We take no responsibility for anyone who licks their phone while reading Manisha Ferdinand's guide to the must-eat puddings for mums...
They say that everyone has a talent; that everyone is good at something. But where some have an affinity for languages, a way with numbers or are musically gifted, my talents lie in an uncanny knack for always selecting the best dessert on any given menu. I may not know much, but goddamn it, I know dessert. And if there’s one thing that you need to get through the first, gruelling year of parenthood, it’s dessert.
Before I guide you through the best after-dinner treats, let’s be clear about what that means. I’m talking proper, honest-to-goodness pudding. None of this ‘ooh, fruit has plenty of natural sugar!’ nonsense. Not I for ‘I’ll have a cheeseboard for dessert, please’ because cheese comes after dessert, not instead of. Basically, I am here to be your refined sugar fairy godmother.
NB Please note I am also STRONGLY advocating buying these, not making them. Life is too short to blowtorch sugar oneself.
The diet dessert
Bet you think this is going to be sorbet, right? WRONG. Because sorbet is not dessert. Or, to paraphrase Ron Swanson: ‘Dear sorbet, you are the celery of desserts. Be ice-cream or be nothing. Zero stars.’
I DIGRESS. The best pudding if you’re watching your weight - and, frankly, if you are: a) this guide might not be for you and b) WHY? You’ve just BIRTHED A HUMAN, dude, give yourself a break - is of course lemon meringue pie. Light, tangy, and only the slightest inkling of sugar from the, erm, whipped sugar. Now, personally I regard lemon in desserts as a culinary sin but this is the only possible option that even comes close to this category without talking about sorbet and we all know how I feel about THAT.
The ‘I need to eat this quickly because my kid is going to wake up any minute’ dessert
You’ve managed to achieve the unthinkable and get through a whole meal without the sodding baby monitor going off and your food going cold. You know it’s only a matter of time before that all changes. The aforementioned baby monitor is a ticking time-bomb, daring you to try your luck with dessert. What are your options?
CAKE. Doesn’t matter what type – Victoria Sponge, Chocolate, Coffee and Walnut, Red Velvet – whatever you’ve got in the house (and if you are anything like me, you will have some in the house.) PROS: It’s simple, effective and can be eaten with one hand, no cutlery and on the move. CONS: It’s not particularly exciting. BUT it gets the job done. It’s the Dermot O’Leary of desserts.
The ‘treat yo’self’ dessert
This is a toss-up. When you’re feeling luxurious, you want a dessert that matches your mood, which is why you need to go foreign. I’m going to cheat slightly here because this should ultimately come down to one of two desserts depending on your preferences: Tiramisu if you’re more of a chocolate person, or Crème Brulee if custard is your thing. I personally think custard is the work of the devil so would pick Tiramisu even if it wasn’t my favourite dessert of all time. Which it is. God, I want a tiramisu.
The ‘today has been REALLY awful’ dessert
You’ve had two hours max of sleep, you’ve changed what feels like 400 nappies, the baby won’t stop crying, you haven’t had time for a cup of tea and the house looks like a landmine filled with tiny clothes and toys has gone off. It’s not been the best day. So there’s only one real option – get that sticky toffee pudding in the oven, dump half a tub of ice-cream or custard into a bowl, assume a prone position on the sofa and stuff your eyes with rubbish TV and your face with that sweet, sweet pudding. Sticky Toffee, you complete me.
The ‘I can probably share this one with the baby’ dessert
Everyone gives their kid a little taste of ice-cream, right? Right? Guys?
The ‘someone else has offered to make me something’ dessert
We all have that lovely friend or friends who, when baby arrives, will come over and cook or send food for you. If they ask what you want you should have one response: CRUMBLE. Crumble – with whatever fruit you like with it – is delicious and also super healthy because of all the aforementioned fruit but is an ABSOLUTE FAFF that no new mum in their right mind should be considering. Having someone else ponce about with stewing fruit and making crumble (NB I have only a very vague idea of the actual process) is a much better option for everyone involved, except perhaps the poor friend who offered in the first place. But, you know, that’s their problem now, not yours.
The ‘can eat whilst also feeding the kid’ dessert
Something that’s fresh out of the oven or ice-cold from the fridge or freezer probably isn’t the best thing to potentially drop on a baby’s head while they’re eating (although if they’re anything like my kid, nothing short of a freight train would distract him from his food. Hmmm, wonder where he gets that from). Pies are good in this situation – banoffee; chocolate, fruit if you must - anything that can be eaten at room temperature. Of course the added bonus of banoffee pie is it handily tricks you into having fruit in a delicious formation ie mixed up with toffee and cream.
The ‘existential crisis’ dessert
“Why have I got an urge for trifle? It’s an old people’s dessert. Am I old now because I have a kid? And 'cause I eat trifle? 'Cause here I am. Eating trifle. Mmmm ladyfingers. Oh god, I’m turning into my mother.”
This is the thought process you will go through as you eat almost an entire trifle.
The ‘boosts your milk supply’ dessert
Cheese? Excellent. Cake? Excellent. PUT THE TWO THINGS TOGETHER??? Nirvana. Whoever came up with this incredible invention should be knighted, if they aren’t already. And all that cheese means loads of calcium and protein and erm…other stuff; which has got to be good news if you’re breastfeeding right?
Oh sod it. Desserts are delicious. Now you’re a Mum, you’ve got a lifetime of worrying about things ahead of you. Don’t let whether you should have dessert or not be one of them.