1. Pasteis de Nata – Custard Tarts from Portugal
When asked what the best cuisine in the world is, Portuguese food rarely gets a mention. But it certainly should when it comes to the best desserts in the world!
Pasteis de nata is a traditional Portuguese custard tart, with a deliciously crispy and flaky pastry shell, filled to the brim with a sweet, creamy custard centre. Best served warm with a light dusting of cinnamon, it’s impossible to eat just one of these. You’ll be going back for more if you’re holidaying in Portugal this year!
These little morsels of delight were first created by the residents of the Jeronimos Monastery over 300 years ago in Belem. After the monastery closed, the original recipe was sold on to a little cafe around the corner, Pasteis de Belem, which still keeps it a closely guarded secret.
Almost every bakery in Lisbon has tried to recreate it, but each recipe has its own quirks and tweaks. You can now knock up a pretty good version at home, thanks to this pasteis de nata recipe from Delicious Magazine.
Pasteis de nata is a very worthy entry on our top 10 bakes from around the world list.
2. Tiramisu – Coffee Flavoured Dessert from Italy
Tiramisu needs no introduction – but we’ll give it one anyway. This classic Italian dessert is made up of sponge fingers soaked in coffee, traditionally layered between a coffee-flavoured mascarpone cheese whipped with eggs and sugar, and then topped with cocoa. Literally meaning ‘pick-me-up’ in Italian, tiramisu is the perfect end to an Italian feast and can be found on most menus across the country.
Tiramisu is still a relatively new dessert, with most records stating it was invented in the 1960s in the Veneto region of Italy. Despite its youth, tiramisu has rapidly become one of the most popular desserts in the world – and soon, your home! Butterlust blog has got the perfect recipe for a super simple tiramisu that you can whip up back in Blighty.
3. Gulab Jamun – Deep-fried sweets from India
Gulab jamun is easily one of the best desserts in the world. Imagine a deep-fried doughnut in bitesize form, soaked in a sweet syrup. Now imagine something that’s even better than that, and you’ve got gulab jamun.
Gulab jamun is made by mixing dried milk powder, flour, yoghurt and clarified butter with flavourings before rolling into a ball and deep frying. It is then soaked in an infused syrup for a few hours before being topped with crushed nuts and served.
It’s one of the best desserts from around the world, traditionally served to celebrate festivals and parties or to welcome guests in Southern Asia. If you’re travelling to India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal or Sri Lanka over your summer holidays, there’s a high chance you might be treated to gulab jamun at a restaurant.
If you want to make these Indian sweets at home, head over to Pepper, Chilli and Vanilla blog for a Gulab Jamun recipe you can try at home.
4. S’mores – a campfire treat from USA
If you’re headed to North America for your summer holidays, one thing you’re bound to try is a s’more – particularly as National S’mores Day is celebrated every 10th of August!
Said to be a contraction of the words ‘some’ and ‘more’, s’mores were first eaten around the campfire at Scout camps as far back as the 1920s. A s’more is made up of two biscuits sandwiched together with melted chocolate and marshmallows – traditionally melted over the campfire itself!
S’mores remind us a lot of our Choc Mallow Melt Cookie Kit, as it’s essentially a fancy version of s’mores using home-baked cookies. So once you’re back home, don’t shiver outside next to a campfire, get your bake on and make these s’mores from the comfort of your cosy kitchen!
Go on, have s’more…
5. Churros – deep-fried dough sticks from Spain
Churros are traditionally deep-fried dough sticks originating from Spain, but they’re now really popular in Latin America, particularly Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala. You’re bound to find them served by street vendors or in cafes in each of these countries over your summer holidays.
Churros are made from a choux-like pastry, piped through a star-shaped nozzle into hot oil where they’re fried until golden brown and then sprinkled with sugar. They are traditionally eaten for breakfast, dipped or drizzled with hot chocolate or dulche de leche, but you might also spot them on dessert menus in some restaurants.
