New Year and Christmas has just gone by and am sure like me most of you have also loaded up on every kind of sinful dessert, sweets, pudding, cake, tarts and whatever you could lay your hands on.
The term ‘dessert’ can be applied on a wide variety of confectionery such as cakes, tarts, cookies, pastries, ice creams, pies, puddings, custards and fruits as well. The word dessert originated from the French verb desservir, meaning to clear away (the table) referring to the fact that dessert was served after the table had been cleared of other dishes and cutlery.
The origin of confectionery can be traced back to about 2000 BC to the ancient Egyptians who made sweets by combining fruits and nuts with honey.
The Romans, Greeks and Chinese made sweets with sesame seeds. The Aztecs in Mexico used the cocoa bean to make a bitter drink over 3000 years ago. The drink was sweetened with sugar after 1500 years.
Eventually, the combination of sugar and cocoa, set the confectionery story alright. The addition of sugar in the drink made it more palatable, but it took almost another 100 years for the new drink to reach the rest of Europe. The first shop for selling drinking chocolate was opened in London in 1657. In the late 17th century the rich began eating chocolate ice cream. Until the 19th century chocolate was only for drinking and not for eating. Joseph Fray made the first chocolate bar in 1847. Then in 1875, Henry Nestle and Daniel Peter invented milk chocolate.
The history of various confections is truly an adventure in the culinary world. When you look back and trace the history of certain desserts, you can easily see that were it not for the explorers and inventors, many of the recipes of desserts as we know today would not have existed.