Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Frank desserts: the best and the worst

Sacrificing my waistline to investigate Frank’s sweets

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Frank desserts: the best and the worst

(Maxwell Zaleski/Daily Collegian)

(Maxwell Zaleski/Daily Collegian)

(Maxwell Zaleski/Daily Collegian)

(Maxwell Zaleski/Daily Collegian)

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I expect quite a bit from the University of Massachusetts dining services. Maybe too much for my own good. If I told you that the “No. 1 Dining” title didn’t play a role in my decision to attend the school, I’d be lying to you. Yeah, copious research opportunities and world class professors are pretty cool, but Blue Wall!

But does this “No. 1 Dining” title put undue pressure on the University? I have found that people will be less forgiving when UMass makes gastronomical mishaps. As the UMass student body, we believe that all the food the school provides should taste immaculate! Last year, amid student unrest regarding rumors of the dining plan cost increase, I decided that I should hold the University’s food to a higher degree of scrutiny. I began my food critiquing journey reviewing desserts from Franklin Dining Commons several times a week, to universal acclaim. Through my culinary odyssey, I have tasted almost every dessert Frank has to offer, sacrificing my waistline to better educate you about how to satisfy your sweet tooth. You’re welcome.

Here are some of the best and worst desserts I have tried along the way.

 

The best:

Lemon bar. I’m usually not one for lemon desserts. I find that too often, they either taste like Pine-Sol or lemon-scented Clorox wipes. But this bar is, surprisingly, one of the best executed desserts at Frank. The lemon curd is creamy but retains a certain lightness, and it juxtaposes perfectly with the flaky and buttery pie crust that acts as the bar’s foundation. When things get dreary and cold in February, I can always count on a bright, acidic lemon bar to remind me that spring is right around the corner. Unfortunately, I have not seen it grace dessert platters many times this semester, and that’s a shame. Come back, lemon bar! I miss you!

Chocolate torte. I really have to hand it to Frank for this one. They make a near-perfect torte. Sometimes, chocolate desserts can be so rich that they almost become exhausting to eat, becoming hard to get through without a gallon of water on hand. This torte maintains a perfect level of chocolatey goodness that never tires the palate. The slightly bitter crust prevents the torte from becoming overly saccharine, making for a surprisingly nuanced and delicious rendition of the dish.

 

The worst:

Jack Daniels bread pudding. I’ll be quick with this one because if I think about it for too long, I’ll get upset. The worst dessert at Frank, by far. Or probably any dining hall, for that matter. The pudding itself is soggy and replete with raisins (I do not understand the appeal of raisins, sorry). If a mushy bread pudding isn’t bad enough, the Jack Daniels sauce just takes this thing to over-the-top levels of nasty. The faux-whiskey flavoring is reminiscent of the worst Friday night you have ever spent at a frat house. It’s so sweet that you can literally feel the sugar granules crunching between your teeth. To add insult to injury, it left a sticky film on my teeth that didn’t leave until they received a vigorous brushing. I am hoping one day that Frank can do bread pudding justice. When done right, they are some of the coziest and most satisfying desserts around.

Mint red velvet cake pudding. To use a tired cliché, the proof is in the pudding, and this pudding is proof that puddings at Frank are to be avoided. Being a dining hall dessert critic is dangerous work, I’ve found. For the sake of my job, sometimes I’m forced to eat things that look like they belong in ‘Alien.’ This pudding is Frank’s horror show dessert. Uniformly blood red, I avoided eating this dessert for quite a long time. I do, however, applaud Frank for their cavalier approach here, albeit inappropriate. Mint and red velvet doesn’t exactly sound like a harmonious marriage of flavors. Upon first bite, my suspicions were confirmed. This dessert is a spectacular failure. It’s bizarre in the worst way. It’s unfortunate, really, because red velvet on its own is a wonderful thing. Ditch the mint, Frank, and the problem’s solved.

I hope that my sugary exploits can help lead you in the right direction when it comes time to pick your next dessert. The dining hall cooks work tirelessly to bring us (almost always) fabulous desserts every day. It’s amazing that we have as many choices as we do. It speaks to the University’s commitment to providing a dining experience that goes far beyond what most colleges have to offer. With dining like this, I am just thankful every day that I don’t attend Fordham, which students voted has the worst college food in the country.

 

Jacob Abrams can be reached at [email protected]

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