Cupcakes
A unique use of fruit can leverage the natural sweetness of a product.
 

Redefining dessert

“It’s a challenge to the food service industry to redefine dessert by questioning the longstanding concept of dessert as a ‘bomb.’ (Mr. Willet) is demonstrating that we (as guests) can be satisfied with just a few bites of these three ingredients,” she said.

Needless to say, the challenge affords culinarians the opportunity for innovation and creativity. Traditionally, it seemed easy to rely on refined sugar and grains — to pour on the toffee or caramel syrup, but the initiative aims to change the options available on dessert menus.

“His point is that those three ingredients [i.e., categories of ingredients] can allow great variation in mouthfeel, sweetness, texture, crunch — they all have distinct roles to play; what comes out of the restaurant kitchen is often remarkable. It’s also a nice learning opportunity for our C.I.A. students, plus a great teaching tool to challenge staff: What is dessert?”

The hope is that thinking along these lines will encourage greater originality in the sourcing of “interesting” ingredients and experimentation with various techniques, such as smoking pistachios or grilling peaches, Ms. Egan said.

As for the substitution — or addition — of vegetables like sweet potatos or zucchini to the Three Pleasures parameters, Mr. Willett said, “In principle, this could be ok, but it may take a very creative chef to make this the same pleasure as the fruit.”

While eager to emphasize the healthfulness of 70% dark chocolate, he concedes there could be an optional Fourth Pleasure, “a bit of spirit such as rum, bourbon…splashed on.”