What's the Most Interesting Dessert You've Had From Another Country?

by moderndomestic on January 13, 2010

Indian Candy

It was so . . . silvery . . .

My coworker, Elpis and Justice, just got back from a trip from India, and she brought back some Indian candy to the office. I haven’t tasted that many Indian sweets – besides the rice pudding that’s standard in Indian restaurant lunch buffets. So I was really interested to try the confections Elpis brought back.

But I was a little taken a back when I saw that the entire candy was coated in edible silver. I’m generally not a fan of edible metals in desserts. Once I got a cupcake at the Red Velvet Cupcakery that was topped with a tiny piece of edible gold, and the slight metallic taste set my teeth on edge. On the other hand, after seeing photos of the Indian wedding Elpis attended, where beautifully beaded saris and jewels abounded, the silver coated candy didn’t seem all that out of place.

The candy was interesting – some of the pieces had almonds and spices, and they were wrapped in what looked like some kind of nut favored covering. It was much sweeter than American candy, which usually goes for flavor contrasts (like sweet and sour, or sweet and salty). But, in general, all I could taste was the metal.

But this made me think about how desserts differ from food culture to food culture, and also change over time. What’s the most interesting dessert you’ve from another country? Was there anything you loved that you didn’t expect to like? Anything that you hated?

Indian Candy Box

Candy box.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Sue January 13, 2010 at 8:13 am

Kishmish paneer from Afghanistan (@ Helmand in Baltimore — years ago it was a regular on the menu). Cheese with a feta-like texture but not so sharp a taste, covered with julienned carrots and raisins in a cardamom-infused honey. Abstractly, not my kind of dessert at all, but I loved it.


moderndomestic January 13, 2010 at 11:20 am

That actually sounds delicious. Were the carrots cooked, or raw?


Savi January 13, 2010 at 10:57 am

This is one of my favorite Indian desserts! Called Badam Burfi.. I would compare it something like an almond fudge. Normally the silver goes almost undetected, so I was surprised to hear that it took over the taste. Indian sweets do tend to be much sweeter than what we are used to over here in the States. Rasika has some great dishes that balance the sweetness of the desserts with an ice cream or something similar, if you want to try out some more Indian desserts.


moderndomestic January 13, 2010 at 11:22 am

I may just be sensitive to the metal taste (like I said, I could taste the tiny piece of gold foil on the cupcake). I’ve been wanting to go to Rasika for awhile – I’ve heard great things.

This was was a little drier than what I usually think of as fudge. Is the texture usually like that?


Lauren January 13, 2010 at 11:41 am

I wouldn’t call it interesting, so much as deceiving, but meringues with Double Creme a la Gruyere are my most recently discovered culinary oddity. In Gruyere, Switzerland where Gruyere cheese comes from, the locals make a light and fluffy meringue cookie that practically evaporates in your mouth. These are not the crunchy, calcified meringues from TJs, but they are pretty tasteless – sweet but no spice, no chocolate, no citrus flavor, nothing. The Swiss then dip them in this cream that is twice as thick as heavy whipping cream, which is just about as unintriguing as unsweetened, unwhipped cream could be. Combine the two, however, and you are positively taken in. My fellow intern at the WHO and I tried this out late this summer. First round was “OK, they are sweet and it has contrasting textures. Alright.” Second round was “These meringues are so light and the cookie dust goes everywhere! This cream has a really interesting ending (Maybe the Swiss AREN’T full of crap when they say the mountain grass they feed the cows affects the flavor of their dairy products).” Third round was “NOM, NOM, NOM, NOM!”


moderndomestic January 13, 2010 at 11:48 am

That sounds delicious. Now I want this cream! Do you know what it’s called?


Lauren January 14, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Whoops! It’s creme double, not double creme. Whatever! creme = butterfat, double = even more butterfat.

Here’s my favorite French-Swiss-German-Italian travel/food blog from my summer in Switzerland. http://mykugelhopf.ch/2009/01/double-cream-of-the-crop/


Alice January 13, 2010 at 11:52 am

Ooh, I love those! My favorite are the cashew ones, called “kaju kutli”, which are also covered in varq (the thin silver foil). Barfi (best name for a sweet ever) is also really good, my favorite being the coconut variety. There are a lot of over-the-top Bengali sweets that I can’t handle, but I love khir (rice pudding) and gulab jamun (like donut holes in sugar syrup). Also Indian halwa, which is just starch cooked in milk and sugar. The carrot halwa is super tasty.


Nonna Gorilovskaya January 13, 2010 at 10:09 pm

After we left the Soviet Union, I lived in Italy for a little bit and was introduced to panettone. For Christmas, they came with little toys, and I still associate it with being exotic even though it’s everywhere. Man, I want some right now.


lemmonex January 13, 2010 at 10:58 pm

They aren’t necessarily that weird, but those little asian jellies in the tiny cups? The texture wigs me out.


k8 January 14, 2010 at 11:45 am

Rice pudding makes me gag. It smells like dirty feet. And I work for a Pakistani doctor who LOVES TO MAKE IT. Sigh. I gag it down for the good of the office.


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