Oct 24, 2012

National Dessert Month - Part 2: Rich & Creamy

Part 2 of our National Dessert Month celebration continues our list of America's Top 10 Favorite Desserts with some of the nation's most cherished rich and creamy desserts, accompanied by recipes from our brand new cookbook, Guilty Pleasures

4. Ice Cream 

The origins of everyone’s favorite cold and creamy treat can be traced back to China around 200 B.C. The Chinese developed a frozen dish consisting of rice and milk that would later evolve into a more recognizable interpretation of ice cream as the concept spread westward, throughout the Arab world and eventually into Europe. The first documented recipes for ice cream began to appear in England in the 18th century and consisted of a frozen mixture of sweetened cream and fruit.

Quaker colonists can be credited for bringing ice cream to the New World. This dish was immensely popular amongst the colonies and was even a favorite treat of the Founding Fathers’, which perhaps aided the longevity of its popularity. In the 19th century, the United States began mass production of ice cream, solidifying it as a staple amongst American desserts.

Today, you can find just about any flavor or variety of ice cream imaginable in the United States. You can also enjoy ice cream in a multitude of ways, from ice cream cakes to milkshakes, or even our recipe for “A Little Touch of Heaven,” a delicious mixture of ice cream, cookies, and preserves!

5. Crème Brûlée 

Despite what our mothers told us, most of us secretly like to play with our food, and what dessert could possibly be more playful than crème brûlée? You get to use a blow-torch, and then you get you get to break into it with a spoon! That’s pretty wild for such a fancy-sounding dish.

While the exact origins of crème brûlée (which literally translates as “burnt cream”) are unknown, most food historians believe the dessert was developed in either France or Britain. The first documented recipe for crème brûlée appeared in a French cookbook from 1691. The dish eventually became known as “Trinity Cream” or “Cambridge Burnt Cream” in Britain after a specialized version of the dessert was introduced at Trinity College in Cambridge in 1879.

In regards to the dessert in the United States, some records show that Thomas Jefferson enjoyed serving crème brûlée to guests at the White House. The recipe appeared in many magazines and cookbooks throughout the mid-20th century, but the dessert saw an immense resurgence in popularity in the 1980s after it became a special menu item at the famous restaurant Le Cirque in New York.

Since then, many versions and adaptations of this delicious custard have been developed, such as our “Milk Chocolate Banana Creme Brulee,” a modern and luxuriant update to the classic recipe. 

6. Cheesecake

No “favorite desserts” list would be complete without cheesecake, that sinfully decadent treat that makes mouths water everywhere.

The story of cheesecake begins 4000 years ago in ancient Greece. After excavating cheese molds on the Greek island of Samos, archaeologists believe that the concept of the cheesecake began on that very island. Historical records also indicate that cheesecake was served to the original Olympic athletes and was also a popular wedding dish. This early Greek cheesecake, however, differed vastly from our own modern version, consisting of a mixture of flour, wheat, honey, and cheese.

Cheesecake eventually spread to Europe thanks to the Romans, and for several centuries, the Europeans began to create their own variations of the dish, such as Henry VIII’s chef who added eggs, butter, and sugar to the mix. However, it was the United States that transformed the cheesecake into its current form. After the invention of cream cheese in 1872 and its mass production in the early 20th century, cooks began to implement this yummy new ingredient as the main component of cheesecake.

New York-style cheesecake, often considered by Americans to be the most traditional form of the dessert, was created in the early 1900s by Arnold Reuben, who was also the creator of the classic sandwich that bears his name. Reuben concocted the recipe after sampling a cheese pie at a dinner party and attempting to replicate it.

The cheesecake has remained so beloved in the United States that today there exist numerous variants of the dish, such as Turtle Cheesecake and Pumpkin Cheesecake, as well as our own scrumptious “Amaretto Cheesecake,” an elegant and over-the-top dessert that will have your guests immediately hooked. 

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