AS Food studio/Shutterstock
AS Food studio/Shutterstock
AS Food studio/Shutterstock
This Latin American treat is a popular dessert in Argentina. It's simply dulce de leche filling sandwiched between two shortbread cookies.
The word alfajor comes from the Arabic word for "honeycomb." The cookies are often served with coffee and traditionally dipped in chocolate, though "snow alfajores" are dipped in powdered sugar and coconut.
Pavlova is a popular dessert in Australia and New Zealand of meringue crust topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit, such as kiwi and strawberries. Pavlova is named for Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, who was known for her lithe and airy style of dancing, thought to be similar to the texture of the dessert.
There is an ongoing controversy over whether pavlova is native to New Zealand or Australia. Despite the Oxford English Dictionary stating in 2010 that the dish comes from New Zealand, pavlova is still enjoyed and its origin debated in both regions.
Created in 1832, when a chef's apprentice named Franz Sacher presented his sweet creation to Prince Metternich, the Sacher torte is a dense, bittersweet chocolate sponge cake with a layer of apricot jam filling.
In 1998, the Hotel Sacher Wien in Austria made a two-and-a-half-meter (eight-and-a-quarter-foot) tall Sacher torte that made it into the Guinness Book of World Records.
Guava duff is a Bahamian dessert consisting of guava fruit folded within layers of dough. Guava is an indigenous fruit found growing throughout the islands. Ingredients include guavas, sugar, vanilla, and butter.
In Belgium, there are two types of waffles: the Brussels waffle and the Liége waffle. The Brussels waffle is what is universally known as the Belgian waffle and is served with chocolate, fruit, or whipped cream. The Liége version is baked from brioche bread dough and is chewier, sweeter, and richer than its counterpart. Popular Liége waffle flavors include plain, vanilla, and cinnamon.
Quindim is a signature Brazilian dessert with a bright yellow color, glistening surface, and custardy consistency similar to that of flan. The recipe for quindim includes ingredients such as coconut, sugar, butter, and egg yolks, which give the dish its distinctive hue.
The origins of the dessert are said to be rooted in Portuguese cuisine, which often incorporates a substantial number of egg yolks in its recipes. In the seventeenth century, quindim was modified by slaves in the Bahia region of Brazil to include coconut, which is readily found locally.
Burmese desserts use local fruits to create cakes and pies, a popular one being banana shwe gye cakes. Shwe gye is Burmese for “semolina,” and this dessert is a semolina cakes that’s made with coconut milk, bananas, sugar, and poppy seeds.
Maple taffy is a sugary Canadian confection traditionally made from maple syrup and snow. Maple syrup is boiled to 234 degrees Fahrenheit and then poured onto fresh snow, where the cold temperature hardens the concoction into an edible treat that consumers often use wooden sticks or dinner forks to eat. The maple taffy is often served with coffee, tea, doughnuts, or even sour dill pickles.
Chilean sopaipillas are crispy, deep-fried pastries often topped with honey or syrup. What makes sopaipillas different from scones is the recipe's use of zapallo squash, an ingredient that gives the dough a yellow color. Sweet sopaipillas are sometimes dipped in cinnamon and black beet sugar, though a salty version of the treat is also popular.
Tangyuan are colorful, glutinous rice balls filled with black sesames, peanuts, and red bean pastes. Tangyuan are often served in a sweet broth of ginger and rock sugar. The chewy treats are served on the Winter Solstice and at other Chinese holidays.
Tres leches is a moist cake (made with evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and cream) that is topped with sugar, vanilla, and whipped cream.
Wienerbrød, known in America as the Danish, is the national pastry of Denmark. Wienerbrøds often have a fruit, cheese, nut, jam, cream, or custard filling. Wienerbrød is actually an Austrian word that means "Viennese bread," as it was a group of Austrian bakers who originally created the pastry in the 1800s.
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Bizcocho criolla is the Dominican Republic’s national cake. An interpretation of pound cake that’s covered in powdered sugar or meringue, bizcocho criolla is airy and moist, and it usually has a fruit filling.
Basbousa is an Egyptian street food, a semi-sweet semolina cake typically topped with spoonfuls of lime curd, whipped cream, and berries.
Hailing from the Lake District in northwest England — to which it was reportedly introduced by a couple of Canadian airmen — sticky toffee pudding is a rich, gooey, spongy cake smothered in sweet toffee sauce. The cake itself is made of dates, butter, sugar, eggs, cinnamon, and sometimes Ovaltine.
Cassava pudding, also known as vakalolo, is a common dessert in Fiji . The pudding is made from freshly grated cassava, ginger, shredded coconut, and toasted cloves, and is often topped with whipped cream.
