Cheesecake – United States
Who has never succumbed to this American dessert, a real New York institution? A crunchy piece of graham cracker covered with thick and creamy cream cheese … you could dip your spoon into it without restraint! Cheesecake flavored with lemon, vanilla, covered with red fruit coulis, chocolate or other: there are (almost) as many variations as tastes or desires.
Immigrant populations landing in New York, especially Jews and Italians, would have introduced cheesecake to America at the end of the 19th century. The current recipe was born with the invention of Philadelphia cheese in 1872, one of the creamiest and caloric cheeses. It is this precise ingredient that distinguishes the succulent New York cheesecake from its colleagues!
Don’t leave New York without having tried the cheesecakes at Eileen’s Special Cheesecake (17 Cleveland Place), you won’t know where to turn!
Tiramisu – Italy
The second most famous Italian word in the world after “pizza”, tiramisu is THE star dessert of Italian gastronomy! The traditional recipe is made with mascarpone, eggs, sugar, cold coffee, alcohol (marsala or amaretto), ladyfingers and cocoa powder (not chocolate shavings!).
Taking its name from the patois ” tirami sù ” meaning “pull me up” or “restore my strength”, this dessert was served, in families in Venice and Treviso among others, to restore energy to children and elders. But not only… because, it seems, the women of Veneto gladly gave their men tiramisu … for its supposed aphrodisiac virtues!
The reality, however, is less alluring than the legend. It is more likely that the modern tiramisu was born in 1971 in Treviso in the Le Beccherie restaurant of the Campeol family, an address that is always worth a detour.
Pastéis de nata – Portugal
Pastéis de nata , these crispy tartlets filled with a creamy flan sprinkled with cinnamon or icing sugar, are a monument of Portuguese gastronomy! Just thinking about it makes you want to sink your teeth into it.
It was thanks to the monks and nuns of the Jeronimos Monastery, located in the ancient city of Belém, that pastéis de nata were born in the 19th century. While the egg whites were used for starching the clothes and preparing the hosts, they had the good idea to cook small tartlets with the yolks, which gave the pastéis de Belém . Since then, pastéis have conquered the world, and in particular Asia and China, via the former Portuguese colony of Macao. The local version is called “ egg tart ” and it is, in fact, almost identical to the original.
Today, it is at the Antiga Confeitaria de Belém, near Lisbon, that you can find the best pastéis de Belém , a recipe that is well kept within its walls. To taste one of the 20,000 tarts that come out of the oven every day, you will have to be patient and wait in line.
Crema Catalana – Spain
The crema catalana is a simple dessert, but above all one of the most fragrant, whether with anise, cinnamon, citrus fruits or vanilla. Between the fondant cream (eggs, milk, corn flour) and the crunch of caramelized sugar, it’s hard to resist. Also called crema or crema cremada (crème brûlée), it is on the menu of a large majority of Catalan restaurants.
If it is eaten on its own, it is also used to stuff churros , xuixos , Epiphany tortell and many other pastries to make them softer.
Doesn’t this little cream remind you of a famous French dessert? Creme brulee, of course! For some, the crema catalana would have inspired the recipe for crème brûlée. Note, however, that it is closer to pastry cream, especially in terms of its cooking in a pan, and that the burnt is done with an iron and not a blowtorch.
Sachertorte – Austria
The Sachertorte (or Sacher pie) is THE Viennese dessert that makes all chocolate lovers succumb. Perhaps the craziest of them all was Italian filmmaker Nanni Moretti, who named his production company Sacher Film , his distribution company Sacher Distribuzione and his cinema Nuovo Sacher , as a tribute to this exceptional cake.
Another great man is at the origin of the Sachertorte : the Prince of Metternich, Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, who, in 1832, demanded a dessert for his high-ranking guests. His pastry chef being unfortunately ill, it was Franz Sacher, a young apprentice, who took matters into his own hands and made the Sachertorte : a light chocolate sponge cake crossed by a layer of apricot marmalade, all covered with a dark chocolate.
