The Iconic Dessert That May Have Actually Been A Mistake

Desserts are part of the American fabric. We love them. It's an understatement to say they satisfy the sweet tooth, because they do more than that. There is almost something calming and fulfilling about a good sugar rush. Sounds a little paradoxical, but you know what we mean. When Ranker ranked our favorite comfort foods, chocolate, chocolate chip cookies, and ice cream were in the top ten, proving desserts really do provide some relief.

Per Saveur, the word "dessert" is actually derived from the French verb "desservir," which means "to clear the table." But before we had fudge brownies a la mode, we need to go back to the sixteenth century when the word dessert referenced candied fruits and nuts that were served after dinner. Since dessert's humble beginnings, it has grown to encompass all kinds of sugary, guilty pleasures, some newer to the cookbooks than others, including one of our favorite cakes. 

Perhaps, love is a little strong, because there is certainly a demographic of dessert lovers who do not love this accidental, yet iconic, dessert (via Refinery29). According to the Gingered Whisk, even President George Washington is said to have indulged in this cake, that uses an orange color vegetable as its base. Specifically, Washington is said to have feasted on this cake in November 1783 when the Brits were forced out of New York. What kind of cake was it? If you are getting visions of carrot cake dancing in your head, you are spot on.

Carrot cake has a murky history

Per Eat This, Not That! carrot cake, with all of its fragrant all spice and nutmeg flavors, is believed to be an adaptation of the British carrot pudding, at least in some culinary circles. Still, according to Vice, there are other theories about carrot cake's origins. One suggests it was a result of World War II housewives borrowing from a medieval recipe, while another theory, propelled by Stella Parks, author of BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts, runs with the idea that carrot cake may be the result of the all too common accident of misreading a recipe, in this case it was a recipe for currant cake. It seems plausible — we misread and misinterpret recipes all the time.

But The Cake Historian author Jessica Reed wrote, "Chocolate and carrot cake are the two most elusive desserts," (via Vice). We really do not know their exact genesis. However, with that said, Reed also tends to align with the misread recipe theory that swirls around carrot cake, noting Pillsbury was working on releasing a carrot cake mix and even held a contest to crown a recipe winner in 1929. Accident or a well-planned dessert, we think carrot cake is pretty delish and perfectly appropriate for those much needed sugar highs.