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Favorite dessert by nationality?

For me:

American - Frozen custard
Italian - Pistachio gelato
French - Ecclair
Chinese - Egg tart
Indian - Kulfi
Spanish - Churros
Mexican - Paleta
Polish - Krówki
Indonesian - Martabak Manis
Japanese - Monaka


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  1. Frozen custard? There's nothing as American as apple pie...

    I'm not a big dessert person, but I'll always go for cannoli if they're on the menu. Whether they're Italian or Italian-American I can't say.

    For French, tarte tartine (at least northern France). I think of churros as more Mexican than Spanish, but that's me (I'll go for flan in either case).

    I don't really know what Chinese cuisine (a very varied thing of itself) does for desserts, but if I had to pick a sweet it would be the black bean/sesame seed balls.

    English cuisine has some good desserts - sticky pudding and trifle come to mind.

    2 Replies
    1. re: tardigrade

      I think Mexican and Spanish churros are different. Mexican seem to be coated in cinnamon and sugar usually while Spanish are dipped in thick hot chocolate.

      1. re: tardigrade

        Cannoli are definitely Italian. If you have a chance, visit Naples. You'll recognize a lot of the desserts there, but they'll be spectacular and blow you away. During my first visit there, in 1991, I walked down Via Toledo (officially Via Roma) one night and had fantastic baba au rhum, cannoli, and various other things. It was a great night.

      2. Slovenia - Gibanica and Kremeschnitte
        Germany - Schwartzwalderkirschtorte
        Italy - Stracciatelle gelato
        Austria - Sachertorte
        Denmark - Weinerbrod
        Norway - Krumkaka
        France - Palmier

        1. American - deep dish apple crisp
          Italian - tiramisu or lemon ricotta cheesecake
          French - *any* pâte à choux pastry
          Chinese - candied walnuts with vanilla ice cream
          and/or red bean donuts
          Indian - carrot halwah
          Portuguese - pastel de nata
          Mexican - flan
          Dominican - morir soñando
          Polish - paczki
          Japanese - chilled sake
          Greek - galaktoboureko

          8 Replies
          1. re: Cheese Boy

            Yeah, carrot halwah can be fantastic. Oddly enough, though I've been to India and ate marvelously there, the best carrot halwah I've ever eaten is still the first I ever had, at an Indian restaurant in Tokyo that was associated with the Indian Embassy there. We actually disgusted the waitstaff and manager by pigging out so much there, everything was so outstanding!

            1. re: Pan

              Reminds me of pumpkin pie. Although my Indian friends were not too impressed by the comparison!

              1. re: julesrules

                Pumpkin pie isn't full of cardamom.

                1. re: Pan

                  To me cardamom fits in with American "pie" spices and I will often sub out for cinnamon or add it into the mix. I know cardamom has a specific/distinct flavour but I don't really taste it that way anymore if that makes any sense at all!

                  1. re: Pan

                    Cardamom pumpkin pie would be delicious . I should add that to the delicious foods I've never tried thread. :)

                    1. re: prima

                      oooh- I think they'd be great in an "egg tart" size!

                      1. re: prima

                        I actually made a cardamom-heavy "chai-spiced" pumpkin pie one Thanksgiving, with candied walnuts on top.... my family loved it, I thought it was fine.

                        1. re: julesrules

                          That sounds awesome. Balzac ' s makes a cardamom-spiced Latte Nordique that's quite tasty.

              2. Do you mean your favorite dessert from each country or what you think is the national favorite dessert? I'm assuming it's the former.

                American: Apple pie with vanilla ice cream
                Italian: Gelato
                English: Gooseberry fool
                French: Tarte tatin
                Austrian: Germknoedel (plum dumpling served in a butter sauce with poppy seeds)
                Spanish: Flan
                Chinese: Egg tarts

                1 Reply
                1. English - lemon posset
                  Scottish - cranachan
                  Welsh - bara brith (more cake than dessert)
                  British (generic) - apple pie

                  French - tarte au citron

                  Spanish - none are worth the calories

                  Italian - ice cream (pref. frutti de bosco)

                  Cypriot - loukoumades (sp?)

