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Tricks And Treats: A ‘Culinary Tour’ Through A Selection Of Traditional Southern Sweets, Treats And Desserts


Southerners love their sweets treats. And really, who doesn’t? But as with all things food, we’ve taken it to the next level. The distinctive, celebrated food traditions in our region include a number of signature dishes and treats to complete any meal — or to celebrate any occassion.

And it’s that time of year, isn’t it? You might say that October is known for sugary treats, sweets, and ‘walking tours’ to collect our favorites from family and friends. So, in the spirit of the season, today we’re featuring more information about the southern desserts. These are some ‘tricks and treats’ you won’t want to miss on your trip to Charleston!

A Culinary Tour Through Traditional Southern Desserts

Banana Pudding – Every southern family seems to have a quick and easy recipe for banana pudding. You might even call it the comfort food of local desserts. In some homes you’ll see the puddling spooned over Nilla Wafers in a trifle dish, and topped with whipped cream. In others, you’ll find fancier, more ‘elevated’ recipes. Either way, when you’re served banana pudding you know your host wants to put you at ease and make you feel at home.

Sweet Potato Pie – This one’s a classic. Some think of it as the southern variation on pumpkin pie. There’s a long and storied history behind the recipe for sweet potato pie, and how it became a favorite of southerners. Suffice it to say, sweet potatoes grow well in the south, and local cooks took the Western European recipe and elevated it to a classic status now most likely to be eaten at Thanksgiving.

Lane Cake – Have you read To Kill A Mockingbird? This iconic cake, first dreamed up in an Alabama kitchen in the 1800′s, was featured in a scene from the book. The cake isn’t necessarily a common, everyday staple these days, but it’s worth seeking out if you’re hungry for authentic southern flavors. It’s traditionally made with all of the favorite local treats: layers of white sponge cake; lots of icing, eggs and butter; bourbon and/or brandy; and raisins, coconut, pineapple, and/or pecans.

Pecan Pie – Speaking of pecans, the pecan pie is another classic southern ingredient. This is one to watch for on menus throughout the region, as pecan pie has been elevated to an art form by contemporary chefs fascinated by the culinary traditions of the south. It’s a truly distinctive pie, and a show stopper when done right.

Coconut Cake – Coconut is the culinary star featured in Christmas treats and recipes on tables across the south. Use of coconut in treats goes back centuries to the earliest day of the U.S.A, and one of the most important recipes in the tradition is attributed to a South Carolina cook in writing in 1770. Another important recipe is attributed to a Charleston author published in 1847. If you try only one southern treat, we’d recommend you make it a coconut cake.

Pound Cake – This cake is a simple staple to end meals, and is the basis for many quick desserts and comfort treats. Worth a mention due to its popularity and versatility.

Lemon Icebox Pie and Lemon Meringue Pie – Lemon is a popular ingredient in many local sweets, but really gets a showcase in these two popular, traditional pies. You’ll see lots of lemon meringue pies out in the world, but in order to get it right you have to make the pies with a graham cracker pie crust.

Peach Cobbler – This is another treat with lots of recipes and variations out there. But to make it southern style, you have to have lots of gooey, sweet peaches in syrup, and a crust on top. (That’s what makes it different than a cake or pie.)

Best Desserts In Charleston

Have we managed to whet your appetite? We know the best dessert spots in Charleston, and we’re happy to share with you! Whether you’re heading out to pick up some of the Pecan Chewies from Sugar Bakeshophere in town, or are looking for a complete meal topped off with a traditional southern dessert, we have the culinary tour and recommendations for you.

We invite you to visit the website to learn more, then reach out to us directly with any questions. We’ll provide you with an unforgettable taste of the best the city has to offer, and an experience you won’t find anywhere else. We look forward to hearing from you!

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