From 1954 to 1962, the Sachertorte found itself at the heart of a long lawsuit between the Hotel Sacher and the Viennese pastry chef Demel, both claiming authorship and veracity of the recipe. That of Sacher spreads the marmalade between the layers of the cake, while Demel arranges it before the frosting. Big difference, right? In the end, the court agreed with everyone: the Hotel Sacher now uses the label “Original” and Demel “Eduard-Sacher Torte”.
Gazelle horns – Morocco
Ranked among the best cuisines in the world, Moroccan gastronomy is full of delicious recipes. On the sweet side, gazelle horns are a marvel of oriental pastry. They are part of Moroccan heritage, especially the city of Fez where they originate. The traditional recipe is transmitted from mother to daughter in order to perpetuate an ancestral know-how.
These crescent-shaped cupcakes are made with real marzipan surrounded by a dough as thin as paper. Everything is flavored with orange blossom and some families add cinnamon. They are eaten during the mint tea ritual, traditional ceremonies, Eid and all of Ramadan.
In Tetouan, gazelle horns are not smooth, but serrated and drizzled with sugar syrup. In Ouarzazate, they are stuffed with figs or dates and dried fruits.
It is in Algeria that we find the competing version surrounded by icing sugar, the tcharak msekkar .
How about some oriental cooking? Discover our tasty recipe for gazelle horns.
Baklava – Greece, Turkey, etc.
Baklava ( baclawa , or baklawa ) is a dessert that knows no borders. It can be enjoyed in the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Maghreb and the Middle East. Each country has its own baklava ! If the origins are uncertain, this pastry probably appeared under the Ottoman Empire, but the doubt persists.
The superposition of layers of phyllo dough, originally 33 in number to refer to the years of Christ’s life, is the basis of baklava , the composition of which varies depending on the country and region. The dough can be soaked in sugar syrup, orange blossom, but also honey as in Greece, Tunisia or Algeria. As for the stuffing, it is made with dried fruits: hazelnuts, walnuts or pistachios.
The shapes are also different, it can be a single cake, individual square portions or rolled up on themselves. The Algerian baklava is recognizable by its almond stuck in the middle. All you have to do is choose your favourite!
Apple pie – Great Britain
A little kitsch in appearance, this large apple pie is a family dessert reminiscent of those of our grandmothers. Pieces of apples are cooked inside a pastry shell with sugar, fat and spices. In the first versions, raisins, figs and pears were also added. We want to break the crispy dough to discover the melting heart that hides inside!
Contrary to popular belief, the apple pie does not come from America but from England. It would have been born in the 14th century, when the meat pie was very popular across the Channel and declined in all its forms. The meat has given way to apples! The apple pie recipe is said to have arrived in America at the same time as the first settlers in the 17th century.
Nothing better than a nice slice at tea time ! Enjoy it as it should be, accompanied by custard , clotted cream or a scoop of ice cream.
Pouding chômeur – Quebec
If its name does not particularly make you want, nor very often its appearance, it would be a mistake not to be tempted! Pudding chômeur is a traditional Quebec and Acadian dessert that was born during the Great Depression, also called the “crisis of the 1930s”, following the economic crash of 1929.
Families in working-class neighborhoods in Montreal had to make do with a handful of inexpensive products like flour, butter, milk and brown sugar, the original ingredients for the preparation of this caramel-soaked white cake. The eggs, which were too expensive, were incorporated into the recipe later.
Over time, maple syrup has replaced caramel to make pudding more gourmet, some even mix caramel with maple syrup. You will find it on the menu of many restaurants and in sugar shacks. And, as our friends from Quebec would say, it’s a “very dirty” dessert!
Dulce de leche – Argentina
If you’re tired of spread, this dessert is for you! Dulce de leche , very popular throughout Latin America, is an integral part of Argentina’s gastronomic heritage . Above all, do not tell an Argentinian that this reduction of milk and sugar is a caramel at the risk of upsetting him! There, it’s an institution: each inhabitant consumes an average of 3 kg per year and there is even a ” Dia mundial del dulce de leche ” on October 11!
Its origin dates back to 1829. When the Pact of Cañuelas was signed between General Rosas and the enemy General Lavalle, the servant of the latter allegedly left milk and sugar boiling too long for his lechada (an emulsion to accompany mate , traditional Argentine drink). The dulce de leche would therefore be born from a culinary error.
