Around the World in 30 Desserts

Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.

If you’re the kind of person who lives to eat dessert, and would rather fall in chocolate than in love, join the club!

We have picked out a few desserts, trotting across the globe from East to West, finding some elaborate, grand desserts along with a few simple and scrumptious ones

1. Australia/ New Zealand – Pavlova

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Named after Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova, this meringue-based dessert with a soft, airy interior and a light crust topped with whipped cream and fruits is a delightful delicacy.

2. Japan – Dango

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Apart from the several variations of the famous mochi, Japan has simple but elegant and yummy desserts. Sweet rice dumplings called Dango are traditional accompaniments to tea, and are made in different flavours like green tea and red bean.

3. South Korea – Patbingsu

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The not-so-secret weapon of the Koreans to beat the sweltering summer heat is the delicious Patbingsu – ice shavings with condensed milk, fruits, syrups, fruits, ice-cream or froyo, jelly and other sprinkles.

4. Malaysia – Bubur Cha-cha

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Taro figures in a lot of Malaysian sweet dishes, and combined with sweet potato and banana cubes in a chilled pandan-flavoured coconut milk and sago soup, it makes a delectable bubur chacha.

5. China – Mooncake

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Eaten specifically during the Mid-Autumn festival this month, they are filled with lotus seed or red bean paste and have a chewy crust.

6. Thailand – Mango and Sticky Rice

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Mango sticky rice is a classic Thai dessert, combining the tangy sweetness of mango with the smoothness of coconut milk, textured with rice. Tropical, flavoursome and simple.

7. Russia – Ptichye Moloko

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Ptichye Moloko or Bird’s Milk Cake, the first cake to be patented in the erstwhile Soviet, has a chocolate ganache topping on layers of cake and soufflé.

8. India – Kheer

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Kheer, the Indian rice pudding, consists of mildly flavoured rice boiled in thick sweet condensed milk topped with dry fruits. This smooth and wholesome creamy dessert is made during festivals and special occasions.

9. Iran – Bastani ice-cream

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Iranian ice-cream, with saffron and rose-water, sprinkled with pistachio is an intensely flavoured variation of the universally-liked dessert.

10. Turkey – Baklava

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Flaky phyllo pastry with a nuts and honey filling goes perfectly with a cup of Turkish coffee.

11. Egypt – Basbousa

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Semolina cake soaked in flavoured lemon syrup topped with nuts is ubiquitous in Egypt.

12. Greece – Yogurt

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Healthy and wholesome like everything else Greek, yogurt with fruit salad and dry fruits is a daily dessert.

13. Poland – Paczki

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Polish sponge cake with various fillings such as rose preserves, custard, budyn and chocolate, sprinkles with orange peel and sugar-dusted, is traditionally eaten on Fat Thursday as it is believed to bring good luck.

14. Hungary – Dobos Torte

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This Hungarian cake named after its inventor, is a sponge cake layered with chocolate buttercream and a caramel topping.

15. Denmark – Pastry

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The Danish pastry (of Viennese origin) has several variations with different fillings, and satisfies your sweet tooth at all times of the day.

16. Austria – Sacher torte

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The most famous cake in the world needs no introduction. Rich chocolate cake with a layer of apricot jam goes well with coffee.

17. Italy – Tiramisu

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Delectable and creamy with Marsala wine, the coffee and cocoa in Tiramisu come together to create magic.

18. Germany – Black Forest Cake

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Traditional, rich with chocolate, cream and cherries, it is called Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte in German.

19. Netherlands – Vlaai

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Dutch pies come with a variety of fillings – fruit, chocolate or coffee cream.

20. Morocco – Harcha

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Fried flatbread made of semolina can be found everywhere in Morocco and can be easily prepared.

21. Belgium – Waffles

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A trip to Belgium is incomplete without sampling the warm, fresh waffles.

22. Spain – Turron

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A Spanish almond and honey confection, Turron is a favourite during the holiday season.

23. France – Dacquoise and St Honore

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Decadent desserts rule in France, and the layered Dacquoise with almond and hazelnut meringue and buttercream will always make you wish you had skipped le plat principal.

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St Honore, named after the French patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs, is another classic dessert which presents itself beautifully. 

24. UK – Sticky Toffee Pudding

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This quintessential English dessert has sticky toffee sauce over a date sponge cake, often teamed with ice-cream or custard.

25. Brazil – Brigadeiro

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Traditional Brazilian chocolate candy, this smooth melt-in-the-mouth treat can be made in less than 15 minutes and is loved by all.

26. Argentina – Alfajor

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Alfajores have a creamy caramel filling in a cookie sandwich, sometimes covered in chocolate.

