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Brainstorming - American Regional Classic Desserts


bluechefk
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ok, i'm embarassed to admit it, but i've never really been sure just what an egg cream is... :unsure:

Well, ironically, it's made with neither eggs nor cream. It's just milk, seltzer, and chocolate syrup, but not just any chocolate syrup - the purists say it MUST be made with Fox's U-Bet Chocolate Syrup. There's been a forever debate going on as to where the best egg creams are made - some say Brooklyn, some say the Bronx, some say Manhattan. Also, the recipes vary a lot, as far as proportions are concerned - some use a lot more milk than seltzer, others use more seltzer. I've always liked mine with extra chocolate syrup! In addition, some mix the chocolate syrup and milk together first, then add the seltzer, while others mix the seltzer and milk together first, then add the chocolate syrup. It's all in the technique - there's a real art to making these!

Here's some further info:

http://www.brooklynonline.com/bol/trivia/eggcream.xhtml

http://www.foxs-syrups.com/egg_cream.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egg_cream

Edited by merstar (log)
There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.
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The best egg cream I ever had was made by my grandfather, Papa Tonkel, G-d rest his soul. He had seltzer and chocolate syrup delivered to his home in Atlanta, Ga. I used to love them.

Then he would take me to Happy Herman's on La Vista Road and buy me chocolate cigarettes and chewing gum cigars. That was in the late 60's, early 70s when smoking was still cool.

Wow, I really miss him.

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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Cherry pie, made with tart cherries from a friend's tree

Apple pie

Coconut meringue, chocolate meringue, and lemon meringue pie

Chocolate soda: ice cream, chocolate syrup, seltzer

Coke floats! Must be made with ice cream, not soft serve.

My mom's cheesecake

My mom's chocolate fudge brownies with chocolate fudge icing

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Here in the Northeast, Indian Pudding is traditional, as are hermits and fig newtons.

You'll get a lot of great ideas from Maida Heatter's Book of Great American Desserts. I've used it so often, I'm on my third copy. The sour cream oreo cookie cake is fantastic; the almond pound cake is to die for (it's also an adventure to make, it is not a quick to put together thing); the brownie collection is wonderful and how could I forget the California Fruit Bars?! It's sort of like a thin blondie with assorted dried fruits like apricots, figs, golden raisins, dates, plums, etc (or minus the fruit and only pecans, she calls them CA pecan bars) and anytime I've made it, people INHALE them (they also survive well and I send them to friends in the military because they ship well and last a long time). The bulls eye cheesecake is pretty cool too.

I think you can still get a copy of the book from Jessica's Biscuit, an online bookseller that specializes in cookbooks. www.ecookbooks.com

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My mom was strictly a boxed-cake-mix dessert maker--she made some pretty good ones, but my fondest childhood dessert memories are all of bought desserts. Chief among them: this fabulous seven-layer chocolate cake on the menu of a kosher restaurant a few towns over from ours (sadly now long gone). Intensely chocolately sponge cake, with, IIRC, a berry puree filling between the layers and a dark ganache on top and sides. I have never found its like since, and I miss it. :wub:

I also have fond memories of the revolving glass-enclosed display case of pies and cakes prominently displayed in almost every diner I ever visited in the New York area. Towering merengue pies were the divas of this non-stop show, but I always went for the cheesecake--super-dense New York style, if you please, with the cherry goop on top. :wub: Then there was rugelah--which we usually only got when we visited the Brooklyn outpost of the family. And when I became a college student in Boston: cannolis from the North End--again with the super-dense filling, preferably studded with pistachios and candied cherries.

Edited by mizducky (log)
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I'm from Manhattan, New York. Here are some desserts that I either remember from my childhood or think of as New York desserts now:

Apple pie

Carrot cake

Strudels: poppy, apple, cherry

Cherry pie

Pound cake

Rice pudding

Butterscotch pudding

Chocolate chip cookies

Hamantashen (poppy, prune, apricot, raspberry)

Black & whites

Almond horns

Danishes: cheese, prune, pineapple, blueberry, chocolate, cinammon

(Chocolate) Layer cake

Eclairs

Shakes

Donuts and crullers

Lemon squares

Neapolitan ("Italian") cheesecake

Sicilian cheesecake

Cannoli

Baba au rhum

Babka

Rainbow cookies

Peanut butter cookies

Sugar cookies

Lemon-poppy muffins

I could go on.