Today, it is eaten at breakfast on sandwiches, panqueques , medialunas … and is also used to garnish certain Argentine pastries including the emblematic alfajores , these small cakes filled and sometimes coated with chocolate.
Quindim – Brazil
This little coconut flan straight from Brazil will not leave you indifferent and will undoubtedly become your children’s favorite dessert! Moreover, in several African languages, quindim can be translated as “enchantment” or “charm”, proof that it is a real delight for the taste buds.
Originally from Portugal, the quindim would have been introduced in the northeast of the country, in the region of Bahia, in the 17th century. If the Portuguese recipe brisas do Lis , invented by the sisters so as not to lose the egg yolks like the pastéis de nata , contains almonds, the Brazilian version is cooked with coconut, a local fruit.
Quindim is simply prepared with coconut milk, sugar, vanilla, grated coconut and egg yolks which give it its bright yellow color. Commonly molded individually, it is also found in a single cake in the form of a crown sometimes topped with fresh fruit, the quindão .
Suspiro a la limeña – Peru
Peru has some original sweets in store for us, such as the traditional dessert suspiro a la limeña , also called suspiro limeño or suspiro de limeña . We are as much seduced by its poetic name, which can be translated as “sigh of Lima”, as by its taste.
This dessert cream is made up of two parts: a layer of manjar blanco (condensed milk, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla essence), the equivalent of dulce de leche from Argentina, and a top layer of meringue, similar to that of a lemon meringue pie, flavored with port and sprinkled with cinnamon. Most of the recipe would have been brought by the Spaniards in the 16th century and inspired by blancmange.
According to legend, the suspiro a la limeña was created in Lima by the wife of the Peruvian poet José Galvez. He would have named it that because he found it as soft and light as a woman’s sigh. An entire program !
Mochi – Japan
Mochi , this small ball of sticky rice with anko (red bean paste), is the subject of a real gourmet cult in Japan! Derived from the famous Chinese coconut pearl, it is said to have appeared in Japanese culture around 2,000 years ago.
It is part of the wagashi family , traditional Japanese pastries, in the same way as yōkan , nerikiri , dorayaki … Mochi can take various forms: dango (skewered mochi), daifuku (the most common form, a ball filled), gyuhi (square shape without envelope), kagami mochi (sacred mochi, three balls on top of each other)…
Make no mistake though, mochi is not necessarily served as a dessert! It is consumed during the tea ceremony ( chanoyu/sadō ) or during Japanese festivals. For the new year, the mochitsuki stages the traditional preparation of mochi in the middle of the street, beaten with pestles in a usu (mortar).
Khao Niaow Mamuang (Mango Sticky Rice) – Thailand
More often known as mango sticky rice , khao niaow mamuang is the favorite dessert of Thai people. You won’t be able to do without it once you’ve tasted it!
Simply made with sticky rice, coconut milk and fresh mango, it’s a must-have Thai street food that you eat at any time of the day. You will find it in most streets with street vendors and on all market stalls.
For the more adventurous, a variant of this dessert is prepared with durian, this large fruit in the shape of a rugby ball covered with thorns, known for its smell of cheese or dirty socks. Its smell is so nauseating that it is banned from public places, hotels and public transport. Notice to amateurs!
Koulfi – India
Nothing better than a good ice cream when it’s hot. Instead of sticking to your classics, discover one of the most exotic ice creams in the world, kulfi . This ice cream is an Indian dessert that is extremely famous throughout the country.
Both spicy and sweet, it is made from milk, condensed milk and cream. Indian spices are infused in it such as cardamon, saffron, vanilla pods… They are removed from the preparation and the desired flavor is added: rose water, mango puree ( am ka kulfi ) or more commonly pistachio ( pista kulfi ). Traditionally, kulfi was served in an earthen pot, but it is now common to find it in small sticks.
For the record, this dessert would have appeared during the invasion of India by the Turco-Mughals in the 16th century. Mughal emperors imported snow and ice from the Himalayas, Karakoram and Hindu Kush to make kulfi .