Posts Tagged With: Dessert

334/365: National Mousse Day

Those fond of hair gel, large antlered deer-like creatures, and foamy desserts all have reason to celebrate. November 30 is National Mousse Day!

OK, in reality, we’re only celebrating one type of mousse, and it’s not the kind that walks on four legs or keeps your hair neatly in place. Food blog, remember? Mousse is a classic dessert that has the distinction of being light yet rich. It is French for “foam” or “froth” and gets its consistency from folding in beaten egg whites or whipped cream. Mousse is usually made with chocolate, though the first mousses to appear were savory creations in 18th century France. Dessert mousses, often made with fruit, became commonplace in the latter half of the 19th century. One of the earliest recipes for chocolate mousse was printed in the Boston Daily Globe in 1892, but this was more of a pudding-like dessert. Foamy, airy “modern” chocolate mousses didn’t appear until the 1930s, when electric mixers were invented.

Mixing the mousse.

Mixing the mousse.

By the way, we already celebrated a National Chocolate Mousse Day earlier in the year, so this holiday is redundant. It doesn’t specifically mention chocolate, though. But when I mentioned this to Tara, she said, “what other kind of mousse is there?” That wife of mine, she’s got a point. And just like she did in early April, she again made a homemade mousse from scratch. This time she tried a recipe other than Julia Childs’. Tara actually liked it much better this time around. I have to admit, this one was lighter than the last. Delicious!

National Mousse Day

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Categories: Dairy, Desserts | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

219/365: National Raspberries in Cream Day

What do you get when you combine a classic summer berry with the decadent richness of cream? A berry good dessert, that’s what. August 7 is National Raspberries in Cream Day!

We’ve had a few other “in cream” (or “and cream”) days this year. Like peaches. And strawberries. And like those other times, “in cream” doesn’t mean floating in a pool of cream, as I’d always figured before delving into this food challenge. It means layered with whipped cream, which is actually a relief. I don’t think fruit floating around in cream is particularly appetizing, but hey – to each his/her own. There have been a bunch of raspberry food holidays lately, which makes sense, since the juicy fruit is at its peak from June to mid-August. If you’d like a little raspberry history, click on the link.

I recently turned to you, dear readers, to ask which food you would like celebrated as a national holiday, if given a choice. If your name is Wendy, you jumped all over this question and responded with several foods you’d love to see spotlighted. Wendy is keen for a National Chip and Dip Day, a National Mozzarella Cheese Stick Day, a National Mexican Food Day, and a National Chicken Salad Day. I think those are all excellent choices, and any of them would be a welcome break from the constant parade of desserts we are honoring. My mom suggested National Chicken Paprikas Day, and while you may not be familiar with this dish unless your ancestors hail from Eastern Europe, one bite and you’ll agree with mom: it’s delicious. Too exotic? Tell that to whomever decided we would celebrate National Coq au Vin Day not once, but twice. Or any of the other French, British, Italian, Spanish, Indian, or Irish-themed dishes we have whipped up during this challenge. Thanks for your input, you two.

We took the simple route for today’s celebration. Well, kind of. We did make the whipped cream from scratch, now that we’re veterans of this technique. And just topped a bowl of fresh raspberries with it. Easy, and delicious!

National Raspberries in Cream Day

Categories: Dairy, Fruit | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

177/365: National Chocolate Pudding Day

Today’s food holiday is decadent, creamy, and smooth. Unless you live in England, where it’s more of a spongey cake-like consistency. June 26 is National Chocolate Pudding Day!

We’ve had pudding holidays before, so if you’re keeping track of all your food history through our blog, you’ll remember that “pudding” once referred to sausage, and was savory long before it ever became sweet. In England, if you order chocolate pudding, you’ll get a cake-like dessert that is thickened with eggs and steamed. Here in the good ol’ USA, pudding is thickened with starch and boiled, resulting in a much creamier treat. I’ll give Britain their cool double-decker buses and Big Ben, but I personally think our version of pudding is about a hundred times better than theirs. And I know. I’ve had both.

Jell-O started making puddings back in 1897, but most of the early flavors were fruity. In 1934 General Foods introduced Walter Baker’s Dessert, a chocolate confection named after Baker’s chocolate company. In 1936, in an effort to fend off a million “who the hell is Walter Baker?” questions, the name was simplified to Jell-O Chocolate Pudding.

We went the easy route today and had prepared chocolate pudding cups. Before you cry foul, just remember that we slaved over souffles twice this year, and have made a majority of desserts from scratch. We needed a break!

National Chocolate Pudding Day

Categories: Desserts | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

142/365: National Vanilla Pudding Day

Today we’re pudding out plenty of good vibes. May 22 is National Vanilla Pudding Day!

