- Food and Cooking
Around The World In 8 Desserts
Spain - Flan
Flan in an ancient recipe used during Roman times. This sweet dessert dish is still popular today; although traditional flan recipes are commonly stood by there are varied ingredients that can be used that add more excitement. This recipe is an original take on Spanish Flan as it is a well-known dish often a favoured choice for dessert.
3/4 cup sugar
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a saucepan, gently stir sugar over medium to low heat until melted and golden, for approximately 15 minutes. Instantly pour into a 2-qt. round baking dish without greasing, tilt to coat the bottom of the dish and leave to stand for 10 minutes.
In a bowl, mix the cream cheese until smooth. Add beaten eggs, one at a time, until all combined. Add remaining ingredients; combined well and pour over caramelized sugar.
In a larger baking pan place the dish in the centre and pour in boiling water in-between both dishes with a depth of 1inch. Bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes or until centre is set.
Remove dish from a larger try onto a wire rack (be careful of hot water); cool for 1 hour and refrigerate overnight.
Run a knife around edges and invert onto a large serving platter. Cut into wedges and spoon over sauce for each serving. Serves approximately 8-10.
France - Macaroons
French Macaroons are a delicate meringue-based treat which can be made in an assortment of colours and flavours, commonly filled with ganache, buttercream or jam. Very much a French sweet Macaroons have become extremely popular over the last several years. This is a basic Macaroon recipe with opportunity to change and add to suit your taste.
125g/4½oz icing sugar
125g/4½oz ground almonds
90g/3½oz free-range egg whites
2 tbsp water
110g/4oz caster sugar
Food colouring (optional)
Desiccated coconut, for sprinkling (optional)
150ml/5fl oz double or whipped cream, whipped
Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3 and line baking paper into a large baking tray.
In a large bowl mix together icing sugar, ground almonds and 40g/1½oz egg whites into a paste like texture.
Add water and caster sugar into small saucepan and gently heat to melt the sugar, gradually turn up the heat up and boil the mixture until it starts to thicken – if you wish to use a thermometer it should read 115C/239F for the mixture
Combined the leftover egg whites (50g/2oz ) into bowl until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed from the bowl, then add the sugar syrup, blend until the mixture becomes stiff and shiny (To make coloured macaroons, you can add a few drops of food colouring). Pour the meringue mixture into the almond paste mixture and stir gently until it becomes stiff and shiny again.
Into piping bag spoon the mixture in, to stop the baking paper sliding around pipe a little mixture under each corner paper. Hold the bags vertically, piping 4cm/1½in flat circles onto the lined tray, about 2cm/¾in apart. The mixture should be loose to give you macaroons a smoother finish. To get rid of the small “tip” that the piping left give the tray 2–3 slams on a flat surface to flatten them, after all the piping is done. For more decoration you can sprinkle with desiccated coconut if you want.
Leave to stand for about 30 minutes in order to form a skin then bake in the oven, leave the oven door slightly open, baking the macaroons for 12–15 until firm. Once out of the oven, lift the paper off the tray and leave them to cool on the paper.
For finishing touches sandwich the macaroons together using whipped cream.
United Kingdom - Victoria Sponge
The Victoria Sponge is very much a British dessert, dating back to the reign of Queen Victoria. This sponge based cake has been around for many decades past down from generation to generation. Although many recipes consists of the typical sponge base with jam and cream filling, over the years alternative twists have been incorporated.
200g caster sugar
200g softened butter
4 eggs, beaten
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp milk
For the filling
100g butter, softened
140g icing sugar, sifted
drop vanilla extract (optional)
340g jar good-quality strawberry jam
icing sugar, to decorate
Pre heat the oven to 190C or gas mark 5. With butter grease two 20cm sandwich tins and line with baking paper. In a large bowl, mix all the cake ingredients until smooth and soft.
