10 regional desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth

These ten treats are really worth travelling for!

As foodie tourism increases, we’ve had a look around for ten of the most delicious, the most indulgent, and the most interesting local desserts. Some are easy to make, some a little more complicated. Maybe you’d like to have a go at making them yourself? Either way, you could use this as inspiration when you choose your next destination; just imagine these waiting for you!

Peru – Suspiro de Limeña

Nicknamed the “royal delight of Peru” when it was first documented in the New Dictionary of American Cuisine in 1818, its name means “the sigh of a lady from Lima”. It would indeed get you sighing; it was invented by Amparo Ayarza whose husband, the poet Jose Galvez gave it its name after deciding something so light and sweet was “like the sigh of a woman”.

 


The base is manjar blanco, the Peruvian name for dulce de leche, itself a form of blancmange (basically a cream made of milk, sugar, egg yolk, vanilla and almond flour). On top of that sits meringue with port added, and the whole thing is made even more delectable by being sprinkled with cinnamon. Hopelessly indulgent and utterly delicious.

England – Banoffee Pie

Here’s one of the few dishes for which we can credit the inventor, because it’s not a particularly old creation. It’s from 1971 in fact, and was developed by Nigel Mackenzie and Ian Dowding, respectively the owner and chef of The Hungry Monk Restaurant in East Sussex.

 


A lot of people thought it came from the USA (them having a history of making sweet and tasty pies), leading to a supermarket chain actually selling it as an American pie. Mackenzie was so annoyed by this, he offered £10,000 to anyone who could disprove their claim to be the inventors.

So what is it? Well, as the name suggests, it’s a combination of banana and toffee on a buttery biscuit base, topped with cream. Originally, Mackenzie and Dowding tried it with apple or orange, but when they combined the toffee with banana they “immediately knew we’d got it right”. We absolutely agree.

Netherlands – Oliebollen

Literally “oil spheres”, these are a lot nicer than that translation would make them seem. There are versions found in Belgium, as well as further afield in regions of Italy and Serbia, and even as far away as Ghana.

 


They’re pretty simple. An ice-cream scoop of dough and fruit (usually a mix of sultanas, raisins and citrus zest) is dropped into a deep-fat fryer of hot oil before being scooped out and sprinkled liberally with powdered sugar.

Usually, oliebollen are eaten on New Year’s Eve, but that’s now extended to winter-time in general. They’re also a quick, tasty option at festivals and fairs throughout the year.

Brazil – Brigadeiros

A sort of a fudgy truffle, if you’re thinking of making any of the desserts on this list yourself, this is probably the simplest one to try. The creativity comes with deciding what to coat them in. Leave them plain or roll them in cocoa powder, coconut, nuts, or simply more chocolate? Or what about one of the variations that involves dried fruit, or even whisky? It’s totally up to you.


A lot of Brazilians have a sentimental attachment to the brigadeiro, being that it’s often served at birthday parties when they were young, or at family gatherings and reunions. Add to this the fact that it’s so common to just eat the fudge mixture as it’s cooking rather than waiting to shape it into balls, that there’s even a name for this – brigadeiro de colher – or spoon brigadeiro. What are you waiting for?

Slovakia & the Czech Republic – Trdelník

Although it can be found in the neighbouring countries of Hungary and Austria, trdelník is mainly known as a Czech and Slovak speciality. Originating in the border town of Skalica, it’s now an EU protected foodstuff.

 

 

In love with trdelník ❤ #prague #trdelnik #charlesbridge

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At vendors across the two republics, you can see the spits used to spin the trdelník turning slowly. It’s morphed from a seasonal speciality to a popular street food in its own right over the past few years, the grilled, sugary dough being the perfect complement to a delicious cup of coffee.

There are also variations on the theme in tourist-heavy cities such as Prague (filling the centre with ice-cream, or whipped cream and fruit is becoming popular), but the simple, traditional recipe still holds sway.

Greece – Portokalopita

What do you think of, food-wise, when you think of Greece? Yoghurt? Fresh fruit? Maybe coffee? Well, you’ve got the whole lot right here. Portokalopita is a cake made with fresh oranges, yoghurt, filo pastry and cinnamon. At least, those are the constants. Depending upon where you are in Greece there can be variations; it can be stickily rich or lightly fresh, served with cream, ice-cream or semolina.

 


There are also a good few theories as to its origin. It’s still disputed as to whether it was invented on the Greek mainland, on Crete, or even in Cyprus. Either way, you can sit around debating this over a slice of the cake, accompanied by a cup of delicious, sharp coffee. It’s the perfect combination.

India – Gulab Jamun

This really is India’s signature dessert, even in a country that has an amazing variety of all things sweet. They’re made by preparing a dough of solidified milk with a touch of flour and a dash of cardamom, before being shaped into balls and deep fried. After being covered in sugar syrup flavoured with rose essence, they’re ready to eat.

 


In a country that has a wide a variety of cultures, traditions, beliefs, languages and people as any on the planet, this dish is India’s common denominator; something served at weddings, birthdays, parties, family gatherings, religious festivals – anywhere, really! – and it’s been this way since the invention of the dish in medieval times. It truly is the taste of the country.

Bahamas – Guava Duff

If you live in a country where guava is a staple fruit, you should make the most of it, right? Agreed: it’s delicious. And although the word duff is used in England for a type of pudding, it can’t hold a candle to this Caribbean corker.

 


The basic dessert itself is a spiral of guava and dough wrapped together and boiled, but it’s the subtle flavours that really make the difference. It can be flavoured with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, even pepper if you fancy it, and then the whole lot is served with a rum sauce.

As an added indulgence, we’d recommend making it even more summery and fruity by eating it accompanied by switcha (a Bahaman lemonade) or a cold glass of beer. Mmm, refreshing!

Hong Kong – Tong Shui

Here’s an unusual one. A specifically Cantonese dish, Tong Shui is an oddly all-encompassing name referring to a variety of custards and dessert soups. They have a wide range of flavours and consistencies, from tofu pudding to warm almond soup and beyond. If you’ve got the taste for a dessert made from the dried fallopian tubes of frogs, this is for you.

 


The name literally means “sugar water”, and the many variations have spread to other countries in which there are Cantonese communities, including Malaysia and the USA, and in these places, supermarkets can sell you packets of Tong Shui mix to add to hot water. Nothing, of course, compares to sampling an authentic bowlful at one of Hong Kong’s many dessert shops.

Italy – Bonet

Let’s finish with something indescribably rich and gooey. Bonet is a speciality of the Piedmont region of Italy (that’s in the north-west, around Turin) and the name Bonet literally means “hat”. The reason for this is disputed, but two equally tenuous theories abound.


One is that it was originally served in a copper tureen resembling an upturned chef’s hat, the other is that, as a dessert, the only thing left to do afterwards was put on your hat and leave. But enough etymology. Let’s take a look at it.

Chocolate. Cocoa. Caramel. Amaretti. Rum. Coffee. Milk. Eggs. Sugar. Could it be any richer? It’s traditionally served in the cooler months as a wonderfully comforting and satisfying end to a huge Piedmontese Sunday lunch, but we recommend it at pretty much any time!