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TIP OF THE DAY: Creative Icebox Cakes & Homemade Chocolate Wafers Recipes

Icebox Cake Refrigerator Roll
[1] The original ice box cake was made by Nabisco. Wafers and whipped cream were assembled and then frozen, to make cutting easy. After the taller cake became popular, the original version was named Refrigerator Roll (photo courtesy Nabisco).

Original Icebox Cake
[2] The cake evolved into the classic Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafer Ice Box Cake, a tall affair that was impressive to look at, but not so neat to cut (here’s the recipe from The Very Kitchen).

Chocolate Ice Box Cake
[3] In recent decades, cooks got creative, substituting chocolate whipped cream, strawberry whipped cream and other fruit flavors, and adding layers of fruit on top of the wafers (photo courtesy The King’s Cupboard).

Strawberry Ice Box Cake
[4] In the last decade or two, fruit crept into the recipe, exemplified by this Strawberry Ice Box Cake from Cabot Co-op (recipe).

Lemon Ice Box Cake

[5] Home cooks got even more creative with the ingredients, as in this Lemon Blueberry Ice Box Cake recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

 

Ice Box Cake has long been popular on a hot summer day: No hot oven required.

Instead, wafer cookies—the thin, flat kind—are layered with whipped cream and refrigerated for 4 hours or more. Moisture from the whipped cream softens the cookies, turning them into with individual refrigerator cakes.

Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafer Cookies date to the 1930s: very thin, crispy chocolate cookies that were used for icebox cakes and chocolate crumb crusts.

The Ice Box Cake was created by Nabisco home economists and printed on the wrapper—as so many iconic American recipes were—to sell more product!

We’re not talking general recipes: Oatmeal cookies existed long before Quaker Oats printed a recipe on its label. We’re talking inventions:

  • Chex Party Mix from Chex Cereal
  • Cream Cheese Frosting from Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese
  • Green Bean Bake from Campbell’s Mushroom Soup
  • Green Bean Casserole from French’s Crispy Fried Onions
  • Key Lime Pie from Borden’s Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Magic Bars from Eagle Brand Condensed Milk
  • Marshmallow Treats from Rice Krispies*
  • Onion Dip from Lipton Onion Soup
  • Pineapple Upside Down Cake from Dole Canned Pineapple Rings
  • Toll House Cookies from Nestle’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
  •  
    There are hundreds of examples, and a number of cookbooks that feature these recipes from boxes, bottles, cans and jars. They were typically developed by home economists at the manufacturing company, but others came from home cooks (German Chocolate Cake, Marshmallow Treats and Toll House Cookies are some examples).
    ________________

    *Created by Mildred Day, a Campfire Girls counselor and Kellogg’s employee, who created the recipe to help her Campfire Girls raise money.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF NABISCO FAMOUS CHOCOLATE WAFER COOKIES

    Dating to the 18th century, wafer cookies were made by home cooks and later by bake shops. By the 20th century, they were popular enough to make their way into commercial manufacture.

    The first manufactured chocolate wafers—Nabisco’s Famous Chocolate Wafers—debuted in 1924. The company sold a tin of three flavors: chocolate, ginger and sugar wafers.

    When Nabisco transitioned to cardboard packaging around 1930, the other flavors were dropped and the Famous Chocolate Wafer boxes were printed with the recipe for Icebox Cake. In the first iteration (photo #1), a log of chocolate wafers separated with whipped cream, that was then frozen.

    From that moment, Chocolate Ice Box Cake was a hit. It could be made equally well by experienced cooks as well as housewives who rarely entered the kitchen (or if they did, were not known for their culinary gifts).

    Delicious any time, it was a godsend in summer months, when, before the dawn of widespread air conditioning, no one had the desire to turn on the oven. The recipe was enlarged to a “layer cake” format (photo #2).

    Separately, the wafers were crushed and used as crusts for pies and cheesecakes, and as dessert garnishes.

    While ice box cake is an American invention, is a descendant of the charlottes and trifles that date to 17th-century Europe.

