Mom's Best Desserts: 100 Classic Treats That Taste as Good Now As They Did Then

Mom's Best Desserts: 100 Classic Treats That Taste as Good Now As They Did Then

by Andrea Chesman
     
 

We may love the dazzling caramel cages, gold leaf, and apricot coulis of restaurant desserts, but when we're in our own kitchens, a blueberry pie is more likely to fill the bill. For birthdays, a tall devil's food cake is still just the right thing. And during those precious weeks when fresh strawberries are available, who wants anything fancier than strawberry

Overview

We may love the dazzling caramel cages, gold leaf, and apricot coulis of restaurant desserts, but when we're in our own kitchens, a blueberry pie is more likely to fill the bill. For birthdays, a tall devil's food cake is still just the right thing. And during those precious weeks when fresh strawberries are available, who wants anything fancier than strawberry shortcake? Gingerbread cheers a friend home with the flu, and creamy rice pudding soothes the soul after a hard week at work.

Here are more than 100 truly great American recipes that no home baker should be without: chocolate layer cakes and blueberry pie, cherry cobbler and apple pandowdy, lemon meringue and chocolate cream pie, baked custard and Indian pudding, chocolate chip cookies and gingerbread men, butterscotch pudding and baked apple dumplings. Enhanced with delightful anecdotes and historical tidbits culled from three centuries of cookery and housekeeping books, MOM'S BEST DESSERTS is a cookbook collector's dream.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Cookbook author Chesman (The Vegetarian Grill) and culinary instructor Raboff (coauthor, Recipes from a Kitchen Garden) present traditional favorites, from Chocolate Chip Cookies to Banana Cream Pie to Apple Crisp. Although the recipes are good and the sidebars entertaining and informative, most of the information can be readily found in basic dessert cookbooks. For comprehensive baking collections.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781580174800
Publisher:
Storey Books
Publication date:
10/23/2002
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
8.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.50(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Ambrosia

4 large navel or seedless oranges
+ cup freshly squeezed orange juice or pineapple juice (See Note below)
Confectioners' sugar
2 cups diced fresh or canned pineapple
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint (optional)
+ cup lightly packed sweetened flaked coconut
2 tablespoons orange liqueur (Grand Marnier) or brandy (optional)

1. With a vegetable peeler, remove the zest of one of the oranges. Cut it into very fine julienne strips. Slice off the white membrane of that orange. Peel the remaining 3 oranges, removing all the white membrane. Over a bowl to catch the juice, section the oranges or cut them into 1\2-inch wedges, placing them in a separate dish. Mix 1/4 cup of the juice, the julienned orange zest and a little confectioners' sugar to sweeten the fruit, if needed.

2. In another bowl, combine the pineapple with the mint (if using), and the remaining 1/4 cup juice. Sweeten to taste with confectioners' sugar.

3. Set aside 2 tablespoons coconut. In a serving bowl, alternate layers of oranges and pineapple, sprinkling each layer with coconut. Drizzle in the orange liqueur (if using) and the juice in which the fruits have macerated. Refrigerate for several hours.

4. Sprinkle with the reserved coconut and serve.

Note: If you are using canned pineapple packed in pineapple juice, you can use that juice instead of the orange juice. This recipe has tremendous flexibility and need not be followed to the letter.

Variation: Substitute mandarin oranges for the navel oranges. You can also add sliced bananas, but they should be mixed in just before serving because they brown easily.

4 to 6 servings

Food of the Gods

Many of our fruit desserts originated in colonial America. These cobbles and crisps were most often made from apples and berries, which were homegrown or gathered. Not so with ambrosia, a dessert that originated in the South in the nineteenth century, when coconut and oranges could be purchased at the store. The recipe made its first appearance in print in an 1879 cookbook of recipes from Virginia and started simply enough, a combination of oranges, sugar, and coconut. More elaborate versions soon evolved, permitting the addition of pineapple and bananas and sometimes even sour cream, marshmallows, and dates. Today, it is acceptable to include any fruit you choose; just be sure to top the dessert with coconut if you want to call it ambrosia.

A is for apple

From a cook's point of view, it would be nice if the best eating apples were also the best cooking apples. Then you could conduct your own taste test, stock up on your favorite eating apple, and know that whenever the mood strikes for apple pie or crisp, you've got the right ingredients.

When new apple varieties are developed, they are rigorously tested for cooking characteristics because there are no hard and fast rules for which varieties cook best. Juicy apples don't necessary become watery when cooked, though some, like McIntosh, do. Sweet apples don't necessarily stay sweet when cooked, though some, like Newton Pippins, do. Some, like Red Delicious, become bland and flat tasting. Apples that make a great sauce, like Braeburns, may be poor choices for making pie.

For making pies and crisps, nothing beats a Northern Spy, which is one of those formerly popular, now-disappearing varieties. Jonagolds, Jonathans, and Rhode Island Greenings make great pies. Golden Delicious, paired with a tart variety, such as Granny Smith or McIntosh, is terrific in pies and crisps. For sauce, most people use a mix of what hasn't been used in baking or eating fresh and will make up with sugar and cinnamon whatever the apple doesn't provide. Sauce makers, as a rule, recommend Braeburn, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Jonagold, Jonathan, Newtown Pippin, and Winesap. Cortlands are an excellent choice for salads because of their remarkably white flesh. Golden Delicious hold their color well, too. Cortlands dry well, as do Gala and Winesap. When in doubt, choose Golden Delicious or Jonagold, both excellent all-purpose apples.

Apple Brown Betty

This is one of the simplest of the fruit desserts, and we have no idea of how the name originated. The addition of the walnuts adds extra flavor and texture.

1 cup dry unseasoned bread crumbs
+ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
5 cups peeled and sliced apples (5 to 6 medium-sized apples)
+ cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
+ cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
+ teaspoon grated nutmeg
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Cream, whipped cream, or ice cream, to serve (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 1 1/2-quart baking dish.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the bread crumbs with the granulated sugar and butter. Pat half of the mixture in the bottom of the baking dish.

3. In another bowl, combine the apples, brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon juice and zest. Spread over the crumb mixture. Top with the remaining crumbs.

4. Cover and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the cover, increase the heat to 400°F, and bake for 10 minutes longer.

5. Serve warm with cream, whipped cream, or ice cream (if using).

6 servings

Meet the Author

Andrea Chesman has written more than 20 cookbooks, including Storey’s Pickled Pantry, Recipes from the Root Cellar, Serving Up the Harvest, and Mom’s Best Crowd-Pleasers. She has also written a number of books on grilling, including the James Beard Award nominee The Vegetarian Grill. She has contributed to many publications including the New York Times, Cooking Light, Vegetarian Times, Fine Cooking, and many regional and local newspapers. She teaches and does cooking demonstrations and classes at fairs, festivals, book events, and garden shows across the United States. She lives in Ripton, Vermont.


Sculptor and culinary arts instructor Fran Raboff is the co-author of Recipes from a Kitchen Garden, Virtuous Desserts, and How to Beat Those Cordon Bleus.

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