25 Best Desserts From Around the World
Try these desserts from around the world to expand your palate!
Unless you’re already a serious foodie, the thought of trying food from far away may seem a little scary to you, or perhaps you’re just overwhelmed and don’t know where to start.
These desserts from around the world are a great place to start experimenting.
When you go outside your comfort zone and try savory dishes from other countries, you’re never sure what you might get.
That strange-looking dish on your plate could be chicken or beef, or it could be maggot cheese or live octopus.
However, when it comes to desserts, you’re pretty safe.
You might not know precisely what you’re eating when you try desserts from around the world, but it’s always fun to try something different.
So, if you’re feeling adventurous, start with these 25 desserts from various countries across the globe.
1. Creme Brulee
People often think of French food as the finest in fine dining, which is great, but sometimes, I believe the erroneous assumption that it’s too hard to make scares people off from trying.
Creme brulee is unbelievably simple to make despite people’s misconceptions and requires only five core ingredients and a kitchen torch for the caramelized top.
Plus, with this recipe, you’ll make small, individual creme brulees instead of one big large one so that everyone gets to crack their own.
If you prefer your sweets from Italy, check out this tiramisu recipe instead.
It’s a chilled, decadent, multilayered dessert with cocoa powder, ladyfingers, heavy cream, mascarpone cheese, espresso, coffee liqueur, and more.
It has a slight sweetness, but the bitterness from the cocoa and coffee tones it down to something that’ll leave you feeling satisfied but not like you ate a bag of sugar.
3. Ghirardelli Chocolate Chip Cookies
For something a little closer to home, these Ghirardelli chocolate chip cookies are a real hit.
They have crisp edges, soft, fluffy centers, and plenty of gooey chocolate chip yumminess.
You can make three dozen in less than 30 minutes, so they’re perfect for parties or other large gatherings.
4. Apple Strudel
Austria’s famous apple strudel, or apfelstrudel, is a warm, comforting, and wonderfully fragrant dessert that combines golden raisins, rum, apples, cinnamon, sugar, and other goodies.
If you want something rich and festive for the holiday season, apple strudel is the perfect choice.
Plenty of countries are famous for their baklava, but the best recipes come straight from Turkey, and this eight-ingredient baklava is one of the best.
It has a deliciously sweet, tart, and nutty flavor and seemingly endless layers of crunchy phyllo dough.
It combines walnuts, cinnamon, sugar, lemon juice, and honey for its complex taste.
Whether or not you add the optional chocolate chips and extra walnuts, everyone is sure to come back for seconds.
Is there anything better than a cannoli with a hot cup of coffee?
That super crispy shell surrounding a rich layer of chocolate and ricotta goodness is hard to beat.
They take some time and effort (about 40 minutes of prep work) to get right, but all you need as proof that it was time well spent is one single bite.
You may have tried flan at your favorite Mexican restaurant, but this recipe gives you the chance to make your own.
It features a delectable caramel topping and a wiggly and jiggly custard base that’s surprisingly sweet and tasty.
It has an odd texture, which turns some people off.
But give it a try, anyway. The warm caramel flavor is sure to send any complaints you have about the texture right out the window.
8. Gulab Jamun
If you’ve never tried an Indian dessert , gulab jamun is an excellent place to start.
They’re like lightly sweetened donut holes floating in a fragrant, tasty sugary syrup.
The dessert has a magical floral scent that’ll tantalize your nose as much as your tastebuds, and it’s astonishingly easy to make.
You can make over a dozen in just half an hour!
Now, let’s turn our sights to Africa. Kashata are sugary, coconut peanuts held together in a sweet, solid block that’s a bit like hardened fudge.
You’ll make them with plenty of sugar and spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom), and they’re so sweet and light that they’ll almost melt on your tongue.
The peanuts themselves, though, add a surprisingly satisfying crunch once you get past all the sweetness holding the treats together.
10. Caribbean Spiced Rum Cake
This tasty, tropical treat comes straight from the Caribbean, and it’s packed with coconut and pineapple flavors to prove it.
It’s also dense and buttery, and you’ll top it off with a sticky, super indulgent rum glaze that’s good enough to make you want to lick your fingers in public.
And if all that wasn’t enough, you’ll also get a mega-dose of “sugar, spice, and everything nice,” not to mention plenty of nuttiness, as well.
It’s just an overall excellent cake.
11. Philadelphia 3-Step Cheesecake
This sweet and tangy cheesecake is a study in simplicity.
It uses only five ingredients – cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, eggs, and graham cracker crust – and takes 10 minutes of preparation.
You’ll mix all the ingredients (save the crust), pour them into the crust, and bake it for about 40 minutes.
Then, simply let it cool and stick it in the fridge for 3 hours to chill.
Named after a Russian ballerina, the Pavlova actually originated in New Zealand (or maybe Australia; people can’t agree on which).
What they can agree on is that it’s gorgeous and tastes fantastic.
It’s a sweet and creamy treat with a gooey marshmallow center and colorful berries and mint leaves on top.
If enjoying this romantic dessert doesn’t put your sweetheart in an amorous mood, then no food ever will.
I’m sorry, but frozen churros will never match the level of deliciousness of their homemade cousins.
These are crunchy, sweet, cinnamony, and perfect in every way.
Dip them in chocolate dipping sauce or enjoy them as they are. Either way, you’ll never want a frozen churro again.
14. Sesame Balls
China isn’t known for overly sweet desserts, and these crispy, sesame-coated, deep-fried balls of yumminess are no exception.
They’re incredible, but they aren’t going to send you on a sugar high anytime soon.