I wouldn't call all of these New York regional specialties, but I thought I'd put a fairly exhaustive list out there for you to think about. Being from the Jersey shore, you probably have a good idea of which of these are really New York things. The cheesecake, obviously, and also arguably the Jewish items. Some of the rest of these may have to do with my experience with particular bakeries and cafes or what my mother liked to bake when I was growing up.

One interesting thing you could consider is to do a much better version of Hostess fruit pies. As a first-grader, I used to like their cherry and pineapple pies (with the apple pie in third place), but even at that age, I knew very well that they weren't as good as home-made. An artisanal individual pie in that shape (essentially rectangular) could be a really good thing.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I'm originally from WI, and I'm sorry to say my mom was a WRETCHED baker...on the upside I had to learn to bake in self defense. Some of the things I remember enjoying:

Frozen Custard (from Kopp's)

Cannoli (from Scortino's bakery)

Racine Kringle (sooo greasy but good) especially the cherry and almond flavors

Sour Cherry Pie made with Door County cherries I picked myself

Mmmm...now I'm hungry...gonna go grab one of the cookies I baked this morning...

If you ate pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry? ~Author Unknown

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Bananas Foster. Super easy, and super impressive, especially if you flambe a little booze in there.

Find any "little old lady" cookbooks, the ones that are put out by church groups and such, you'll find tons of stuff in there. One class could be jus on variations of the Jello mold...

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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I've eaten an entire tube of Girl Scout Thin Mints while I read this! Try and duplicate those! I've never been able to come close. Check out The American Heritage Cookbook, out of print but the cookbook my siblings and I grew up on. I learned to bake from the dessert and cookies sections. Some of the recipes have historical prefaces. I look for old copies of it in every used book store I go in, and buy them whenever I see them. It came in a 2 volume set, as well as a one book combined version. Good luck in your new job!

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Crumb cake thick thick layer of crumbs in the past from Hackensack NJ in my mothers past from Ebbingers in Brooklyn NY

NY style cheesecake

lemon pound cake with lemon glaze

carrot cake

tracey

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

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Well, I was born Michigan and lived in Alabama as a child. My mom is from Georgia and grew up in Oklahoma so I have no idea which region brought what to the table but....

Pineapple upsidedown cake

Homemade Ice Cream

Lemonade Cake (yellow mix cake with frozen lemonade concentrate mixed with "powdered sugar" soaked in, just a little sweet!!)

Moon pies

Little Debbie cakes

Pecan Pie

Rhubarb and Strawberry/Rhubarb pie

Sweet potatoe Pie

Peanut Butter Pie

Chocolate Pie

Millionaire's Pie

We liked desserts at our house!

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going with the pretzels and chocolate thing (i'm originally from pennsylvania), i'd "update the american classic" with maybe a chocolate tart using a pretzel shell and service with some classic vanilla bean ice cream.

a few other ideas you can play off of:

lemon meringue tart/pie -- maybe with some blueberries when they're in season

apple pie

peanut butter and chocolate anything

pound cake

woopie pies

caramel popcorn

doughnuts

Pastry PRincess

a day without love, laughter or dessert is a day wasted.

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First:

CONGRATULATIONS ON THE JOB!!!!

You've already got tons of great ideas........lots to explore. When I think about what we were eating back to the 60, 70, & 80's I remember going thru some clear trends. New convience products came into the market to make life simplier for the non-cook or busy Mother. Chocolate chips, Jello, Cake Mixes, Pillsbury instant mixes and doughs. I remember tons of different Jello molds, no party was with-out one or two. The only one I liked was the pretzel bottom with creamy filling (I think cream cheese based) and fresh strawberries in the jello. Lots of layered Jello items.

Pillsbury cook-offs were huge and making items with all convience products was in. At my house we were eating alot of banana splits and sundaes. I was raised in the Chicago area burbs.

Mom was a professional chef........so we really wanted all those cool Hostess brand cakes for our lunches (and never got from her). All those cakes........banana bars (banana cake with frosting in a bar shape), ding dongs, hoho's, definately the fruit pies (they were huge! we even bought them oursleves). Anything that came packaged was WAY cool........it might be fun to play with your presentation incorporating some sort of packaging or rememberance.

I also remember Julia Child and Graham Kerr having a HUGE impact on what my Mom was making and our neighbors. We'd have meals from all over the world. Mom used to love making anything with crepes....... Chinese restaurants burst into our area and she'd make fortune cookies and almond cookies.