    Here’s the longer history of ice box cakes, charlottes and trifles.
     
    MODERN ICE BOX CAKE IDEAS

    With today’s ice box cakes, anything goes, with:

  • Overall cake flavors: lemon, matcha, mocha—create your favorite flavors with choices of whipped cream and fruit.
  • Fruit: Add berries or sliced stone fruits (cherries, nectarines, peaches, etc.).
  • Whipped cream flavors: Whip up some flavored whipped cream—bourbon, citrus, lavender, mint, peppermint, spice, etc.
  • Cookie types: Graham crackers have become popular; and you can bring back the ginger wafers with Anna’s Swedish Ginger Thins, lemon thins, etc.

    But do keep the cookies thin. The thinner the cookie, the more likely it is to dissolve into a soft, cakey texture. That Toll House or oatmeal cookie doesn’t work: Save them for ice cream sandwiches.

  • Garnishes: chocolate shavings or chips, cinnamon, cocoa powder, coconut, candied ginger, etc.
  •  
    You can turn the garnishes into food fun: a “decorate your own” approach. Provide bowls of:

  • Blueberries or raspberries
  • Chocolate shavings
  • Chopped nuts
  • Maraschino cherries
  • Sprinkles or confetti
  • Sugar dragées, glitter, pearls (white or Callebaut Crispearls— chocolate-covered cereal balls in dark, milk and white chocolate)
  • Other garnishes of choice (Gummi bears, anyone?)
  •  
    BAKE YOUR OWN CHOCOLATE WAFERS & MAKE INDIVIDUAL STACK ICE BOX CAKES

    These days, with all the competition on the supermarket shelf, it can be hard to find Nestle’s Famous Chocolate Wafers. Thank goodness for online shopping.

    But how about making your own? They’ll taste even better.

    Here’s a recipe from King Arthur Flour. Prep time is 30-50 minutes, bake time is 20-22 minutes.

    Whether you bake them or buy them, you can make individual refrigerator cakes by making single stack of wafers and cream instead of a larger cake. You need to refrigerate them at least 4 hours before serving, or overnight.

    This recipe makes 3½ dozen, 2½-inch cookies.

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE WAFERS FOR ICE BOX CAKE

    Ingredients For 8 Individual Stack Cakes Or 1 Large Cake

    For The Wafers

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup black cocoa†
  • 1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 2 cups (1 pint) heavy/whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • ________________
    †Black cocoa is a super-dark Dutch-process cocoa from King Arthur Flour. It is used sparingly for an intense, dark color and unsweetened-chocolate highlights. This rich cocoa will make the darkest chocolate cake or cookies, but you can use the cocoa you have.

     

    Preparation

    1. GREASE lightly (or line with parchment) two baking sheets, or more if you have them; you’ll make 3 to 4 baking sheets’ worth of cookies.

    2. BEAT together in a medium-sized bowl the sugar, butter, salt, baking powder and espresso powder. Beat in the egg and vanilla, then the flour and cocoa. Cover the dough and chill for 30 minutes. While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F.

    3. ROLL the dough about 1/8″ thick. Use cocoa instead of flour to dust your rolling board and the dough. Cut into 2 ½”-round cookies. A biscuit cutter is handy for this.

    4. BAKE the cookies for 10 minutes. Watch them closely at the end of the baking time, and if you start to smell chocolate before 10 minutes has gone by, take them out. When they’re done, remove the cookies from the oven, and allow them to cool completely.

    5. MAKE the filling: Whisk together the heavy cream and other ingredients. When blended, whip until the cream holds a soft peak.

    6. ASSEMBLE: Place one cookie on a small plate. Put about a tablespoon of whipped cream on top; our teaspoon cookie scoop, heaped up, works well here.
    Top with a second cookie, using it to compress the whipped cream to about a ¼”-thick layer. Repeat with 4 more cookies, finishing with a layer of whipped cream. Refrigerate from 4 to 24 hours before serving.