They’re lightly sweet with an interesting texture and a red bean paste filling that’s a bit like sweet potatoes.
15. Sticky Toffee Pudding
This spongy pudding cake tastes like toffee-filled toffee covered in toffee.
I’m joking, of course, but the toffee flavor is exceptionally strong in this rich, sticky cake.
If you want to lighten the flavor a bit, try topping it with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
If you want an even deeper, bolder flavor, add a dash of chocolate sauce instead.
16. Tres Leches Cake
The tres leches (“three milk”) cake is nearly the polar opposite of the sticky toffee pudding. It’s light, fluffy, and feels like biting into clouds.
It’s also delightfully moist, and you won’t need any additional toppings to make it sweeter and more appetizing, though topping it with pretty berries adds a bit of color and tartness that’s quite enjoyable.
17. Linzer Torte
First and foremost, this Vietnamese pastry is stunning. Everything from the stars to the latticed top is a genuine pleasure to behold.
The taste and texture aren’t displeasing, either.
Linzer torte is a bit of a crumbly and gooey mess, and I mean that in the best possible way. It’s fantastic!
It also has a warm, nutty flavor interspersed with bright notes of raspberry jam.
Whether you’re looking for a holiday treat, a beautiful birthday confection, or just a pretty dessert for Sunday dinner, the Linzer torte has you covered.
18. Black Forest Cake
I’ve tried dozens of recipes for black forest cake over the years, and they all have one thing in common: They’re absolutely divine, and I’ll eat them until I make myself sick.
I love black forest cake; everything about it is sheer perfection, from the rich chocolate cake to the sweet and tangy cherry syrup and even the creamy, sugary icing.
There’s not a single bit of this cake that isn’t delicious.
Plus, once you add the dollops of decorative frosting, maraschino cherries, and chocolate shavings, it’s strikingly beautiful, too.
19. Oslo Kringle
This Norwegian delight has a fantastically flaky, crispy crust and plenty of nutty yumminess in every bite.
The sweet and zesty lemon glaze only adds to its deliciousness.
But even without it, this crunchy pastry is addictive.
These miniature Polish cookies are just too cute!
They take a little time to shape and get right, but they only use five simple ingredients: cream cheese, butter, flour, salt, and whatever jams you like best for the filling.
The particular filling you use will largely determine the flavor, but you can dust each one with a generous coating of powdered sugar to add even more sweetness.
You don’t need to be able to pronounce the name of this spectacular dessert to enjoy it (thank goodness).
It’s one of my favorite Greek desserts, and after one bite, it’ll be one of yours, too.
It has flaky phyllo dough, a smooth and creamy custard filling, and a warm, sticky syrup topping made from sugar, water, honey, cinnamon, and lemon zest.
The lemon gives it just a little zing but doesn’t add enough flavor to make it tart.
Instead, you’ll get a rich, decadent honey sweetness with undertones of cinnamon and sugar.
Sometimes, Turkish desserts look really strange, and that makes people hesitant to try them. This one is the perfect example.
It looks… Well, it’s honestly hard to explain.
I guess you could say it looks a bit like shredded hash brown sticks covered in nuts and held together by stringy cheese.
I know; it doesn’t sound very appetizing, right? Just give it a try, though. You’ll be shocked at how tasty it actually is.
23. Chinese Mango Pudding
Mango pudding is gorgeous, has a flan/custard-like consistency, and requires only four ingredients to make – pureed mango, water, evaporated coconut milk, and agar-agar.
It takes very little time to make but needs at least 2 hours to chill before serving. It tastes, unsurprisingly, like sweetened mango.
24. Nanaimo Bars
God bless the Canadians for coming up with a dessert that’s so unbelievably indulgent and decadent but requires zero cooking.
If you love chocolate, coconut, graham crackers, vanilla pudding, almonds, and all kinds of other yummy stuff, then these bars will be a very fast favorite of yours.
25. Irish Spice Cake
Irish spice cake is a dense, honeyed spice cake with perfectly crispy edges and a soft, crumbly center.
It’s buttery and sweet, but there’s also a bit of tang from the raisins.
There’s even a hint of deeper, warmer spice from the half teaspoon of ground ginger. It smells as good as it tastes, and it tastes phenomenal.
Pair it with a hot cup of coffee or tea, and you’ll have a delicious breakfast (or dessert).
25 Best Sweet Treats From Around the World
These desserts from around the world are worthy of celebration! From creme brulee to baklava to black forest cake, treat your tastebuds to some tasty treats you don’t have every day.
Ghirardelli Chocolate Chip Cookies
Caribbean Spiced Rum Cake
Philadelphia 3-Step Cheesecake
Sticky Toffee Pudding
Tres Leches Cake
Black Forest Cake
Chinese Mango Pudding
Irish Spice Cake
- Select your favorite recipe.
- Organize all the required ingredients.
- Prep an ethnic treat in 30 minutes or less!
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Around The World In 30 National Desserts
We all can appreciate the "something sweet" after a dense main course, but the actual history of dessert is somewhat complex. According to JSTOR Daily , the French were the first recorded population to serve entremets — savory or sweet courses between main meal components. The word "dessert" itself is derived from "desservir," a French word which means "to clear the table." The first desserts were likely mild in sweetness compared to what we think of as "dessert" in the present; it wasn't until ingredients like sugar became widely available in the 18th and 19th centuries that hyper-sweet desserts took off.
A national dessert can say just as much about a country and its culture as much as a national dish can. And since every country has a different way to end a savory course or to celebrate a special occasion, you'll see a ton of diversity in dishes across the globe. Here are some of the most traditional national desserts from around the world.
