But not too salty" or "But not too sour"."

                        People do.

                        1. re: monfrancisco

                          Had onion rings and French fries today and wished I had said not too salty because they bordered on inedible.

                        2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          Goodhealkthgourmet described my opinion perfectly because there are too many desserts that are cloyingly sweet instead of balancing the sweet of one dimensional sugar with the flavors of fruit, spice or chocolate and pastry. I'm starting to use other sugars instead of plain white granulated sugar in many recipes because they add more nuances to the overall flavor palatte instead of merely adding sweetness.

                          I almost never use sugar in savory recipes because I prefer to get any balancing sweetness from veggies that have been roasted or sauteed instead. I know that many people prefer all foods to be sweet my over time my palatee has changed.

                        3. I love desserts and sweets. But too sweet is icky. I hate desserts that rely upon sugar and shortening. They are cloying and shallow. I like other good flavors, not just a pile of sugar.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: sandylc

                            Excellently described.
                            Too much sugar covers up all the original ingredient tastes, until one tastes nothing else but the sugar. If you love sugar that much, just eat a cube of sugar.
                            I like dessert in Austria, Germany and France, especially Austria and Germany. I don't like most desserts in the US because sugar is all one tastes.

                            1. re: Parigi

                              Agreed, this is why I bake my own, and rarely eat any commercially made baked goods. It's like most people are under a spell. They haven't had enough honest food to see the difference.

                            2. re: sandylc

                              Just had a berry crumble this AM in Paris from a nondescript patisserie, all you taste was the fruit and the lemon juice, natural sweetness, virtually no added sugar in the fruit, and a bit in the crumble topping, as it should be for me.

                            3. I would occasionally like to have a dessert after a special meal--after all I eat practically no sugar at all 98% of the time. But I have to sadly conclude that a couple of years of going low carb has changed my tolerance for severely sweet stuff. I don't think I'll ever order dessert out again. What I get is too sweet.

                              Here is the difference. My adult child made the family recipe of gingerbread for my birthday. I ate a piece. It was rich and delicious. The recipe is quite old. The flavor is strong but nuanced. There is sugar and molasses, but it has a specific taste. One piece was quite satisfiying.

                              Restaurant desserts are often more sweet than anything. else. I admit I am speaking from not that much recent experience. But the desserts I've splurged on in the last 3 years or so, have not been enjoyable at all. Basically they have been too sweet.

                              And the other food in restaurants is often sweet as well. I have to be careful about "house" salad dressings, particularly. The sad thing is, restaurants are simply giving people what they want with all this sweetness.

                              1. A sweet dessert can detract from the flavors of the previous courses, for me dessert should balance out the experience not over power it. FWIW people ask for brothy soups vs. thicker soups pretty often.

                                1. I'm commenting as a non-American who hasn't visited the US for quite some time. One thing I remember about sweets and desserts in the US is the overwhelming heavy sweetness of most foods. The addition of sugar to so many items that in Australia we generally don't add sugar to (the point having been made about sweetened whipped cream already - I have never and don't know anyone who sweetens cream) made it very clear that many Americans seem to value sweetness. If I'm cooking from an American recipe I tend to reduce the sugar by at least half because there's usually so much of it.

                                  I certainly enjoy sweets and desserts, but I don't like an overwhelming sweetness that detracts from the other flavours of the dish - I think the example of lemon tart is a good one. I very much enjoy a lemon tart with a strong lemon flavour and get disappointed if it's too sweet, the sugar overiding the flavour of the lemon. As others have already said it's about balance with the other flavours and ingredients.

                                  21 Replies
                                  1. re: Fowler

                                    <...who hasn't visited the US for quite some time...>

                                    <...sweets and desserts in the US is the overwhelming heavy sweetness...>

                                    I am pretty sure TheHuntress means Americans as in US Americans.

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      Thanks Chemicalkinetics. I really do just mean recipes that have been developed in the USA. Different cultures tend to value different aspects of food (ie. texture, balance of flavours, dry cake vs. moist cake, etc.) and I have found that the US seems to value sweetness. It was just an outsiders observation.

                                      1. re: TheHuntress

                                        Your welcome. It is ok to call us Americans, and our recipes as American recipe :)

                                        You are correct to call those of us who live in USA as Americans. It is acceptable. We are kind of special :) You can call most people by their countries' names like: Australia --> Australians, China --> Chinese, India --> Indians, Brazil --> Brazilians. Using the norm analogy, one would call us: "United States of Americans" or "US Americans", but this is very rare:


                                        <I have found that the US seems to value sweetness>

                                        I think this is a fair statement.

