I've noticed a disturbing trend on the home cooking board. When people discuss gnocchi, they pay attention to the quality of the ricotta. Much attention is paid to the subtleties of roasting chickens. Generally, people are knowledgeable about food - and those that aren't present themselves as new cooks, eager to learn.
And then the topic turns to dessert.
Suddenly, the quality dips. Now, I'm not denying that some very good information is passed back and forth about dessert. But among the recipes for flourless chocolate cake and panna cotta, you find truly horrible recommendations. Lots of instant pudding mix (truly one of the most obscene products on the market - regular pudding is little more than milk, sugar and cornstarch and only takes about 15 minutes). Pre-made frozen pie crusts. Cake mixes. Melted Kraft caramel squares. The sort of junk that I thought people who cared about food, well, rejected. Not out of snobbery, but because these things taste really, really bad, and are loaded with artificial colors, flavors and preservatives to boot.
Why does dessert bring out the worst recipes? Is it because pastry is seen as difficult (but surely no more difficult that many of the cooking projects discussed)? Or is it because people like anything as long as it's sweet? Or is it some sort of childhood regression thing, dessert being the part of the meal you're "allowed" to be childish about?
I used to work as a pastry cook, and I've noticed this before. People who will spend a lot of money to enjoy a fine dinner don't seem to notice if the dessert is overly sweet or long-frozen or just bad. Why?