December 8, 2017

Revisiting classic dessert recipes

While some dishes are enduring classics, many more fall in and out of favor for professional chefs and home cooks alike. The dessert category, with its rich, sumptuous character and position as an optional treat accompanying the main meal, is especially full of examples of items that were once wildly popular but now are more of a niche offering or almost unknown.

Boulder culinary school students and chefs across the world looking for a little dessert inspiration can consider these once common treats that are now much more limited in popularity and recognition.

Rich chocolate cake.Death by Chocolate can be a cake, trifle or something else entirely.

Death by Chocolate

Death by Chocolate is less of a strict recipe, or even a group of them, and more of an idea: An overload of chocolate dessert components, mixed with a few other choice ingredients, create a decadent result. The name has been applied to a wide variety of desserts, from chocolate lava cakes to chocolate trifles that would otherwise have little in common besides the presence of plenty of cocoa products.

Casual chain eatery Bennigan’s version of this dessert may have led to its most widespread period of recognition in the late 20th century, as hundreds of locations served it across the country. The restaurant’s version included a chocolate ice cream base studded with pieces of almonds, marshmallows and Twix candy bars, along with an Oreo cookie base, chocolate shell topping and a fudge sauce.

The Food Network offered a recipe for a trifle version of Death by Chocolate, and there are a wide range of other variations easily found online or in conversations with fellow students and chefs. The versatility of Death by Chocolate means you can easily put your own spin on this dish by combining a wide variety of chocolate cakes, puddings, brownies, mousses, bars and other ingredients with a few non-cocoa touches for a little balance. Just give a description on your menu so your customers know which of the many versions of the dessert to expect.

Watergate salad

Salads full of sweet ingredients and lacking greens and other vegetables are widely recognized in certain parts of the country, but aren’t regularly seen in many others – at least by such a name. Watergate salad has a green base, but in this case, it’s pistachio pudding.

First introduced by Kraft as Pistachio Pineapple Delight, a recipe heavily featuring its own branded ingredients, the name changed in a still-unclear process by customers and cooks to the much more unique and memorable moniker it carries today. Even the date of the dish’s introduction is a matter of debate, with sources like The Kansas City Star citing the mid-1970s – at the same time as the Watergate scandal – while Kraft itself believes it arose nearly a decade later.

As with many recipes originally shared by large businesses, there are plenty of variations on Kraft’s official Watergate salad formulation. However, the base ingredients generally include a canned fruit like pineapple and its juices, the pudding, miniature marshmallows, pecans or a similar nut and whipped topping.

Chefs who want to to use this dish or a similar one in a brunch buffet spread or as a sweet side or dessert have plenty of options to make it more than a mix of boxed ingredients. Fresh pistachio pudding, fruit and fruit juice can all heighten the flavor of the dish, as can a whipped topping concocted in your restaurant’s kitchen. You may also want to seek out inspiration from the many personal recipes shared across the internet, like the 20-plus featured on Genius Kitchen.