    Flavored Whipped Cream Variations

    To flavor 1 cup of cream, add one of the following combinations 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar + 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract. To play around with other flavors, use these guidelines:

  • Coconut: 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar + 1/8 teaspoon coconut flavor
  • Mocha: 1 tablespoon granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon Dutch processed cocoa + 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • Peppermint: 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar + 1/8 teaspoon peppermint oil
  •  
    These are just some of the many variations that will delight you, your friends and family.

    Put on your toque and your apron and get out your artist’s palette.

     

    Nestle Famous Chocolate Wafers
    [6] Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers (photo courtesy Nabisco).

    Homemade Chocolate Wafers
    [7] An individual-portion ice box cake. Just stack the wafers and whipped cream vertically (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour).

    Individual Ice Box Cakes

    [8] Another mini ice box cake—with a cherry on top! Here’s the recipe from If You Give A Blonde A Kitchen.

     

      

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    RECIPE: A Classic & Variations For National Lemon Meringue Pie Day

    August 15th is National Lemon Meringue Pie Day, celebrating one of America’s favorite pies.

    That are the top 10 pies in America, based on consumption? No one has done that survey.

    Mrs. Smith’s released a survey of their top 10 based on sales, but it only included frozen pies in the flavors made by Mrs. Smith.

    One thing we do know: Look at every list of the top pies in the country and you’ll find these nine (in alphabetical order):

    1. Apple Pie
    2. Banana Cream Pie
    3. Blueberry Pie
    4. CherryPie
    5. Coconut Cream Pie
    6. Key Lime Pie
    7. Lemon Meringue Pie
    8. Pecan Pie
    9. Pumpkin Pie
     
    What’s the 10th favorite? Depending on how the list was compiled, here are some from Top Ten Pies:

  • Chocolate Mousse/Silk Pie
  • Oreo Pie
  • Peach Pie
  • Peanut Butter/Snickers
  • Raspberry Pie
  • Strawberry Pie
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
  • Sweet Potato Pie
  •  
    Some flavors are seasonal (including berry and stone fruit pies). Peppermint pies come out during the holiday season.

    Some of our favorites, such as Black Bottom Pie, Grasshopper Pie and Tarte Tatin (a French upside-down pie with caramelized apples) aren’t even on the Top 20 list of sweet pies.
     
    TRIVIA: Banana Cream Pie is a layer cake, and cheesecake is a custard pie. Check out the different types of pie.

    THE HISTORY OF LEMON MERINGUE PIE

    Lemon-flavored custards, puddings and pies date to Middle Ages, which concluded in the 15th Century. But meringue was not perfected until the 17th century.

    The modern lemon meringue pie is a 19th-century recipe, attributed to Alexander Frehse, a Swiss baker from Romandy, the French-speaking part(s) of Switzerland.

    It combines a lemon custard single crust pie with meringue, the fluffy topping made from egg whites and sugar, baked on top. Here’s the classic lemon meringue pie recipe.

    August 15th is National Lemon Meringue Pie Day, celebrating one of America’s favorite pies.

    THE HISTORY OF LEMON MERINGUE PIE

    Lemon-flavored custards, puddings and pies date to Middle Ages, which concluded in the 15th century, bowing to the Renaissance. But meringue was not perfected until the 17th century.

    The modern lemon meringue pie is a 19th-century recipe, attributed to Alexander Frehse, a Swiss baker from Romandy, the French-speaking part(s) of Switzerland.

    It combines a lemon custard single crust pie with meringue, the fluffy topping made from egg whites and sugar, baked on top. Here’s the classic lemon meringue pie recipe from McCormick

    Prep time is 30 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.

    RECIPE: LEMON MERINGUE PIE

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1 basic 9-inch pie crust*, baked and cooled
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups cold water
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 5 egg yolks, well beaten (save the whites for the meringue)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  •    

    Lemon Meringue Pie
    [1] One of America’s favorite pies. The classic recipe below is from the American Egg Board, IncredibleEgg.org.

