Desserts Around the World
Thong Yip, also known as "pinched gold egg yolks" in English, is a culturally significant Thai dessert which seems to have been forgotten through the years as new delicious dessert dishes are introduced. However, it’s taste and positive meaning will never leave the mind of Thai citizens. In Thai, the word “thong” means "gold" and the word “yip” means "to pick". Thong Yip is usually used in blessing ceremonies such as weddings, or as a gift to anyone. It can symbolize wealth and success in work as the name indirectly translates to “a person can turn something ordinary into gold once he or she picks it up”. The shape of a thong yip resembles a flower so Thai’s often believe that the number of folds used for a thong yip must be 3, 5, or 8, depending on one's preference, as it’ll bring good luck. This golden-colored dessert is made with duck and/or chicken egg yolks, sugar, and jasmine-flavored water. It can take up to 15-20 minutes to prepare but it’s all worth it in the end!
You might have never heard of the Chinese dessert, Nian Gao before, but this is your sign to go try it out, especially on Chinese New Years! Nian Gao (年糕) in Mandarin means “year cake” and it’s pronunciation is similar to 'year high' (年高), which means a higher income, a higher position in work, the healthy growth of children, and the promise of a better year. Additionally, the word “Nian” is used in the New Year greeting 'Nian Nian Gao Sheng' (年年高升 niánnián gāoshēng) which means to wish people "advance toward higher positions and prosperity step by step". It was originally used as an offering in ritual ceremonies before it gradually became a Spring Festival food. It’s made from glutinous rice flour, wheat starch, salt, water, and sugar. It’s delicious when steamed, fried, or even eaten cold.
Hwajeon is one of South Korea’s most unique and decorative dishes. The name of this dish means “flower cake” in Sino-Korean, and along with being a tasty treat, hwajeon can also be considered a work of art because of it’s beautiful flower toppings. It’s believed that hwajeon has origins in the Koryo Dynasty, when it was served at a traditional picnic called “Hwajeon Nori”. The women who made hwajeon often socialize, dance, or write poetry at the picnic. The flavorful sweet is a rice pancake topped with edible flowers. It’s traditionally prepared with either Korean azaleas, pear blossoms, rose petals, or wild chrysanthemums as decorations to represent the blooming spring season.
Om Ali is an incredibly delicate and complicated Egyptian dessert which is definitely a must try if you get the chance to visit. The gory history of how this incredible sweet was invented came from the celebration of the murder of Sultana Shajrat Addor, a rare female ruler. Despite it’s terrible history, talented chefs and passionate lovers of this treat continue to experiment with the various flavor combinations created by the ingredients. Om Ali consists of a blend of puff pastry bits with pistachios, coconut flakes and raisins, and sweetened milk poured over the top. All these ingredients create a texture that’s a pleasure to eat and not too sweet because of the crunchy nuts and cream.
M’hanncha, or snake cake in English, is a traditional Moroccan dessert served in both small and large versions depending on the occasion. They can be shaped into small coils for small parties but at social gatherings and festive occasions, it’s made into a large coil so the guests can enjoy it by breaking off smaller portions from the end of the coil. When baked, the pastry is often dusted with powdered sugar or brushed with warm honey. Although there are numerous recipes for the dessert, it’s typically prepared with almonds, sugar, cinnamon, mastic powder, butter, and orange flower water.
The Vietnamese Chè desserts originated in the central region of Vietnam, but today they’re widely available throughout the country and prepared in multiple variations. Because of their filling contents like beans and sticky rice, they quickly became a popular snack item commonly sold in cups at Vietnamese grocery stores. One of the most popular chè varieties prepared at home is the so-called “chè đậu trắng”. Vietnamese chè includes any traditional sweet soup, beverage, pudding, or any other custard-like dessert that’s made with a base of either water or coconut cream and served hot or cold. Other ingredients for making chè include various jellies and fruits, beans and pulses, rice and grains, and even cereals. Depending on the location on where you purchase chè, the variation of ingredients will differ so there’ll always be a new version to try!
Kutsinta, also known as Puto cuchinta is a type of rice cake made by steaming. These sweet treats are made from tapioca flour, brown sugar, and a tenderizer called lye. These rice cakes are then topped with coconut shavings to serve. Though Kutsinta is a type of Puto (steamed rice cakes), it has a more jelly-like texture and chewy consistency. This philippino dish can be found all throughout the country, and is definitely a must try when visiting! As they are most often sold alongside Puto, when in the Philippines, look for Puto stores to get a bite of these wonderful bites!
This turkish dessert is more than a delight! Originating in Ottoman cuisine, it is rumored that rose water was added in ones made in palace kitchens. As one of the traditional flavours of Turkish cuisine, this baked rice pudding is named to be the most beautiful and sweet form of rice in Turkey. Made with a combination of milk, eggs, starch, sugar, and rice, it goes in the oven until the surface becomes a caramelized crispy sheet of goodness. Another appeal to the fırın sütlaç is the fact that it is gluten free, and could be a great dessert to bake at home!
Àkàrà, or Kosai in Hausa is a deep fried food made of black eyed peas. Though originating in Nigeria and western Africa, these snacks were spread to Brazil and is commonly the city of Salvador. In Brazil, they’re known as acaraje, with the name coming from the Àkàrà. To make Àkàrà, the beans have to be made into a purée and deep fried in palm oil. These are also eaten as weekend breakfast staples in Nigeria, and gives an energetic start to the day. The word Àkàrà is actually a generic word for bread and pastry in Yoruba, and is also very significant to their culture. In Yoruba culture, when a person over the age of 70 passes away, These snacks were fried in large amounts and given to relatives and friends of the deceased. When warriors came back victorious from war, Àkàrà were also fried by their wives in celebration.
pastel de tres leches
Though the origins of this sponge cake is disputed amongst latin american countries, we can all agree of the deliciousness this cake holds. Also known as the Tres leches cake, this dessert’s unique taste and texture comes from the use of condensed and evaporated milk. It is often decorated with cream and berries, and is eaten in celebrations such as birthdays, graduations, weddings, and more! The invention of the pastel de tres leches also boosted evaporated and condensed milk sales in latin america, which now is part of latin american culture.
Though France is well known for their pastries, the religieuse might be something you’ve not heard of. Made of two choux pastries of variate sizes, they are stacked on top of each other and filled with crème pâtissière, also known as custard cream. Religieuse are then topped with ganache, made of either chocolate or coffee, giving the name religieuse au chocolat, and religieuse au café. The first version of this dessert was made by a chef serving for the Florentine queen of France, Catherine de' Medici. The name “religieuse” also means religion or nun in French, and is said to be named so as the shape of the stacked choux is similar to the papal mitre, the headgear worn by the pope.
This ball-shaped dumpling is loved not only in India, but permeates to other cultures such as Bangladesh and Nepal as well. Rasgulla is made of chhenna, an Indian cottage cheese, mixed with semolina dough. The dough is then made into round balls and cooked in syrup made of sugar. The soft, spongy dessert can be served hot, cold, and at room temperature, and has many variations such as reddish rasgullas, baked rasgulla, and the Bikali Kar Rasgulla from Odisha.
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