In the modern vernacular, pudding usually refers to a dessert. (Side note: I’ve never used the phrase “modern vernacular” in a sentence before. I feel all kinds of smart). But it wasn’t always so. Pudding is derived from the French word boudin, which means “small sausage.” So guys, if your girlfriend ever refers to you as a “boudin,” take offense. Anyhoo. If you’re wondering what sausages have to do with pudding, in Medieval Europe puddings were primarily meat-based. To this day, in Europe they can be sweet or savory, and not very pudding-like at all, as we discovered when we had plum pudding, which is more of a cake (and not a very tasty one, no offense to you Brits). It was the ancient Romans who used eggs as a binding agent in their dishes, creating a custard very similar to what we think of as pudding in the U.S. Around the 1840s, American pudding began to differ from traditional boiled English pudding when we started using custard powder – a type of cornstarch – as a thickener. This proved handy to covered wagon cooks, who rarely had fresh eggs available. Instant custard and pudding mixes were introduced in the 1930s, and quickly became a popular dessert item due to their ease of preparation and convenience. Not to mention the fact that they’re delicious!

I would have liked to have attempted to make a homemade vanilla pudding, but we were short on time today. I settled instead for a box of Jell-O pudding – but at least went with the type you have to cook (which Tara had never tried) instead of instant. I even had leftover homemade whipped cream from yesterday to top it with. The results were wonderful!

Vanilla Pudding

Categories: Desserts | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

129/365: National Butterscotch Brownie Day

Today’s food holiday doesn’t really honor a brownie so much as a blondie, despite the name. May 9 is National Butterscotch Brownie Day!

I’d never heard of a butterscotch brownie before. I figured it was a chocolate brownie made with butterscotch chips, but that’s not the case at all. A butterscotch brownie is really just another name for a blondie, or a blonde brownie, which we already celebrated once this year. The butterscotch doesn’t even refer to actual butterscotch chips, but rather, the ingredients that go into making butterscotch: brown sugar and butter. Which are part of what makes up butterscotch brownies. Are you confused yet? I am!

Chocolate brownies may be more popular, but butterscotch brownies have been around about a hundred years longer. They date back to the 19th century, and are based on gingerbread cakes that were popular during the Renaissance period. Those cakes evolved into flatter ones baked in shallow pans that often included nuts and brown sugar. As delicious as they are, they just don’t have the same appeal as their darker cousin, the brownie. I get it. Chocolate is sexy. Butterscotch brownies literally pale in comparison, and are never topped with frosting. But, as I’ve said, they’re still quite good.

Tara made us a batch of butterscotch brownies from scratch. They were fantastic! Very butterscotchy

blondie

Categories: Desserts | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

121/365: National Chocolate Parfait Day

May 1st is the “perfect” day to celebrate chocolate desserts: it’s National Chocolate Parfait Day!

It also marks a special occasion: today we are 1/3 of the way through our food challenge. Four months down, eight to go. We still have a lot of ground to cover, but we’re making progress. I’ve begun dreaming of 2014, when we’ll be able to eat whatever we feel like on any given day. Seems like such a novelty now. Which is not to say that I’m not enjoying this project. I am. We both are. But it’s definitely a lot of work! And expense.

As alluded to above, parfait is a French word meaning perfect. It was invented in 1894 in France (duh) and was originally a frozen dessert consisting of cream, sugar syrup, and eggs. Nowadays it may also contain frozen custard, whipped cream, sauce, and fruit, and is usually served on a plate rather than in a glass. The preparation varies by country. In the U.S., parfait describes a chocolate mousse or pudding layered with whipped cream, fruit, and cookie crumbs or other toppings. No matter how you partake of your parfait, you will find it c’est magnifique!

We partook of our parfait by preparing a prepackaged pouch of pudding perfectly. Instant chocolate pudding, to be exact, and both fat-free and sugar-free, to boot. We layered that in a glass with generic Cool Whip and crushed graham crackers, and voila! A quick and easy parfait.

Chocolate Parfait

Categories: Desserts | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

103/365: National Peach Cobbler Day

April 13 is a lucky day for you if you enjoy peaches and sweet desserts. It’s National Peach Cobbler Day!

Cobblers have existed for as long as there have been shoes in need of repair. But alas, today’s holiday celebrates a dessert, not a shoemaker. Sorry, hardworking Nike and Adidas folk. We still appreciate you, though. Dessert cobblers originated in colonial America when early English settlers were unable to find the ingredients to make a proper steamed suet pudding. Instead, they took a stewed filling (usually fruit) and topped it with uncooked biscuits or dumplings. After baking, the surface resembled a cobbled street. There are many variations on the cobbler, going by names like the Betty, the Buckle, the Sonker, the Pandowdy, the Grump, the Slump, the Dump, Bashful, Doc, Dopey, Happy, Sleepy, and Sneezy. Just kidding about those last six – don’t get your knickers in a bunch, Walt. Cobblers are often topped with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream and served warm.

We found an upscale peach cobbler in the frozen section of New Season’s Market. By “upscale” I mean it cost nine bucks. Nobody said this food challenge would be cheap! Which is why we’re doing it this year, as opposed to last year, when both Tara and I were looking for jobs. We baked it in the oven at 350F for a little over an hour. Sadly, we didn’t have any whipped cream or ice cream, and that made me a real grump. Ha-ha. But the cobbler was excellent!