Crème brûlée (France)
Crème brûlée is closely tied to French cooking, although other countries have tried to assert ownership over the custard. Classic crème brûlée is made by simmering heavy cream, egg yolks, vanilla, and sugar. Then, the mixture is baked in an oven until the custard solidifies. But, crème brûlée wouldn't be crème brûlée without a layer of cane sugar on the top of the custard and torching it to develop a dark color and texture that can be easily shattered with a spoon.
Medvoik is a beloved honey cake that can often go by names like "red cake," "little bee" and "honey fluff" (via the Moscow Times ). In the home, the recipe for the honey cake, which is layered with homemade dulce de leche, is passed down from parent to child. The Moscow Times notes, however, that medvoik is not endemic to Russia originally but became popular during the Soviet era; the recipe first hit Soviet cookbooks in the 1960s.
Mochi is more than just the plush ice cream treats sold in the Trader Joe's freezer section. Mochi is made by pounding glutenous rice into a fine powder into a soft paste. The paste is then wrapped around fillings like fresh strawberries, sliced bananas, mandarins, sweet custard, or red bean paste to make dessert mochi . The mochi is then served with green, herbal, or fruit tea. StudyBreaks notes that mochi is an important part of the Japanese New Year celebration, as well as a religious offering for individuals practicing the Shinto religion.
Flan is a popular dessert in Spain, as well as the countries that the Spanish have colonized or invaded across history. Spanish-style flan, otherwise known as caramel flan, has a creamy and custard base with a layer of sweet and bitter caramel on top. This type of flan is gelatinous, so it holds its shape after being removed from the mold and eaten with a spoon. In Spain, flan is often eaten on Christmas Eve (Noche Buena) or to commemorate special occasions.
Daan tat (China)
There might not be a more recognizable Chinese dessert than an egg tart, otherwise known as daan tat . These palm-sized desserts may look like the Portuguese egg tart, but they do not share any of the same lineages. However, the daan tat was inspired by British tarts frequently found in the southern Chinese port city of Guangzhou. Since custard was uncommon in the Chinese culinary experience, the Chinese bakers used egg, sugar, and milk. The shortcrust pastry crust was also modified to include widely available pork lard instead of butter. This gives the Cantonese-style tart a more flakey crust than other global variations of the dish.
Apple pie (United States)
As the phrase goes, "there's nothing more American than apple pie." And whether you enjoy eating your apple pie al a mode (with a scoop of ice cream) or with a crumb topping, you can take a bite knowing you're eating centuries of history in a dessert. According to The Culture Trip , American apple pie was first mentioned in written form in 1697's "America in So Many Words: Words that have Shaped America." And although the apple pie was popularized as a symbol of patriotism during the 1940s, the original recipe was ironically more the product of British, Swedish, and Dutch culinary influence.
Banoffee pie (United Kingdom)
While Britain may not have a "national dessert" per se, it does claim banoffee pie as one of its national favorites. According to Buddy Mantra , the word "banoffee" is a blend of "banana" and "toffee" — two of the dessert's main ingredients. Banoffee pie must contain a few ingredients to be considered banoffee pie, including a buttery base, sliced banana, whipped cream, a caramel or toffee layer, and occasionally ingredients like coffee or chocolate.
Black Forest cake (Germany)
Though it's commonly thought to be named after the eponymous region in Germany, the Black Forest cake actually gets its name from the Schwarzwalder kirschwasser traditionally used to soak the cake sponge with. Per regulations by the European Union, if a Black Forest cake does not contain this sour cherry brandy (which is otherwise shortened to "cherry kirsh"), it cannot be considered a proper Black Forest cake. Germans commonly enjoy their Black Forest cake with layers of cream and buttercream, along with the traditional decadent chocolate cake and sweet cherries.
Om ali (Egypt)
Om ali (or umm ali) is the national dish of Egypt. It resembles bread pudding but has a flakier texture because of the addition of puff pastry crust rather than conventional bread. The custard for the pudding is made with coconut, sugar, condensed milk, raisins pistachios, and almond flakes (via Times of India ). The bread pudding is also flavored with aromatics like rosewater and orange blossom. Some recipes will garnish the om ali with crème fraîche as well (via Amuse ). Om ali has remained one of the most popular dishes in Egypt eaten hot or cold.
Baklava is a popular dessert dish across the Mediterranean and the Middle East. According to Great British Chefs , Baklava's origins trace back to the Ottoman Empire — which included present-day Turkey. Turkey is one of the most prominent consumers of this phyllo pastry dessert, which can be made with layers of chopped walnuts or pistachios, sugar syrup, and occasionally a semolina cream called kaymak (via Safir Bakery ). Baklava can come in numerous shapes and sizes including triangular carrot slices or pistachio wraps rolled into cigar-sized rolls.
The Delanuay notes that apfelstrudel's prominence in the country's cafes, hearts, and stomachs makes it one of the national dishes of Austria. To make a traditional Viennese apfelstrudel, complete with the pastry's swirled pattern, a layer of filling must be spread between thin layers of unleavened dough. The word "strudel" is derived from the German word for "whirlpool." The most common type of filling for the strudel is apple, but there are other sweet and savory fillings that can also be found in Austrian cafes. Apfelstrudel is often served with coffee, tea, or occasionally champagne for special occasions.
According to The Better India , the beloved jalebi sweet's origin was not in India, but in neighboring Persia. The jalebi is a descendant of zulbiya, a Persian dish made with an asymmetrical curl along with a garnish of honey and rosewater. Jalebi, in comparison, comes in circular shapes and is covered with a syrupy sugar coating. The base flour of this fried treat is a blend of wheat flour and gram (chickpea) flour spiced with cardamom and saffron. The dough also has a slight tang from the use of yogurt and baking soda. Once the batter is fermented, it is fried in hot oil and tossed in the syrup.