    Lemon Meringue Pie
    [2] Browning in the oven can create an even color, which professional bakers often prefer for its perfect, even look (photo courtesy McCormick).

    Lemon Meringue Pie
    [3] You can brown the meringue as much or as little as you like (photo courtesy My Most Favorite Food).

    Lemon Meringue Pie

    [4] This meringue, from Centerville Pie Company, goes for a shade of mocha.

     

    For The Meringue

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 5 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  
    Optional Garnishes

  • Lemon peel curls/twists
  • Fresh mint, whole leaves or julienne
  • ________________

    *Take a look at this Egg & Lemon Juice Pie Crust from IncredibleEgg.org.

     

    Meyer Lemons
    [5] Mini-tip: Before you juice lemons for a recipe, zest them and save the zest in the freezer. Use it to perk up everyday foods like salad dressings, juices, soft drinks, hot and cold tea (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

    Pete And Gerry's Organic Eggs

    [6] Do organic eggs taste better? Frankly, yes; although freshness also enters the equation (photo courtesy BJs).

     

    Preparation.

    1. PLACE the oven rack in the top third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 325°F. Prepare the filling: Mix the sugar, cornstarch and salt in large, heavy saucepan. Gradually stir in the water and lemon juice until smooth. Add the egg yolks; stir until blended, and add the butter.

    2. COOK over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon peel.

    3. IMMEDIATELY MAKE the meringue. Dissolve the cornstarch in cold water in one-cup glass measure. Microwave on High 30 seconds; stir. Microwave until the mixture boils, 15 to 30 seconds more. Remove and cover.

    4. BEAT the egg whites and cream of tartar in mixer bowl with the whisk attachment on high speed, until foamy. Beating constantly, add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating after each addition until the sugar is dissolved before adding the next.

    5. CONTINUE beating until the whites are glossy and stand in soft peaks. Beating constantly, add the cornstarch paste, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time. Beat in the vanilla.

    6. POUR the hot filling into the pie crust. Quickly spread the meringue evenly over filling, starting at the edge of the crust. The meringue should overlap rim of the crust. Swirl with the back of a spoon to provide waves.

    7. BAKE in the upper third of a 325°F oven until the meringue is lightly browned, 16 to 18 minutes. Cool on a wire rack 30 minutes to 1 hour; then refrigerate until serving. Garnish as desired.
     
     
    TIPS

  • Serve freshly made pie at room temperature, or refrigerate, uncovered, until ready to serve. Let the pie warm up on the counter.
  • For neat slices, dip knife into glass of water, letting excess water drip off, before each cut. This prevents the meringue from sticking to knife and tearing it. Be sure to cut completely through the crust.
  • A hot filling is important. The heat of the filling cooks the bottom of the meringue and prevents it from weeping and creating a slippery layer between filling and topping. Set up your equipment and measure meringue ingredients before you make the filling and work quickly to make meringue before filling cools.
  • To check if the sugar is dissolved, rub a bit of meringue between your thumb and forefinger. If the sugar is dissolved, it will feel completely smooth. If it feels grainy, continue beating.
  • To check for soft peaks, stop the mixer and lift the beater. The peaks left in the meringue should curl at the tips. If the peaks stand straight and tall (stiff peaks), the meringue has been overbeaten.
  • Anchor the meringue. Be sure to attach the meringue to the crust all around the edge of the pie. This prevents the meringue from pulling away from the edge during baking.
  • If beads form on the refrigerated meringue, gently blot them with the tip of paper towel.
  • Refrigerate any leftover pie promptly.
  •  
     
    VARIATIONS TO LEMON MERINGUE PIE

  • Crust: Try a chocolate cookie crust, coconut crust, graham crust, nut crust.
  • Filling: Add lemon zest, lime zest, orange zest or shredded coconut.
  • Topping: flavored whipped cream, plain or flavored, instead of whipped cream turns it into a lemon pie.
  • Garnish: If you have candied lemon peel, use it!
  •   

     
      

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    EVENT: Kids Food Fest In NYC, August 26th-27th

    Got kids? Got kids who should learn to eat better—while having fun?

