Can You Name These Classic Southern Desserts?

By: Jacqueline Samaroo
Image: YinYang/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Leave room for dessert! Just the sight of these rich, sweet treats is enough to make anyone's mouth water!

Southern dishes run the gamut from simple and homey to over-the-top and fanciful. Many of the dishes can be traced back to the early European settlers, but there are those which are completely Southern creations. What they all have in common, however, are ingredients which can be found in abundance in the region - berries, nuts and citrus, for example.

Pecans, whether whole or chopped, make an appearance in many Southern desserts. Apart from being included in the batter, they are,more often than not also used to generously adorn the top of the completed dish. There is a swoon-worthy selection of pecan desserts among the delectable offerings in this quiz. Get cracking and see which ones you can identify!

If you are from Dixieland or just love the unmistakable flair of Southern cooking, then you are probably familiar with many of these scrumptious desserts. To ace this quiz, however, you have to know their names as well as your taste buds know their flavors. Check out the quiz and see how you do!

The sweet potato pie is often noted as being a creation of African-American slaves. In fact, Abby Fisher, a former slave, is credited with the very first published sweet potato pie recipe.

Banana pudding did not become a part of Southern cuisine until the latter half the 1800s. That’s when bananas became readily available and affordable in the region, thanks to large imports from the Caribbean.

The hummingbird cake originated in Jamaica. It bears the name of that country’s national bird and includes both bananas and pineapples, which are abundant in that island country. The recipe was first published in the US in 1978 when a North Carolina resident submitted it to Southern Living magazine.

One theory about the origin of the name chess pie is that it comes from the response “It’s just pie” which, in some Southern accents, sounds more like “It’s jes’ pie.” The cornmeal in chess pie’s recipe helps to differentiate it from buttermilk pie.

Early British settlers in the Americas are said to have created the cobbler in what is perhaps a classic case of “Necessity is the mother of invention.” They lacked the right ingredients to make the type of pudding they did back home, and when they made it with the ingredients which were available, the cobbler was born!

Southern cuisine contains a variety of layered dessert treats. Among them is the coconut layer cake, which is typically made with coconut in the cake, the filling, and the frosting. Some recipes go a step further by topping the frosting with coconut flakes.

The pecan pie is regarded as one of the genuinely Southern dessert creations. With an abundance of pecans in the region, the pecan pie is traditionally made with pecans added to the filling, as well as decorating the top of the pie. The pecan pie is often served as dessert at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

The chocolate chip cookie was invented in New England - Whitman, Massachusetts (1938), to be exact. It has become a Southern favorite over the years with special twists, such as baked pecans, added to give the cookies a more local flair.

While it is not clear when Mississippi mud brownies were actually invented, what is certain is that they are loaded with chocolate and gooey marshmallows – hence the “mud” in the name. The same is true for the equally popular Mississippi mud cake and Mississippi mud pie.

Red velvet cakes most often (and traditionally) get their red color from food coloring, but beets can also be used to give the cake its namesake color and a little extra body. Love of the red velvet cake has spawned variations such as red velvet pancakes, cupcakes, cookies and ice cream.

The popularity of pecan-based dishes in the Southern states may be due to the fact that pecans grow naturally and plentifully in the Southern states. In fact, Georgia, New Mexico and Texas rank highest in the US in terms of pecan production.

The lemon icebox pie is one of the easiest (and tastiest) Southern desserts to make. The crust is typically made out of graham crackers, but store-bought crust works just as well for some home cooks. The flavor and consistency of the lemon icebox pie is similar to that of the Key lime pie.

The shoofly pie is a Pennsylvania Dutch original which, according to some sources, dates back to the colonial era. Its unusual name is often attributed to bakers having to shoo away the flies which were drawn to the sticky, sweet molasses it contained.

Both South Carolina and Georgia are among the top peach-producing states in the US. Peach ice cream is a longtime Southern favorite especially on hot summer days. The treat is popular all over the country, as well, with National Peach Ice Cream Day being celebrated on July 17 each year.

The tarte à la bouillie first appears in Louisiana as a Cajun dessert. It is said to have been created as a way to make use of excess eggs and milk.

The name sandie refers to a wide variety of sugar or shortbread cookies which can be plain, flavored or contain different nuts such as almonds and cashews. Pecan is such a popular addition, however, that these melt-in-your-mouth cookies usually get called pecan sandies all the time!

Carrot cake is quite often prepared as a decadent layered cake with frosting between the layers and around the entire cake. Apart from freshly grated carrots, other add-ins include pineapple, chopped almonds, various spices and of course, chopped pecans!

Bread pudding is, by no means, a creation of the Southern states. It is, however, one of the favorite desserts throughout the region. Bread pudding is believed to have originated in 11th century Europe, out of the practical need to make use of stale bread.

