National Dessert Day: International Desserts



Today is National Dessert Day! To celebrate, we asked our e-Tutors to share some of their favorite international desserts.

Sev, French: Pâté aux prunes

The Pâté aux prunes (plum pie) is the Anjou region (Loire Valley) dessert par excellence (quintessential), a traditional specialty, healthy and relatively easy to make. The word pâté signifies en pâte, meaning it was cooked without a baking pan, directly on the oven plate. A little hole in the middle called la cheminée(chimney) helps preserve the fruits’ humidity during the baking process.

The pie is fourrée (stuffed, filled) with prunes reines claudes (greengage plums; lit. queen claude plums) which are in season from August to September; the fruits are cooked with the pits to impart better taste and flavor.

The perfect wine pairing is un vin doux ou moelleux (mellow, i.e,  a type of sweet wine) like a Savennières or a Coteaux-du-Layon, famous white wines from Anjou.

You can find a recipe here, along with other specialties of the region.

Michel, Italian: Tiramisù

Tiramisù, perhaps the most famous Italian dessert in the world, was created in Florence by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo de Medici in the late 1600’s. It is said that the name itself, which means “lift me up,” was born among the nobles of the time, who found its properties exciting and an aphrodisiac.

16 ounces mascarpone cheese
20 Savoiardi (ladyfingers cookies)
1-½ cups zucchero (sugar)
6 large uova (eggs), separated into whites and yolks
1-½ cups brewed caffé (espresso)
Cacao amaro (unsweetened cocoa powder) and/or bittersweet chocolate chips

First, prepare the coffee. You can dilute it with water if you want to give a lighter flavor to biscuits.

Pour the coffee into a bowl or a large pot, add 1/2 cup sugar and let it cool.   Then, prepare the cream for the tiramisu. Here’s what to do:

1 Whisk the egg yolks with one-half cup of the sugar until mixture is light and smooth.

2 In another bowl soften the mascarpone with a wooden spoon or a whisk, add to the mixture of sugar and yolks and mix well to combine.

3 In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites until they are the consistency of “snow” with a wooden spoon or a whisk, add the remaining 1/2 cup of the sugar little by little until they have soft peaks.

4 Once the egg whites and sugar are firm but not dry, gently fold them into the mixture of the mascarpone and egg yolks and beat until you have a smooth cream.

At this point we have the coffee and cream ready, and we just have to begin to create our work of art.

Here is our classic tiramisu, following these steps:

1 Take the container into which we are going to assemble our tiramisu, a glass baking dish works well but for convenience you can also use an aluminum pan, and make a first base with about one-third of the cream in an even layer, upon which we will create the first layer of ladyfingers.

2 Having now made the cream base, we now dip the ladyfingers one at a time quickly in the coffee without soaking it too much, and place them one by one, side by side on top of the base until the cream is completely covered.

3 Cover the first layer of ladyfingers with the cream mixture to create the second base.

4 Following this, continue to put the ladyfingers on the second base, remembering always to dip each one quickly in the coffee to create the second layer of our tiramisu, and at the end cover this with the last layer of cream.

After having covered the last layer with cream, lightly dust with the cocoa and, if desired, add chocolate chips.

Refrigerate for a few hours and then it will be ready to be enjoyed!

Enrique, Spanish: Puerto Rican Tembleque

Tembleque can best be described as a rich coconut pudding topped with cinnamon. While it’s not very well known outside Puerto Rico, it is considered to be the island’s national dessert. My Cuban grandparents soon assimilated and learned to make this delicious dish. It reminds me of childhood. The preparation is quite simple and the end result is quite delicious.  Enjoy!

½ can (approximately 7 oz) of cream of coconut (this is the same ingredient used in the preparation of pina colada, it is a thick sweet mixture of coconut paste that can be purchased in specialty stores)
2 ½ cups of milk
½ cup of cornstarch
5 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a large saucepan combine all ingredients except cinnamon and stir very well.

Turn on the stove to medium high and continue stirring vigorously until the paste starts to thicken.

Allow to boil for two minutes while stirring.

Pour into a large mold or individual custard plates.

Let cool and refrigerate.

Sprinkle with ground cinnamon.

April, Korean: 팥빙수 Patbingsu

팥빙수 Patbingsu is one of the most popular summer desserts in Korea. 팥 “Pat” means sweet red beans or Azuki beans and 빙수 “Bingsu” means shaved ice. You can create your own new type of Bingsu depending on what kind of toppings you add: Cheese bingsu, Melon bingsu, Ttuck (Korean traditional rice cake) bingsu, Mango bingsu, Strawberry bingsu and so on. You name it! You can simply add your favorite sweet toppings on the top of this shaved ice, and mix with ice cream (any flavor!) or condensed milk.

The following recipe for Bingsu is for a single serving.

What you need: 2 tablespoons of sweet red beans, 1 tablespoons of condensed milk, 1 cup of ice cubes, 떡 Ttuck (rice cakes), Sweet toppings (fruits such as mango, banana, kiwi, strawberries, blueberries, and Cheese, Green tea powder, etc)

Put ice cubes into a food processor.

Shave the ice! