In order for something to be considered classic, it has to be the highest of a class, superior to all others. It has to elude excellence and be distinctive. So, you can imagine that when talking about desserts, it’s a pretty daunting task to find those that are the best of the best. But, of the hundreds – and probably thousands – of desserts, these 10 stand out as those against which all other desserts are measured.
- New York Cheesecake
If you thought that cheesecake tasted like it was created for the gods, you wouldn’t be too far off. Cheesecake can be dated back to ancient Greece and is said to have been served at the first ever Olympic Games. Though today every region seems to have concocted their own staple cheesecake, there seem to be none so popular as the New York style. Traditionally, cheesecake is made from soft, fresh cheese such as ricotta, but the New York cheesecake uses cream cheese instead. Natives of the 5 boroughs claim that cheesecake wasn’t cheesecake until it came to New York…and many around the world agree.
- Carrot Cake
When sugar’s scarce, carrots are a great baking substitute. Why? Because they contain more sugar than any other vegetable (with the exception of the sugar beet). So, in times of war when sugar can be expensive and hard to come by, carrots are used in cakes. Carrot cake became really popular during the Second World War, particularly in Britain, due to the rationing of food. Though a cake made with a vegetable doesn’t sound too appetizing, the carrots enhance the flavor and texture of the batter, creating a dessert that is now loved throughout the UK and the United States.
Having a bad day? Get some tiramisu. Italian for “pick me up,” this dessert is usually made of coffee-dipped ladyfingers and mascarpone cheese that’s been flavored with cocoa and liquor. Sensational, sweet, and delicious, tiramisu has taken the world by a storm in a very short period of time. Officially, tiramisu has only been around for close to 50 years, but that’s all it took for this delicious dessert to be incorporated into menus around the world.
- Crème Brûlée
What’s so great about burnt cream? So many things. As its name suggests, crème brûlée was created in France, first appearing in a cookbook in 1691. This sweet dessert consists of rich custard that’s topped with sugar that becomes caramelized. Nowadays, a torch is used to create the crunchy caramel on top but in 1691, no such tool was around. Instead, an iron called a salamander was heated and placed on top of the ramekin to create a dessert that’s still loved centuries later.
- Key Lime Pie
It’s probably no surprise that this pie is traced back to the place where these famous limes get their name: Key West, Florida. While it’s unclear who exactly created the pie, it’s dated back to the 19th century when condensed milk was popular, as it wouldn’t spoil even in the Floridian heat. Limes, being celebrated in the area, were thus added to the condensed milk, along with other ingredients, and the dessert was born. Since 2006, it has been the official state pie of Florida and known around the world for its sweet, tangy goodness.
- Apple Pie
Sorry to disappoint, but apple pie isn’t all that American. There are recipes for apple pie dating back to Chaucer’s time in the 14th century…and America wasn’t even a thought yet. Since then, it’s made quite a splash all over the world especially in Holland and Sweden, and of course, the United States. In the 1900s, apple pie became an integral part of American culture, as it was served all year round, and was even eaten as a child’s evening meal. Since then, it’s exploded into an American staple, but is still commonly enjoyed all over the world.
- Ice Cream
Sometimes, mankind really deserves a pat on the back. We’re so clever, in fact, that ice cream has been around for hundreds of years and its origins can be traced back centuries. Arabs were the first to use milk as a major ice cream ingredient, sweetened it with sugar, flavored it with rosewater, and topped it with dried fruits and nuts. As early as the 10th century, they were shipping it to major cities, including Cairo and Baghdad. Not bad, considering there were no refrigerators. Since then, ice cream has become a universal treat, resulting in hundreds of different flavors and variations.
- German Chocolate Cake
Contrary to what you’ve been told, German Cheesecake has absolutely nothing to do with the country of Germany. It was created in 1852 when Sam German, an American, developed a brand of dark chocolate for baking. In 1957, the recipe became popular almost over night, with chocolate sales increasing 73%, creating a national sensation. This rich, moist cake is smothered in chocolate frosting and topped with coconuts, pecans, and sometimes cherries.
- Pecan Pie
Pecans may be native to the Americas, but it wasn’t until the French arrived in New Orleans that they were put in a pie. It’s thought that some helpful Native Americans introduced the French to the delicious nuts, as there are recipes for pecan pie dating back to the 1800s. Since its creation, pecan pie has been served at restaurants worldwide and is a common dessert in the United States, especially on Thanksgiving.
You’ve seen them: those delicious tubes filled with creamy goodness used to create mouth watering displays at virtually every Italian restaurant and bakery. Cannoli originated in the Palermo area in Sicily, dating back to the time when the island was controlled by Arabs. Originally, cannoli were made for Carnevale, a festival just before Lent, and signified the last chance to stuff yourself before the fast. While they’re still an essential part of Sicilian cuisine today, cannoli are now consumed throughout the year and are enjoyed in many countries.