    Take the family to the Kids Food Fest, Saturday and Sunday August 26th and 27th.

    The Kids Food Fest is a celebration to educate families about making balanced food choices—choices everyone needs to create wholesome, lifelong eating habits. (Parents: You, too can learn a lot here.)

    Festivities include hands-on cooking classes in collaboration with the James Beard Foundation, the Balanced Plate Scavenger Hunt, family-friendly entertainment and activities, and more!

    There’s no charge for general admission, although hands-on classes require tickets that can be purchased at the event.

    This Kids Food Fest is held in its most beautiful space yet: Oculus at Westfield World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, known worldwide for its exciting architecture (we personally call it New York’s complement to the Bird’s Nest Stadium built for the Beijing Olympics).

    If you haven’t yet been to the Oculus, you’ll love the soaring bird architecture (photo #1) and the internal beauty of the light-filled, climate-controlled halls (photo #2). [That it cost $3.74 billion dollars might make you want to become more politically active, and insist that proven business people manage government projects.]

    The Oculus is easy to get to: Just take the A, C, J, M, Z, 2, 3, 4 or 5 to Fulton Street (directions).

    You’re also close to these downtown destinations, including The National September 11 Memorial & Museum and 15 other museums.

     

    The Oculus NYC Outside

    The Oculus NYC Inside

    The Kids Food Fest will be inside the Oculus transportation hub in New York City | World Trade Center (photos courtesy Port Authority Of New York & New Jersey).

     
    Kids Food Festival 2017

    The Kids Food Fest is proud to support the American Heart Association and their initiatives to improve kids’ health.
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Faloodeh or Faludeh, It’s Delicious Rose Water Sorbet

    Faloodeh Sundae
    [1] Faludeh with a sour cherry topping (ba albaloo) at The Persian Fusion.

    Faloodeh With Sour Cherries
    [2] A squeeze of fresh lime juice blances the sweetness of the sobet (photo courtesy Tishineh, a site for Irani tourism).

    Persian Ice Cream
    [3] A “sundae” of faludeh combined with saffron ice cream (bastani in Arabic; photo courtesy Fun Love And Cooking). The combination of flavors is called makhloot.

    Elegant Faloodeh

    [4] An elegant update. Here’s the recipe from Tasting Table.

     

    We first encountered faludeh, Persian rose water sorbet, years ago. It was an eye-opening frozen dessert among the many jewels at the ice cream emporium of Mashti Malone, in Los Angeles—to us, the most magical ice cream emporium in America.

    We couldn’t believe how good it was—as is everything at Mashti Malone. Transliterated from the Arabic, you may also see it spelled faludeh or faloodeh, and also falude or palude.

    A sidebar: The Mashti Malone ice cream shop is owned by Mashti and Mehdi Shirvani, two brothers from the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad. In 1980, Mashti bought an ice cream shop called Mugsy Malone on the corner of La Brea and Sunset in Hollywood. Because he had little money left over for a new sign, he simply replaced “Mugsy” with “Mashti,” and a legend was born.

    WHAT IS FALUDEH

    Faludeh is one of the earliest known frozen desserts; it has been dated to ca. 400 B.C.E. in Persia. Flavored with rose syrup, which also delivers a flowery scent, it’s a cross between shaved ice or granita, and sorbet.

    Raw angel hair or vermicelli noodles, made from rice starch or corn flour and water, are mixed in. The result: a unique frozen dessert and sensory eating experience.

    We’ve had Asian and Middle Eastern ice cream flavors before, but the rose water sorbet is a truly refreshing experience. The sorbet melts on the tongue, leaving the al dente rice starch noodles to crunch.

    Unusual as it may sound, the noodles provides are so delightful that you may try adding them to other granita and sorbet flavors.

    In its region of origin, it is a favorite dessert and party food.