                                        1. re: TheHuntress

                                          brits value sweetness too. just look at their tea, which was an excuse to enjoy sugar!

                                          1. re: Chowrin

                                            I have not found most Brit dessert unacceptably overwhelmingly sweet, you know, original-sin sweet.
                                            Except in candies/sweets, toffees. But candies are over-the-top sweet all over the world. It's not for people who like candies. It's for people who like sugar.

                                            1. re: Chowrin

                                              You're right, Brits do value sweetness and some may use sugar in their tea, but generally speaking British desserts don't seem to be as sweet as American desserts, in my experience.

                                              Being in the US and served toast with icing sugar for breakfast, brownies so sweet I could never manage more than a bite and desserts that seemed to be extra, extra sweet was the norm. I'm certainly not criticising or suggesting that sweetness isn't valued by other cultures and nations, I just found it different that sugar was utilised so much.

                                              As for sweets as Parigi has mentioned I do have a special love for English sweets (candies) ,so obviously I do like sugar. Just not on my toast and in such big proportions.

                                              1. re: Chowrin

                                                Is English tea really sweeter than Southern sweet tea?


                                                P.S.: Southern as in US Southern, and US Southern as in USA Southern. USA Southern as in Southern states in USA. USA as in United States of America.

                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                  "Is English tea really sweeter than Southern sweet tea?"
                                                  I don't know Southern sweet tea. It certainly is not sweeter than Indian chai or Vietnamese sweet tea.

                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                    NO WAY is English tea sweeter than Southern sweet tea. Sweet tea is just this side of simple syrup with tea flavoring - it reminds me of the glucose solution that they give pregnant women to test for gestational diabetes. I drink iced tea in the South either unsweet (so I can add just a little sugar) or half-and-half.

                                                    and English tea is typically served unsweetened -- it's up to you to sweeten or not.

                                                    (not having had chair or Vietnamese, I can't say for certain -- but I'd guess that Southern sweet tea would give it a good challenge)

                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                      <NO WAY is English tea sweeter than Southern sweet tea>

                                                      That's what I thought too. I have plenty Southern sweet tea, so I know how sweet it can get. English tea... I have it a few times here and there, but I am no expert. Still, I have never had a English tea (with sugar added) come anywhere close to a Southern sweet tea -- like you said, you are to add those sugar cubes on your own.

                                                      I actually do enjoy Southern sweet tea. Southern BBQ pork + Southern sweet tea. Yeah.

                                                      I have had Thai ice sweet tea, and I have had Vietnamese sweet Chai. In my experience, Southern sweet tea is still a bit sweet, but I also have found some variety in sweetness among different Southern sweet tea from different barbecue joints.

                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                        To be honest sunshine, with my background being British and amongst my many British friends I only know one person who actually sweetens their tea at all. I know it hardley covers a large amount of the population, but the norm does seem to be unsweetened tea.

                                                        1. re: TheHuntress

                                                          I live in middle United States and I drink a LOT of tea. I would not DREAM of putting anything in it. It is perfect in its pure form!

                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                            <<<I live in middle United States and I drink a LOT of tea. I would not DREAM of putting anything in it. It is perfect in its pure form!>>>

                                                            Something else we agree on, Sandy.

                                                          2. re: TheHuntress

                                                            and lots of people add milk...which adds a bit of sweetness on its own.

                                                            I find the British blends have a certain degree of sweetness in the tea itself (PG Tips and Typhoo in particular)

                                                  2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                    "means Americans as in US Americans."

                                                    yeah cause go to the Caribbean or farther South and whoa there's tons of sugar in almost everything. many of us in the US DO gravitate towards the sweet, but it's not exclusive to here.

                                                    1. re: hill food

                                                      I am sure we are not the MOST sugar crazy country, but reading TheHuntress' previous comment, it was easy to see that Huntress meant only US residents, and Huntress has indeed admitted this was the original intent:

                                                      "Thanks Chemicalkinetics. I really do just mean recipes that have been developed in the USA..."

                                                      I prefer not to call us "US Americans" because it is starting to sound strange:


                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics


                                                        In the larger context (relating to the original post), I think we have established the fact that: there can be overly sweet food. This perception of course depends on the person.

                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                          India has to be. I am unable to eat a single bite of their desserts, painfully high in sugar.

                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                            "But to be fair to them, their other name options
                                                            Like USAiers and United Statesians
                                                            Were pretty bad."


