The knickerbocker glory may be the only thing that’s as whimsically British and as worthy of childhood fantasy as Harry Potter. This ice cream parfait contains a hodgepodge of delicious ingredients layered in a tall glass. There’s no official recipe, which leaves plenty of room for creativity. Oh, and everyone’s favorite wizard really does eat one in Harry Potter and the Socerer’s Stone.
Knickerbocker glories are made of vanilla ice cream and fruity fillings, such as fresh raspberries, berry coulis, jam, or peach melba. Some die-hard dairy fans add clotted cream, pudding, or custard. The whole parfait is topped off with pistachios, almonds, or hazelnuts, and finished with a wafer, whipped cream, and a cherry. A perfect version exists for everyone, because this dessert is left open to interpretation. Adults have been known to add liqueur, because there’s no such thing as too much glory in a knickerbocker glory.
Although the British enthusiastically embraced the treat during the 1930s, there are several reasons to believe it was an American invention. First, Knickerbocker was a term for descendants of the original Dutch settlers in Manhattan (to be fair, it was also a popular style of pants that laced at the knees or ankles, leading to theories that a colorful pair might have inspired the dessert). Then there’s the strikingly similar 1915 recipe employed by American soda jerks (employees at soda fountain shops). This predecessor may have paved the way for the (knickerbocker) glory that ensued.
Need to Know
You can find approximations of this dessert under different names all over the world, but unless you're in England, you probably won't encounter one called a knickerbocker glory. Making one at home is easy. Just grab a tall glass and vanilla ice cream, and let your imagination run wild.
Visit England with Atlas Obscura Trips
Folklore and Magic of Southern England
Mythical castles and ancient witchcraft, ecological biomes and fairy-tale forests, sea tractors and flaming tar barrels—all this awaits you on our one-of-a-kind exploration of southern England's historic haunts and eccentric traditions.
Where to Try It
Knickerbockers2 Underhill St, Bridgnorth, WV16 4BB, England
An ice cream shop serving up the cherry-topped knickerbocker glories seen above.