Every nation has its favourite desserts and with our list of tasty sweet creations we are sure you’ll find more than enough to nibble on! From American staples to Middle Eastern favourites and Far Eastern delights, there will be something to suit every palate on our list of delicacies. MrGamez has tried and tested them all.
An American staple, key lime pie was invented in Key West, Florida by botanist Jack Simons in the early 20th century. This sweet dessert contains egg yolks, lime juice and condensed milk, which are all encased in pie crust and traditionally topped with meringue.
Tart in flavour and highly aromatic, Key limes have yellow juice, which creates the distinctive yellow colour of the pie interior. Interestingly, the mixture thickens due to the reaction between the condensed milk and the lime juice, so it doesn’t require baking. However, due to fears over the safety of raw eggs and to thicken the mixture further, modern recipes advise baking it for a short time.
Americans eat a lot of Key lime pie during the Key Lime Festival, held annually since 2013 over the Independence Day weekend (Apart from eating lime pie and lighting fireworks, Independence Day is the best day to play the 4th of July slot game.) This festival celebrates the use of Key limes in food and drink recipes and their importance to Florida culture.
Halva is the name for various sweet and dense cakes eaten in the Middle East and worldwide. These cakes are traditionally Jewish and come in two main varieties: flour-based halva and nut-butter-based halva. The flour-based halva is soft and gelatinous, typically made from semolina with sugar and clarified butter (ghee). The nut-butter-based halva is crumblier in texture and made with sesame paste or another nut butter, combined with sugar.
It is possible to use other ingredients to create halva with more adventurous tastes, such as lentils and vegetables. The name ‘halva’ comes from the Arabic root word for ‘sweet’. The food of halva has spread across the world from the Middle East and is eaten differently in different countries. Most cultures that eat halva serve it as a dessert on its own, though it is often served as part of breakfast in Israel hotels.
India, a cultural seat of rich history which has mesmerised people the world over. A country that has influenced the creation of games, movies, books, fashion and anything in between. Very few people know however that the country is also famous for a certain sweet cake which has tantalised taste buds in far-flung countries.
Saffron-coated gulab jamun is a delicious dessert from south Asia and India made from milk solids. Traditionally made from freshly curdled milk, this tasty delicacy is served in small spheres topped with dried nuts and cream. They usually look brown in colour due to the caramelised sugar content.
To prepare the mixture, the milk is heated over a low flame until water content evaporates, leaving behind the milk solids. Flour is added, and the mixture is kneaded into small balls and deep fried. The resulting fried spheres are coated in sugared syrup and flavoured with cardamom, rose water and saffron.
The ‘jamun’ is a small, spherical Indian fruit, while the name ‘galub’ is derived from the Persian for ‘flower’ and ‘water’, referring to the rose water syrup coating. The sweet is eaten during celebrations and festivals with many types available, each with its own distinctive appearance and flavour.
A South-American confection, alfajores are traditional biscuits containing two cookie halves sandwiched together with dulce de leche, a caramelised milk sauce. Coated in powder sugar, glaced sugar, desiccated coconut or grated chocolate, alfajores come in many varieties and can contain many different fillings other than the traditional dulce de leche.
In Spain, alfajores are prepared with honey, almonds and cinnamon and are a popular Christmas treat. In the Caribbean, they are prepared with ground cassava and often contain ginger and citrus zest. Although known as a predominantly South American dessert, the name ‘alfajor’ comes from the Andalusian variant of the Castilian ‘alaju’ which comes from the Arabic al-fakhur, which has finally become alfajor. The root of the word means ‘honeycomb’.
According to the Protected Geographical Indication, alfajores desserts are supposed to be created in a cylindrical shape and weigh a minimum of 30 grams with specific measurements for length and diameter. The longest alfajor ever created was made to celebrate Uruguay’s first National Alfajor Festival and measured 2 metres in diameter, 80 cm in length and 464kg in weight!
Basbousa is a traditional Middle Eastern sweet cake made with semolina or farina and syrup. Many people also like to add coconut, orange flower water or rose water. The tasty dessert can be found in many different cultures and is known by different names depending on how it is prepared and served. Also called hareesa in Jordan and Alexandria, and ravani in southern Greece, this is a popular sweet for festivals and holidays.
In Israel, the dessert is made with yoghurt and honey and eaten on the Jewish holiday of Shavou, while in Kuwait people add pistachio nuts to the mixture to create a similar dessert called pastūcha. This cake is highly versatile, and people can experiment with additional flavours to bring their own personal twist on the traditional simple babousa.
Named after the eponymous Shakespeare play, the Othellolagkage is a Danish dessert inspired by the tragedy Othello (incidentally, interest in the Elizabethan playwright extends to more than just cakes in the Scandinavian territory). The play’s interest in race is played out with the dark chocolate and light marzipan topping on the cake. ‘Lagkage’ is the Danish word for layer cake and unsurprisingly this dessert is created from two thin layers of sponge with a mashed berries and cream filling. The filling can also contain custard, while summer fruits are used to decorate the top of the cake. The Othellolagkage is a special type of lagkage which always includes marzipan and chocolate cream.
Japan, a country of high roller gamblers, makes the perfect setting for a sweet cake which comes in so many varieties that it’s a bit of a gamble every time you sink your teeth in one. They are traditional confections dating back to the year 700 and their basic ingredients are plant-based. Some are made with bean paste while others with fruits, nuts and cherry blossom leaves. They are then shaped differently, sometimes balled up, made into squares or even shaped into animal forms, such as small rabbits. They may be dusted with starch or drizzled with soy sauce, depending on the type.
The Japanese enjoy their Wagashi all year round and take them with their tea.
In contrast with the Chinese traditional mooncake with its red bean or louts seed paste filling, Taiwanese suncake is made with malt sugar and has a flaky pastry crust made from thin layers of filo dough. Suncakes are often sold in boxes for purchase by visitors as souvenirs. Like mooncakes, suncakes are also round and are eaten accompanied by Chinese tea, while some people like to dissolve them in hot water to create a mixture similar to porridge.
Suncake is so popular that you will often see queues of customers waiting outside the specialist bakeries. The flaky exterior contrasts delightfully with the dense, sticky interior - just be careful when you eat these cakes as their flakiness means that every bite can send pastry layers flying!
We’ve all known a foodie who is not content with just reading up or savouring delicacies from all over the world. They make it their mission to surround themselves with anything that reminds them of their first love in life: food! Be it recipe books stacked on shelves, their favourite online slot displaying scrumptious desserts or attending workshops to meet even more foodies, they will try to get their dose in any way possible. We hope this article has given you a taste from all around the globe – and that you’ll follow up with a flight ticket there!