                                                          2. re: hill food

                                                            Absolutely, I struggle with the sweetness of Brazillian desserts also. But making an assumption that the majority of posters on this thread are from the US I thought I'd try to be relevant. Maybe I should stick to my usual irrelevance ;)

                                                      2. You have a strong sweet tooth it seems. Many of us do not. I like sweetness but not cloying and where it masks the other flavors.

                                                        Also, I believe chocolate is one of the most overrated products on the planet. Give me a nice panne cotta instead. I don't know if there is a correlation between those with sweet tooths and those who swoon for chocolate.

                                                        Also, as I age, I prefer savory to sweet the vast majority of the time.

                                                        6 Replies
                                                        1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                          stereotypically, yes.
                                                          A good brazillian coffee is way better than chocolate any day of the week.

                                                          1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                            depends on the chocolate. i swoon over high-end, high-cacao, low-sugar varieties with complex flavors...but keep the milk chocolate and most of the big-brand crap away from me.

                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                  Amen from me too. I eat 80-85% so regularly that even 70% cacao chocolate is starting to taste too sweet to me. Anything less than that doesn't even taste like chocolate.

                                                                2. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                  "Many of us..." Hope this doesn't make me a "you people"!

                                                                3. Well, I don't dislike sweet food, but I do understand why people complain about it. Some people are born and raise with a more mild and subtle cuisine (like the Japanese). As such, they often find Western desserts being too sweet too powerful.

                                                                  Let me reverse this question. You said that you don't understand why people complain about some desserts being too sweet. Let's reverse this question back to you: Are desserts always "the sweeter the better"? Is this statement always correct? Is doubling my sugar in a apple pie always better? Is tripling my sugar content always better than doubling?

                                                                  I think you see where I am getting at. Because "increasing sweetness does not always equal to better desserts", we then come to the conclusion that there is in fact an "optimal" or "acceptable" sweetness for desserts. Now, I think we can understand why some people complain about desserts being too sweet. Afterall, desserts are not just purely about sweet. Desserts about combining various tastes together -- just like any food. Think about it. If desserts are simply about sweetness, then plain stable sugar must be one of the best desserts, but we know that is not true.


                                                                  By the way, people DO complain about too liquid soup and too crispy potato chips. Soup that is too watery is described as too thin. A soup which is too thin or too thick is not good. This is similar for potato chips.

                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                    No need to "reverse this question." My point is not that I think all desserts must be 90% sugar. It's that I don't understand people complaining about an inherent quality of something. Apparently I'm not expressing myself clearly and my analogies are inapt. So I'm taking my plate of brownies and going home!

                                                                    1. re: monfrancisco

                                                                      Your original title states "Please explain a preference for a not-too-sweet dessert ". Based on other people's answers. I think we all interpreted your question about the same.

                                                                      <So I'm taking my plate of brownies and going home!>

                                                                      Unfortunately, It does not work this way on internet forums. People will continue to participate to your original question -- even if you do not think it represents your intent.

                                                                      1. re: monfrancisco

                                                                        brownies are such grease-bombs. (run the calories if you don't believe me!)

                                                                        1. re: Chowrin

                                                                          Thank you both for your valuable insights into this internet thing and the butter content of brownies. Most useful-- never would have known!

                                                                          1. re: monfrancisco

                                                                            <never would have known!>

                                                                            Your welcome. As you can tell, people have kept on responding to your original post -- exactly how I have predicted.

                                                                    2. Moderation in everything.

                                                                      It's the same impulse that makes us say, "this is too salty" when we like salty foods. I like a good savory dish any day of the week, but I ain't going near Baccalà that hasn't been soaked at least overnight.

                                                                      Let's say you like really sweet desserts and someone plated a decadent piece of chocolate cake in front of you and then proceeded to pour super-concentrated simple syrup all over it.

                                                                      Good? Didn't you say you liked "sweet" desserts? Well, if Sweet is good, then certainly Sweet +100 must be better, right?

                                                                      Not necessarily, me thinks.

                                                                      1. For one thing, the less sugar you eat, the more sensitive you are to the taste. Since I eat very low carb, I actually taste the sugar in a leaf of romaine lettuce. Add that to a life time preference for very dark chocolates and tart desserts like key lime or lemon meringue pies without too much sugar, and I like things with a good balance of sweet/tart and a hint of salt to amp it all up.

                                                                        I love just enough sweetening to make it pleasant and little enough so it's not cloying and toothache inducing.

                                                                        12 Replies
                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                          It's not possible to taste sugar in lettuce, sorry.