Though churros are traditionally deep-fried, check out our very own baked churros recipe that gives you all the flavour without the fuss and guilt of deep fat fryers. Give them a go!
6. Lamingtons – square sponge cakes from Australia
Lamingtons are traditionally made from a small square of vanilla sponge covered in chocolate and desiccated coconut, but they can also contain a layer of jam sandwiching two lamington halves.
Lamingtons are said to be named after Lord Lamington, who served as the Governor of Queensland in the late 1890s. The story goes that he had some unexpected guests, so his chef dipped leftover vanilla sponge cake in chocolate and coconut before serving them to the guests. This adds even more fuel to the fire that says the world’s best desserts are often created by accident!
If you’re visiting Australia with your family this summer, look out for these tasty treats sold at all good bakeries down under. Don’t let the fun stop once you get home though! Use Eat Little Bird’s Lamingtons recipe to recreate the bake for yourself.
7. Malva Pudding – warm sponge pudding from South Africa
Malva pudding originates from South Africa, and is a gooey sponge cake made with apricot jam and served warm with a creamy sauce or custard. It’s often served in restaurants, so make sure to scan dessert menus for this if you’re visiting South Africa over the summer. As South Africa will be in winter during our summer holidays, you might be grateful for a slice of this pudding on chillier days.
The name Malva may come from the Afrikaans word for marshmallow, thanks to its texture which resembles a marshmallow. The origins of this delicious dessert from around the world isn’t that well-known, but it’s likely to have come from a Cape-Dutch recipe.
Thanks to its comforting texture and delicious taste, malva pudding goes down very easily. Even better, it’s super easy to make too! Give this malva pudding recipe a go from BBC Good Food and try it for yourself.
8. Baklava – a sweet pudding from the Middle East
No list of the world’s best sweets and desserts would be complete without baklava from the Middle East. It’s a sweet pudding, often served in restaurants at the end of a meal when you’re given the bill, but you can also order it from cafes as a mid-morning or afternoon snack.
Baklava is made from layers of paper-thin filo pastry, butter, chopped nuts and a sweet syrup fragranced with rose or orange blossom water. It’s normally made in big tins, baked and then drizzled with even more syrup before cutting into smaller pieces.
The history of baklava is disputed, with Greece and Turkey both laying claim to its invention as far back as the 2nd century BC. Regardless of its roots, it is just as popular today and deserves its spot on this list of the top 10 bakes from around the world.
Lucy Loves has a nice, simple recipe for baklava using shop-bought filo pastry and pistachio nuts if you want to try it once back home.
9. Baking with Matcha from Japan
Matcha is a powder made from green tea leaves. While this doesn’t sound like a traditional flavouring for sweet bakes, it gives bakes a delicate flavour which is delicious in lots of desserts, from green tea ice cream to matcha cakes and cookies.
Anyone heading to Japan over the summer holidays will spot matcha flavoured treats in cafes, restaurants and at street food stalls – it’s almost as popular as chocolate is in the UK! If your visit to Japan has you dreaming of baking your own recipes with matcha, take a look at Just One Cookbook’s blog for some ideas.
10. Rum Cake from the Caribbean
Rum cake is one of the best traditional cakes from around the world. Originating in the Caribbean, rum cake is a sponge baked in a savarin mould (giving it a slightly doughnut-style shape) and then soaked in rum. It’s often topped with icing or dried fruit and nuts, so there’s plenty of choice.
It’s traditionally served during holiday season, but many souvenir shops and supermarkets sell it to visitors by the suitcase load! Make sure you check the alcohol levels in the rum cake when you try it in the Caribbean. Some people report becoming intoxicated by it!
If you want to try rum cake at home, head over to the Brown Eyed Baker’s blog for a homemade rum cake recipe.
Members of our Baking Club get exclusive access to a new recipe each month, often inspired by baking trends and traditions from around the world. Find out more about the Baking Club over on our website, and sign up today!