It may be a cliché that Americans love their food, but who can blame them when they have amazing desserts like these to enjoy on a daily basis? From Pumpkin Pie to Chocolate Chip Cookies, and from Marshmallows to Baked Alaska, there is surely something for everyone!
If you thought Europe and Asia have some delectable desserts, then take a look at these traditional American treats! What I love about them is that most can be served in a restaurant OR found as street food to eat as you are walking. They have great versatility, which has no doubt contributed to their enduring popularity. Let’s take a look at 23 of the most amazing American desserts that you simply MUST try before you die!
Ambrosia (recipe) is a variation on the traditional fruit salad. Most ambrosia recipes contain sweetened pineapple, mandarin oranges, miniature marshmallows, and coconut. Ambrosia can also include whipped cream.
Baked Alaska (recipe) is a dish made of ice cream placed in a pie dish lined with slices of sponge cake and topped with meringue. The entire dessert is then placed in an extremely hot oven, long enough to firm the meringue.
Banana Split is an ice cream-based dessert. In its classic form it is served in a long dish called a boat. A banana is cut in half lengthwise (hence the split) and laid in the dish. Scoops of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream are served in a row between the split banana. Various sauces are spooned over the ice cream and garnished with crushed nuts, whipped cream, and maraschino cherries.
Boston Cream Pie is a cake that is filled with a custard or cream filling and frosted with chocolate. Although it is called a Boston cream pie, it is in fact a cake, and not a pie.
Chocolate Chip Cookies are cookies that feature chocolate chips as their distinguishing ingredient. The traditional recipe combines a dough composed of butter and both brown and white sugar with semi-sweet chocolate chips. Sometimes chunks are used instead of chips.
Cinnamon Roll (recipe) is a sweet roll whose main ingredients include flour, cinnamon, sugar, and butter, which provide a robust and sweet flavour, and is often served with cream cheese or icing. A cinnamon roll is very similar to the Chelsea Bun found in British cuisine.
Cotton Candy is a form of spun sugar that consists of 99.99% sugar, and is often served at fairs, circuses, and carnivals. Food colouring can be used to change the natural white colour, and numerous flavourings are available to change the taste.
Devil’s Food Cake is a moist, airy, rich chocolate layer cake. It is considered a counterpart to the white or yellow angel food cake and traditionally has more chocolate than a regular chocolate cake, making it darker. The cake is usually paired with a rich chocolate frosting.
Doughnuts are a type of fried dough confectionery created in America. They are typically either ring-shaped and often filled (usually with jam or custard). The German dessert snack, Berliner, is effectively a doughnut without a hole.
Fried Coke is a frozen Coca-Cola-flavoured batter that is deep-fried and then topped with Coca-Cola syrup, whipped cream, cinnamon sugar, and a cherry. It is very unhealthy and not encouraged to consume by the Coca-Cola Company itself.
Frozen Custard (recipe) is a cold dessert similar to ice cream, but made with eggs in addition to cream and sugar. It was invented in America in the 19th century.
Fudge Brownies are flat, baked dessert squares that are a cross between a cake and a soft cookie in texture and comes in a variety of forms. Depending on its density, it may be either fudgy or cakey and may include nuts, icing, chocolate chips, or other ingredients.
Jell-O contains powdered gelatin which is dissolved in hot water, then chilled and allowed to set. Fruit, vegetables, and whipped cream can be added to make elaborate dessert snacks that can be molded into shapes. In the UK, we call this “jelly”.
Marshmallow (recipe) is a sugar based candy that, in its modern form, typically consists of sugar, whipped to a spongy consistency, molded into small cylindrical pieces, and coated with corn starch. It is common to roast them over an open fire when camping.
Mississippi Mud Pie (recipe) is a chocolate-based dessert pie that is likely to have originated in the state of Mississippi. The treat contains a gooey chocolate sauce on top of a crumbly chocolate crust. The pie is usually served with ice cream.
New York Cheesecake (recipe) relies upon heavy cream or sour cream. The typical New York cheesecake is rich and has a dense, smooth, and creamy consistency. Sour cream makes the cheesecake more resilient to freezing and is the method by which most frozen cheesecakes are made. However, a lavish variant uses sour cream as a topping, applied when the cheesecake is cooked. It is mixed with vanilla extract and sugar and replaced in the oven, essentially making the cheesecake twice-baked.
Pancakes are flat cakes, often thin, and round, prepared from a starch-based batter that may also contain eggs, milk and butter and cooked on a hot surface such as a griddle or frying pan, often with oil or butter. They may be served at any time with a variety of toppings or fillings including jam, fruit, syrup, chocolate chips, or meat.
Pecan Pie is made primarily with corn syrup and pecan nuts. It is popularly served at holiday meals and is also considered a specialty of Southern USA cuisine. Chocolate and bourbon whiskey are other popular additions to the recipe. Pecan Pie is often served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Along with the Mississippi Mud Pie above and the Pumpkin Pie below, check out some more of America’s traditional pies.
Persimmon Pudding is a traditional American dessert made with persimmons, and traditionally served with ice cream. Although American, persimmon pudding is similar to traditional English dessert puddings, such as Christmas Pudding. This style of pudding is generally either steamed or cooked in an oven.
Pumpkin Pie (recipe) is a traditional sweet dessert, often eaten during Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. It consists of a pumpkin-based custard, ranging in colour from orange to brown, baked in a single pie shell, rarely with a top crust. Pumpkin Pie is generally flavoured with cinnamon, powdered ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
S’mores (recipe) are traditional after dark campfire treats, that consist of roasted marshmallow and a layer of chocolate sandwiched between two pieces of cracker or wafer.
Toffee Apples (sometimes called Candy Apples) are whole apples covered in a hard toffee or sugar candy coating, with a stick inserted as a handle. These are a common treat at autumn festivals such as Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night because these festivals fall in the wake of the annual apple harvest.
Whoopie Pies (recipe) are baked goods are made of two round mound-shaped pieces of chocolate cake, or sometimes pumpkin or gingerbread cake, with a sweet, creamy filling or frosting sandwiched between them.
So which of these tasty American treats would you say are your favourites? For me, I think the Boston Cream Pie just looks tantalising! Then again, I could never turn down Frozen Custard, or Marshmallow, for that matter…