                                                                          1. re: olyolyy

                                                                            I'm not sure about this. The majority of the time my only dessert is 90% dark chocolate (exceptions coming maybe twice a month) or less-sweet fruits (grapefruit, granny smith apples, not really ripe peaches) and I do think lettuce has a (very) mildly sweet taste. And lettuce does have natural sugar, so I think it is possible.

                                                                            1. re: olyolyy

                                                                              When I was a child, I loved the white parts of iceberg lettuce because they were sweet. I would tear the whiter, thicker leaves off a head of it and nibble slowly through each one, enjoying the delicate, non-cloying sweetness of it. I can still taste a bit of that, but after 60+ years it's a bare ghost of what it was.

                                                                              1. re: lamb_da_calculus

                                                                                "I do think lettuce has a (very) mildly sweet taste."

                                                                              2. re: olyolyy

                                                                                just because you personally can't taste it, that doesn't mean the same goes for everyone else. *all* vegetables contain sugar - in the form of fructose - including lettuce. (in fact, the sugar content of iceberg lettuce is as high as that of tomatoes, red peppers and zucchini.)

                                                                                a standard head of romaine contains 8 grams of sugar - it's comparable to the level of sugar in onions and green beans.

                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                  Where are you getting this nutritional info? It is way off. 5 heads of romaine *maybe* have one gram of sugar.

                                                                                    1. re: lamb_da_calculus

                                                                                      Try reading the nutritional info on the packaged kind. Assuming you eat the end stub maybe it comes close.

                                                                                      1. re: olyolyy

                                                                                        i get my nutritional info from my personal library of scientific texts and references - it's my profession.

                                                                                        FYI, the "packaged kind" isn't the entire head. an actual whole standard-sized head of romaine - even *without* the core - weighs more than a pound. what's the weight on that package?

                                                                                      2. re: lamb_da_calculus

                                                                                        those numbers are about right. IME, a standard head weighs closer to 1.5 lbs or more, so i edged it up a gram (that Nutrition Data info is for 1 lb 6 oz, which is a couple of oz shy of 1.5 lbs).

                                                                                    1. re: olyolyy

                                                                                      I've eaten romaine that was perfect and deep green aqnd crunchy that actually seemed sweet to me, it was powerfully flavored and the ultimate in lettuce. I don't think it happens often, but i've tasted it.

                                                                                  1. Although I did have more of a sweet tooth when I was a kid, I've always preferred rich to sweet. Some dessert items I barely liked at all, and sweet egg custard was until recently quite revolting to me, though I always loved the savory kind. The pinnacle of all my dessert experiences happened one day in 1965 when I decided to splurge on the chocolate cream pie in the coffee shop of the Anchorage-Westward Hotel: $1.50! For ONE PIECE of pie!! I was well-rewarded, though. The crust was very short and very flakey; the chocolate custard was a rich, dark chocolate, silky-smooth and barely sweet. The pie was topped with unsweetened whipped cream, strewn with shavings of semisweet chocolate. It was sublime. So damned sublime that I finally understood what "sublime" means. The only dessert item that could be of comparable sublimity was my own family's strawberry shortcake, which was rich, lightly-sweetened biscuit split in a bowl, filled with cut-up sweetened berries and topped with more, then served with thick cream (not whipped) poured over all. When we had it in a restaurant the inevitable sweet whipped cream was tolerated, but a sponge-cake base was unacceptable.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                      Will -

                                                                                      The shortcake biscuit was still slightly warm from the oven, right?
                                                                                      The berries were picked the same day, OK?
                                                                                      And some of the berries were mashed to make a juicy slurry, yes?

                                                                                      Gotta part company with you on the cream, though. We liked it lightly sweetened, whipped, and lots of it.

                                                                                    2. I think that sweet and spicy are two varieties of food where someone can say "I like sweets"/"I like spicy food" - and have that mean quite a wide range. In Israel, food on average is not made very spicy. While there is a Middle Eastern tradition of having spicy condiments, they're used in pretty moderate quantities and it's almost unheard of to eat anything that would approach a Thai/Indian/Mexican chili spice level. When ordering a falafel sandwich, and being asked for "spicy" - this is much more in the medium salsa range. But there are people here who consider this spicy and say they like spicy food.

                                                                                      So when going to a somewhat authentic Thai restaurant in Israel and they say "this dish is served very very spicy" - based on what I know of local food spice levels and possible spice levels in Thai food from restaurants in the US, it's difficult for me to guess whether it will be too spicy for me or not. The difference though between spice and sweet levels, is that most desserts aren't marked as "very sweet" or "moderately sweet" - and it's only if your server feels it's worth mentioning if you'll get an indication.