  • Faludeh is served in one of two ways: ba limoo, with a splash of fresh lime juice or lime wedges; or ba albaloo, with a drizzle or sour cherry syrup. Or both!
  • We tried it with lemon juice and yuzu juice, too. Our favorite was yuzu juice and a lime wedge. The acidic citrus balances the floral, sweet flavors of the sweet rose flavors.
  • Pistachios and mint are popular garnishes.
  • Variations in texture, syrups and other ingredients exist across the Middle East, India and Pakistan.
  • In Iran, a scoop of faludeh is often served with a scoop of saffron-pistachio ice cream, a combination known as makhloot. It can be turned into a sundae with a splash of sour cherry syrup, and maybe a few sour cherries.
  •  
    Mashti Malone also makes saffron ice cream, and it is divine. Field trip, anyone?
     
     
    MAKING FALUDEH

    We tried a few different recipes in preparation for this article. The recipe below is a hybrid, taking what has worked for us to attain the best flavor with the simplest technique.

    Serve it in a bowl, on a plate, in a coupe or Martini glass.

    These days, faludeh can easily be made into granita; but we think that churning it into a smooth sorbet makes it even more magnificent.

    The rose water and rose syrup purchased for the occasion also are a delicious enhancement to vanilla ice cream.

  • Add rose water if you make your own vanilla ice cream.
  • You can also soften a pint of store-bought vanilla and vigorously whisk in the rose water, returning it to th4 freezer to harden.
  • In addition to refreshing yourself in the heat of the summer, also make faludeh on Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. It is, in essence, edible roses.

     
    RECIPE: FALUDEH

    This recipe is granita-style, for those who don’t have an ice cream maker.

    If for some reason you don’t want to use noodles, you can substitute pistachio nuts or just enjoy the rose granita plain.

    If you’re a kitchen over-achiever, here are recipes to make your own rice starch noodles and cherry syrup.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon rose water
  • 1 ounce dried rice sticks or rice vermicelli noodles
  • Fresh lime juice or lime wedges
  • Traditional garnishes: lime wedge, sour cherries and/or sour cherry syrup (but you can substitute raspberries and/or raspberry syrup), pistachios (whole or chopped), mint leaves
  • Western-style garnishes: fresh berries, mint leaves
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the rose water. Set aside and let the syrup cool completely.

    2. PLACE the noodles in a heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water and let stand until soft, about five minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Cut or tear noodles into two-inch pieces. Next time, if wish, you can try longer longer noodles. When softened, drain.

    3. PLACE the noodles and syrup in a shallow pan or metal ice cube tray (anything that works for granita) and place it in the freezer for an hour. Then remove it, stir it with a fork and return to the freezer for another hour.

    4. RAKE the granita with a fork, and return to the freezer until the desired consistency is reached, about one to three hours. To serve…

    5. RAKE with a fork (like granita), and scoop the faludeh into bowls. Garnish as desired and serve with fresh lime juice or lime wedges.

     

    HISTORY OF FALUDEH

    Faludeh is originally from Shiraz in southwestern Persia/Iran, known as the city of poets, literature, wine and flower. The dessert is is also known as Shirazi Paludeh.

    Faludeh is one of the earliest forms of frozen desserts, with references found as early as 400 B.C.E.. At that time, ice was brought down from the mountains and stored in tall refrigerated buildings called yakhchals, which were kept cool by windcatchers.

    The recipe for faludeh was brought to the Indian subcontinent during the Mughal period, the 16th to 18th centuries. Their cooks adapted it into a cold dessert beverage called falooda.

    A Brief History Of Frozen Desserts

    A brief history of ice cream and its predecessor, frozen fruit juice (sorbet), begins around 2000 B.C.E. Around 4,000 years ago, the Chinese elite enjoyed a frozen dessert. The earliest may have been a frozen syrup, mixed with overcooked rice and spices, and packed in snow to harden.

    Later, a mixture of snow and saltpeter was poured over the exteriors of containers filled with syrup. In the same way that salt raises the boiling-point of water, it lowers the freezing-point to below zero.

    Fruit ices were also developed, prepared with fruit juices, honey and aromatic spices. Through trade routes, frozen desserts were introduced to the Persians about 2,500 years ago.

