One of the greatest things about a menu is how many parts there can be — the appetizers, the entrées, and the dessert, not to mention the additions of soup, salad, or a palate cleanser. And everyone has a favorite part of a meal. What’s my

favorite? I quite enjoy appetizers, mostly because they are either extremely traditional — French onion soup, Caesar salad, fried calamari — or insanely imaginative — truffled anything, quail eggs Benedict, or outrageous ceviche.
But most people’s favorite part is undoubtedly dessert — there’s no better way to end a meal than with a sweet send-off, and it can really make or break a dining experience.
To ensure that I set you on the road to victory there are a few magic ingredients that take your average sweet from decent to delectable. This will hopefully help dessert aficionados “transform a bowl of oranges into dessert, turn chocolate pudding into company fare, or elevate any number of good things.”
Stock your pantry with these magic makers and you’re on the right track!1. Black Peppercorns: Pass the pepper grinder when serving figs and fresh cheese. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar for a unique taste.
2. Flaky Sea Salt: Add a pinch to chocolate mousse or ice cream with caramel.
3. Orange Blossom Water: Blend with whipped cream and a little orange zest before topping a chocolate dessert.
4. Rose Water: Toss sugared strawberries with a few drops for subtle sweet flavor.
5. Cinnamon Sticks: Grate over rice pudding just before serving.
6. Whole Nutmeg: Grate over brownies just before serving.
7. Spirits and Liqueurs: Toss with fruit, splash on cakes, pour over ice cream, or use for dunking amaretti.
8. Limes: Grate the zest over warm gingerbread.
9. Honey: Drizzle over yougurt or ricotta and top with pistachos, walnuts, or toasted almonds.
10. Chocolate: Hello, chocolate bars!
11. James and Preserves: Make a layer cake with berries and cream.
12. Special Sugars: Simmer with cream to make a fast toffee sauce.
13. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: Use it to make an olive oil cake, dessert crostini or croutons.