Brevas con arequipe (Colombia)
Brevas con arequipe is a traditional dessert served in Colombia. Lulo Colombia notes that these figs stuffed with dulce de leche, a caramel spread, are common in the Andes region of the country. You may also find dulce de brevas (or "higos"), which are figs covered in sweet sugar syrup made with panela — unrefined cane sugar. While there are other variations of this fig dessert in Latin America, Colombian dulce de brevas is unique in that it is served with a side of white cheese like queso fresco. It's a little sweet, a little savory, and all the more decadent.
Brussels waffle (Belgium)
Not all waffles are created equal, especially where the Brussels waffle is concerned. Brussels waffles are one of the most popular treats in Belgium. As a descendant of the Belgian waffle, the Brussels waffle is also made from a yeasted batter cooked on a hot iron. But the Brussels waffle is usually square compared to the circular Belgian waffle. The Brussels waffle also features deep pockets for syrup, chocolate sauce, or powdered sugar.
Mango sticky rice (Thailand)
Thailand's national dessert is unequivocally mango sticky rice. Thai sticky rice is often eaten after a meal in Thailand and resembles the same consistency as rice pudding. To make Thai mango sticky rice , short-grain rice is cooked with coconut milk, sugar, cinnamon, and salt until it becomes soft and sticky. Then, the rice is topped with fresh mango and occasionally herbs like mint. Some traditional preparations of Thai sticky rice also add a garnish of crispy mung beans (via Lifestyle Asia ).
Nanaimo bars (Canada)
Have you ever heard of Canadian Nanaimo bars? It is believed that these treats were created in and named after the British Columbian city of Nanaimo. The first recipe appeared in a 1952 cookbook, according to British Columbia Magazine , and has since remained one of Canada's most beloved desserts. The Nanaimo bar is made with a base of graham crackers and coconut, custard, and a layer of chocolate on top. While there may be some variations on the exact proportions of the layers, many home bakers stick to a thick layer of custard sandwiched between the two other layers. You can find these bars in cafes, restaurants, and homes across the country.
Swedish kladdkaka is like a cross between a brownie and a molten chocolate cake. According to The Chopping Block , Kladdkaka is fudgy because it is made with a lot of melted butter. However, the cake itself is quite thin and must be slightly underbaked to maintain the plush, fudge texture it is known for. Kladdkaka is exclusively found in Sweden — except for furniture giant IKEA, which sells the cake in most of its cafes around the globe.
Semolina is a common ingredient in many dishes in the Middle East, so it's no surprise that Jordan's most famous dessert also contains semolina. Basbousa is a semolina cake made with coconut and yogurt, all soaked in sweet sugar syrup. The cake is often known to Jordanians as hareesh, and it can be baked in several small cakes or one large one. Some recipes soak the cake in orange blossom or rose water to develop unique aromas (via Tourist Jordan ). The Foodellers note that babousa is often sold by street vendors and is often eaten with bare hands rather than a fork.
Pavlova (Australia and New Zealand)
Pavlova is the national dessert of both Australia and New Zealand. Both countries have staked claim over the origination of the dessert. The Australians claim the first pavlova recipe was made in a Perth hotel, while the New Zealanders claim a similar story happened in their country (via the BBC ). In reality, neither of these countries may have been the first people to make a pavlova; other countries like Syria and Austria have similar forms of the dish.
This quintessential pavlova contains several components including whipped egg whites and sugar. The dessert is typically garnished with fresh fruit and may include a layer of fruit curd too. Pavlovas are frequently eaten during the summer or for special occasions.
Diblah (occasionally spelled deblah) is an airy fried dough made by twizzling thin strips of dough in a pan of oil until crispy. Once the dough is fried, it is dried and tossed in a mixture of honey and aromatics like orange blossom water and sprinkled with sesame seeds. You can find these fried desserts all year round in Libya and neighboring Tunisia, and they're served during Ramadan. "Deblah" means "engagement ring," but the dessert has a stronger resemblance to a flower.
Malva pudding (South Africa)
Malva pudding is an apricot-flavored cake made with egg yolks, butter, and apricot jam or preserves (via Delighted Cooking ). The cake is often topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and is popular in the capital city of Cape Town.
Malva pudding was the direct result of colonization by the Dutch during the 1600s. Families resettling in the colonies brought their baking knowledge with them and were able to prepare jam from the abundant apricots in the region. While malva pudding is not popular in the Netherlands in the present day, South Africans have taken on this dessert as one of their own.
Gata is a common dessert found in Armenia. According to SBS , gata contains many regional variations depending on the part of the country its made in. But, you'll generally see the same plush, buttery pastry filled with a mixture of ghee, sugar, and Armenian rum or cognac.
Gata is a celebratory dessert often made for weddings. Per SBS, gata is typically given as a sweet gift and broken over the head of the couple for good luck. The bread can also be brought as good tidings for travel, or as celebratory food during the Christmas holiday.
Mole de plátanos (Guatemala)
Mole de plátanos are essentially Guatemalan plantains covered in mole sauce. The plantains are first sliced and fried in oil, then covered in a chocolate-based mole sauce. According to Lokal Travel , the dish was proclaimed part of the "Intangible Cultural Heritage of Guatemala" by the Guatemalan Ministry of Culture in 2007.