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Harters

                    Loukoumades are the best!! Not as cloyingly sweet as galaktombouriko or baklava.

                    1. re: Harters

                      Cranachan - yay! And the first raspberries are just ready for picking next week.

                      1. re: Harters

                        curious, Harters - what do you mean by Welsh - bara brith ("more cake than dessert") - are cakes not considered dessert in England?

                        1. re: mariacarmen

                          Not really, mc.

                          There are cakes - like carrot cake, fruit cake, Victoria sponge, Battenburg, bara brith - which you'd only eat as a snack with a coffee or tea. You'd never seem them as dessert.

                          On the other hand, chocolate brownies often appear on dessert menus. I suspect that's an import, if you like, from Brits having visited America. From time to time, you do see cakey type desserts - generally also involving chocolate.

                          By way of example, we had a pub lunch yesterday - the dessert menu comprised - sticky toffee pudding, chocolate parfait, cheesecake, creme brulee, bread & butter pudding, Vimto trifle, cheese, ice cream and sorbet. We actually passed on dessert but I am so going back for Vimto trifle.

                          In the past, you might have seen cake served as dessert in what used to be called "high tea". High tea was an early evening family meal (usually working class family)where there would be a basic hot main course, followed by cake or, perhaps, pie.

                      2. American -Chocolate chip cookies
                        Italian -Tiramisu
                        Japanese - Ice cream Takiyaki
                        Indian - Gulab Juman
                        Vietnamese - Pandan sticky rice
                        French- Créme Brûlée
                        British - Treacle tart

                        1. Canadian - Nanaimo bars. Actually, I'm going to make some this week...
                          Sri Lankan - muscat
                          Indian - Jellabie (although gulab jamun is a close second)

                            1. re: Steve

                              It's astonishing how similar this is in "essence" to Aşure.

                              1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                The thiackry at Chez Aunty Libe in DC is (I think) creme fraiche - or maybe fromage blanc, millet, vanilla sugar, and orange blossom water. The grain is cooked beforehand. This is an assembled dish as opposed to a pudding. I am not familiar enough with ashure to say.

                                Could be there are as many versions as there are chefs. At Chez Aunty Libe this needs to be ordered in advance as she doesn't get much call for desserts.

                                1. re: Steve

                                  From "my" Turkish community, ashure is essentially a weeklong crockpot item, eaten until it's gone, and Every family has some trick/ secret addition/ preferred order of preparation.
                                  + Crème fraîche definitely sounds like an upscale version!

                            2. American- . carrot cake with cream cheese
                              Korean-.... Delimanjoo
                              Chinese-... moon cakes
                              Japanese-. Mochi ice cream
                              Scot -........ Selkirk Bannock
                              Turkish-.... Noah's Pudding [EDIT: Aşure]

                              It should be said that TRULY HORRIBLY BAD iterations of most of those are fairly accessible, but the great ones are few and far between.

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: Kris in Beijing


                                I've never considered mooncakes to be dessert.

                                More akin to the Chinese version of sweet tea sandwiches.

                                1. re: ipsedixit


                                  Maybe because desserts aren't a part of a meal to me, but a stand-alone?

                                  1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                    Y'know, like if you go to a typical Chinese banquet, the dessert course is usually some sort of taro cake/pudding, almond tofu, red bean (azuki) soup w/ginkgo and other goodies, etc.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      Oh I just meant that ~personally~ I don't include dessert items with my own meals.
                                      Dessert is a stand-alone (family tradition is called "Night Snack") because it is best enjoyed without the pressures of being the perfect end to a perfect meal. I'll just take another serving of the starchy side, thank you, if I'm not full near the end.
                                      Some green bean or corn ice cream Popsicles would be a wonderful Night Snack right now.