                                                                                      1. I'm American (mentioning this since it was a point of discussion throughout this thread), and I prefer not-too-sweet desserts. I like to taste the elements of the dessert: fruit, chocolate, vanilla, etc. Personally, I like simpler sweets, too: I'd rather have a perfect crème brûlée, slice of pound cake (unadorned), or fruit and cheese to finish a meal. Actually, by "simpler," I should qualify it and say many desserts on restaurant menus go one step (or more) too far for my palate. For example, I'd rather have a slice of cheesecake without a sugary-syrup fruit glop on it (fresh fruit is fine) that's standard on many U.S. menus, or a slice of chocolate cake without any additional sauce (like caramel) or pounds of ganache slathered on. I rarely eat dessert when dining out, and I don't touch the sweet-sweet my bf requests (and I'm happy to bake). However, I also have always considered myself someone who'd rather indulge in something salty than sweet. I'm much more likely to anticipate part of the meal with crunch and salt and umami than the dessert. In other words, I could totally see myself indulging in a piece of bacon for dessert and not miss the "something sweet," and I'm only half-joking.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: team_cake

                                                                                          I think you sum it up nicely, team_cake. I tend not to order desserts in restaurants (unless part of a dego, or something especially appeals to me) as I find they tend to be a bit over the top. I must say one of my all-time favourite desserts was made by a chef friend - lemongrass and coconut sorbet with chilli-rasberry coulis. Absolutely sensational and just the right amount of sweet to round off what was an excellent meal.

                                                                                        2. My personal taste- sometimes I want something that's really, really sweet, like cotton candy or marshmallow fluff. But I think I was Mexican in a previous life, and I really love a good combination of sweetness and tartness, like in a nice champagne mango, and if i'm going to grill some peaches I like to sprinkle a touch of lime-flavored citric acid on it if I don't have limes around.
                                                                                          Growing up in the '50s and '60s, there was a lot of processed food around and most of it had a ton of sugar in it, at some point I became very anti-sugar (a dilettantish movement at the time) and weaned myself off sugar almost entirely, now I don't have much of a sweet tooth. After a rich meal, I don't want cake or ice cream- growing up there was always dessert if you ate enough of your dinner, I raised my son without dessert almost completely. Luckily he doesn't resent me for it. :-) He also likes the sweet-tart combination.

                                                                                          1. Are you really serious or are you just trying to get a discussion going? With the HUGE variance is backgrounds, cultures, tastes, palates, and experiences of people all over the world............ is it REALLY surprising that people's tastes in desserts vary? And................ that what one person considers too sweet another might not? I go through this all the time with my wife, whose palate is much more sensitive to sweetness than mine. She'll say something is too sweet when I don't find it so at all. Years ago her father admonished us all to keep family gatherings more pleasant my making sure everyone began personal statements with "In my opinion". Good advice.

                                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Midlife

                                                                                              what is this site if not discussion?

                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                In my opinion, sunshine842 makes a pretty good point.

                                                                                                1. re: monfrancisco

                                                                                                  842 usu. does.

                                                                                                  Midlife, that is indeed good advice, and I wish it was understood as a given universal that 90%+ of comments here don't need to be appended with IMO or IMHO.

                                                                                                  since we're all just a bunch of opinionated loudmouths anyway.

                                                                                                  1. re: hill food

                                                                                                    Most days my skin is thick; other days it's thinner. Maybe that's it. But I sometimes just wonder how we all have the time and interest to get into long discussions of issues which are really totally subjective to begin with. Oh, well........................ whatever. ;o]]]]]

                                                                                                    1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                      I will remember that for the dinner table, it will come in handy as the holidays are coming up for many of us. and I have to admit FRF in the real world, if it's a topic that I don't care about, occasionally I will encourage the other to derail into the minutiae and tune it out. here I can just not participate and nobody will care. (smirk)

                                                                                                        1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                          MId - yeah maybe it's a bit cold, but I feel it IS sort of nicer than just yawning or clearly dismissing something pointless. just a different kind of pointless. (and whoops, I meant to write F2F in the prev. post) so yes, relatives can blather on about what they find important today and I can usually predict the outcome, it's the sidebars and the alleys of who went where to school in 1973 and how they fit into the narrative that I find more interesting than Proposition A and redevelopment in X neighborhood.