Mole typically focuses on savory ingredients, but Guatemala is the only country that prepares a sweet mole, otherwise known as mole en dulce. This sweet mole is thickened with sweet bread, panela, and handmade chocolate along with the traditional mole ingredients like chili, cinnamon, and sesame.
All chocolate lovers should try Brazilian brigadeiro. This dessert is a chocolate truffle made with condensed milk, chocolate, and butter. Brigadeiro was the product of a 1945 political campaign for Brigadeiro Eduardo Gomes (brigadeiro being Gomes' military rank). To help increase public support for Gomes, his party decided to design a dessert that would establish a connection between sweetness and the candidate (via SweetStone ). The dessert became increasingly popular across Brazil, as well as other South American countries.
Ais kacang (Malaysia)
Ais kacang (otherwise known as "ais batu campur" in Malay) is a shaved ice dessert. Although other countries in Southeast Asia have their variations of shaved ice, ais kacang is unique because it features several different components including red beans, sweet corn, cendol, and grass jelly. To make the dessert, shaved ice is ground over the other ingredients. Then, the dessert is topped with sweet evaporated milk and drizzled with rose syrup or occasionally ice cream (via Halaman Sihat ).
Luqaimat (Saudi Arabia)
Luqaimat is a Saudi Arabian dish that translates to "small bites" in Arabic. These small balls are made from fried dough sweetened with date syrup. You are most likely to find lunqaimat in Dubai during Ramadan, but some restaurants have added dessert to their menu year-round (via the Tenement Museum ). According to the National News , luqaimat is unlike other types of dough because it is leavened with yogurt instead of butter or shortening. Luqaimat is often served with a sesame seed garnish or cardamom-and-saffron-infused syrup.
Italy's national dessert is often seen as a toss-up between tiramisu and gelato — and since Italy has such a large variation in culinary (and by proxy) dessert identity across the country, it's hard to pick one dessert. The classic tiramisu has grown outside of Italy's borders to be international in scope — and contains many of the same ingredients. This dessert is made with layers of ladyfinger biscuits dipped in coffee, layered with a thick mascarpone whipped cream.
Cuban rice pudding (Cuba)
According to Reference , arroz con leche was the product of the Spanish colonization during the 15th century. In addition to the standard combination of rice, sugar, and milk, the original recipe for arroz con leche included egg yolks, lemon rind, and cinnamon. While other variations of rice pudding exist in Mexico and Latin America, Cuban rice pudding is distinct because it uses sweetened condensed milk, and occasionally evaporated milk, for a sweeter flavor and thicker texture.
Polish sernik is a baked cheesecake. This cheesecake is not what you'd think of when you think of the word "cheesecake" because it's made with twaróg — curd cheese blended with eggs and sugar. The two main variations on sernik include the Viennese style, which is occasionally topped with chocolate and features raisins or sultanas with orange peel, and the Kraków, which is covered in a lattice pastry and prepared in a square pan.
Pastéis de nata (Portugal)
Pastéis de nata, otherwise known as Portuguese egg tarts , have a crispy, pastry exterior and creamy, thin custard interior. The top of these pastries is also scorched to add a bit of color and crunch. Pastéis de nata are baked in small tart tins to develop a crispy exterior that is both portable and flaky. According to Pearl River Mart , the Portuguese egg tart was first made by monks in the 13th century.
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25 Best Desserts in the World
By Kieran Meeke
Last updated: November 8th, 2023
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Choosing the best desserts in the world is almost an impossible task. Not that it’s a job anyone would have trouble tackling.
From apple pie or peach melba, to mango rice or alfajores, there are plenty of contenders.
For every dish that makes the cut, another choice has to be left out. A classic such as sticky toffee pudding may seem an obvious choice, but that means no room for spotted dick, or Bananas Foster.
Here’s a list of the 25 best desserts in the world to discuss, seek out on your travels, or simply dream about.
Mango Sticky Rice, Thailand
Mango sticky rice
Mango, sticky rice in coconut milk, the whole wrapped in a palm leaf; this popular food in Thailand could even be a healthy dessert. Well, that’s only if you ignore the amount of palm sugar added.
Suffice to say that the amount of sugar is subjective and mango can come in sweet or sour flavors, adding wonderful variety to this simple dish from Thailand .
Tres Leches Cake, Mexico & Central America
Tres leches cake
The “three milks” of this dessert are sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and cream. A light egg sponge cake is soaked in all three, chilled, then given a thick cream and fruit topping.
Simple to make, tres leches is found throughout Latin America and the Caribbean —places where fresh milk was once hard to find. Its popularity may be because Nestlé put the recipe on condensed milk cans throughout the region in the 1940s.
Many of Croatia’s dishes have migrated across the border from Austria, this sweet strudel being the country’s answer to Austria’s famous apfelstrudel.
You probably don’t need to know how much butter is added to make the super-thin pastry that is the mark of a good strudel. Wrapped around the filling of cheese and apple (or sometimes apricots or sour cherry, both grown in Croatia ), it’s served warm with lots of rich cream, or cold with a scoop of ice cream.
It’s hard to pin down the exact origins of this very sweet dessert. Certainly, its etymology suggests Egyptian roots, and you can enjoy it at its best in Cairo or Alexandria .
Knafeh is made of finely spun pastry threads, layered with sweet cream, or salty cheese, and topped with nuts. The whole is then soaked in a sugar syrup called attar, flavored with rose water or orange blossom.
Read: The Ultimate Egyptian Food Guide
Tarte au Citron, France
Tarte au citron
Lemon cream, the sour lemon balanced by some sugar, in a crumbly pastry makes for the perfect contrasts of taste and texture. Tarte au citron is a simple dish, but a real test of the chef’s skills to make well.
