Last summer, Wisconsin named the kringle as the state's official pastry -- not to be confused with their proposed state dessert, the cream puff. A kringle is a Scandinavian flaky pastry, similar to a danish pastry in texture, then filled with nuts, fruit filling, or custard. Since Racine, Wisconsin, apparently is the epicenter of Danish-American culture and full of expert kringle makers, it just made sense.
Maine has blueberry pie. Maryland has Smith Island cake. Massachusetts obviously has Boston cream pie. South Dakota claimed kuchen. Texas got the strudel and the sopaipilla. What would Arizona's state pastry be? What are we known for as far as sweets are concerned? Those lollipops with the scorpions in them at the airport?
See also: How to Make a King Cake for Mardi Gras
In an effort to get scientific, I started with a list of great ingredients found in Arizona, that I love using in pastry: dates, pecans, honey, citrus, prickly Pear. Here are my nominations for Arizona's state pastry.
Date Cake: A few years ago, I worked in Yuma to help open a small farm bakery, and one of the biggest sellers in our little farm store each year were dates. As our date farmers would roll up with thousands of pounds of dates for packing, baking, and making date shakes for the snow birds, I came to loathe and love these beauties even more.
Put dates in anything, and snowbirds will flock. Our friends to the north wouldn't stop requesting date cake, also known in some regions of Canada as "matrimonial cake." I called a friend from Toronto who then called his mother, acquiring a recipe for matrimonial cake -- essentially, it's a date bar and similar to a coffee cake, but with a gooey date filling. How about a rich date cake with a honey caramel as the Arizona state pastry?
Citrus Tart: Though we aren't known as the citrus state, we do produce a sizable amount of beautiful citrus every winter. Pick it yourself at the Farm at Agritopia or grow a citrus tree in your backyard. Either way, you'll find an abundance of bright bulbs during the winter to make marmalades, spruce up your cocktails or turn into a delicious citrus tart. Enjoy on the patio while Instagramming a picture to your snowed-in friends and family back east.
Pecan Pie with Arizona Honey: When I hear pecan pie, I generally think of the Southeast. However, Arizona has a large pecan operation called The Green Valley Pecan Company in Sahuarita, just south of Tucson. Paired with Arizona honey, this combination becomes a powerhouse pie that is often reimagined and found on local menus.
Prickly Pear Marmalade Cake: It is sad that we don't see more prickly pear desserts gracing menus here in Arizona. While you will need your work gloves to harvest and prepare this fruit (be cautious not to pick anywhere pesticides may be sprayed), the bold ruby fruit is well worth the work.
Typically juiced and used for margaritas and various cocktails, the prickly pear also is a beautiful fruit to utilize in marmalade. Spread on top of pound cake for a unique dessert.
Fry Bread: I see the fry bread trucks pop-up at different events, but I never knew the painful history associated with this fried favorite. The origin of fry bread begins 150 years ago, as Navajos were forced to relocate from Arizona to New Mexico. The government gave them canned goods of lard, processed sugar, salt, and white flour, to sustain them, and fry bread was born. Though some Native Americans see fry bread as a celebration of their culture and survival, others see it as the cause for the large numbers of diabetes and obesity in the Native American community.
Fry bread is apart of the history of Arizona and something unique for those traveling through our state to taste.
Those are the nominations. Cast your vote in the comments below. We will tally them up and let you know what everyone thinks our state pastry should be. No write-ins of cake pops will be accepted. See also: Cake Pops are the Worst: The 7 Layers of the Cake Hierarchy
Rachel Miller is a pastry chef and food writer in Phoenix, where she bakes, eats, and single-handedly keeps her local cheese shop in business. You can get more information about her pastry at www.pistolwhippedpastry.com, or on her blog at www.croissantinthecity.com.