                                                                                              2. I used to hate blueberries and cherries because my only experience with them was in pie. And those were made with some sort of canned fruit goo that was insanely sweet. It wasn't until I was an adult that I ever even saw fresh blueberries, and I love them now. Still feel that most fruit pies are too sweet for my taste.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: mojoeater

                                                                                                  use real pie cherries, -- sour as anything! and try some rhubarb pie (no strawberries!)

                                                                                                2. They may be diabetics who are planning to cheat on their diets but hope not to pass out from too, too, too much?

                                                                                                  1. I never understand why on (say) 'chopped' the judges often say the desserts made on the last round are too sweet.
                                                                                                    to my mind dessert is supposed to be sweet.

                                                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                      It's about balance. They also knock competitors when their desserts aren't sweet enough.

                                                                                                      1. re: Chi_Guy

                                                                                                        exactly....I'm only bringing up Chopped as a reference.

                                                                                                      2. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                        Desserts are supposed to be sweet, but not sickeningly sweet that you spend the afternoon in the bathroom. I like desserts, but I don't want to eat a bag of sugar - a good dessert has to have a good balance of flavor.

                                                                                                        If I'm eating a chocolate cake, I want to taste the chocolate not the sugars. If I'm having cherry pie, then it'd better taste like cherries. A lot of times, if you close your eyes and eat very distinct desserts, you can't tell which is which because they have no flavor just sugar.

                                                                                                        I bake a lot of desserts and I can not stand to eat cheap sugary crap. If I'm going to make a chocolate cake, then add a bit of coffee to boost the chocolate flavor not sugar to make it too sweet.

                                                                                                        Try most coconut cakes and what you'll really taste is not coconut, but sugar and artificial extracts so it smells like coconut.

                                                                                                        1. re: nikkib99

                                                                                                          I understand your comments but thought they were givens.

                                                                                                          of course I don't want a ball of sugar.

                                                                                                          I want lemon flavor in a pie, apple in a crumble, chocolate in a brownie etc.

                                                                                                          probably one reason we enjoy shortbread cookies, it's the butter with little sugar supported by flour that we taste, not a sickeningly sweet bite.

                                                                                                          1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                            I think people vary so in what they like. Some desserts someone else might find sickeningly sweet I love. But I also love desserts that aren't sweet enough to some others' tastes. I like the entire range but not everyone does. (And diabetics may not want to admit they are diabetics so they should eat less sweet desserts if any at all so they don't go out in a coma.)

                                                                                                            1. re: HappyHattiesburgr

                                                                                                              Don't know if it's true or not, but I read that diabetics can't taste sugar very well and therefore like things with a LOT of sugar so they can taste it. I've wondered if it's true or not......

                                                                                                        2. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                          IL DIVO:
                                                                                                          You mean when you are making a dessert, using 3 tablespoons of sugar is the same as using 3 cups of sugar? For your palette, there is only "sweet", never "too sweet"?
                                                                                                          And for things that are "supposed to be salty", 3 Tbs salt = 3 cups salt ?

                                                                                                          1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                            I DON'T LIKE TOO SWEET EITHER.
                                                                                                            I do like sweet..............it is supposed to be sweet but NOT TOO SWEET

                                                                                                        3. Sweet like any flavor needs to properly balanced with the other components of a dish. Too often it ends up overpowering everything else and make the dish unappetizing.

                                                                                                          1. When I state a preference for a not-too-sweet dessert, I'm generally trying to decide between various options and trying to get a sense from a waiter/server/cook about which dessert will suit my palate best. I've never been a big sugar fiend and will always choose rich/tart/bitter over straight sweet in desserts, but sometimes it's not clear from a menu description just how sweet (or not) a dessert will be. There is a wide range of things that are thought of as "desserts," and I don't want to end up with cotton candy when what I really wanted was lemon tart.

                                                                                                            1. i think that a similar analogy would be an over-salted salty item, such as soup. soup is pretty salty by nature, so it would make sense to ask for one that is not too salty. or, a not-too-spicy spicy dish. it's nice to get flavor, without having TOO much of it.

                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: jamieeats

                                                                                                                I know that my palate is not the most sensitive,but this is a new one for me. Why would soup be "salty by nature"? I know that stocks can be, but all soup?

                                                                                                                1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                  soup (and stock) can only be salty if you make it so --

                                                                                                              2. for instance I made a pumpkin roll and it called for 3/4 c sugar.
                                                                                                                it was a sponge cake recipe, you know > thin so you can roll.
                                                                                                                didn't want to wing it so looked up a recipe.
                                                                                                                I know that the filling of cream cheese is going to be sweentened with honey, the amount I choose which will be less than any recipe calls for plus you know that it'll be dusted in powdered sugar so to me, that's sweet enough, no over kill.

