When you have been exposed to a hard winter’s day, hot desserts are the ultimate comfort food. It is also the logical alternative to those who cannot quite handle the colder varieties of sweet treats. The aroma of hot desserts calls out to you from bakeries and homes and casts a spell that s hard to shake off. The experience of some chefs has revealed that men show marked partiality for entremets chauds. Beautiful as they are to the senses, at their most perfect, hot desserts are a labor of love and any pastry chef will tell you that the preparation of hot desserts is a delicate art.
We thought we might just mention that connoisseurs also recommend that many desserts that are normally eaten cold, should really be served fresh and warm, even re-heated!
Popular hot desserts include crusty apple pie, soufflés, puddings, pancakes, crepes, jalebis and gulab jamuns.
Nothing speaks to the summer-weary so clearly as cool relief. Since the start of culinary history, cold desserts were reserved for the privileged especially because mechanism of chilling desserts was labor intensive. In hot climates, ice would have to be transported from cooler regions where it was naturally found. We found Mughal Emperors would dispatch horses to the sub range of Himalayas to bring back ice to make fruit sorbets. In 17th Century Europe when the more fortunate took ice cream, they would have underground chambers dug on the ground of their estates in order to preserve ice in the summer months.
Certainly no birthday is considered complete without a cake and even in Asian countries the tradition of serving cakes on weddings and anniversaries is setting in as custom. Derived from Norse work Kaka, this bakes dessert can range from Spartan bread-like babka to lavish architectural gateau with elaborate toppings. In fact the more rugged cakes of today are much like the very first cakes which were made from dried fruit and nuts. Baking powder and white flour came to be used in cakes only as recently as the 19th Century.
The tradition of pastries such as pies and tarts goes back a long way in continental Europe where the term Pie was fairly popular as early as 1362 CE. Fruit filled pastries find the mention in the works of Greek playwright Aristophanes of the 5th Century BCE. It is said that the form of pies actually evolved from a need for containers to preserve the food contents within. Today pies, tarts and pastries area fixture in the world of desserts and macaroons (a coconut based sweet) are the very latest to stake a place among pastries.
Ice Cream – King of Frozen Desserts
Easily the king of cold desserts, the origins of ice-cream go back a long way. It was already quite popular in major Arab cities around the 10th Century and the Arabs are understood to be the first to use milk and sugar as major ingredients in its preparation. It is said that Kublai Khan relished his ice-cream to the extent that its preparation was a royal secret. However Marco Polo who became a favorite in his court tapped the technique on his visit to China and carried that knowledge back to Europe on his return.
The very sound of the word pudding evokes a sense of homeliness. It takes us back to the world of childhood where our knowledge of pudding has foundations in the morning porridge and extended to the poly-poly and pease porridge hot of nursery rhymes. A peep into the history of puddings reveals a much larger picture. The first puddings were largely meat based and some of those have carried on to the present day – Haggis, the savory pudding that considered the national dish of Scotland, consists of offal minced with onion and suet and Yorkshire puddings is cooked with a layer of beef dripping. India’s own puddings traditions include South Indian Payasam – a sweet rice pudding traditionally made with coconut milk, and the aromatic Mughal bread pudding Shahi Tukra Asal.