Originating in Denmark, this unique dessert came to the States thanks to immigrants, who ended up congregating in Racine, Wisconsin, during the nineteenth century. The Danish shared the recipe with the locals, and everybody decided it was the best. This one is a bit more complicated than some other options on this list, as it’s a pastry that is shaped into a ring.
Inside there is a filling – with options like fruits, cream cheese, or nuts – and then there is an icing placed on top. Every once in a while you’ll see a version that has a layer of caramel glaze added to the top, along with some nuts for extra texture. You can find these treats at plenty of stores in the Midwest, but nothing beats a homemade kringle.
Iowa – Scotcheroos
You might be able to make this quintessentially American treat right now – the base is mostly Rice Krispies cereal, though there are several other options, such as Special K cereal. You also have to use a sugar-filled peanut butter mixture, which is melted, and then used to cover the cereal. It’s a no-bake option, too, since you just spread the Rice Krispie treat base in a pan and then pour the rest of the dessert on top.
After it cools you cut it into bars and serve. They taste great, but don’t let anyone tell you they’re healthy – especially since you’re going to end up eating quite a couple of these before you’re done. They’re a mainstay of potlucks and picnics all over the Midwest, and there’s a big debate about the name.
Minnesota – Seven Layer Bars
How many ways do I love thee? Seven, just like your seven delicious layers. This classic Minnesota dessert is a regular sight at potlucks and parties in the north. Let’s dive into those layers, shall we? Traditionally, the layers are a graham cracker base, chocolate chips, pecans, butterscotch pieces, coconut, and condensed milk. Wait a minute! That’s only six things! What is this?
We guess that the butter used to solidify the cracker base counts as one of the layers, but you’re on thin ice, Minnesota. We’re already upset about that whole blueberry muffin business, so you’d better be on your best behavior. These bars are easy to make, have an intricate, chewy texture, and taste great. We’ll let that whole weak seventh layer thing pass for now, as long as you pass a few more over.
California – Chiffon Cake
This fancy cake was once called the “toast of Hollywood,” and not just because you’d make it late at night and cover it in peanut butter and chocolate chips. It continues to be a favorite of the west coast, and it’s versatile enough for a lot of different events, from fancy parties to a simple dessert at home.
There are some fiddly steps – such as separating the yolks and whites of a ridiculous seven eggs, and washing the pan as carefully as you can in hot, soapy water to make sure there isn’t any grease on it. Still, a little bit of practice and you can make this delicious treat perfectly. If you want to take it up a notch, add fruit and whipped cream on top.
Hawaii – Haupia
One of my friends described this Hawaiian treat as a non-newtonian sugar cookie, and nobody could really argue that much. Often found at luaus, this treat is not only a new kind of experience for the uninitiated, but it’s incredibly easy to make. A simple recipe is cornstarch, sugar, salt, and coconut milk.
But there are also some options that include rice flour as an option instead. You just toss all of it together into a bowl, heat it until it comes to a simmer, and then pour it into a pan to refrigerate. You can also make little haupia muffins by pouring the mixture in tins and then baking in the oven. This might not sound like much, but don’t sleep on these simple treats. They’re a surprisingly interesting dessert.