In the course of my Christmas baking, I formalized an until-then casual Hypothesis of Sweets that I have advanced several times over the years. This hypothesis is:
A. There are three kinds of sweet tastes.
- 1. The Dry Sweet. That is, dry in texture, with little internal moisture (and often hard), but still sweet in taste. Examples: sugar cookies, shortbread, vanilla wafers, the chocolate part of an Oreo, gingerbread men, the crust of a pie or crumble, brownies, the plain digestive biscuit.
- 2. The Creamy Sweet. Creamy in texture; the sugar level can vary. Examples: the creamy filling of an Oreo, the chocolate on a chocolate-covered graham cracker or digestive biscuit, the marshmallow in a Mallomar (also the outside), the peanut butter in Little Debbie's Nutty Bars, whipped cream or ice cream, caramel, pudding.
- 3. The Fruity Sweet. AKA the tangy sweet, sharper in taste, but still with a sweet takeaway. Examples: the raspberry filling of a rugelach, the fruit in a crisp, pie, or cobbler.
- 3a. The Banana Exception: Because of its texture and relative blandness, Banana shall be regarded as a creamy sweet, not a fruity one.
- 1. Proof: Oreos, linzer tarts, Mallomars, s'mores, Moon Pies, oatmeal cream pies, McVitie's Plain Choc digestive biscuits, tiramisu, chocolate-dipped strawberries, cheesecake, caramel-covered apples, Twix, Thin Mints, those Girl Scout peanut butter sandwiches, pain au chocolate, black and white cookies, rugelach . . .
- 2. Many desserts involving only one type of sweet can be improved by adding another: chocolate-dipped graham crackers, for instance, or the cheesecake brownie, or the brownie a la mode, or ice cream with fruit sauce, or banana pudding with vanilla wafers.
- 3. The Jaffa Cake Exception: Jaffa Cakes are the only known dessert to successfully integrate all three sweets.
- 1. This exception should be invoked with care, however, as the third can also be disastrous.
- 1a. Examples of Positive Add-Ons: Whipped cream or ice cream on a fruit pie or crumble; strawberry shortcake; cherry cheesecake; cherries or strawberries on a hot fudge sundae; chocolate-dipping a linzer tart.
- 1b. Examples of Negative Add-Ons: Anything fruity ever added to an Oreo.
- 1. Proof: One can construct a perfectly good dessert table with berries, chocolate pastilles, and shortbread cookies. Or fondue!