Peach Cobbler

Categories: Desserts | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

74/365: National Pears Helene Day

Today we celebrate a dessert with all kinds of weird grammar symbols in the name. It’s National Pears Hélène Day! Seriously, what are those weird slash mark thingies over the letter e? And, for that matter, what is Pears Hélène?

An old-fashioned dessert that is rarely seen anymore, that’s what. The dish was created by esteemed French chef and restaurateur Georges Auguste Escoffier, the same fella responsible for Peach Melba, in 1864. (The guy was all over the food map, inventing dishes left and right. We’ll be talking about him again when we celebrate Melba toast). The dessert was inspired by the opera La Belle Hélène, a historical reconstruction of the love triangle between Helen of Troy (“the face that launched a thousand ships and a Brad Pitt movie”), Paris, and Menelas. Escoffier decided that pears poached in sugar syrup and served with vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, and crystallized violets would perfectly represent the opera. Over the years the dessert was simplified, with sliced pears replacing the poached ones and slivered almonds standing in for the crystallized violets. Whew! I’d have hated to try and find that ingredient.

Pears Hélène looked, and sounded, complicated when I first read about it, but in reality the simplified version is pretty easy. If we didn’t have plans tonight I might have considered poaching a whole pear, but we decided instead to go the simple route. Sliced pears, vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, and slivered almonds. A little bowl at lunchtime. It was decent, though I’m sure using a real poached pear instead of a generic brand of pear halves in lite syrup would have upped the wow quotient.

IMAG0614

Categories: Desserts | Tags: , , , , , | 11 Comments

34/365: National Carrot Cake Day

Today is both Super Bowl Sunday AND National Carrot Cake Day. There would have been less work involved today if we were celebrating chicken wings or chips and dip, I suppose, but we can’t control the calendar!

At least carrot cake is healthier than most other cakes. Carrots have been used to flavor cakes since Medieval times, when sweeteners were hard to come by and expensive. Nothing satisfied a battle-hardened army freshly returned from plundering, pillaging, and ravishing young maidens more than a big ol’ hunk of carrot cake! This practice died out once sugar became more common and cheap, and for centuries the practice of using a veggie in a dessert was about as foreign as Donald Trump ever getting a decent haircut. And then World War II came along, and with it, sugar rationing. (I’ve never understood this. There was also metal and rubber rationing, which I get. Those are both used to make tanks and Jeeps. But while sugar might satisfy the sweet tooth of some boogie woogie bugle boy from Company B, why else was it such a big deal during “the big one”)? The British government promoted desserts using carrots in order to keep its citizens happy, and there was a sudden glut of carrot puddings, pies, and cakes. Carrot cakes first showed up in the U.S. right around the same time as the Beatles in the early 1960s, and were considered a novelty item on restaurant and cafeteria menus. Until people actually tried them, and fell in love. They are now a standard dessert item everywhere.

It’s been a crazy weekend – Tara and I got engaged Friday night (!) so we’ve been sort of preoccupied with thoughts about our future, ya know? But time – and Eat My Words – waits for no man, as they say. Mrs. Smith’s used to sell a frozen carrot cake that was really good, but we couldn’t find it anywhere yesterday, so we resigned ourselves to baking a cake of our own (and by “we” and “ourselves” I mean “Tara” and “herself”).

Tara diggin' in to the carrot cake!

Tara diggin’ in to the carrot cake!

Unfortunately, we had to use a box mix.  I don’t know why I feel like I have defend that choice, but we were already at the store and didn’t have a recipe on hand, so a pre-made mix seemed like the best choice.  And the weird thing is that Carrot Cake is one of the few that I’ve always wanted to make from scratch.  I loves me some Carrot Cake!  But after the excitement from this weekend and a few Bloody Marys during the Super Bowl, this is what we got.

By the way, I tried guilting Mark into baking the cake.  I’ve been up since 4:30am and was downstairs and cleaning the kitchen by 5:30.  We crashed early last night and the house has been neglected pretty much since before Christmas…I was long overdue for some productive chores.  By the time Mark’s parents showed up for lunch at noon, I was dead on my feet.  But at least the house looks good!

Anyway, Mark is always a trooper, but he seemed reluctant to bake that damn cake.  I showed him the instructions on the back of the box and assured him how easy it would be.  He eyed me skeptically, while about to dump the dry mix into a bowl.  I quickly yanked the bowl away and reminded him that Alton Brown always has a Dry Party and a Wet Party!  So I whisked together the eggs, veggie oil, and water…added the dry mix and poured it all into a cake pan.  As I opened the oven door, Mark asked, “Is that it??”

By the time the game was over, the cake had cooled enough for the pre-made (blech) cream cheese frosting.  Mark said it was “Sooooo good!”, but it reminded me too much of plain ol’ Spice Cake.  Definitely not as good as Mrs. Smiths!

I loved it, babe. Carrot cake is always good. (And I would have made it, even though I guess I would have made it wrong). Thanks for your help, as always!

Categories: Desserts | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments

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