THIS ARTICLE IS ADAPTED FROM A SPECIAL EDITION OF THE JUNE 30, 2021, GASTRO OBSCURA NEWSLETTER.
There is a category of foods I love that I call “novelty desserts.” They typically feature a secret, improbable ingredient, like mayonnaise in cake batter or the vinegar in vinegar pies. Others feel like magic tricks, as in the case of hot-fudge cake, where a thick layer of chocolate sauce forms on the bottom of the pan during baking.
The heyday of these desserts was the mid-1900s, during the rise of convenience foods and new appliances in American kitchens. Armed with boxed, canned,