Kiisseli, a popular dessert in Finland, is a thickened berry stew made with red berry juice, potato starch, sugar, and mixed berries. Popular kiisseli flavors include blueberry, prune, apricot, and strawberry.
Chocolate soufflé is a decadent and time-honored dessert in France. It is in effect a lightly baked cake comprising egg yolks, beaten egg whites, sugar, and a gooey chocolate interior. The dessert has a reputation for being notoriously difficult to execute, as the dish has to be served immediately to prevent the soufflé from dropping and becoming dense.
In France, the soufflé is often infused with Grand Marnier, an orange liqueur that accents the richness of the chocolate with a citrusy flavor.
Apple strudel is a flaky pastry covered in caramelized or powdered sugar and filled with sliced apples, cinnamon, raisins, and roasted breadcrumbs. Apple strudel is served warm, often with whipped cream, vanilla sauce, or vanilla ice cream.
Galaktoboureko is a Greek dessert whose name translates to “milk burek.” Burek is a kind of pastry usually filled with meat or cheese, but a galaktoboureko is a custard-like pie with a phyllo dough pastry shell that is often served in square pieces and smothered in cinnamon, lemon, and sugar syrup.
Mole de platanos are fried plantains covered in melted chocolate sauce and sesame seeds. It is popular in both Guatemala and El Salvador. Even though it’s a dessert, the dish isn’t too sweet.
Vlaai is a traditional Dutch pastry tart topped with fruit and whipped cream. It’s often served on Easter or at weddings and birthdays. Vlaai has a spongy bottom and can come with myriad different toppings; one Dutch national bakery chain offers at least 50.
“Tong but luck” are sweet and chewy glutinous rice balls, usually coated with sesame seeds or nuts, similar to the traditional Chinese dish tangyuan.
Snuour is the Icelandic version of the cinnamon roll, frosted with melted chocolate and other flavored glazes.
Gulab jamun are deep-fried dough balls covered in a sugary syrup flavored with cardamom seeds, rosewater, or saffron. The name of the dish is a combination of the Persian word gulab, which means "rose" and refers to the rosewater-scented syrup used in the dish, and the Hindi word jamun, which is a South Asian fruit sometimes called the Java plum.
The dessert is also enjoyed in Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh. The dish is based on an Arabic dessert called luqmat al-qadi and is often served at weddings and major celebrations like the Indian Diwali festival and Muslim Eid-al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha festivals.
Kolak is a soupy Indonesian dessert made of fruit, sugar, and fresh coconut milk. Fruits typically used in kolak include pumpkin, sweet potato, bananas, jackfruit, and cassava.
Faloodeh is a Persian frozen dessert, dating back to 400 B.C., that is a slushy combination of rosewater, lime juice, sugar, and noodles. Garnishes for faloodeh include pistachios, mint, and sour cherry syrup.
Guinness cake is an Irish dessert that infuses Guinness stout into a pastry concoction of flour, cinnamon, ginger, raisins, lemon, and eggs. This sweet dessert is an Irish culinary tradition, served on Christmas and St. Patrick's Day.
Gelato differs from ice cream in its flavor and texture. The frozen dessert is made with milk as opposed to cream, which gives the dish a lower fat content. It also has less air whipped into it than ice cream, making it denser and often more intense in flavor.
Gelato is an Italian term that means "frozen." The history of the dessert is rooted in sixteenth-century Italy, when, according to many accounts, a Florentine named Bernardo Buontalenti presented his gelato creation to the royal court of Caterina de’ Medici.
Coconut toto is a delicious, easy-to-make Jamaican coconut cake spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla.
The name for this dessert varies from basboosa to namoora to harissa depending on who you speak to, but it is the same sweet treat. Hareeseh is sold as a street food in Jordan and many old Middle Eastern cities. It is basically semolina cake infused with rosewater syrup, and usually topped with toasted almonds or pistachios.
Verwurrelt gedanken is a small, deep-fried pastry made with flour, butter, eggs, milk, and sugar dough that is frosted with icing sugar. The dessert is served most frequently during Fuesent, the carnival season in February.
Pasteis de nata are small, egg tarts. They have a custard-like consistency and are often served with powdered sugar or cinnamon sprinkled on top.
Kueh bangkit are coconut cookies that are a staple at Malaysian holidays, particularly New Year’s celebrations.
These floral-shaped cookies are crumbly on the outside and airy on the inside, and they melt in the mouth. The traditional recipe calls for tapioca flour, pandan, coconut milk, sugar, and eggs yolks.
Dhonkeyo kajuru, a fried banana cake, is a popular dessert in the Maldives. The dish is made using ripe bananas, sugar, flour, dried coconut, and rose water, and then deep-fried into bite-sized balls.
