Oct 23, 2012

National Dessert Month - Part 1: America's Favorite Cakes

If you are in need of an excuse to indulge, we’ve got you covered. October is National Dessert Month, and there is no better way to celebrate this momentous (and delicious) occasion than with a few decadent morsels from our new Recipe Hall of Fame cookbook, Guilty Pleasures.

Most red-blooded Americans possess a pretty powerful sweet-tooth which has resulted in the dessert becoming somewhat of a national institution. Our desserts are more than mere after-dinner treats. We take our desserts seriously, and in doing so, the United States has catapulted a vast array of sweet indulgences into culinary stardom.
To celebrate National Dessert Month and to inspire you to whip up some all-American classics for friends and family, we have compiled a list of America’s Top 10 Favorite Desserts, which are truly the best of the best.

Part 1 of our Top 10 list features America's Favorite Cakes: 

1.    1. Chocolate Cake

While many people consider it to be their all-time favorite cake, not many are sure when the first chocolate cake was concocted. However, it was likely created after Dr. James Baker discovered a technique for making cocoa powder in 1764. A few years later, he established Baker’s Chocolate Company and began to sell his chocolate, earning him a place in history as the founder of America’s oldest chocolate company. Even today, Baker’s chocolate can be found in kitchens all over the country.

Over time, many scrumptious variants of the chocolate cake have evolved in the United States, such as German Chocolate Cake – and yes, you read that correctly; German Chocolate Cake is a purely American institution! The recipe was developed by a Texas housewife who incorporated Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate (named after Sam German, who developed a dark baking chocolate for Baker’s in 1852) into the mix, and the cake became an instant hit.

For one of the best traditional chocolate cakes you’ve ever tasted, try our recipe for “My Chocolate Cake,” and you’ll understand the title – because you won’t want to share!

2. Carrot Cake

Perhaps the reason why carrot cake is such a popular dessert in the United States is because consuming vegetables with our cake makes us all feel a little less guilty. Regardless, it’s still a mighty tasty treat.

Surprisingly enough, carrots have been used as an ingredient in cakes since the Middle Ages. Because sweeteners were so costly and scarce in medieval Europe, cooks would add carrots to sweeten desserts, taking advantage of the carrot’s naturally high sugar content.

Many people credit rationing in World War II Britain for inspiring the revival of the carrot cake, as carrots were one of the few widely available foods. In the United States, however, the cake became immensely popular around the 1960s as a novelty item and has remained one of Americans’ favorite desserts ever since. If you’d like to discover why, try making our recipe for “The Best Carrot Cake Ever,” a rich, moist cake topped with decadent cream cheese icing.

3. Cupcakes

Cupcakes have remained an immensely popular treat in the United States for a number of years, and for good reason. There’s just something so satisfying about the special feeling evoked by having a small, personal-sized cake all to yourself.

The cupcake was likely developed in America in the late 18th century, as the first appearance of a recipe for tiny cakes was in Amelia Simmons’s 1796 book, American Cookery. The term “cupcake” can also be traced back to 1828, documented in a cookbook by Eliza Leslie. These delicious morsels remained a common treat in the United States for many years as well as Britain, where they are known as “fairy cakes.”

In recent years, the cupcake has become more than a mere fanciful dessert, evolving into a full-fledged industry. Throughout the first decade of the new millennium, cupcakes experienced a massive resurgence in popularity as cupcake shops began to open up all over the United States. Since then, there have been numerous cookbooks and even television shows devoted entirely to the cupcake appearing nationwide.

For a unique twist on this American favorite, try our recipe for “Self-Filling Chocolate Cupcakes” that feature a simple and scrumptious surprise inside!

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