Separate the mixture between both tins evenly, smoothing the surface with a spatula, then bake for about 20 mins until golden (for even baking place both tins on the same oven shelf). After you’ve taken them out the oven, turn onto a cooling rack until completely cool.
Foe the filling, beat butter until creamy and gradually mix in icing sugar -vanilla extract optional. Layer the butter cream over the bottom of one of the sponges, and jam on the other before sandwiching the sponges together. For decoration dust with a little icing sugar before serving.
USA - Pecan Pie
Pecan pie is a Southern U.S desert speciality, dating back from 1800s. This dish is popularly served as a sweet during the holidays. The pie is primarily made using corn syrup and pecan nuts but there can many variations that are also good. This recipe is an alternative twist on this all American classic using pretty individual portions, great for when guests come over!
300g plain flour
150g melted butter
50g caster sugar
For the filling
175g pecans halves
4 large eggs
85g golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp bourbon
50g butter, melted
85g light muscovado sugar
For the iced bourbon cream
150ml whipping cream
2 tbsp bourbon
2 tbsp golden syrup
Firstly pre heat oven to 190C/gas mark 5. Work the flour, butter and sugar together using your hands until well mixed, then evenly pressing the contents into the base and up the sides forming a tart base, do this 6x and place in a baking tray.
Keep to the side approximately 36 pecan halves for later on and roughly chop the rest. Beat together eggs, sugar, syrup, vanilla, bourbon, melted butter and the chopped pecans, then spooning it into the tart cases. Top each one with the pecan halves and bake for 20-25 mins until golden. Note: the filling will rise as it bakes, but will settle back as it cools.
To accompany you can mix whipping cream, golden syrup and bourbon until softly stiff, then put them into a freezer container which can be kept for up to a month. Serve straight from the container like ice-cream, or leave to soften for up to 15 mins for a creamy version.
India - Gulab Jumun
Similar to dumplings Gulab Jamun is milk solids based and dough like dessert popular in Asian countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Gulab Jamun is a popular dessert during traditional celebrations such as marriages and festivities.
1 cup Milk Powder
2 tsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp suji
2 tblsp ghee
Whole milk just enough to make the dough
For the Sugar Syrup
2 cup Sugar
2 cup water
4 - 5 Cardamom
few drops of lemon
Few strands of kesar
Oil for frying
Soften the suji by soaking it in 1/2 cup of water.
Mix milk powder, ghee, baking powder and flour together. Drain any excess water from the soaked suji and add to the bowl. Now blend together by rubbing the mixture between the palms of your hands to ensure everything gets mixed properly. Do not knead it.
Add whole milk to make a mixture medium-hard. Cover with a damp yet dry kitchen towel and keep aside for 20 - 25 mins.
Later divide the mixture between 18-20 portions by gently rolling each portion between your palms into a smooth ball then place the balls on a plate.
Heat oil on high heat gradually lower it to medium. Carefully place the balls into the hot oil from the side of the pan (one by one). They will sink to the bottom of the pan, but do not try to move them. Instead, gently shake the pan to keep the balls from browning on just one side. After about 5 mins, the balls will rise to the surface. The balls should rise slowly to the top if the temperature is just right. Then take a slotted spoon and move it in circular motion in the oil, making sure not to touch the other balls. This will ensure the balls are evenly brown.
If the temperature of the oil is too high then the gulab jamuns will break. So this is why the temperature is adjusted.
The balls must be fried very slowly under medium temperatures. This will ensure complete cooking from inside and even browning.
The syrup should be made earlier and kept warm. To make the hot sugar syrup add mix the 2 cups of sugar to 2 cup of water. Add 4-5 cardamom pods, slightly crushed and a few strands of "Kesar". Mix with a spoon and then heat at medium heat for 5-10 minutes until sugar is all dissolved in water. Do not overheat, that will caramelize the sugar. Add few drops of lemon this will ensure that once syrup cools down it does not solidify.