                                                                                                                1. It's quite easy to explain--I'm a supertaster, so there is such a thing for me as too sweet, just as there is too bitter, too sharp, too acidic, etc.

                                                                                                                  It's not that I don't like sweet--I have a real sweet tooth. But things that come too close to pure sugar are just too much.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: foiegras

                                                                                                                    on occasion it's hard to put into words how I want to express what I mean.
                                                                                                                    I agree with you foiegras.
                                                                                                                    I don't like too/overly sweet.
                                                                                                                    it's too much of a blow to my senses, but sweet in general is good.
                                                                                                                    agree also about too bitter, too sharp and too acid.
                                                                                                                    in a famous old restaurant in Philadelphia, I had my favorite food on earth Bolognese.
                                                                                                                    it couldn't have been more acid.
                                                                                                                    I know it was a misstep that day when they made the sauce, someone no doubt dropped/dumped something in that wasn't supposed to be in there.
                                                                                                                    it burned my insides going down and hours after the fact too.
                                                                                                                    when I called to ask if that was the norm, they bragged saying "oh yes."
                                                                                                                    long story short, some things go unnoticed, like a bottle of vinegar going into red sauce at a famed Italian restaurant.

                                                                                                                  2. My dessert preference is a lot like my people preference- it's nice when someone's sweet, but if all you get is over the top cloying sugar, you start to wonder what that sweetness is trying to hide.

                                                                                                                    1. Indian desserts are way too sweet. Italian desserts tend to be drier. But as w/ most things in regard to cuisine the French get it just right.

                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                        I live in Paris but my fave desserts are Austrian and German. :-)
                                                                                                                        But French desserts are very nice too. And none worship sugar, which is considered the cheapest and least interesting ingredient in a dessert.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                                          Thank you. You have just explained what is wrong with most bakeries and many self-professed French-style bakeries in the States. When I encounter a truly-almost-European bakery here, I am in heaven. Flavor, not a &^$*load of sugar.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                                            I definitely agree with you. I think overloading a dessert with sugar makes it feels cheap. Anyone tasted supermarket desserts? They are usually very sweet. It is the "easy way out". If you have a mediocre dessert which you want to imrpove? Well, just add about 20-50% more sugar to make it more acceptable. It also remind me of seeing people hosing soy sauce in their rice when I was at my college cafeteria -- just to make it more bearable to eat. It is like Sirracha sauce too. Bought some cheap ass Asian takeout? Here! Put a good dose of Sirracha to make it tastes less bad.


                                                                                                                            A well made dessert does not need excessive sugar.

                                                                                                                            It is like adding MSG to Chinese food. It is a cheap way out (not financially cheap, but skill cheap). MSG will any trashy Chinese food tastes less trashy. However, real good Chinese dishes can be made without a hint of MSG.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                              We split some great discussion of recipes for Bread and Butter pudding over to the Home Cooking board so more people would see it: http://www.chow.com/topics/875869

                                                                                                                            2. re: Parigi

                                                                                                                              I've not had much Austrian or German desserts but I've read about the wonderful bakeries/ coffee houses in Vienna. Gotta get there for a proper Sachertorte;]

                                                                                                                          2. Just wanted to reply to the original post as I have probably taken it off topic a bit, but I don't have a sweet tooth any longer thanks to being borderline diabetic. However sometimes I want something slightly sweet to finish off a nice meal.

                                                                                                                            My sister is a full on diabetic and very few restaurants cater for this other than a fruit salad. Personally I think this is very short-sighted as so many people are diabetic these days.

                                                                                                                            When cooking at home, I always do at least two desserts - one of which will be a diet/diabetic option.

                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: PhilipS

                                                                                                                              and why is a cheese course seen as a weird option in the US? (well OK offering it to a lactose intolerant would be...) I generally don't want 'dessert' but do enjoy that. and hey - surprise me. I was really thrown the first time when asked to choose the portion sizes off the cart (France, but as a 20 YO kid I didn't know what I was doing).

                                                                                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                because of the lack of real cheese produced in the US -- happily, this is changing, but real cheese (small-producer, non-factory) is still hard to find and very expensive in the US.

                                                                                                                                Cheese platters exist in the US (full carts are a dying breed, even in France) -- but they're few and far between.

                                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                  pity, I was intimidated, but also fascinated. and the folks were of no help.

