We all like a little bit of sweetness! Whether covered in chocolate, scattered with sprinkles or oozing sugar, there’s nothing like a tasty treat to provide that indulgent moment of happiness.
To celebrate the sugary, syrupy, fragrant flavours of the world, we’ve searched far and wide to produce a list of the most tantalising traditional sweet treats from ovens, stoves, bakeries and patisseries worldwide. They’ll have you itching to jump on a plane and try them for yourself (or you can recreate the unique flavours in your own kitchen) so grab a napkin, pull up a chair and get stuck in…
1. Mendiants – France
As pretty as autumnal Parisian boulevards, mendiants date back to the 16th century when an Italian noblewoman married into the French aristocracy and brought them with her. The chocolate disks are sprinkled with nuts and dried fruit, and are a burst of colour best enjoyed whilst sipping a freshly brewed coffee in a backstreet cafe!
2. Koeksisters – South Africa
A deep-fried knot that oozes syrupy glaze upon first bite, this South African delicacy 100% sweet, sugary deliciousness. The country’s love of this doughy treat knows no bounds, and there is even a monument erected in its honour in the small town of Orania.
3. Likérové Spičky – Czech Republic
An ingenious fusion of chocolate, biscuit and eggnog (yes, really!), these treats have been gracing the windows of provincial Czech confectioners for centuries. Petite, cone-shaped and delicious, likérové spičky is easy to whip up, and even easier to devour.
4. Home-baked Korovka – Russia
Traditional and tempting, these little cubes of condensed milk toffee are a childhood favourite of Russian natives. Although korovka can be purchased in a packet (decorated with cows and pastoral scenes, naturally), nothing beats a batch fresh from the stove to warm your cockles on a chilly evening.
5. Krumkake – Norway
A visit to Norway in the festive season isn’t complete without sinking your teeth into a freshly made krumkake when wandering through a Christmas market. A wafer cookie baked on a griddle and sprinkled with cardamom spice, these crisp and crunchy treats can only be improved with a liberal squirt of whipped cream!
6. Kokosbollar – Sweden
As the name suggests, these Swedish treats are bite-sized balls of chocolate rolled in coconut flakes. Experience kokosbollar on a grand scale in Gothenburg’s Cafe Husaren, where giant versions of the confectionery are served alongside their smaller counterparts.
7. S’mores – USA
There are few sweet treats more American than the humble s’more, a melted marshmallow sandwiched between two graham crackers. Commonly enjoyed whilst gathered around a crackling campfire, the singed, gooey filling of this childhood favourite will always leave you wanting (s’)more.
8. Waffles – Belgium
Jenna and Micah of wanderthemap.com were fans of Liege’s incredible waffles when they spent some time in Belgium:
“Liege waffles are simple but delicious – made from a yeast-based dough, they include Belgian pearl sugar which caramelises and gives the waffle a chewy crunch. You can get a variety of toppings – our favourite is plain (chocolate drizzle was a close second though!)”
9. Baked Spiced Oranges – Morocco
A warming and healthy sweet treat, Morocco’s baked orange slices are generously sprinkled with cardamom, cinnamon and vanilla sugar before being served. Crunchy and tangy, these citrusy morsels are a tasty snack when perusing the stalls at a buzzing night market!
10. Turrón – Spain
A true homemade favourite, Spain’s nutty, crumbly turrón was invented over 500 years ago, when its first recipe was printed in The Woman’s Handbook. Centuries later, this heavenly union of egg-whites, honey and almonds still takes pride of place in traditional Spanish sweet shops across the country.
11. Pasteli – Greece
A sticky sweet staple of Greek cuisine, pasteli is sold at food markets to keep hungry shoppers going. Sesame seeds bound together with sugar, honey and spices, these bars are crunchy, crispy and very satisfying.
12. Grybukai – Lithuania
Fondly referred to as ‘little mushrooms’, these chocolate-dipped cookies are a Lithuanian specialty. Vilnius’ Pinavija Cafe is a good place to start if you get a cookie craving!
13. Mango Floats – Philippines
Jules and Christine of dontforgettomove.com loved to snack on mango floats when they travelled through the Philippines. They say:
“Combining the Filipino’s love for sweet desserts and deliciously ripe mangoes, the combination of tastes and textures between the whipped cream, mango, condensed milk and graham crackers is incredible!”
14. Hawick Balls – Scotland
Buttery and fiery, these hard-boiled drops of peppermint flavour are perfectly warming on a chilly Scottish day. Created in the late 1800s, Scotland’s older locals will nostalgically remember keeping a supply of Hawick Balls in a handy metal tin.
15. Alfajores – Peru
Alfajores are crumbly sweet treats found in many sugar-coated forms throughout Central and South America. The Peruvian version is without a doubt the most tempting, made with a unique blend of honey, almonds and spices.
16. Hangwa – South Korea
Bright, beautiful and enticing, a box of South Korean hangwa will satisfy your sweet tooth in no time. Usually made using variations of honey, sesame oil, puffed rice and colourful icing, these tempting treats are given as gifts to loved ones and are great for sharing!
17. Jalebi – India
You know it’s time to celebrate in India when jalebis are handed around… These traditional sweets are made by deep-frying batter in sugar syrup and are at the centre of any festive occasion, from weddings to festivals and everything in between.
18. Mango and Ginger Chews – Indonesia
Beloved by locals old and young, Chimes Mango and Ginger Chews are firmly interwoven into Indonesian national identity. It’s said that the tangy sweets are based on an ancient family recipe, with the ginger that creates their uniquely fiery flavour is harvested from the foot of a volcano.
19. Künefe – Turkey
Daniel and Audrey from uncorneredmarket.com couldn’t get enough of Turkey’s amazing künefe on their recent trip:
“Throughout the Middle East and Turkey you’ll find variations of this decadent dessert. Künefe is the Turkish variety and includes a white cheese wrapped in a dough, soaked in a honey water and topped with kadayıf (shredded phyllo dough).”
20. Fudge – England
Always a source of British national pride, fudge is a culinary speciality like no other. Crumbly, creamy and ever so moreish, this iconic treat is best sampled in Cornwall, where it’s made with clotted cream and accompanied by a charming sea view.
21. Coconut Drops – Jamaica
It’s rare to find a sweet treat that distils the unique flavour of a country as successfully as the coconut drop. Coconut shavings, brown sugar and root ginger melted together, these gooey sweets are made using the best of Jamaica’s natural resources.
22. Kluchech – Iran
Daniel and Audrey were also raving about the incredible-sounding kluchech on their travels around Iran:
“This cookie is stuffed with cinnamon, sugar and walnut mixture, and is only made in Fuman in Western Iran. When you get it warm from the bakery, it melts in your mouth!”
23. Brigadieros – Brazil
Little balls of cocoa-dusted chocolate, these tasty bites are said to have been invented in Brazil during WW2 when ingredients were scarce. The unique, creamy flavour is created using condensed milk and chocolate powder, combining to make tiny treats that are a favourite at any carnival!
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