27. Chile – Tres Leches Cake

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Literally meaning ‘Three Milks Cake’, it is made from cake along with milk in 3 forms – evaporated milk, condensed milk and cream.

28. Canada – Butter Tart

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This scrumptious Canadian dessert with a semi-solid filling and crunchy exterior is a favourite throughout the country.

29. USA – Cheesecake

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Soft, airy cheesecake topped with whipped cream and fruit is what every foodie’s dreams are made of.

30. Mexico – Chocolate con churros

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Though not originally from here, deep fried churros dipped in thick hot chocolate are a clear favourite and a part of local cuisine. Quick and easy to make, it’s comfort food that’s warm and filling.

Discover the best food tours around the world here.

The souvenir dilemma

Have you ever been on a holiday and at a loss for ideas on what to take home for friends and family? Or maybe a souvenir for the showcase. Something indigenous and magnificent to commemorate a fantastic trip, not a kitschy t-shirt or key-chain.

We are here to help. Here’s a collection of souvenirs you can buy during a trip through Europe.

  • Andorra

Andorra, VAT-free so far, has been a popular destination for shopping for everything upscale – electronics, jewellery, perfumes and high end fashion.

  • Austria

Just one thing – Swarovski crystals. More things – Sacher Torte, Lebkuchen, dessert wines, schnapps, pumpkin seed oil. Art lovers can add Gustav Klimt posters, calendars, notepads and handcrafted wooden Nativity scenes to their collection.

  • Balkan Peninsula

If you had to pick just one souvenir from Bulgaria, it would definitely have to be a vial of essential rose oil. You can get it in traditional wooden dolls or decorative wooden bottles.

  • Baltic States

Glowing amber in different shades from the Baltic Sea is shaped into decorations and neat jewellery, widely available throughout the region. You could also pick up some Estonian marzipan, which is available in various shapes and Laima chocolates from Latvia.

  • Belarus

In Belarus, straw is elegantly crafted into various shapes and dolls, which make good gifts. Belarusian linen is also of high quality, with interesting designs.

  • Benelux

Belgium is where Tintin comes to life, and a comic souvenir is a must. Also on the must-buy list are pralines, originally made by Neuhaus. Belgium has a huge range of strong, exotic beers, only some of which are exported. Take your pick of the finest, you may not find it elsewhere. Belgian laces, very pretty with intricate patterns and impeccable finishing, make breathtaking dresses and veils.

If you find yourself in Netherlands, a pair of Dutch wooden clogs, tulips, and blue and white Delftware would be great additions to your home collection. You can also get miniature windmills, which are dainty and look lovely.

Luxembourg produces ethereal crystal, but it is the cuisine, influenced by France, Belgium and Germany that is the real revelation for travellers. Ardennes ham, black pudding and plum tarts are real delicacies, and worth carrying if you live a short flight away.

  • Cyprus

Handicrafts has been a traditional industry in Cyprus, with artisans producing pottery, jewellery and beautiful embroidery. Halloumi cheese is a Cypriot speciality which is great for barbecues back home.

  • France

France is a gourmand’s delight, and if you have an epicure for a friend back home, you will be spoilt for choice. Reblochon cheese,  Herbes de Provence, Armagnac and the range from Bordeaux may require an extra backpack. For someone with a sweet tooth, the Laduree macaroons and gourmet chocolates are a real delight. Perfumes, Laguiole knives and exquisite Puy lace make expensive but memorable gifts.

  • Germany

Souvenirs from Germany are the best and the wurst 🙂 Take home a cuckoo clock from the Blackforest as an archetype of German precision. Classic beer steins are a favourite with all, and Edelweiss pins and Hummel figurines are cute and small enough to tuck into a corner of your handbag.

  • Greece

Statues of the Greek Pantheon are easily available and very “touristy” buys. Also ubiquitous are the owl souvenirs – the owl being associated with Athena, the Greek Goddess of Wisdom. Most Greek households also display Matia (evil eye), which travellers really fancy.

  • Ireland

In Ireland, you can get a piece of the Auld Sod or Irish soil to take home and also Shamrock seeds to create an Irish corner in your garden. Take away an Aran sweater and Whiskey to continue experiencing the Irish warmth at home. If you have extra luggage space on the way back, you may consider a Guinness tankard and Shillelagh.

  • Italy

Buy a food basket, you’re in Italy! Fill up with Limoncello, Vinsanto, Cantucci, Tradizionale Balsamic vinegar from Modena,  Panforte. A fashionista’s paradise, you can find ties, scarves and high boots to suit all wallets. Balance out a David apron with rosaries from the Vatican or Renaissance memorabilia. A trip to Venice is incomplete without buying a Murano creation and a Venetian mask.

