The Oldest Dessert In The World Isn't What You Think

Can you imagine a world without desserts? Neither can we! It seems fitting then to pay homage to the world's oldest dessert — the very first recipe that set sweet tooths up for centuries of sugar cravings.

The need for something sweet to follow dinner, or even eat alongside it, is something humans have felt for generations, even millennia. The Spruce Eats reports that the Turkish dish aşure, a sweet pudding made with grains, beans, and fruit, was one of the earliest sweetened dishes — according to legend, it was created by Noah on his ark. LovetoKnow shares that before refined sugar was created and exported worldwide, sweet dishes were typically made with fresh or dried fruits, cream, and botanicals like mallow and licorice.

It wasn't until the 17th century that desserts began to look like what we see today, such as the beautiful and intricate pastries and cakes created by pastry chefs (via Food & Wine.) Sugar was even sculpted into elaborate centerpieces for banquets. This century also saw the creation of the first recorded dessert, a medley of sweetened pastry and sweeter filling: the Linzer Torte.

The world's oldest dessert is an Austrian favorite

A recipe for the Linzer Torte dating back to 1653 was discovered in the Admont Abbey in Austria, making it the oldest known dessert recipe, according to Southland Times. They also share that the torte is a favorite of several other countries, including Germany, Hungary, and Italy.

So what's a Linzer Torte? According to the recipe listed on Austria's official website, it's a round pastry with a lattice-top. The crust is made with butter, spices like cinnamon and clove, lemon juice, and ground nuts. Between the bottom crust and the lattice is a layer of red currant jam. It's sweet from top to bottom!

Not surprisingly, a dessert this old has seen some variations over the years. NYT Cooking makes a holiday Linzer Torte with a cranberry-orange filling and a crust with ground almonds and hazelnuts. Smitten Kitchen's version uses ground walnuts in the crust, and a raspberry jam filling. And the Linzer Torte from BBC Food has a layer of super-sweet, almond marzipan over the crust, topped with homemade mincemeat. The torte even inspired a cookie version, according to The Kitchn. Linzer cookies look like miniature versions of a Linzer Torte, with almond sugar cookies sandwiching a red currant jam filling. In place of the lattice top, the top cookie has a cutout to let the red jam peek through.

Okay, since when does a history lesson make us this hungry?