20 Desserts to Try Around the World Slideshow
Gelato is an Italian favorite sold in specialty shops throughout the country. The Italian sweet differs from traditional ice creams because it has a lower butterfat content and a lighter texture. There is any number of flavors depending on where you go, but places like Grom (one of Florence's best-known gelaterias) always have classics like nocciola, chocolate, stracciatella, and vanilla on hand.
Maple taffy is made by pouring extra-boiled maple syrup onto snow so that it hardens and becomes taffy-like, then working a lollipop stick into it. The whole process is incredibly popular and ingrained in Québécois culture, and even in maple syrup-making parts of New England, where "sugar on snow" parties are thrown.
Gulab jamun comes from the Persian word for rose water and the Hindi word "jamun," which refers to a local fruit similar in size to these sweet, doughy treats. They're made of a milk-based dough that is rolled into a ball and deep-fried before being smothered in sugar syrup, rose water, saffron, and other herbs.
Quindim is a dessert that reflects the culinary influence of Brazil's colonizer, Portugal. Eggs, sugar, and coconut are made into a round custard, almost like a big Brazilian Bundt cake with a texture and appearance similar to flan.
This Portuguese dessert has one major thing in common with Brazilian quindim — the use of egg yolks for both color and flavor. Pastéis de nata are small egg custard tarts, best tasted at Pastéis de Belém in Lisbon, the first place to sell them to the public. They usually come plain, though some places will serve them with powdered sugar or cinnamon on top.
Although baklava is linked to more than a handful of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries (from Greece to Iran), it is widely accepted to be of Turkish origin. There are many variations on the basic theme, but it's traditionally layered phyllo dough that is filled with chopped nuts and honey. Some add rose water, some add specific spices, some use only one type of nut, and still some use butter in each layer.
Beignets are almost like messier looking doughnuts — they’re made from deep-fried dough and are covered in powdered sugar. The most famous are from Café du Monde in New Orleans, where they’re most often served with coffee.
Mango with sticky rice is one of the most-loved desserts throughout Thailand, and really all over Southeast Asia. It's made from glutinous rice that is cooked in coconut milk until its creamy and almost pudding-like, and is then topped with fresh, sliced mangoes (when they're in season).
This classic Vietnamese dessert is a treat in soup form. Since sweet soups are so common in Vietnam, there are plenty of variations — most versions of che dau xanh are made with mung beans, while some are made with small dumplings filled with mung bean paste, but the liquid almost always has a sweet, ginger flavor. They're usually topped with sesame seeds.
Quintessentially British, sticky toffee pudding is made from moist cake that's covered in a toffee sauce that has the texture of caramel, and is sometimes finished with chopped dates. It's usually served with ice cream on the side. Many hold that although the dessert originated in Southern England, the first place to serve it to the public was the Sharrow Bay Country House hotel.
Belgians love waffles, this we know. They come in all forms in Belgium, but these are among the most addictive and popular. This version is originally from Liège, and are small, rich, sweet waffles that get a slightly crunchy outside because of the caramelized sugar they're coated with.
These small, round cookies are found ubiquitously in Peru and Argentina, as well as other Latin American countries, from Mexico to Uruguay. They are similar to buttery sugar cookies found in the U.S., but also include honey, almonds, and spices. These cookies are most often eaten as a sandwich with a dulce de leche cream in the center, and sometimes are even topped with coconut or powdered sugar.
Churros are Spanish doughnuts that, depending where you are in the world, can be eaten for breakfast or dessert. In Madrid, they're eaten for breakfast dipped in chocolate or coffee, while in Mexico they're a sweet, fried dessert. In Argentina, Peru, and some European countries like Portugal, they are often filled with things like Nutella, dulce de leche, and fruits.
Apple strudel is a very traditional Viennese pastry that's made of pastry dough filled with sugar, cinnamon, raisins, and chopped apples. Often served with vanilla ice cream or a vanilla cream sauce, it is said to have been an Austro-Hungarian answer to Turkish baklava.
The base of all arroz con leche, or rice pudding, is basically the same, despite the variations and inclusions of additional ingredients. It starts with milk, cream, sugar, cinnamon, and rice, and most countries break off from there. Peruvians add orange peel, raisins, egg yolks, and coconut; Colombians add rum-soaked raisins, coffee, butter, and vanilla to theirs; and in Trinidad, they've been known to add Angostura bitters.
Basbousa is a sweet, moist semolina-based cake swimming in syrup and often topped with nuts and sometimes rose water. While its origins are foggy, it's widely accepted as an Egyptian dessert.
Salt water taffy hit the Atlantic City boardwalk in the late 1800s, and has been one of the region's most popular sweets ever since. It is a soft taffy that, despite its name, has no salt water in it, but comes in a range of flavors and colors, and is a visitor favorite.
Flickr/rachel a. k.
Named for the ballerina Anna Pavlova, this New Zealand-born dessert is a light and airy meringue that's topped with whipped cream and some type of fresh fruit like kiwi, strawberry, or pomegranate. The story goes that the ballerina visited New Zealand in the 1920s and to honor her visit, a hotel chef created this light, whipped concoction.
Mochi ice cream is hugely popular now stateside, but daifuku mochi is a traditional Japanese treat. It's made with a glutinous rice cake (the mochi) that is filled with sweet paste or cream, like red bean paste, fruit pastes, and even coffee-flavored filling. They're often covered with confectioners' sugar.
Crêpes are among the most famous sweet street foods in the world. These iconic thin pancakes are classically made by street vendors in Paris, where they are topped with (or filled with) sweets like whipped cream, fruit jams, Nutella, melted chocolate, and sliced fresh fruit.