The lemon cream filling is an egg custard, flavored with lemon and more sugar than you really want to know. Let’s just say that a generous dollop of cream can’t do any more harm.
Oliebollen are a very more-ish donut ball, the size of a billiard ball. Dusted with sugar, they are filled with raisins, and sometimes nuts, and preferably served hot.
They are traditionally a New Year’s Eve treat in The Netherlands , but can now be found outside the holiday season—often served as a street snack from food stalls. Variations around the world range from Iceland’s astarpungar to Italy’s frittoli.
Pasteis De Nata, Portugal
Pasteis de nata
First made by nuns from the yolks left after the whites were used to starch vestments and altar cloths, these egg tarts have conquered the world. From Lord Stow’s in Macao to the Chinese “dan tats”, Portuguese traders left the recipe wherever they went.
Pastéis de Belém Photo by Heather Cowper on Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC BY 2.0
The best remain those on sale in their hometown of Belem, outside Lisbon . There, called pastéis de Belém, they come with an optional sprinkling of cinnamon. Locals eat pasteis de nata in the morning, with their coffee, but the little tarts are so delicious you can enjoy them at any time of day.
Read: What to Eat in Lisbon
Sticky Toffee Pudding, Britain
Sticky toffee pudding
Wet British winters are the perfect excuse to indulge in the comfort of warm desserts such as an “STP”. A soft sponge, full of chopped dates, is covered in rich caramel sauce and served with hot egg custard.
The toffee sauce traditionally derives its flavor from treacle, the thick dark molasses that are a by-product of sugar making. Nowadays, it’s more common to use brown sugar with a double cream base.
Tarte Tatin, France
This apple pie derives all its pleasures from being made upside down. A puff pastry topping seals in the flavor of the apples, caramelized in extra sugar, while being crisped by the heat of the oven.
Once flipped to serve, the sweet apples are balanced with crème fraîche, with the firm pastry becoming a tasty base for both. It was created in the 1880s by two Tatin sisters at the Hôtel Tatin outside Paris .
A crisp, fried pastry roll filled with soft cheese, this classic Italian dessert has Arab roots. You’ll still find variants throughout the Middle East, with added nuts or chopped, candied citrus fruit.
The filling is usually ricotta, made from sheep’s milk. It was once an Easter treat but is now popular year-round.
There’s a lot of art in making the thin and fragile pastry. A “secret” ingredient used by many cooks is a splash of white wine. If you’re buying cannoli, a shop that takes its pastries seriously will fill them on the spot, rather than offering you the already finished product.
Read: An Insider’s Look at Italian Food Culture
Crème Brûlée, France
Crème brûlée is a deceptively simple dessert that’s hard to perfect. The right balance of custard topped with the proper thickness of burnt sugar is key.
The custard has to be soft, but firm enough to cling to the spoon. The topping has to be bitter and crisp, with a marked yet harmonious contrast to the base.
Should the custard be made in a pot or oven, and must the top be seared? Only more taste tests can tell.
Rum Cake, Caribbean
Rum cake probably arrived in the Caribbean with the English Royal Navy, where ship’s biscuits were dipped in dark rum to soften them. Today’s version is far removed from those basic origins, but remains at heart a dense sponge cake soaked in Caribbean rum .
Tortuga Caribbean Rum Cake
One of the most popular commercial brands is Tortuga Caribbean Rum Cake, originally made in the Cayman Islands. Launched in 1987, it’s now exported all over the world.
Read: The Ultimate Guide to Caribbean Cuisine
This classic English dessert is made from layers of sponge cake, soft fruit, Jell-O (optional), and egg custard. It’s common to soak the sponge in sherry for an adult version, and a thick topping of whipped cream is a given.
The whole looks great in a bowl but dissolves into a lovely mix of colors and textures when served. That’s particularly appealing to children, and perhaps the child in everyone.
Another layered dessert, Baklava is made from filo pastry, chopped nuts, and lots of sugar syrup or honey. It’s a staple of pastry shops in this sweet-toothed country, as well as throughout the Mediterranean and Arab worlds.
The most common nuts are walnut or pistachio, but every country has its own subtle variations. In Greece, for example, baklava is traditionally made with 33 layers, one for every year Christ lived on earth.
Pavlova, Australia & New Zealand
Australia and New Zealand argue over which country invented the delicious pavlova. The English point out that it’s just a large Eton mess, and Austrians that it’s a simplified Spanische windtorte.
What they can all agree on is that the ingredients are a baked meringue, topped with piles of whipped cream and fruit. It’s also agreed it was named for Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, who toured Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s.
Gulab Jamun, India
This popular dessert has followed the South Asia community around the world, and you’ll find it from the Maldives to Malaysia. Most commonly associated with India , its name points to Persian (Iranian) origins.
It’s a deep-fried donut, with a dough made from flour and khoya, made by simmering milk for hours. Even more flavor comes from slow cooking in ghee (clarified butter), with a soaking in flavored sugar syrup.
Sponge fingers, soaked in strong coffee, topped with mascarpone cheese and sprinkled with cocoa are the base of this popular Italian dessert. Italy , like France or Britain, could supply a list of 25 best desserts on its own, and this is yet another worldwide favorite.
One surprising thing the official Tiramisu World Cup agrees on is that there should be no alcohol, despite the fact that many establishments use coffee liqueur in their tiramisu. The name tiramisu means “pick me up”, a reference to the caffeine in the coffee and cocoa.
The making of mochi in Japan , involving pounding lots of short-grain rice into a large gelatinous whole, is a photogenic process you may well have seen on screen. The ceremony of creating the dish is called mochitsuki.
