Most of us have heard of lasagna, the classic Italian dish of layered pasta, meat, and ricotta cheese. But I want to switch things up and discuss how to make dessert lasagna. Don’t get me wrong, I love the traditional stuff. There’s just something about it that makes it a better spring, fall, and winter meal than a summer one. All that pasta, cheese, sausage or ground meat, and red sauce is just so…heavy. So, rather than focus on the heavy version, I thought I would share a non-traditional option, perhaps more suited to the hot, humid summer months that will satisfy your after-dinner sweet tooth, rather than your dinner-time appetite.
Now, before I move on, I have to mention that we’re going to have to get a little post-modern with our interpretation of lasagna. Historically, lasagna has its roots in Italy—Naples, to be most precise—in the 1300s. Since then, it’s come to be known as a layered combination of lasagna pasta (sheet-like noodles), ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, sausage, ground meat, or meatballs, and sauce. But to get a little post-modern, what is lasagna, really? Can we know for sure? Is there one true essence? Is its reality an objective one, or are there subjective realities? For the sake of this piece, let’s assume that lasagna-ness is varied and diverse. After all, there are veggie lasagnas with no meat. There are vegan lasagnas that do away with the cheese and the meat. There are some versions that switch things up when it comes to the sauce. There are even gluten-free lasagnas that alter the composition of the pasta, or sub out pasta entirely for zucchini or eggplant.
So, I’ll ask again: “What is lasagna, really?” Based on the aforementioned examples, lasagna seems like it could be any repetitively layered, multi-ingredient dish. In that way, not only do vegan lasagnas count just as much as the classic lasagna al Forno, but dessert lasagnas work too. Are you buying any of this? I hope so—this article is riding on it!
When it comes to dessert lasagna, my quasi-academic analysis actually seems to align. The general rule seems to be if it’s layered, you can call it a lasagna. Which means the simplest answer to the question posed by this article’s title is, “Layer some really sweet things, one on top of another in a casserole dish, and you have a dessert lasagna.” But, you can’t just pretend to be Buddy the Elf by mixing spaghetti, marshmallows, M&Ms, and Pop-Tarts, and drizzling some maple syrup on top and call it a dessert lasagna. This is Chowhound, folks, and we’re better than that. So here are a few options that might knock the socks off your aunts and uncles at the family reunion, or your friends at the upcoming Labor Day party. Warning: These are decadent!
This over-the-top dessert is like a s’mores on steroids. With marshmallows, and graham crackers, Kit-Kat bars give a break (Kit-Kat pun!) to plain old chocolate. You need a lot of Kit-Kat bars for this one. Kit-Kats are fantastic. ‘Nuff said.
This one at least tries to stay true to the traditional roots. It claims to mimic the pasta layer with another doughy carb (graham crackers), and the cheese layer with a cheesecake-like peanut butter mixture. Heck, even the crumbled pieces of sausage are paralleled by crumbled Reese cups.
Do you like French silk pie? I do. Well, this chocolate lasagna looks like it could be pretty close. With creamy chocolate, whipped dairy topping, and Oreos, need I say more? It looks amazing.
To quote Monty Python, “And now for something completely different.” If you’re worried about jamming your body full of candy and want to try something with at least a little bit of fruit, this one might be for you. I love blueberries, so it looks pretty stellar to me.
If you like Nutella and think a lasagna can only be called such if it includes at least one layer of lasagna pasta, this one’s for you. Yes, you read that right, this one has pasta in it. For dessert. Apparently, this was a big deal for a while in Brooklyn. Feeling avant-garde? You might want to give it a shot.
Based on what you’ve read, you might be thinking, “What about tiramisu? Wouldn’t that be a dessert lasagna?” Judges? Yes, we’ll allow it! There you have it. Tiramisu: Dessert lasagna.
The next time you have to make dessert for a few people, try your hand at a dessert lasagna. The rich layers of sweetness are sure to impress your guests!
Related Video: How to Make Nutella Tiramisu
Header image courtesy of OMG Chocolate Desserts.