                                2. re: Kris in Beijing

                                  Aşure is truly wonderful,

                                  There is also a very different Malay version that was pronounced "sura" with typical abbreviation and elision from Terengganu and Kelantan Malays when I was living in Terengganu in the 70s. They made it in huge cauldrons and distributed it throughout the village, where it was eaten more as a snack than a dessert after a meal. It was sweet but also contained savory items like chicken, all mixed into a thick, gray substance that was one of the most delicious and complex things I've ever had.

                                  There are recipes online, and it turns out, there are different Malay versions from the different Malaysian states. An enterprising person, especially one who can read Malay and is comfortable with metric measures, should try making them.

                                  1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                    Funny thing -- mochi ice cream is far more popular in the U.S. than in Japan, where it really only exists as a cheap dessert in convenience stores.

                                    1. re: Tripeler

                                      But you can't beat 7-11 in Japan for dessert/ snack/ quick food.

                                      1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                        They sell excellent satsuma imo candy cheaply.

                                  2. Portugal - pastel de nata/Belem

                                    I'm not big on desserts, but man, these littl things are one of the simplest yet most delicious things I've ever had the pleasure of tasting.

                                    1. 'Merican: Peanut butter pie with whipped cream on top
                                      Indian: Pistachio Kulfi
                                      Eye-TAL-yun: Tiramisu

                                      1. English- Plum crumble and custard
                                        French- Tarte au citron
                                        Italian- Figs with mascarpone and marsala
                                        Portuguese- Pastel de nata
                                        Spanish- Churros
                                        USA-Baked cheesecake.
                                        Austria-Cherry strudel

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: Paprikaboy

                                          PB - I'm curious that you and another poster have said churros for Spanish. Never seen them there as a dessert - either in a restaurant or home situation. It's always been breakfast or snack. Have I been looking in the wrong places?

                                          1. re: Harters

                                            I agree. I've only seen it in Spain for breakfast. You're more likely to see flan on dessert menus.

                                            1. re: Harters

                                              H- I think you're right that they're more of breakfast item.One of my favourite Spanish places in London -Salt Yard- has them a dessert. Also I seem to have developed the habit of a two course breakfast,something savoury followed by something sweet so I'd claim churros as a dessert in that case.

                                              1. re: Paprikaboy

                                                My only two-courser breakfast involving churros was when we had a fortnight in Estepona a few years back. Ham omelette at the house, followed by churros and chocolate in town.

                                              2. re: Harters

                                                We went to the famous chocolateria san gines while in madrid- all they serve is churros and chocolate- and late night they were crazy busy

                                                But i don't remember seeing the churros on dessert menus at restaurants.

                                            2. American - harder to pin down; how to choose between Bananas Foster, Peach Melba, Lemon Meringue Pie (and its second cousin, Key Lime Pie), and Devil's Food Cake? How?
                                              Austrian: Apple Strudel
                                              British: Banoffee Pie
                                              German: Black Forest Cake or Pfeffernüsse
                                              Greek: Kourabiedes
                                              Italian - a variation on Sfogliatelle called Lobster Tail (shaped accordingly
                                              and filled with "French cream" rather a ricotta cream.)
                                              French - Tarte Tatin or Chocolate Mousse
                                              Portuguese - Pastéis de Nata
                                              Spanish - Flan

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: mcsheridan

                                                Tarte tatin is truly great, and it's a real art.

                                                1. re: Pan

                                                  And somehow, even those that don't achieve high art are pretty damned tasty! :)

                                                2. re: mcsheridan

                                                  Well you can move Peach Melba to England, France or better yet, Australia, that should help winnow your America category ;)
                                                  Not nitpicking, but I had it in my head as Australian, so I had to look. From Wikipedia:
                                                  "The dish was invented in 1892 or 1893 by the French chef Auguste Escoffier at the Savoy Hotel, London, to honour the Australian soprano, Nellie Melba."

