6 Dessert Recipes From Around the World, from Finland to Mexico

By Monish Gujral

Having had the good fortune to travel around the world on my gourmet trails, I have had the pleasure of tasting and experiencing various cuisines, meeting master chefs and learning about their extraordinary culinary journeys from them.

What I found out was that each one has a great story to tell and there is a lot to learn from their profound experiences. Similarly, every dish invented has a story and suspense behind its invention, often enough drama as well.

The unique experiences I have gathered on my dessert trail are what I want to share with all of you.

(Recipes and photographs excerpted with permission from Monish Gujral’s book On The Dessert Trail, Penguin Random House India)

Tres Leche Cake, Mexico

mexican Tres Leche cake

Ingredients for 6–8 servings

Vegetable oil for greasing
Flour for dusting 

The cake
200 gm all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
5 eggs, separated
200 gm sugar
100 gm butter, at room temperature
1 ½ tsp vanilla essence

The glaze
1 can (300 gm) evaporated milk
1 can (400 gm) condensed milk
½ cup full cream milk
½ cup cream

The topping
2 cups heavy cream
200 gm sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence

To decorate
½ cup blueberries

Method

Lightly oil a 13″x 9″ springform pan and dust with flour.

The cake: Preheat the oven to 180⁰C. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside. Put the egg whites in another bowl and whisk, till soft peaks are formed when the whisk is raised. Add the sugar and whisk, till well blended.

Add the egg yolks, one at a time, whisking well between each addition, till thoroughly amalgamated. Stir in the butter and vanilla essence, till well combined. Fold in the flour gently, till well blended. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, till a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean and the top is light golden brown. Remove from the oven and turn out on to a wire rack to cool. Transfer to a serving platter.

The glaze: Whisk all the ingredients for the glaze in a bowl. Pour it over the cake. Refrigerate, preferably overnight.

The topping: Whisk all the ingredients for the topping in a blender, till soft peaks are formed when the whisk is raised. Spread it over the cake and chill in the refrigerator.

To serve: Decorate with blueberries (optional) and serve chilled.

Malva Pudding, South Africa

Malva Pudding

Ingredients

¾ cup refined flour
2 tsp soda bicarbonate
½ tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp apricot jam
125 ml milk
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp white vinegar

The sauce
⅓ cup water
200 ml heavy cream
100 gm butter
100 gm sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp brandy
4 tbsp orange juice

Method

The cake: Preheat the oven to 180⁰C. Sift the flour, soda bicarbonate and salt into a bowl. Whisk the eggs and sugar in an electric blender, till thick and lemon coloured. Add the apricot jam and beat it in. Blend in the flour and milk.

Melt the butter in a pan over low heat and mix in the vinegar. Pour the butter into the batter and blend. Spoon the batter into a lightly greased ovenproof dish. Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for 35 minutes, till a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

The sauce: In the meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Bring the water to a boil in a pan. Add the cream and then the remaining ingredients. Simmer over low heat, till it gets slightly creamy. Turn the cake out on to a serving platter. Pierce all over with a skewer. Pour the creamy sauce over the cake and enjoy this warm winter pudding.

Runeberg Torte, Finland

Runeberg Torte

Ingredients for 10 servings

250 gm all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
60 ml heavy cream
2 eggs
60 gm brown sugar
125 gm butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp amaretto liqueur
1 tsp orange or lemon zest
2 tbsp ground almonds

The sugar syrup
10 gm sugar
4 tbsp water
2 tbsp cognac or rum

The raspberry topping
120 gm raspberries
50 gm sugar

The icing
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp butter
A dash of almond essence
1–2 tbsp milk

Method

Preheat the oven to 180⁰C. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt into a bowl. Pour the cream into another bowl and whisk with an electric blender, till soft peaks are formed when the whisk is raised. Gradually add the eggs and sugar and blend, till completely incorporated. Stir in the butter, vanilla essence and amaretto liqueur. Add the zest and ground almonds and mix well. Fold in the flour, till well blended.

Spoon the batter into lightly greased 90 ml baking moulds. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20–25 minutes, till a skewer inserted into the centre of a mould comes out clean. Remove the moulds from the oven.

The sugar syrup: Put all the ingredients for the sugar syrup in a pan over moderate heat and bring to a boil. Stir, till the sugar dissolves. Set aside and allow the syrup to cool. Pierce the cakes in the moulds with a skewer and sprinkle the sugar syrup on top. Set aside for 30 minutes for the cakes to absorb the syrup.

The raspberry topping: Put the raspberries and sugar into a small pan over moderate heat. Bring to a boil and lower the heat. Cook gently, till the sugar dissolves, the berries are crushed and it has the consistency of a jelly.

Remove the cakes from the moulds. Cut away any uneven parts from the bases. Carefully carve a small hole in the centre of each cake at the top. Insert a little raspberry jelly into it carefully so as not to break the cake. Refrigerate the cakes and allow the jelly to set.

The icing: Put the sugar and butter in a bowl and mix using an electric mixer on low speed. Stir in the almond essence and 1 tbsp of milk. Gradually beat in just enough of the remaining milk to make a smooth and spreadable frosting.

If the frosting is too thick, beat in more milk, a few drops at a time. If it is too thin, beat in a little more powdered sugar. Remove the cakes from the refrigerator and gently pipe the icing around the raspberry filling. Refrigerate again and serve chilled.

Umm Ali, Egypt

Umm Ali

Ingredients for 6 servings

400 gm frozen puff pastry or white bread
2½ cups water
1 can (400 gm) condensed milk or 1 litre full cream buffalo milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
½ cup pistachio nuts, chopped
½ cup blanched, peeled almonds, chopped
½ cup seedless raisins
1 tsp powdered cinnamon
½ cup heavy cream

Method

Preheat the oven to 250⁰C. Unwrap the puff pastry and put it on a baking tray. Put it in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, till the pastry sheets are golden brown. Remove the pastry sheets from the oven and leave the oven on. Alternatively, toast the bread.

Put the water, condensed milk and vanilla essence in a pan over moderate heat. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the nuts, raisins and cinnamon. Line a glass ovenproof dish with pastry sheets or toasted bread. Pour the milk mixture over it. Top with cream. Put the dish in the centre of the preheated oven and bake for 15–20 minutes. Serve hot.

Baklava, Turkey

Baklava

Ingredients for 4–6 servings

1 cup unsalted butter
½ packet (450 gm) phyllo dough (available in modern grocery stores)
1 cup chopped walnuts
⅓ cup blueberries (option raisins)
1½ tbsp whole cloves

For the syrup

⅓ cup sugar
1½ cups water
1″ cinnamon stick
1 cup honey

Method

Preheat the oven to 170⁰C. Melt the butter in a pan over low heat. Spread 2 tbsp of the butter into a 12″ x 17″ baking pan. Layer 3 sheets of the phyllo dough in the pan. Trim the dough to fit the pan. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of walnuts and blueberries over the phyllo dough.

Repeat the layering: dough-butter-walnuts and blueberries, till the pan is three-quarters full, ending with a layer of dough. With a knife, score the phyllo dough to form diamonds. Put a clove at each end of the diamonds. Pour the remaining butter over the dough. Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for 45–50 minutes, till the top is golden brown.

Meanwhile, prepare the syrup. Combine the sugar, water and cinnamon stick in a medium pan over moderate heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the honey and simmer for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and discard the cinnamon stick.

Pour the hot syrup over the hot baklava. Set aside to cool. Cut into diamonds and they are ready to be served.

First published in the November 2017 issue of eShe magazine. Read it for free here.