  • Kazakhstan

If you cannot afford to get caviar for all, despair not. Kazakh handmade felt camels and yurta are incredibly cute and surprisingly inexpensive. Leather whips (kamchi) and saddle bottles are other gifts to consider.

  • Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein has interesting souvenir postage stamps – take one for the memory. Pottery and Balzner marble sculpting are traditional arts here, with a huge range of creations to choose from.

  • Malta

Handblown glass and filigree silverware are Maltese must-haves.

  • Moldova

Ceramics, rugs and woodwork here have a distinctive Moldovan touch. Moldova is also known for its wines.

  • Nordics

A Dala horse, or soft stuffed moose are instantly evocative of Scandinavia. Another piece for the mantelpiece would be a Swedish angel chime or a Toikka bird. Reindeer hide from Sweden or a cozy Norwegian sweater will keep you warm for several winters. Puukko knives and handwoven ryijy rugs are traditional Finnish memorabilia. Last but not the least, don’t forget to buy some surstromming for your enemies back home.

  • Portugal

The Portuguese love their port wine, but their green wine, Madeira and Ginjinha are also worth a mention. The ubiquitous azulejos are also beautiful souvenirs.

  • Romania

Finding mementos in Romania are really easy for a Dracula fan. But if you are not one, you can choose from the traditional vibrant artwork – Bucovina Easter eggs, Horezu pottery and plates and carved wooden figures from Maramures.

  • Russia

The nesting Matryoshka dolls are intriguing and alluring, appealing to people across all ages. Traditional handcrafted Birch boxes and intricately painted Lacquer boxes are fine examples of Russian workmanship. Jewelled Farberge eggs are exquisite and worth splurging on. Vodka was once upon a time a parallel currency in Russia, and is available in interesting bottles – even one shaped like an AK-47!

  • Slovenia

For the connoisseur of fine food, Slovenian salts from Primorska are a real delight. For the foodie, you can also pick some Prsut, traditional Slovenian wines and schnapps. If you are looking for something more lasting, delicate lace from Idrija is perfect for coffee tables. The dragon is the symbol of Ljubljana, and several souvenirs around this can be found in souvenir shops.

  • Spain

In Spain you can find premium leather at reasonable prices, so go in for a leather jacket or handbag, or a more traditional bota for holding liquor. Mantillas and capes are also interesting gifts to consider. Delicate Lladro porcelain may require some handling with care, but you can definitely throw in a box of delicious rabitos anytime. If you make the trip to Toledo, you definitely have to buy one of those famous swords and steel jewellery. If corny is your style, then go in for a Barca t-shirt.

  • Switzerland

Switzerland produces peerless army knives, watches, chocolates, cheese and well, tennis players. Swiss army knives from Victorinox are widely available and the best. You need to set aside a few hours if you love fine watches, the extensive collections are exquisite (and expensive!). You could also buy an elaborate cuckoo clock if watches are not your thing.

  • Turkey

Ward off evil with a charming blue nazar, which every household here displays. Turkish carpet weaving is an ancient art, perfected over centuries to produce opulent designs. Boxes of Turkish delight and apple tea are available in every corner, make sure you load up on these. Sculpted onyx vases and bowls can also be easily found, and lend a very ethnic and unique buzz to your home. 

  • Ukraine

Pick a basket of Pysanky – traditional painted Easter eggs. Straw has been traditionally used in Ukraine for creating adornments, which are widely available. Straw bells are believed to bring good fortune, and also sit pretty on a Christmas tree.

  • United Kingdom

The souvenir shops in London are always awash with the Union Jack and its colours. Pick a replica of the iconic red telephone booth or a double decker bus. An English breakfast tea box with a cosy is perfect for tea junkies. You also must pick up one of those tacky tourist staples, such as a replica of Big Ben or a I Love London shot glass.

  • Visegrad

If you are travelling through the Visegrad, you will have a hard time picking out just a few items from the myriad beautiful displays. Czech crystal is flawless, and Moser and Ruckl are highly famed for their production. If you are on a food trail, you have to pick some excellent Czech beer, Hungarian wines, Polish honey, Tokaji, Unicum, palinka, sliwowica, zubrowka, Torun gingerbread and paprika. Amber from the Baltic Sea is abundantly available in the region, and jewellery made from it is inexpensive and striking.

If you have found some charming souvenirs with happy memories, we’d be glad to about it. Season’s greetings and happy shopping!