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Perhaps the most quintissential dessert from the Southern United States, its origins are clouded in mystery. However, recipes for the red flour cake, which is traditionally colored with natural beet root food coloring date back to the late nineteenth century. Considered to be a derivative of the Devil's Food Cake, which originated around the same time, it is flavored with processed cocoa and typically topped with cream cheese or a buttermilk frosting. The 1989 film Steel Magnolias, in which the cake is prominently featured in the shape of an armadillo, has caused a resurgence in the dessert's popularity in the United States in the last 20 years.
While best associated with Scotland, which has numerous recipes and commercial brands of this popular unleavened biscuit, it is popular all over Great Britain including Ireland, and in other countries including Denmark and Sweden. Traditional recipes call for white sugar, butter, and oatmeal flour, but white flour is commonly used today in commercial shortbread products. Shortbread is named for its crumbly texture, from an old meaning of the word “short”, which is caused by its high fat content that inhibits the formation of long protein strands, aka “Shortening”.
Perhaps the most widely-known Italian desssert, the basic recipe which is composed of layers of espresso coffee-soaked ladyfinger (Savoiardi) biscuits, sweet wine or liquor such as marsala, port, dark rum or cognac, Marscapone cream cheese and Zabaglione cream. Cocoa powder is usually sifted on top to complete the presentation and to add a bitter counterpart to the sweetness of the dessert. It is widely believed that Tiramisu is a modern dessert, dating back only to the late 1960s.