They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, though I can definitely vouch that this is true for women just as often. As a baker and a Southerner, making dessert for someone is the truest way to show that I care—but exactly what complexity of dessert is appropriate, and when? You don’t want to go slaving over a three-layer coconut cake after only a couple of dates. Here are some of my tried-and-true desserts and the appropriate stage of the relationship to pull them out of your repertoire.
Note: Of course, no relationship is necessary to make these desserts—feel free to use them for Friday night baking with your cat. You may notice that many of these recipes come from my aesthetically-challenged website. This is not a shameless attempt to get more views (see what I did there?). I am actually slightly embarrassed that people are going to be seeing my blog, but I wanted to use desserts that I can personally vouch for and instructions that are as simple as possible.
On to the sweets!
1. Before a highly-anticipated, or after a really great date.
You might not know each other very well yet, so you want to go with something classic that anyone would love to receive, but nothing too extravagant. Chocolate chip cookies are the perfect choice. Who can resist a still-warm, slightly gooey chocolate chip cookie? Even with all my baking prowess, this is one of my favorite desserts, and it will not take very much of your time.
Baking challenged alternative: Purchased cookies are acceptable as long as they are from a bakery or a quality grocery store. Chips Ahoy is just sad. You may also consider getting them delivered; after an interview at my dream company, I had cookies delivered to HR and guess where I work now? Side note—if the date went that well, it’s worth taking the 20 minutes to try for homemade. If it doesn’t work, you can buy and coyly explain that you tried.
2. After the first fight.
You want to make peace, so you need to pull out something a little impressive to get back on your partner’s sweet side. Golden Caramel Cake is a great option because it uses boxed cake mix for simplicity, but you look like a rock star chef by making your own caramel for the frosting.
Baking challenged alternative: After a terrible day, I once came home to basically the entire chocolate bar aisle on the dining room table. It’s one of maybe two times I have actually cried from happiness. I’d choose an assortment of 5-10 quality chocolates (or a Godiva box). If your partner doesn’t like chocolate, get different kinds of sweets that they do like, or get a dessert to go from their favorite restaurant.
3. After a breakup.
I’m not going to say there’s only one option here, because you need to do what feels good for you right now. I’d advise against binge eating, because that contributes to unhealthy attitudes about food and will only make you feel worse. However, I will note that this particular flavor of ice cream is excellent in small doses, and has chocolate, vanilla, AND caramel (and waffle cone!!), so it is pretty much perfect.
4. Moving in together.
This occasion calls for something light, as I’m sure you’ll have a lot of “christening” to do in different parts of the place. Might I suggest taking a note from ancient Italian prostitutes* and making a Strawberry Tiramisu ahead of time? I also suggest topping with toasted almonds (sliced or chopped) for crunch. As someone who lived in Italy, I have to say this is in no way an authentic Italian tiramisu—but it is delicious.
Baking challenged alternative: If you can’t find good tiramisu, stick with something else light, like strawberry shortcake. Or skip the cake altogether in favor of strawberries and champagne.
5. You want to convince someone to marry you.
Sex Cake. It may look like a simple chocolate cake on the surface, but this is, without question, the best cake I have ever eaten and it only gets better as it sits. It has a rich and unique chocolate flavor, but it’s light, and it has a hint of booze to get the warm fuzzies going. It’s also practically foolproof, as I have forgotten various key ingredients on occasion and it still turns out great. It is definitely a stunner for later in the relationship because, for one, after your significant other tastes this cake they will beg you to make it for them for the rest of both of your lives, which will now undoubtedly be spent together, and secondly, it turns out kind of ugly sometimes. However, you can make this some kind of metaphor for the relationship, like how even though things aren’t always perfect, even after time it’s still the best relationship you’ve had.
Baking challenged alternative: Message me and I will overnight you some. There is no substitute for this cake. Maybe, MAYBE Miles of Chocolate. Whatever you end up doing, just make sure you don’t put a ring into the food!
*Fun fact: “Tirami su” means “pick me up” in Italian. The dessert was supposedly a favorite of prostitutes between clients, as the coffee and the sugar gave them energy, but the dessert wasn’t so heavy as to affect their, ahem, performance.[divider] [/divider]