                                                  1. re: julesrules

                                                    And lemon meringue pie is Swiss in origin (according to WikiP)

                                                    1. re: Harters

                                                      I'll concede the Swiss origin, but the pie has such a long history in the US and is so wildly popular on these shores, that I'll say it's a naturalized pie citizen. :D

                                                      And nothing better for dessert after a seafood meal, IMO, unless you happen to be in those parts of Florida where truly great Key Lime Pies can be found.

                                                      1. re: mcsheridan

                                                        Must have triple nationality then. It's also a British classic. Makes me wonder if that's a independent classic or one we acquired via visiting American servicemen during WW2.

                                                    2. re: julesrules

                                                      Check and double-check; I knew that, but had *completely* forgotten. Got to give England & Australia their due!

                                                  2. American -- strawberry shortcake (the cake kind) or chocolate cake
                                                    French -- pot de creme
                                                    Italian -- ricotta cheesecake
                                                    Romanian -- papanasi
                                                    Portuguese -- pastel de nata
                                                    Lebanese/Egyptian/Turkish/Palestinian, and others -- kanafeh
                                                    English -- sticky toffy date pudding
                                                    Korean/Chinese -- sool dduk
                                                    Indian -- ras malai
                                                    Austrian/Hungarian -- apple strudel
                                                    Filipino -- leche flan
                                                    Trinidadian/Jamaican -- black cake
                                                    Japanese -- castella
                                                    Indonesian/Malaysian -- pulut hitam

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                                      My favorite retes (Hungarian strudel) is meggyes retes (sour cherry strudel). Makos retes (poppy strudel) is second, apple is third (and I don't remember the Hungarian word for apple offhand because I ordered the others more often while I was in Hungary).

                                                      Pulut hitam is very soothing.

                                                      I love knafeh (various transliterations).

                                                      Pot de creme is wonderful, but so are so many French desserts. France is really has one of the best bunch of desserts in the world.

                                                    2. Palestinian - Om Ali (this is also North African from Egypt to Morocco). A pastry soaked in pudding . Two desserts for the price of one!

                                                      1. Greek - Baklava
                                                        Italian - Ricotta Pie
                                                        Japanese - An Pan, sweet bean paste pastry
                                                        American - Apple Pie
                                                        French - Everything!

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: treb

                                                          French - Everything!

                                                          I'm with you, except I'm just not a fan of Punitions.

                                                          Personal failing. I know.

                                                        2. Why not count the egg tarts as Portuguese so that you can add another for China?

                                                          As for murtabak, even though it's not originally from Indonesia, it's good both in savory and sweet forms. I am rarely able to finish it all, which is in stark contrast to the usual fate of my meals.

                                                          (I'm only being pedantic because I'm curious as to which other Indonesian desserts you've tried).


                                                          1. American: fudge. May not be dessert to some, but it was in my family.
                                                            India: ras malai. Rasgullas, with gilding
                                                            Greek: baklava. A Greek friend's grandmother made the most exquisite one I ever had, but she died without passing along her secrets.
                                                            French: creme brulee. First time I ate it, I actually swooned.
                                                            Japanese: a red bean paste candy, made by an exchange student--wish the heck I knew the name of it.

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: pine time

                                                              It's really hard to find good baklava in US but good baklava is to die for.

                                                              1. re: Monica

                                                                ... and really quite hard to make. Well, that is.

                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                  I've probably tried 10 recipes and even more iterations of those recipes, with "okay" results. Baklava should never just be "okay."

