A Week to Remember: National Dessert Day

Keith Chaffee, Librarian, Collection Development,
National Dessert Day above a photo-illustration of a plate of desserts
The word “dessert” comes to us from the French “desservir,” meaning “to clear the table”

October 14 is National Dessert Day, an opportunity to celebrate the wide array of sweets with which we traditionally end a meal. To mark the date, we’re going to take a rapid-fire look at just a few of the dessert cookbooks available for download at OverDrive.

The word “dessert” comes to us from the French “desservir,” meaning “to clear the table,” which is logical enough; dessert is served after all of the other dishes from the meal have been cleared away. Michael Krondl offers a history of dessert in Sweet Invention, and Walter Staib takes a look at the desserts of early America in A Sweet Taste of History.

Book cover for A Sweet Taste of History
A Sweet Taste of History
Staib, Walter

Name a type of dessert, and there’s almost certainly a cookbook devoted to it. Let’s start with the basics: cakes and cupcakes, pies and cobblers, cookies and brownies. There’s ice cream, whether served by the scoop or in a sandwich, and its cousins gelato and frozen yogurt. You might be partial to doughnuts, whoopie pies, or gingerbread.

There’s pudding and Jell-O, chocolate and candy bars, and let’s not overlook the possibilities of fruit. You might think of marshmallows or caramel as only a small piece of a more complicated dessert, but they’ve got their own dedicated how-to books.

Book cover for Madeleines: Elegant French Tea Cakes to Bake and Share
Madeleines: Elegant French Tea Cakes to Bake and Share
Feldman Morse, Barbara

Italian tiramisu and French madeleines and eclairs are just the start of the dessert options from around the world. We can offer you collections of dessert options from Japan, China, and the Philippines; Norway, Sweden, and Ireland; Mexico, Austria, and the Middle East.

Making dessert can be easy enough for the relative novice, or as intricate as these plates from the National Pastry Team Championships. You can go the traditional route of Richard Sax’s Classic Home Desserts, or try the updated variations of Matt Lewis’s Baked Explorations.

Afraid that dietary restrictions make dessert a forbidden pleasure? Not to fear! There are collections catering to every type of diet: low-calorie, gluten-free, raw food, keto, paleo, vegan, and “my kid’s allergic to everything.” And if you’re baking for only one or two people and dread all of those leftovers, we’ve got you covered.

Book cover for Dessert For Two
Dessert For Two
Lane, Christina

There’s a whole school of desserts called “dump desserts,” which are just as easy as they sound; dump all of the ingredients into a skillet or a slow cooker, and let the cooking begin!. Some of them don’t even require you to stir!

This is just a tiny sampling of the wide universe of desserts. With a little exploration, you’re sure to find something that will satisfy both your level of cooking skill and your sweet tooth.

Also This Week

October 16, 1886

David Ben-Gurion was born. Ben-Gurion was the leader of the Jewish community in the decade leading up to the founding of Israel. He helped to write the Israeli Declaration of Independence. Ben-Gurion served as Israel’s first Prime Minister from 1948 to early 1954, and held the post again from late 1955 to 1963. Tom Segev is the author of the biography A State at Any Cost.

October 14, 1896

Oscar Charleston was born. Charleston was one of the outstanding players in baseball’s Negro Leagues, where he played from 1915 to 1941. He was a powerful hitter, a fast runner, and a solid outfielder; his skills were considered on a par with contemporaries such as Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb. After retiring as a player, he was hired by the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Branch Rickey as a scout to help search for the black players who would integrate the major leagues. Jeremy Beers’s biography, Oscar Charleston, describes him as “baseball’s greatest forgotten player.”

October 18, 1950

Wendy Wasserstein was born. Between 1973 and 2004, Wasserstein wrote a dozen plays, usually centered on women in personal crisis. She wrote about characters not commonly seen on the American stage, and was noted for her lively, witty dialogue. In 1989, Wasserstein won both the Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize for The Heidi Chronicles; that play, along with An American Daughter and The Sisters Rosensweig, is available for streaming in an audio production by Los Angeles Theatre Works.

October 16, 1962

President John F. Kennedy was notified that CIA surveillance planes had photographed Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba, beginning a tense 13-day diplomatic confrontation known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. Kennedy imposed a naval blockade of Cuba and was considering military invasion. The crisis ended after several days of secret negotiations, with an ABC News reporter as a messenger between the KGB’s Washington station chief and the US State Department. Several of the key players in the crisis are interviewed in the documentary Cuban Missile Crisis: Three Men Go to War.