                                                                                                                            2. I have been searching for help about how to explain my distaste for sweet foods since I was 5. At kids' birthday parties, mothers would feel my head and ask me if I was all right, since I didn't want Ice cream and cake.

                                                                                                                              Most people say, "Gee, you're so lucky! I wish I didn't like sweets." But that's their body image talking. They love the pleasure they get from sweets, and why shouldn't they? I'm not taking a moral stand. I'd just rather have some buttered popcorn, and a little bit of sugar makes me want a glass of water.

                                                                                                                              And then they say. "Oh but this isn't really sweet. it's just fruit." To me, it's really sweet. They are amazed. And doubtful.

                                                                                                                              Mostly, I'm just sick of explaining this over and over. What's the simplest thing I can say to get well meaning people to stop trying to press desserts on me? Enough already.

                                                                                                                              Thanks in advance for any suggestions...

                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: eppie curious

                                                                                                                                Accept yourself as being fine just the way you are. You're different from most people, and you're just going to have to live with it. You can't control other people's reactions. Why try?

                                                                                                                                There's nothing wrong with being the way you are. And I think I can say "you're so lucky" without worrying that it's my "body image" talking. You *are* lucky.

                                                                                                                                You remind me of a pretty girl who bemoans her good looks.

                                                                                                                                1. re: eppie curious

                                                                                                                                  +1. Most sweet things are too sweet for me and I can only take them in very small quantities like a bite or two. People are fascinated and can't seem to believe it and assume I only have a few bites because I'm watching calories, which I am not. When I have a craving for something sweet it's satisfied very quickly. For example the other day I wanted a brownie, so my lovely SO made a pan of brownies and brought me a huge chunk and I literally took 3 bites and wrapped it up. He was stunned "I thought you were craving a brownie so badly." Well, yea, I was and I had 3 bites and now I'm not. Actually most of the time when I have occasional cravings for sweets, I have a bowl of berries which by the end has topped off my sweet meter. Don't feel bad, you like what you like. I don't get why people don't understand it, but oh well.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                    It is nice to know I'm not the only person in the universe with this experience. I'm fine with my taste. I'm just really bored with explaining it.

                                                                                                                                    Your 1st sentence might be the sound bite I'm looking for. But, I do wonder why sweet eaters think that their happiness with desserts is "unlucky". Eat, and let eat.

                                                                                                                                2. Sweet, yes. Overkilled, no.

                                                                                                                                  Case in point:
                                                                                                                                  The Crumbs cupcake chain (the whole cupcake fascination is a mystery to me, anyway, but that's another story for another day, err thread)produces a chocolate cupcake that is too chocolatey, too sweet, too everything for me. It's not enough that the cake and frosting are rich chocolate, it is also filled with a fudge frosting and then topped (this is where they lose me) with mini chocolate chips. Sometimes more is just more...

                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                  1. re: JenJeninCT

                                                                                                                                    Many commercial bakeries rely too heavily upon way too much sugar and obvious visual over-the-top trickery rather than good-quality ingredients and actual talent in the kitchen.

                                                                                                                                  2. I haven't read the other replies, but some people really don't like ultra super sweet. They like sweet, or sweetish--that's a dessert for them. Besides, all these words "sweet, sour, spicy, etc..." are really relative and subjective.
                                                                                                                                    Also, it's cultural. Central Europeans tend not to like things as sweet as North and Latin Americans: who, in my opinion, are united in a love of super sweet.

                                                                                                                                    1. If you think toothpaste is too sweet for its usual purpose, why not try the Bamboo Salt "flavor?"

                                                                                                                                      What I eat for dinner greatly affects what I will have for dessert. But there's no telling if I'll be eating another dinner afterwards...

                                                                                                                                      For example, if I paneer saag, then something very sweet, such as gajar halwa, is apropos. Though if I order navratan korma, I don't think any Indian dessert will be in order then (maybe kheer, but not a guarantee).

                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                      1. re: BuildingMyBento

                                                                                                                                        Common brands of toothpaste are disgustingly sweet. Great example. We use a more non-mainstream toothpaste that is much less sweet.

                                                                                                                                      2. I am not a huge fan of sweet desserts. I will eat and enjoy them if they are well executed. More likely, though, I am sated by sharing a sweet dessert with a dining companion, having a couple bites, and leaving the rest to them.

                                                                                                                                        When dining out I will order the cheese plate if it is offered for dessert. Failing that, I'm perfectly happy with a scotch or port (which may qualify as a sweet dessert).