                                                              2. US: NY cheesecake
                                                                Mexico: pastel de tres leches
                                                                El Salvador: flan de leche
                                                                Peru: alfajores
                                                                Italy: zuccotto
                                                                France: chocolate mousse
                                                                England: rhubarb tart with almond crumble top
                                                                Egypt: kunafah with 'ishta
                                                                Levant region: baqlawa and asaabi zainab (that's a handful of countries, so I'm naming two :)
                                                                Gulf Arab countries: lugeimaat
                                                                Kenya-Tanzania kaimati (^same thing as this above)
                                                                Iran: bamieh
                                                                Afghanistan: firni
                                                                Pakistan: gulab jamun
                                                                India: qalaqand(^interchangeable)
                                                                Bangladesh: roshomalai (^interchangeable)
                                                                Thailand: sticky rice w/ coconut milk with fresh mango
                                                                Vietnam: banh cam
                                                                China: dunno what it is called in Chinese languages but it is banh bao chi in Vietnamese, both this and banh cam are from either country

                                                                1. American - pecan pie, hazelnut or raspberry cheesecake (I remember both kinds of cheesecake from Miss Grimbles, formerly a store in Manhattan)
                                                                  Italian - Panforte
                                                                  French - for something non-restaurant, tarte rhubarbe. Or as a whole category: Pates de fruits.
                                                                  Chinese - fresh lychees are better than anything else
                                                                  Indian - pista burfi, but there is lots of good stuff
                                                                  Spanish - flan
                                                                  Malaysian - sago gula Melaka
                                                                  Thai - pumpkin custard
                                                                  Japanese - green tea cream puffs with azuki beans (I got great ones in the basement of a department store in Ginza last time I was in Japan). Mont blanc is also great.
                                                                  Levantine - baklava (for Greece, too, though galaktoboureko is soothing and nice), mamoul (with date paste)
                                                                  German - Kaiserschmarrn
                                                                  Hungary: Gundel palacinta, gestenygolyu, gestenypure
                                                                  And now I start to go blank on countries - these are all countries I've been to. I suppose I could say maple candy for Canada, but you can get equally good maple candy in Vermont.

                                                                  I frankly don't remember desserts much from my visits to Indonesia. I remember great savory food more. Murtabak is also a Malaysian dessert - of Indian origin, I believe. I love bubur, but I still think of it as breakfast food from my time in Malaysia in the 70s. If I could use a time machine, my favorite Malaysian dessert would be the kueh bakar I had during recess in my elementary school canteen, but I found nothing much like it on my last trip to Malaysia, because it requires a wood-burning stove.

                                                                  1. American: Red velvet cake
                                                                    Tex-Mex: Fried ice cream
                                                                    Canadian: Butter tarts
                                                                    Mexican: Tres leches cake
                                                                    Brazilian: Papaya mousse
                                                                    Puerto Rican: Tembleque
                                                                    German: Mohnkuchen
                                                                    Austrian: Cremeschnitte
                                                                    Russian: Napoleon
                                                                    English: Sticky toffee pudding
                                                                    Filipino: Ube halaya/ice cream
                                                                    Japanese: Mochi ice cream
                                                                    Chinese: Lao po bing
                                                                    Indian: Motichoor laddoo
                                                                    Palestinian: Knafeh
                                                                    Lebanese: Bourma

                                                                    1. My Armenian grandmother used to make homemade Baklava, but to serve with coffee on special occasions, a neighbor lady down the street would make Roejig. If you were on good terms with her, she'd gift a couple of long strands of it to neighbors whenever she made a batch (although she used purple grape juice, not white as in the recipe linked below).


                                                                      Oh man, I can still remember the taste from decades ago.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: RelishPDX

                                                                        We saw these for sale all over Armenia when we went there earlier this year. They were mostly purple, as from the grape juice, but we did see a few in other colors as well.

                                                                        I'm sorry we didn't try them.

                                                                      2. American: strawberry shortcake - the biscuit kind, and chocolate chip cookies.
                                                                        I think these both make use of salty and sweet, and are homemade "simple" desserts yet actually somewhat complex in flavour, rich and satisfying. So for me they epitomize American-style dessert, which we also love in Canada :)
                                                                        Side note: I've often thought of doing a thread of North American vs. European style baking. I used to idealize French patisserie so much but I've come to really appreciate North American-style home baking.