This is a really easy and fun (I think) topic to research. I've collected tons of older baking books and you can get them for pennies. Check-out ebay........you can get tons of Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, Jello, Pudding booklets. Garage sales often have hard cover books from that period. Remember too that every new convience appliance came with a booklet of recipes......... You can also find alot of info./recipes online dirrect from the manufactors of those convience products. Check out Pillsbury, Philly Brand cream cheese, etc...

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Thank you so much for all the great ideas! - so much there to think about, lots of suggestions that bring back memories and lots of new things, too. i don't think i've ever had a dessert involving pretzels, but i know that i must correct that asap :biggrin: i have to admit that i'm a little envious of people's dessert memories - my mother didn't cook AT ALL; my grandmother did, but her specialties were things that didn't have much appeal to a 7-year old - chokecherry preserves? pickled watermelon rind? i can appreciate all of those things now, but at the time, my idea of culinary heaven was cap'n crunch in front of the tv!

after reading through all of your great suggestions, it seems like there are a few clear front runners for starting off this dessert menu - butterscotch pudding, coconut cream and lemon meringue pies, coconut & chocolate layer cakes - and some facsimile of a Hostess Fruit pie :wub: i'm also really in love with the idea of making my own Moon Pies, even if i'm doing it just to make myself smile. (towards that end, if anyone has any great recipes for a Moon Pie cookie base that they'd like to share, please do!) so now i have the really fun task of starting to research & test all of these recipes. and i'll definitely be looking up some of those eGullet: Best of... threads!

thanks again - kerry

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I grew up in Texas, and I am surprised I haven't seen any mention of peach cobbler thus far. Also, blackberry cobbler. Ours had more of a pie crust than a biscuit crust. Always served with Bluebell vanilla ice cream.

Other desserts of my childhood:

pecan pie

banana pudding - with meringue

pralines ( traditionally sold at Mexican restaurants)

peanut brittle

Dr. Pepper floats!

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OMG, dr. pepper floats - now i'm going to be obsessing about those all day! which is not a bad thing :rolleyes:

now that you mention it,maggie, i did manage a pretty good version of a Girl Scout Thin Mint cookie once - although i'm damned if i can remember exactly how i did it! if i can dig out my notes on that project, i'll be sure to come back & report on it.

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Thank you so much for all the great ideas! - so much there to think about, lots of suggestions that bring back memories and lots of new things, too. i don't think i've ever had a dessert involving pretzels, but i know that i must correct that asap :biggrin: i have to admit that i'm a little envious of people's dessert memories - my mother didn't cook AT ALL; my grandmother did, but her specialties were things that didn't have much appeal to a 7-year old - chokecherry preserves? pickled watermelon rind? i can appreciate all of those things now, but at the time, my idea of culinary heaven was cap'n crunch in front of the tv!

after reading through all of your great suggestions, it seems like there are a few clear front runners for starting off this dessert menu - butterscotch pudding, coconut cream and lemon meringue pies, coconut & chocolate layer cakes - and some facsimile of a Hostess Fruit pie :wub: i'm also really in love with the idea of making my own Moon Pies, even if i'm doing it just to make myself smile. (towards that end, if anyone has any great recipes for a Moon Pie cookie base that they'd like to share, please do!) so now i have the really fun task of starting to research & test all of these recipes. and i'll definitely be looking up some of those eGullet: Best of... threads!

thanks again - kerry

How about all those fabulous pudding cakes. The ones where you make a batter, sprinkle it with sugar and cocoa etc, then pour over boiling water and bake. It separates into the top cake layer and the bottom pudding layer. That was a childhood dessert for me.

Also my mom used to make a similar thing with lemon where you folded an egg white mixture into a lemon curd like mixture made with the yolks. Also separated into soft fluffy top with a lemony pudding bottom. Works well in small or large baking vessels.

I've got recipes if you need.

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oh, lemon pudding cake! that's one of the first desserts i learned how to make, and it still says 'summertime' to me. i don't have a good recipe for a chocolate pudding cake, so if you're willing to share that recipe, i'd love to see it - thank you! also, any other flavors would be interesting - wonder if you can make a vanilla pudding cake?

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Oh. My. Gawd. I'd TOTALLY forgotten about the pudding cakes! I think there was even a mix that was sold, probably by A&P. Recipes, PLEASE! :wub:

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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oh, lemon pudding cake! that's one of the first desserts i learned how to make, and it still says 'summertime' to me. i don't have a good recipe for a chocolate pudding cake, so if you're willing to share that recipe, i'd love to see it - thank you! also, any other flavors would be interesting - wonder if you can make a vanilla pudding cake?

