Time to get it straight once and for all. When do you / do you not make a Brocho on dessert in a meal (where you washed)?
There are a lot of different practices (and I believe a stira in the Mishna Brurah), and it may depend on your practice.
Here's what I was told in yeshiva:
Fresh fruit (including "ha'adama fruit" like watermelon and bananas), candy, ice cream -- all get a bracha.
Anything mezonos, anything liquid, cooked fruit -- included with the meal.
Regarding mezonos (mentioned quickly in a comment on a different answer):
Bread is Hamotzi, and therefore one doesn't make a beracha on it since it is included in the Hamotzi at the beginning of the meal. Cake is Mezonos and one would make a beracha on it when it is eaten as dessert.
The question of making a beracha on a mezonos dessert depends on what is considered "Pas/Bread" vs. "Pas Haba BeKisnin/Cake". There are 3 possibilities cited in SH"A (really simplifying here):
- Sweetened dough
- Filled dough
- Hard dough
If the desert you're eating satisfies all three, it is definitely a Mezonos (and not a Hamotzi) and therefore one makes a Mezonos when eaten as dessert. A good example are hamentaschen.
However, if it satisfies only one (possibly even two) of the conditions, no beracha.
According to the Sephardim, one is Lechtechila not allowed toto eat cakes or cookies during a meal of bread (Yalkut Yosef, Heleq 3, page 187). He says you must wait until after you finish Birkat HaMazon. EDIT: Because some cakes are Hamotzi and some are Mezonot. This Halacha has a lot of cirumstances. http://www.dailyhalacha.com/displayRead.asp?readID=1571&txtSearch=eating%20cake%20meal See this for more details.
This publication is relevant to the conversation:
http://halachayomit.co.il/en/default.aspx?HalachaID=1812 Summary: One should not recite any blessing at all on cakes served at the end of the meal. If the cake, however, contains all three conditions in that its dough is sweet, it is crunchy, and it is filled (like Ma’mool and Baklava), only if the tablecloth was removed and only then was this kind of cake served will one recite the blessing of “Borei Minei Mezonot” on it. If even this kind of cake was served without first removing the tablecloth, one does not recite any blessing. It is preferable, however, not to serve any cakes before Birkat HaMazon is recited.
http://halachayomit.co.il/en/default.aspx?HalachaID=1803 Summary: If desserts, such as fruits, assorted nuts, and the like, are served at the end of the meal, one must recite the appropriate blessings on each item, be it “Borei Peri Ha’etz”, “Borei Peri Ha’adama”, or “Shehakol Nihya Bidvaro”. Regarding ice cream served at the end of the meal before Birkat HaMazon, according to the letter of the law one may recite the “Shehakol” blessing on it, however, it is preferable to delay eating the ice cream until after Birkat HaMazon, at which point one may recite a blessing on it according to all opinions. This holds true especially on Shabbat and holiday meals when Kiddush is recited over wine before the meal, as was explained above.