Translated from Arabic, the dessert name kaab el ghazal means "gazelle horns.” A popular Moroccan treat, kaab el ghazal are crescent-shaped cookies made with almond paste, orange flower water, and cinnamon, and topped with powdered sugar.
Hokey-Pokey is a popular ice cream flavor in New Zealand with vanilla flavoring and pieces of honeycomb toffee and chocolate (only plain vanilla is said to be more popular).
Hokey-pokey’s name comes from the nineteenth century, when the term (possibly derived from hocus-pocus) originally meant deception or cheating and came to refer to a kind of cheap ice cream sold by street vendors.
Turrón is a Spanish nougat that is commonly made with honey, toasted almonds, egg whites, and sugar. Turrón can be made as a soft dessert if the almond is turned into a paste, or it can be made into a hard block of nougat. Other nuts such as hazelnuts or pistachios can also be used to create the dessert.
Caakiri, similar to rice pudding, is popular in West African countries. Ingredients include couscous, cream, vanilla yogurt, raisins, butter, nutmeg, and sometimes a pineapple paste. Usually, the dish is served chilled.
Fattigman, also known as "poor man's cookies," are fried cookies made of eggs, sugar, butter, heavy cream, cardamom, sugar, and sometimes a sprinkle of cognac or other brandy. Fattigman are often cut into diamond and bow shapes, and covered with powdered sugar. They have become a Norwegian holiday specialty.
Pesada de nance is a common dessert in Latin American countries, also known as mazamorra. In Panama, the dessert is called pesada, which means “heavy” in Spanish, and nance is a fruit found in Central and South America. The dessert is a thick pudding made with blended and sieved nance fruit, sugar, and cornstarch.
Babka is a Polish dish that resembles a brioche-like cake with a spongy texture. The dessert's flavor is sweet and the cake is usually filled with fruits like raisins. Babka is a Polish word that means "grandmother"; the pastry was given this name because of the dish's cylindrical and corrugated shape, thought to suggest the pleats of an older woman's skirt.
Originating in Transylvania, in Hungarian-speaking Romania, kürtőskalács is a sticky, twisted pastry topped with sugar, cinnamon, walnuts, chocolate, or coconut. The sweet treat is also called a "chimney cake," because of the large amount of steam that rises from the pastry when removed from the oven.
Syrniki is a traditional Russian treat eaten at breakfast and for dessert that is made of golden brown, cottage-cheese-infused dough and topped with fruit. Syrniki are sometimes served with a side of sour cream.
Ladob is a Seychelles staple that can be eaten as a savory or sweet dish. Sweet ladob is made with sweet potatoes, ripe plantains, coconut milk, nutmeg, sugar, and vanilla. In the savory version, the sugar and vanilla are swapped out for salt, and salted fish is added.
This Southeast Asian treat is a sweet coconut milk soup loaded with sweet potatoes, taro, and black-eyed peas. The sweet potatoes are often dyed with yellow, orange, and purple.
Tteok are colorful Korean rice cakes made with glutinous rice flour. Tteok can be boiled, steamed, or pan-fried.
Po’e is a Tahitian fruit pudding comprising bananas, brown sugar, vanilla, and coconut cream. Other fruits that can be used in the dish include kiwi, pineapple, papaya, and mangos.
Popular during Thai New Year's celebrations but eaten year-round, Thai mango sticky rice is a combination of sweet sticky rice, fresh mango slices, and coconut sauce. Sometimes the notoriously pungent durian is used in place of mango.
Baklava was inspired by an ancient Assyrian dish of dried fruit and pastry and is often served with Turkish coffee. Popular flavors of baklava include pistachio, walnut, almond, rosewater, lemon, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Zhele is a gelatinous dessert similar to Jell-O, composed of fruit juice and sugar. Fruits used in zhele include cherries and pears, though jellied chocolate and milk are sometimes added as well.
Apple pie consists of a pastry pie crust and an apple filling often seasoned with nutmeg or cinnamon. The pie takes about an hour in the oven to bake.
Interestingly, apple-pie-making does not originate in the United States; rather it was a concept brought over by the Pilgrims from England, where the pies were made with unsweetened apples covered by an inedible shell. Eventually, the recipe developed into the well-known dessert that is enjoyed today.
Brazo de gitano is the Venezuelan version of a Swiss roll (a sponge cake filled with cream), but other variations are filled with strawberry and blackberry jam, coffee cream, or chocolate. Brazo de gitano is often covered with icing, chocolate, meringue, cream, or burnt crema catalana, a custardy topping similar to what comprises crème brûlée.