Transfer this hot syrup into a serving dish. Keep it warm on stove. Add the fried gulab jamuns directly into the warm syrup. Leave gulab jamun balls in sugar syrup overnight for best results. They can be served warm or at room temperature.
The Caribbean - Caribbean Spice Cake
Caribbean dishes have a tendency to be rich in tropical flavours. It’s fair to say that Caribbean sweets use a lot of rum throughout there dishes and it has become a very common ingredient to use. This particular recipe does not include rum however I’m sure you will be able to add some if you wish. This none alcoholic alternative is jam packed with exotic fruits and spices, another classic home dessert.
2 large butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup tamarind nectar
Mango Compote with Cilantro-Mint Syrup
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Firstly heat the oven to 400°, then scoop out the butternut squash seeds, place the squash, cut-side down, on a baking sheet coated with oil spray. Bake for about 40 minutes or until squash is tender and when cool enough to handle, scoop out the pulp. Process the squash pulp in a food processor until smooth. Turn oven down to 375°. Coat a baking pan with cooking spray, and line with baking paper.
Mix flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, ground ginger, ground cloves and white pepper in a bowl. In another bowl, beat butter and brown sugar at with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs; and beat for a further 1 minute. Add tamarind nectar and 1 1/3 cups butternut squash puree; beat until smooth. Add flour mixture and combine. Pour batter into a prepped pan, and bake at 375° for 30 minutes
While the cake is in the oven, prepare Mango Compote. Mix yogurt and powdered sugar until creamy.
Cut cake into squares. Cut each square into two triangles, and top with yogurt sauce. Serve with Mango Compote with Cilantro-Mint Syrup.
Italy - Tiramisu
Tiramisu is a popular Italian coffee-flavoured dessert which has been dated back as far as 1960s, originating from Veneto region in Italy. Over time there have been many variations of the dessert and each is as popular as the next. Tiramisu recipes only use a short list of ingredients and are east steps to follow.
568ml pot double cream
250g tub mascarpone
5 tbsp golden caster sugar
300ml strong coffee, made with 2 tbsp coffee granules and 300ml boiling water
175g pack sponge fingers
25g chunk dark chocolate
2 tsp cocoa powder
In a bowl place the cream, mascarpone, Marsala and sugar, whisking until the cream and mascarpone have completely combined with a whipped cream texture.
Get your serving dish at the ready for this next part. Pour readymade coffee into a shallow dish and dipping the sponge fingers in a few at a time at -nicely soaked, but not soggy. Layer these into your dish until you have used half the biscuits, then spread over half of the creamy mixture coarse side of grate over the chocolate. Then repeat the layers (you should use up all the coffee), finishing with the creamy layer.
Cover and chill for a few hours or overnight. To serve, dust with cocoa powder and grate over the remainder of the chocolate.
Japan - Green Tea Ice Cream
Green Tea Ice Cream is an extremely popular ice cream flavour in Japan and Eastern parts of Asia. Mixing the traditional green tea flavour and ice cream together has become a unique yet favourite dessert option in the Far East regions.
500ml full-fat milk
100ml double cream
3 egg yolks
10g green tea powder (see Tip)
Tropical fruits, such as sliced mango and dragon fruit, to serve
Over a medium heat put milk and cream into a pan and bring just to the boil then remove from heat. In a bowl, cream together the egg yolks, sugar and green tea for a few minutes, until thickened gradually pour in the hot milk mixture by stirring.
Then pour the mixture back into the pan over a medium to low heat, stirring, for 10-12 minutes, until thick. Do not overheat as it may curdle. Sieve into a clean bowl and cool.
Churn the mixture in an ice cream maker until frozen, then freeze until serving. Alternatively, pour into a freeze proof container, freeze for 2 hours then whizz in a processor until smooth. Freeze and repeat 3-4 times, until smooth, then freeze until serving. Serve scoops of ice cream with sliced tropical fruits.