Chef's illustrated did an article on pudding cakes March 2005. Butter rum is one I have added to my mastercook files. There was also Mocha pudding cakes in Fine cooking March 2005. Must have been the time of year.

I'm going to have to type out the recipe as I am computer compromised and can't figure out how to bring a file over from mastercook. I'd appreciate help on how to do that from any mac users out there.

Anyway the recipe: Reinvented Chocolate Pudding Cake

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (melted)

1 ounce softened butter

1/2 cup toasted pecans

2 tbsp cocoa powder (natural not the dutch processed)

1 cup flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup milk

1 tbsp mocha compound (if you don't have it, a bit of instant espresso would do)

1 tsp vanilla

Topping

4 tbsp cocoa

1 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp instant espresso

1 tbsp mocha compound

2 cups boiling water

Mix all cake ingredients. Put into an 8 or 9 inch square pan (I prefer pyrex for this), mix together topping ingredients, sprinkle over cake. Pour boiling water over all, do not mix.

Bake at 325 about 30 minutes.

Serve warm with chantilly cream, ice cream, plain heavy cream or just a spoon.

Two other thoughts, how about the old key lime pie make with lime jello in a graham cracker crust, then there is stick toffee pudding...ummm!

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this is the baked lemon pudding cake recipe that i always use - i've long since forgotten where it came from. i bake these in individual ramekins now, but when i was a kid, we made it in a big glass loaf pan.

Baked Lemon Pudding Cake

yield: 8 ramekins

sift together: 1 1/4 oz. all purpose flour

5 oz. sugar

pinch salt

pinch nutmeg, freshly ground

stir in: 1 tsp. fresh lemon zest

combine: 8 oz. buttermilk

2 oz. fresh lemon juice

1 oz. melted butter

2 egg yolks

whisk wet into dry until mixture is smooth.

whip to stiff peaks: 3 egg whites

1 3/4 oz. sugar

fold gently into lemon batter. divide evenly into greased ramekins. bake in hot water bath at 350 until cakes spring back when lightly touched in the center, and tops are lightly golden brown. refrigerate until cooled - cakes will fall a little as they cool.

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I don't know what your restaurant will look like, but I think if you could get one of those revolving glass-enclosed display cases that Mizducky mentioned, that would just say "American Classic dessert."

Also, remember the Betty Crocker kid's cookbook? I bet there are a lot of people around who would have instant nostalgia if they saw an igloo cake or Good Kid Cookies or Clown Cupcakes. I never made those, but i spent hours looking at the pictures.

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Couple of thoughts after reading everyone's wonderful replies:

Betty Crocker has a re-issued cookbook from the 60's you might enjoy -- Betty Crocker's Cooky Book. The pictures are what you describe.

In our house, strawberry shortcake was made with the recipe on the back of the Bisquick box -- a sweetened biscuit. The biscuit is supreme for soaking up the strawberry juice.

Maida Heatter! She's the queen. JeanneCake, from one 'Cake to another, if you want some good Maida Heatter, try her lemon squares or the pecan sour cream dreams. I have all of Maida Heatter's original books. Not hard to find on eBay, etc.

My mom liked to do lime jello with grated carrots. I've always been fascinated by the more complicated jello desserts with melon balls floating in them and elaborate colors and layers. You could do something fabulous with that.

As for whoopie pies, there are recipes out there, but Williams Sonoma was selling a pan that made Twinkies (they avoided using the name, but it was a Twinkie) and a recipe came with the pan. Those who know report that the recipe for the Twinkie cream was exact. I went to college at O.U. There was a bakery in that time and place that made whoopie pies. Dark chocolatey, cocoa cakes, about 3/4 inch thick, glued together with copious amounts of that fluffy cream. They were highly delicious and not for the feint of heart. Very filling.

One other thing I think would be fun, but wasn't part of my childhood repetoire -- brownie sundaes. I never ever eat this, because it just seems too decadent, but if done with quality ingredients -- ooo la la.

Imagine the Nick Malgieri brownie with a scoop of homemade coffee ice cream (high quality beans), covered with a thick hot fudge sauce and freshly whipped cream. Everything top of the line. Salted pecans.

A person could die and go immediately to heaven.

:rolleyes:

I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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