    (The Persian Empire includes the countries now known as Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey and portions of western China and northern Iraq.)

    The Persians drank syrups cooled with snow called sharbat (“fruit ice” in Arabic, and the derivation of sherbet, sorbet and sorbetto). Alternatively, you can envision fruit syrups poured over a dish of snow

    The Macedonian king Alexander III (Alexander the Great) battled the Persians for 10 years before finally toppling the Persian Empire in 330 B.C.E.

    In Persia, he discovered fruit “ices” sweetened with honey and chilled with snow, and brought the concept back to Greece—although the early form of faludeh he knew probably had no noodles.

    Three centuries later, Roman Emperor Nero’s famous banquets always included fruit juices mixed with honey and snow. At that point, it was granita, roughly-shaved ice. As technology improved, smooth sorbet emerged in Renaissance Italy.

    And the rest is sweet, sweet history.

     

    Faluda

    [5] In India, faludeh was turned into a drink for Mughlai royalty, called falooda (photo courtesy Merwyn’s Fotomac).

    Rice Sticks

    [6] Rice sticks (rice vermicelli) can be found in the Asian products aisle or online. You can similarly find rose water and sour cherry syrup.

     
    Around the same time, during the Mughal Empire in 1526-1540, faludeh traveled to India with Muslim merchants who settled there. There, it was transformed by locals into a drink, falooda (photo #5), a “float” rose syrup, vermicelli, sweet basil seeds and pieces of jelly with milk.

    Modern falooda is often topped off with a scoop of ice cream.

    By the way, both sorbetto/sharbat and pasta arrived in Italy with the Arab invasions of Sicily, in the 8th century (the Marco Polo story is a myth—see the history of pasta).

    Italian granita was born, flavored with fresh citrus, a wide range of fruits and coffee. The Italian cooks left out the noodles.

    Here’s more on the history of ice cream and other frozen desserts.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Slab Pie Art

    Since the old-fashioned slab pie started trending a few years back, almost every fruit pie we’ve made has been a slab pie. Why? They’re sooooo easy!

    A slab pie is a shallow pie that’s baked in a jelly roll pan or a rimmed baking sheet. It has a much higher crust-to-filling ratio than a standard pie, so it’s definitely for the crust-loving crowd, or the hand pie-loving crowd.

    When we want a lot of fruit, we make a cobbler or crisp (the difference).

    MORE SLAB PIE BONUSES

  • Since less filling is needed, a slab pie stretches pricey fresh fruit.
  • It feeds quite a few more people than a standard 9-inch pie: almost as much as two pies, in fact.
  • Only 1 crust is needed. Although some people make a lattice or two-crust slab—which affords picking up the square and eating it like a slab pie—we roll out just one crust and make a streusel.
  • It’s easy to cut and serve.
  • It gladly accepts all the standard pie garnishes: caramel sauce, chocolate shavings, crème anglaise/custard sauce, ice cream, whipped cream, a wedge of sharp cheddar, etc.
  •  
    READY, SET, BAKE!

    You can use any fruit filling in a slab pie with this slab pie recipe template. Head for the summer fruits:

  • Berries: single-berry or mixed berry. Here’s a recipe for a raspberry slab pie; just add your berry mix of choice.
  • Stone fruits (cherry, nectarine, peach, pear, etc.).
  • Black mission and other figs are also in season, and delicious in a pie topped with vanilla ice cream. Might we suggest a tablespoon of orange liqueur (e.g. Grand Marnier) in the filling?
  •  
    You’ve got the weekend ahead of you: Pick your slab pie.

     

    Mixed Berry Slab Pie

    [1] Take a tip from Pamela’s Products: Make a super-easy slab pie and unleash your inner artist with cookie cutters and a sharp paring knife.

    [2] The typical slab pie has a plain or lattice top crust (photo courtesy Taste Of Home).

     
    Then get out your cookie cutters and a sharp paring knife, and create a flower garden top crust (photo #1) or other design.

      

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