While such classic desserts as puddings, pies and cakes may seem deeply ingrained in society, they’ve only been around the past few centuries, according to the late Richard Sax, author of “Classic Home Dessert,” a book regarded by many as the definitive source on comfort sweets. Before the emergence of desserts, “distinctions between sweet and savory dishes were hazy,” Sax wrote.But even as modern chefs also experiment with unexpected savory ingredients—such as herbs, cheese and tomatoes—in ...

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