Mochi ice cream
The result is then shaped into rice balls around central ingredients such as sweet red bean paste, or even ice cream. The rice itself is often subtly colored with green tea powder or other food dyes.
Read: Japan Food Guide
Flan, Latin America
A sweet egg custard, covered with a film of bitter dark caramel, makes the flan. Also well known under its French name of crème caramel, it came to Mexico from Spain, and has now spread throughout Latin America to become a distinctive regional dish.
In Mexico, it’s the perfect way to cool down after a hot chili dish. In Puerto Rico , you’ll find it in flavors ranging from sweet plantain to pina colada.
New York Cheesecake, USA
New York cheesecake
Many American desserts originated in Europe, and cheesecake has German (and even Ancient Greek) roots. Be that as it may, it’s New York dairy farmer William Chester who in 1872 perfected a smooth cream cheese.
Today, “Philadelphia” cream cheese (more rural Philadelphia was chosen as a marketing brand) remains the key ingredient. With a base of crumbled graham crackers and a topping of jellied strawberries, it’s now common throughout North America.
Dulce De Leche Ice Cream, Argentina
Dulce de leche ice cream
With a taste similar to caramel, dulce de leche is made by gently cooking milk until it becomes a smooth paste. Literally “sweet from milk”, it’s used as a spread on bread, sandwiched into alfajores cookies, and heated to pour over pancakes or waffles.
Where it really comes into its own is as a dessert. Italians brought gelato to Argentina , but the locals made it their own with a dulce de leche sauce or flavoring.
Take some sponge cake, cover it with chocolate sauce, and roll it in desiccated coconut. Congratulations, you’ve just made a Lamington—and potentially some Australian friends.
It’s named for Lord Lamington, governor of Queensland from 1895 to 1901, and where July 21st is now National Lamington Day. However, his French-born chef, Armand Galland, was the actual inventor of this cake, which is popular for afternoon tea.
Claimed by both Malaysia and Indonesia, cendol is a type of sorbet made of shaved ice with coconut milk. This base is then flavored with palm sugar syrup, adding a caramel taste.
Rice-flour jelly worms, given a luminous green color by vitamin-rich pandan (screwpine) juice, make a colorful topping. In Singapore, sweetened red beans are also added, and there are other interesting local variations in Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam.
Key Lime Pie, Key West, Florida
Key lime pie
A lemon tart (see above) made with limes is the basic Key lime pie found in Key West . Legend has it that Florida sailors make it to protect themselves from scurvy.
Key limes are a smaller, hybrid version of the more common Persian lime, and were brought to Florida by the Spanish. Most of Florida’s commercial Key lime trees disappeared after a 1926 hurricane, so bottled Key lime juice is the more usual flavoring today.
Bingsu, like cendol, or Japan’s Kakigori, is a shaved ice dessert, topped with ingredients such as chopped fruit, condensed milk, or fruit syrup. It’s a healthy summer alternative to ice creams.
The dish is spreading throughout Southeast Asia—partly because its colorful looks are very Instagram friendly. Like ice cream, its variations are limited only by the imagination, and you’ll find everything from strawberry to green tea toppings and flavorings.
Tempted by this list of the best desserts in the world to taste them all for yourself? Then look through our cruise itineraries to find a vacation that will whet your appetite.
Kieran is a freelance travel writer who has lived and worked in 12 different countries, on every continent except Antarctica. He now spends his time between Kerry, Ireland, and Granada, Spain, while writing for newspapers and websites worldwide.
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Most famous desserts around the world
For years, the word dessert has had a pretty one-dimensional definition. In truth, desserts can be so much more than just cake and ice cream. Discover the most famous desserts around the world with us!
Desserts have been a part of celebrations and family gatherings for generations. These desserts are not just sweet, but they also have stories to tell. Today we share the different types of desserts across the globe, guaranteed to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth!
USA - Chocolate chip cookies
Chocolate chip cookies are probably the most iconic American dessert. Their history dates back to the 1930s, when Ruth Graves Wakefield broke up a Nestlé chocolate bar and added the chopped chocolate in a cookie recipe.
France - Crème Brûlée
Do we all love breaking the crunchy sugar layer of crème brûlée? This custard-based dessert is a favorite among many!
Turkey/Middle East - Baklava
Filo pastry is used to make the thin layers of the dessert known as baklava, filled with chopped nuts (walnuts or pistachios) and sweetened with honey or syrup. Who can resist a piece of this sweet goodness?
Italy - Tiramisù
We all know this famous coffee-flavored Italian dessert. It’s made with ladyfingers soaked in coffee and a cream of mascarpone cheese, sugar and eggs, topped with cocoa powder.
Netherlands - Tompouce
This pink-glazed dessert is a regional variation of the mille-feuille that was created by an Amsterdam-based pastry chef and named after Admiral Tom Pouce.
Romania/Moldavia - Papanași
Papanași is a traditional dessert consisting of fried dough, topped with blueberry jam and sour cream.
Spain - Churros
Churro is a deep-fried dough typically served with a thick chocolate cream. It is very popular in both Spain and Portugal.
From Asia to Europe and USA, these desserts are guaranteed to tingle your taste buds. Are you passionate about the world of pastry and desserts? Then we might just have the right opportunities for you! We work with world-renowned bakeries, such as Magnolia Bakery, Dominique Ansel Bakery or Mille-Feuille Bakery, guaranteed to maximize your skills and make you a young industry professional! To get started in your pastry journey abroad, send an email to [email protected] or simply fill out this form !