                                                                        1. A lot of countries don't eat desserts as much as we do---they are more likely to end their meal with fruit, and save the pastries and sweets for a snack with coffee or tea at some other time. And churros are usually eaten for breakfast, with coffee or chocolate, and not as dessert after a meal.

                                                                          1. American - Apple pie
                                                                            Chinese - Radish puffs 蘿蔔絲餅(the kind similar to sfogliatelle)
                                                                            Taiwanese - Soft tofu 豆花
                                                                            Italian - Genoise cake
                                                                            Greek - Finikia
                                                                            French - Louvre cake
                                                                            Japanese - Daifuku
                                                                            Thai -Mango sticky rice
                                                                            Indian - Rasmalai
                                                                            Czech - Poppy seed cake

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Pookipichu

                                                                              Ah, another rasmalai fan. For years, Mr. P. asked for me to make either ragullas or rasmalai for his birthday instead of cake. I still do it on his "mid" b.d., i.e., 6 month point of the year.

                                                                              1. re: pine time

                                                                                Absolutely delicious, a proper rasmalai is really a wonderful thing. Especially with generous cardamom and a little rose water.

                                                                            2. American - Banana pudding
                                                                              Italian - Tiramisu
                                                                              French - Chocolate gateau
                                                                              Indian - Gulab jamun
                                                                              German - Black Forest cake
                                                                              Spanish - Flan
                                                                              Mexican - Mexican hot chocolate
                                                                              Polish - Walnut cake

                                                                              Thai - No idea what the name is, but it was some sort of smooth, gelatinous rice-based (?) custard, with heavy coconut flavoring, wrapped in a banana leaf. I ate myself sick on those at a Thai neighbor's Chinese New Year party around age 12 and have never seen it since. I also love mango sticky rice.

                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: speakhandsforme

                                                                                    I googled sago and it looks closer to tako, but you didn't eat it with a spoon, it came in a solid block that you took bites out of. And it was wrapped 100% in the banana leaf, so you unwrapped it like a Christmas present.

                                                                                    1. re: speakhandsforme

                                                                                      I think you're talking about sod sai, steamed coconut sticky rice wrapped in banana leaf, it's similar to Chinese mochi. It's my second favorite Thai desert after mango sticky rice. Delicious.

                                                                                      If you live in N.Y. you can get it at Sripraphai.

                                                                                    2. Peru - LUCUMA anything. Mousse, ice cream, anything. We just discovered this incredible fruit and its caramel-like flavor a few months ago. It is similar to eggfruit and is being grown in California but it hasn't shown up in markets in the DC area. It can be purchased in a powdered from so I am going to buy some and experiment with it.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                                        Supposedly the lucuma stuff is Chilean--but who knows, considering the rivalry between Chile and Peru over pisco sour. However, I do believe that the lucuma plant is native to Chile not Peru (but, I could be talking out of my ear).

                                                                                        1. re: Wawsanham

                                                                                          I've been to both countries (Chile twice) and I've never had lucuma in Chile. Never saw it on a menu. The fruit itself grows in the Andean valleys of Peru but it could have been planted in Chile. And of course, people move between countries so foodstuffs from one country end up in another. Though we have a large Spanish-speaking population here, I haven't been able to find the fresh fruit in any of the markets, probably because they are the tiendas and mercados operated mostly by and for people from Central America. But I keep looking!

                                                                                      2. I don't know what country - as I've had this in numerous Central American countries - tamales de elote. It is a sweet corn pudding type of filling and served with a sour cream type of topping. LOVE IT!

                                                                                        1. I love the American, New England, "Yankee" desserts: Grapenuts pudding and Indian pudding. Really hard to find in restaurants near me, so I've been making my own.

                                                                                          Another favorite from Peru: Suspiro de limeña -- how can you not love a caramel-like pudding with the name "Sigh of a woman?!" :)

                                                                                          1. American: peach cobbler
                                                                                            Canadian: buttertart
                                                                                            French: Iles flottantes/clafoutis
                                                                                            Greek: loukamades
                                                                                            Hungarian: palacsinta