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Oct 19, 2012 05:49 PM

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.