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Oct 15, 2023
12 popular desserts from around the world
Are you ready for a delicious journey around the globe? We have researched the world to bring you 12 mouthwatering desserts that are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. From creamy classics to exotic treats, these desserts have one common thing – they are all incredibly tempting.
Italy is famous for its rich culinary heritage, and Tiramisu is no exception. This dessert features layers of coffee-soaked ladyfingers and creamy mascarpone cheese, dusted with cocoa powder.
Sweet, flaky layers of phyllo pastry, filled with chopped nuts and drenched in honey syrup – that's Baklava! This Greek delight is a crunchy, nutty, and oh-so-sweet treat.
If you haven't tried these fried dough sticks dusted with sugar and cinnamon, you are missing out. Churros, often served with hot chocolate for dipping, are a staple of Spanish street food.
Soft, chewy, and slightly sweet, Mochi is a Japanese favorite. Made from glutinous rice, it comes in various flavors and fillings. Try the matcha or red bean varieties for an authentic experience.
Gulab Jamun (India)
Deep-fried milk balls soaked in fragrant sugar syrup. These golden orbs are a must-try at any Indian celebration.
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pavlova (new zealand/australia).
This dessert is a meringue-based masterpiece named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. It's topped with whipped cream and fresh fruits, making it a heavenly and light dessert.
Tres Leches Cake (Mexico)
Translating to "three milk cake," this Mexican dessert is a sponge cake soaked in a sweet mixture of evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream.
Bingsu (South Korea)
Korean Bingsu is a shaved ice dessert topped with an array of ingredients like sweet red bean paste, fruit, condensed milk, and more.
Cannoli are crispy pastry shells filled with sweet ricotta cheese. Hailing from Italy, these desserts are a delightful combination of crunchy and creamy.
Pavé, a French dessert, is a dense and rich chocolate cake that's as luxurious as it sounds. It's a slice of chocolate heaven.
Knafeh (Middle East)
Knafeh is a Middle Eastern dessert made from shredded phyllo dough, sweetened cheese, and orange blossom or rose water syrup.
Key Lime Pie (United States)
We can't forget the United States! Key Lime Pie, originating from Florida, features a tangy filling made from fresh key lime juice in a graham cracker crust.
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Home » Food and recipes from around the world » Dessert Recipes
Looking for a unique sweet treat? These recipes for international desserts are sure to please your sweet tooth and give you an experience of desserts around the world.
Travel with your sweet tooth!
Quindim (Brazilian Coconut Custard)
Colorful, sticky, extremely gooey, and delicious. Quindim (coconut egg custard) is one of the most appreciated Brazilian desserts. It can be found in all churrasquerias (Brazilian steakhouses).
Brigadeiro (Brazilian Truffles)
Brigadeiro are bite-sized chewy truffles and they are the most popular sweets in Brazil. The recipe for brigadeiro is quick to make and has very few ingredients. People serve them at all birthday parties, dinner parties, and weddings across South America.
Alfajores Marplatenses (Argentinian Chocolate Alfajores)
Alfajores Marplatenses are well-known chocolate alfajores cookies. Chocolate sandwich cookies, filled with rum-infused dulce de leche, covered in chocolate.
Ravioli Dolce (Italian Sweet Ravioli)
These ricotta and chocolate filled ravioli dolce, sweet ravioli, are a special treat for Carnival in Italy.
Sopa Borracha (Panamanian Rum Cake)
Sopa borracha (drunken soup) from Panama is neither a soup nor a savory recipe. It is a delicious, sweet, rum cake dessert.
Barfi (Indian Milk Powder Barfi)
Milk powder barfi is a fudge-like, Indian dessert. This barfi recipe is made with ghee and milk powder, flavored with cardamom.
Arroz Zambito (Peruvian Rice Pudding)
Peruvian arroz zambito, “brown rice pudding,” gets its brown color from chancaca or panela, a dark, natural sugar used in many Peruvian desserts.
Tarte Tatin (French Apple Tart)
Tarte tatin is a classic French apple tart that is both rustic and elegant.
Fresh Fig Newton Cookies
Use fresh figs to make Fig Newton cookies! These fig rolls feature an easy to make homemade fresh fig jam!
Venezuelan Chocolate Marquesa
Marquesa de Chocolate is a Venezuelan chocolate no-bake dessert that is made up of layers of cookies alternating with a homemade chocolate pudding.
Rožata (Croatian Caramel Flan)
Rožata is a Croatian version of a caramel flan baked custard, with a golden top over a creamy, orange and vanilla flavored custard.
Espumilla (Ecuadorian Meringue Cream Dessert)
Espumilla is a meringue cream dessert that looks like ice cream (but is much easier to make) and is often sold as street food in Ecuador.
Curau de Milho (Brazilian Corn Pudding)
Brazilian corn pudding, curau de milho, is an easy and tasty dessert made with just three ingredients.
Chilenitos (Chilean Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies)
Chilenitos are traditional Chilean sandwich cookies filled with dulce de leche or jam and rolled in coconut, cookie crumbs, or meringue.
Kahk (Egyptian Eid Cookies)
Kahk are traditional Eid cookies originating from Egypt.
Mahalabia (Middle Eastern Milk Pudding)
Mahalabia (Muhallebi) is a creamy milk pudding from the Middle East.
Stuffed Dates with Cream Cheese and Nuts
Jazz up regular dates with this simple recipe for cream cheese stuffed dates.
Tembleque (Puerto Rican Coconut Pudding)
Tembleque is a traditional Puerto Rican dessert. This firm coconut and cinnamon infused pudding or custard is widely enjoyed at Christmas time.