“What’s the dessert for dinner?” One of the servers asked me as I stood behind the counter prepping garden salads.
“Umm…” I looked left and saw that we were running low on chocolate chip cookies, probably only 25 left and we had just served whoopie pies for lunch so those were out. I glanced right at the menu, hoping it would tell me what to make. Assorted desserts. Great. Really, really helpful.
I sighed, thinking through all the things I needed to finish before 4:30 p.m. when dinner had to be ready to send downstairs. The elderly eat early.
“Just right assorted desserts and I’ll figure something out,” I said.
After sprinkling a few more chunks of cucumber and tomato on each salad I headed back to the store room to see what I could whip together for dessert in this desert of ingredients. It was Sunday after all, shipments came on Monday.
A few left over whoopie pies, a frozen box of ecalirs, 25 chocolate chip cookies, one size 10 can of chocolate pudding and a container of completely smushed and mutilated brownies.
“Why?” I moaned out loud, forgetting for a second that I was alone in a closet filled with pre-packaged food in the middle of an assisted living facility that was formerly an elementary school. Why the buildings original purpose seemed to matter to me I have no idea, but I am glad it did. As I stared down at the broken and smushed together brownies, thinking about elementary school, the desserts that were predictably served each week flashed through my mind.
Cookies, congo bars, ice cream sandwiches and small cups of pudding with layers of brownie or cookie served with whipped cream on top.
I glanced down at the one size 10 can of chocolate pudding, then back at the broken up brownies. Brownie Pudding Parfaits, that’s what they had been called! They were always on Fridays, and always sporadically served. Then they just seemed like a delicious treat, but now they seemed like the likely way lunch ladies used up brownies and cookies when they were in no state to be served on their own.
Genius, I thought. Those lunch ladies were genius.
So I set to work. One scoop of pudding, a layer of brownie crumble, one scoop of pudding, repeat in the next cup. Twenty-eight cups later there was just one large crumb of brownie left and about a quarter of the can of pudding. I pulled out a bottle of whipped cream, set it beside the cups and smiled.
I didn’t have enough to serve to all of the residents, but I had the perfect amount to serve to our memory care facility, and I had a feeling they would appreciate them even more. They couldn’t talk as much, maybe, and they often didn’t eat as much either. I wasn’t ever sure if they enjoyed what they were eating or hated it. They didn’t always remember to eat or maybe even how. But in my short time working with them, I had realized that many did remember a few things, and one of them was that they loved chocolate.
And if chocolate made them smile, and made their day a little better, then chocolate – even if it is in the form of a mutilated brownie sandwiched between two scoops of pudding – they will have.