National Dessert Day
This National Dessert Day, we want to share some of our best stories about a course that used to conclude meals at some point in time, but that have evolved to become a way to indulge oneself at any time, any day and anywhere you are.
“When I was a kid, I was likely the leading expert in all things sweet. My sweet tooth knew no bounds, and I would regularly argue chocolate bars were vegetables because coco is a bean, right? Luckily, I outgrew my aversion to healthy foods and most of my desire for sweets, but my dessert taste seems to have changed too! No longer do I head to chocolate flavors. My favorite desserts: carrot cake and oatmeal raisin cookies. But Werther’s Original hard candy comes in a close second. My grandmother used to keep Werther’s in her kitchen, and eating them still reminds me of going to her house. Sure, caramel candies and carrot cake might be “old lady desserts”, but I’m happy knowing that my favorites will always be in stock!”
Ever since I can remember, I have always had a sweet tooth. To this day, I will 100% prefer to eat sweets rather than eat savory food. As a kid, I remember entering the kitchen to help my mom make Salvadorian quesadillas. While it was hard work to make the perfect mix, to finally sit down and enjoy the dessert was so rewarding. Thinking back on it, I’m pretty sure this where my introduction to sweets took off. Whenever my mom desired dessert, she’d make them instead of buying them. And of course, I ate them. Now, trying dessert is almost like an experience, I analyze how soft and tasteful they are. My favorite dessert is Tres Leche, a milk cake made with three different styles of milk. There’s nothing like it when it’s made right, YUM!
When I was a kid in Wisconsin, more was always more where desserts were concerned. My go-to ice cream order always raised eyebrows with my parents, and often garnered a respectful nod from the teenage ice cream vendor: three heaping scoops of Blue Moon—a bright blue creamy mysterious concoction, which I later learned was specifically a local phenomenon, topped with melted marshmallow (of course), gummy bears, coconut flakes, cookie dough chunks, and whatever else caught my eye that day on the toppings list. Today, as an adult, I can’t think of anything less appealing. It’s funny how taste buds change, however, I do remember fondly the child-like freedom I was given make my own creative adventure in a cup and I am grateful that my parents were there for their weird kid with a strange blue ice cream order.
Happy National Dessert Day! What better way to get over the Monday blues than indulging in your favorite dessert? Ironically, even though I’m a diehard chocolate fan, I love nothing more than my grandmother’s homemade carrot cake. Early childhood memories of baking days at her house in the winter, helping her mix the batter or apply the *delicious* cream cheese frosting, give me instant nostalgia and appreciation for those little moments of bliss and especially gives me an appreciation for her phenomenal baking and cooking skills. My love for this cake is a funny bond that ties us together, so much so that she’s even shipped it to me from 1500 miles away for my birthday while I was at school. Needless to say, my birthday has become one of my favorite days of the year…purely because it means that her carrot cake is on the way.
My fondest memory of a dessert is my mother’s carrot cake that she would bake when I was a child. It’s worth mentioning that it was made from the box because in her famous words “my name isn’t Betty Crocker!” I remember eagerly waiting for my mother to whisk all of the ingredients together and pour the mixture into the cake pan so I could lick the spoon (being the only girl and the youngest, I ALWAYS had first dibs.) The 45 minutes or so that it took to bake were pure agony, as the sweet aroma filled the entire house. When it was finally finished I always helped my mother add the icing on the top (which she always complained that I added way more than necessary. But hey, I was a kid!) The first bite was always the best-warm, rich and moist are some of the words that come to mind when I think back to those times. It’s been a while since my mother has baked a carrot cake or any desserts at all. Maybe I’ll convince her to make one of my favorite homemade desserts one more time, but I have a feeling what her response would be!
Although I don’t have a major sweet tooth, there are certain desserts that I love to share. My all-time favorite is Crème Brûlée, which is also known as burnt cream because it has a layer of hardened caramelized sugar on top. It’s just wonderful breaking through this hard “glass-like” layer to discover the most decadent, smooth, rich and creamy custard beneath. The utter simplicity of its four basic ingredients makes it all the more amazing – egg yolks, vanilla bean, heavy cream, and sugar. Now, some people like to switch it up with additional ingredients but I’m a purist when it comes to Crème Brûlée because for me it’s the contrast in flavor and texture between the creamy custard layer and hard caramelized sugar layer that makes is so special. The most romantic dinners I have ever had have ended with Crème Brûlée. It’s just the perfect dessert to share.
National Dessert Day is a day for people to satisfy their sweet tooth with no remorse (even though some of us do it all year round). In celebration of it, I would like to talk about Quesillo, a Venezuelan homemade exquisite dessert my siblings and I grew up with. It is made with eggs, condensed milk and caramel. The original recipe dates back to the 18th century, but its ingredients have varied ever since. This is a dessert that can be controversial because non-Venezuelans tend to confuse it with flan, and it is not the same thing! But even among Venezuelans, depending on the region, the recipe may change. In particular, the Quesillo from el Zulia, a state located in northwestern Venezuela, is prepared with grated biscuit, eggs, condensed and regular milk, white shredded cheese (which kind of explains the name since in Spanish cheese is “queso”), a shredded zest of lemon, vanilla and caramel. The texture of Quesillo is soft and the caramel becomes an after taste that makes you crave another spoon of it. This is definitely one memorable dessert from my childhood, and it’s definitely worth it to try at any time!