The best international treat recipes that require zero travel

Growing up in a Russian family, I was constantly surrounded by Eastern European cakes and candies. Tortes layered with sweetened sour cream, chocolate “sausages,” my mom was notoriously known for making, and candies from the Russian store were kitchen staples in my house. And since my mom firmly believed a child should never not be eating (a USSR holdover), I ate a lot of sweets. Like, A LOT. And I’ve always been one to experiment with dessert because there is just SO much of it from all around the world. It’s insane to me that there are sugary, doughy treats I haven’t even tried, to be honest.

So, sweet-toothed babes, which worldly desserts have you tried? Here are 13 that should be on your personal dessert bucket list:

1. Sernik from Poland

Recipe from

This dessert is the Polish version of cheesecake. Made with farmer’s cheese and a ton of butter, this treat is absolutely flawless. Russia has a similar take on this and it’s called “syrniki,” which are small, sweet cheese pancakes. And yes, you’re welcome any time at my parents’ house for breakfast.

2. Brigadeiro from Brazil

Recipe from Street Smart Brazil

Brigadeiros, which are composed of sweet chocolate and condensed milk, are basically little balls of pure heaven. They’re traditionally a birthday treat, but I see no harm in nomming on these year-round.

3. Zerde Pudding from Turkey

Recipe from

This pudding, made with rice, water, pine nuts and currants, is definitely a unique twist on what we (in the US) are used to when it comes to pudding. To top it off, rose-water and saffron is added for extra flavor. I’m in.

4. Medovik from Russia

Recipe from Yelena Sweets

Medovik is my absolute FAVORITE Russian dessert. It’s. So. Good. Layered between buttery, flaky sheets of cake, is a sweet, sour cream-based “frosting,” honey, and chopped nuts. Pair this with a cup of tea and prepare yourself for next-level heaven.

5. Nanaimo Bars from Canada

Recipe from The Eclectic Cook

There’s really nothing better than crushed nuts, coconut flakes, chocolate, and thick, vanilla cream, AMIRIGHT? This Canadian bar is three layers of pure awesome.

6. Alfajores from South America

Recipe from Peru Delights

These treats, which are popular in countries like Peru, Chili, and Brazil, are essentially cookie-caramel sandwiches topped with powdered sugar. Although they’re a South American staple, each country has a unique way of preparing them.

7. Semla from Sweden

Recipe from Serious Eats

This Easter dessert is one of Sweden’s most epic creations: a puff pastry filled with sweet cream. The only downside: the Semla can only be eaten on a Tuesday, as per tradition.

8. Koeksisters from South Africa

Recipe from Nama

These traditional Cape Malay braids of glory and sweetness, are made from potatoes, butter, cardamom, tangerine peel, and a ton of sugar.

9. Taiyaki from Japan

Recipe from Just One Cookbook

These fish-shaped cakes filled with red-bean paste, chocolate, and custard, can be found during Japanese festivals or street fairs. You can totally make your own with this fish-shaped hot cake maker.  An absolutely necessary kitchen appliance.

10. Gulab Jamun from India

Recipe from Veg Recipes of India

Americans are known for their shockingly sweet desserts (or so my parents say, I don’t believe in “too much” sugar), but Indian desserts are even sweeter. Which is why I love them. . . Gulab Jamun is a sweet dough traditionally made from buffalo milk and soaked in a rose-water, saffron syrup.

11. Dobos Torte from Hungary

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

This chocolate layered cake is a pain to make. I’m just being real here. Much like my beloved Medovik, it takes time and patience. But the results are so, so worth it. Dobos torte is a white sponge-y cake smothered in chocolate. A lot of chocolate.

12. Quindim from Brazil

Recipe from

This sweet glob is essentially a custard. So think flan, minus the caramel. Quindim is made with sugar, shredded coconut, and copious amounts of butter (which seems to be a theme here—I’m not complaining).

13. Sticky toffee pudding from England

Recipe from The Guardian

Sticky toffee pudding isn’t super exotic—in fact, I’ve seen it on a bunch of menus lately. Which I am totally ok with, because sticky toffee pudding is kind of incredible. This dessert is a really dense cake that tastes like toffee (naturally), and it’s usually served with a scoop of ice cream because life is wonderful like that.

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