Why There's Always Room For Dessert

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Why There's Always Room For Dessert
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Why There's Always Room For Dessert

Still have room for dessert? From Thousand Layer Chocolate Chip Cookies to Peach Shortcake with Vanilla Whipped Cream, these treats will satisfy your sweet tooth.

Thousand-Layer Chocolate Chip Cookies

The extra effort that goes into making these chocolate chip cookies reaps rewards in flavor and texture. This recipe yields mouth-watering bakery-style cookies.

Get the Recipe: Thousand-Layer Chocolate Chip Cookies

Swirled Cheesecake Brownies

Bake up a batch of decadent chocolate brownies with marbled cheesecake swirls with this recipe. The whole-wheat pastry flour makes for a chewier texture.

Get the Recipe: Swirled Cheesecake Brownies

Banana-Nutella S'Mores

Whip up this classic campfire treat indoors for a quick and easy dessert. This recipe shows you how to grill s'mores without making a sticky mess.

Get the Recipe: Banana-Nutella S'Mores

Apple Bread Pudding

Try this delicious recipe for fluffy, flavorful apple bread pudding. The apples are sautéed in brandy and butter and then soaked with the oven-toasted brioche in vanilla pudding before baking.

Get the Recipe: Apple Bread Pudding

Milk-Chocolate-Frosted Layer Cake

Chocolate lovers will rejoice over this delicious recipe for chocolate cake. Indulge in light and delicate layers of cake topped with ultra-creamy milk chocolate frosting.

Get the Recipe: Milk-Chocolate-Frosted Layer Cake

Salty Caramel Ice Cream

Adding saltiness to sweet treats can enhance their flavors - this recipe for Salty Caramel Ice Cream will win over your taste buds. Serve this chilled dessert as soon as the weather warms up.

Get the Recipe: Salty Caramel Ice Cream

No-Bake Cherry Cheesecake

Craving something creamy and nutty? This cherry cheesecake recipe makes an incredibly smooth cheesecake filling and a toasted nut crust. Try using fresh cherries for the best flavor.

Get the Recipe: No-Bake Cherry Cheesecake

Whoopie Pies

Not quite a pie (nor exactly a cookie or cake), whoopie pies are having their moment across the nation. Try making a healthier version of this cream-filled cake sandwich with this recipe that uses nonfat yogurt and skim milk.

Get the Recipe: Whoopie Pies

Hazelnut and Chocolate Meringue Cake

This decadent cake, with its layers of chocolate-hazelnut meringue and whipped cream, is the ultimate indulgence for any sweet tooth. Just remember to freeze before slicing to avoid the meringue from crumbling.

Get the Recipe: Hazelnut and Chocolate Meringue Cake

Peach Shortcake with Vanilla Whipped Cream

For easier preparation, this recipe bakes the shortcake batter in one pan instead of making individual biscuits. Top with Schnapps-soaked peaches and whipped cream for easy entertaining.

Get the Recipe: Peach Shortcake with Vanilla Whipped Cream

Silky Chocolate Mousse with Peanut Butter Crunch

The winning combination of smooth chocolate mousse with roasted-peanut cream and pieces of chocolate and peanut butter cornflake crunch makes this recipe a crowd-pleaser.

Get the Recipe: Silky Chocolate Mousse with Peanut Butter Crunch

Impossible Pie

The unusual name comes from the fact that the pie "miraculously" forms its own crunchy coconut crust while baking. Be a miracle worker in the kitchen with this wonderfully delicious dessert.

Get the Recipe: Impossible PIe


"What a great meal—I'm stuffed! Dessert? Of course, I have room for dessert." Sound familiar?

Why is it that we always seem to have room for dessert? It goes back to the days of our ancestors, explains Alfonso Abizaid, Ph.D., a professor of neuroscience at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. "We have evolved to detect and consume foods that are high in caloric content because our ancestors survived food shortages by over-consuming foods, particularly those high in fat and sugars, when those were available," he says. "We also evolved to really like and seek out these foods in spite of not being hungry, as the extra pounds gained from overeating when food was plentiful may have saved our ancestors' lives when food was scarce."

In a nutshell: Caveman-You really needed those Oreos, but Today-You? Not so much. Still, it takes discipline to fight the primal instinct to eat high-fat, high-calorie foods. And judging by the fact that more than one-third of American adults are obese today, it's clear that many of us are losing that battle.

Dr. Abizaid and his team worked on a study based on the knowledge that the hormone ghrelin—dubbed "the hunger hormone" because it is released when people are hungry or stressed—increases the desire for additional calories, even after a full meal has been consumed. The experiment was done on normal rats and a group of rats that had a mutation to their ghrelin receptors.

Here's how it went down: Both groups of rats were placed on a scheduled diet with access to food for just four hours per day. They learned to eat most of their required calories during this time. In short, they pigged out. In the "dessert" test, all of the rats ate a bunch of regular food for hours—both groups were equally gluttonous. After the four-hour meal, however, the rats were all given access to some yummy cookie dough. The normal rats ate it avidly, despite the fact that they were full. The rats with the mutation to their ghrelin receptor ate significantly less cookie dough.

What does this mean for your post-dinner Ben & Jerry's habit? "Not having a receptor for ghrelin—hence being ghrelin insensitive—makes animals less likely to engage in hedonic feeding and eat less in spite of the availability of yummy treats," explains Abizaid. "Perhaps drugs that block ghrelin receptors can be used to control hedonic feeding in humans who have difficulties controlling their caloric intake, especially if taken just before a meal."

Until that miracle pill comes, however, we're stuck with exercising some self-control when we're full and dessert is offered. "Despite the intensity of any craving, it's possible to change your preferences for certain foods if you eat less of those foods," says Elisa Zied, R.D. In a pinch, Zied recommends distracting yourself from dessert cravings with a regular after-dinner walk or popping a mint in your mouth after a meal.

Check out the slideshow above for our favorite dessert recipes -- just remember to eat them in moderation!

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