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Knickerbocker glories and banana splits

Summer is on its way so I think it's alright to talk about ice-cream.

On the left is a photograph from one of those old delicious. magazines, of what it calls a Knickerbocker glory. I am now looking at the recipe which is from Matt Moran and his book Matt's Kitchen Garden Cookbook. It's an incredibly complicated recipe involving making a strawberry jelly, a sponge, and meringues. A sponge?

Now I'm sure it's delicious but it's not at all what I - or I suspect - most people would call a Knickerbocker glory.

The two shown below are what I think of as a Knickerbocker glory. And believe me I know about them. I ate a lot of them when in America with my friend Carole on that student trip.

First of all, as you can see from the above, Matt Moran has the shape of the glass in which it is served all wrong. It has to be a tall glass, and you have to have a long spoon to eat it with. It's an easy thing, a not very healthy thing and consists of layers of fruit, cream, and ice-cream, - sometimes meringue although I don't think I have ever had one with meringue in it. And definitely never with sponge cake - that's a trifle surely? The whole is then topped with nuts, sauces, and possibly glacé cherries. Sort of an Eton Mess, and if I was Matt Moran I would have called his some sort of name associated with that or trifle rather than a Knickerbocker glory.

In my head I always thought the name was something to do with knickers. Didn't they used to be called knickerbockers? And I thought the name was sort of chosen for its glorious vulgarity. But no here is an origin story from Wikipedia.

"The name Knickerbocker (as it pertains to the dish) is theorized to be named after The Knickerbocker Hotel in Manhattan, New York. During the early 1900s, the hotel was pink and cream colored, and renowned by the denizens of New York. After its closure in 1920, a tall, pink, and cream colored dish was created in honor of the hotel. To this end, the word glory was appended to the name of the dish."

I also don't think I knew that it was supposed to be pink and white, but now that I think about it they probably were.

There is another origin story which does indeed have to do with those knickerbockers which are actually not knickers but knee breeches.

I would sometimes have one for my lunch from the Woolworths cafeteria - we worked in Woolworths in Philadelphia for a couple of months. They were cheap and cheerful, though admittedly not all that nourishing. Filling though, and I think I tried to reason that cream (even though it wasn't real cream) was good for you - as was ice-cream (also not real) - milk isn't it?. And that's good for you. Oh the lengths we will go to to justify bad food choices. When we were travelling around America during our last month there, on the Greyhound buses I would sometimes eat one from the Greyhound Station cafeterias too.

And I would also indulge in banana splits - equally unhealthy, equally vulgar and equally delicious. Also not complicated - split a banana lengthways in two, put the two halves on a long dish, put ice-cream dollops in between and drizzle sauces and nuts over the top with those glacé cherries again.

Oh dear the sins of my youth. Seeing the name was a blast from the past. Associated with American ice cream parlours, milk bars and diners. I don't think they have these things these days. Although Wikipedia seems to think that these days it's a British thing. What would Yotam Ottolenghi do to it I wonder? Well he goes for semifreddo but actually doesn't mess with it too much.

But wouldn't you know Felicity Cloake gives it the perfect treatment and asks the question "is it even possible to make the definitive knickerbocker glory?", coming, I think, to the conclusion that almost anything goes as long as ice-cream, fruit and cream are involved.

I don't know what the weather forecast is for the next few days, so also don't know whether ice-cream is appropriate for the times - more likely jam roll poly and custard I suspect.


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