Fresh blackberries (or any fruit, for that matter) make a good base for delicious homemade ice cream. Many ice cream recipes have a very short ingredients list, and there are plenty of no-churn methods which take all of the hassle out of ice cream making.

Coffee cake may be an all-time favorite in the Southern states but the original recipe is said to come from Germany. It is called coffee cake whether or not it is flavored with coffee, since the coffee cake is meant to be served with coffee, either way.

The Key lime pie gets its name from limes grown on the Florida Keys, where the recipe was created. The limes are also responsible for the pie’s tartness, which is balanced out by the recipe’s condensed milk. It is the egg yolks, however, which give the Key lime pie its characteristic pale yellow color.

Lemon flavor is common among many of the traditional desserts in the Southern states. Lemon cookies are often prepared with both freshly squeezed lemon juice and freshly grated lemon zest.

Emma Rylander Lane of Clayton, Alabama created this bourbon-laced cake sometime before 1898 and originally named it prize cake after it won her first prize in a Columbus, Georgia county fair. Lane cake gained national attention after it and its high alcohol content were mentioned in Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird."

When it’s time for dessert, there is a wide range of scrumptious chocolate cakes to choose from. Popular ones include red velvet cake, Devil’s food cake and black forest cake but many families have their own prized chocolate cake recipe to whip up whenever the occasion arises.

Fried pies, hand pies or fried hand pies are typically stuffed with sweet fruity fillings such as lemon, blueberry and cherry. They are easy to prepare and are often used as additions to a picnic basket.

Pecan tassies are often likened to miniature pecan pies and are believed to have originated New Orleans. The name “tassie” ultimately comes from the French word “tasse” which means cup. Pecan tassies are popular during the Christmas season.

Hello Dolly bars, seven layer cookies and magic bars are the names usually used to refer to these Southern treats. They are typically made with a graham cracker base and an assortment of toppings. Popular toppings include shredded coconut, chocolate or butterscotch chips, chopped pecans or walnuts.

Flour, butter, sugar and eggs are the four basic ingredients in this cake. This means the added flavors, such as lemon and almond, are what sets one person’s pound cake apart from the rest. A pound cake is traditionally baked in a loaf tin or a Bundt pan.

Bananas Foster may just be one of the most exciting desserts to serve. It contains banana liqueur which can be ignited (flambé-style) just before serving. The bananas Foster dessert is a New Orleans original and is quite popular in that region.

The lemon meringue pie may be particularly popular in the Southern states, but it also well-loved across the rest of the US. So much so, in fact, that Aug. 15 is celebrated as National Lemon Meringue Pie Day.

Strawberries and shortcake have been a part of European cuisine for centuries, with the strawberry shortcake coming along some time in the 1500s. The classic Southern strawberry shortcake is formed on a pie crust.

The first published recipe for the Coca-Cola cake can be found in a 1952 newspaper article from Charleston, West Virginia. This sweet and gooey cake’s ingredients list contains both marshmallows and chocolate and as a result it is often called a Coca-Cola chocolate cake or a chocolate Cola cake.

Most cobblers are essentially deep-dish, thick-crust pies with a fruit filling. While the filling can be made of mixed fruits, in the Southern states, cobblers are often single-fruit creations. Recipes for cobblers vary slightly by region, with local names including crow’s nest pudding, bird’s nest pudding, pandowdy, buckles, crisp, croustade, grunt and slump.

Its custard-like consistency makes chocolate pudding a very versatile dessert item. It can be served on its own or used as filling for a variety of dishes. National Chocolate Pudding Day is celebrated annually in the US on June 26.

The praline was originally created in Europe and made its way to the New World in the 1700s. The Southern version of the praline, with pecans instead of almonds and with cream added to the mix, was concocted in New Orleans after the praline was introduced by the French.

Just as its name suggests, the German apple cake originated in Germany. Southern recipes usually call for the addition of pecans, perhaps because that ingredient is quite common throughout the region.

The divinity candy is also known as divinity fudge. Thanks to its widespread popularity in the Southern states and the regular practice of adding pecan halves to the recipe, the treat also goes by the name Southern candy.

According to folklore, preacher’s cake gets its name from being easy to prepare, which makes it the ideal dessert to whip up for (and impress) unexpected company – like the local preacher. Spices, pineapple and coconut are the most popular flavors added to preacher’s cake.

The “nut” in these chewy chews is often pecan but other nuts, such as walnuts and almonds, can be used as well. Date and nut chews are sometimes simply referred to as date-nut chews.

It is quite common for people to confuse a buttermilk pie for a chess pie. There are two main differences, however, in their ingredients. The chess pie has cornmeal and the buttermilk pie has buttermilk.

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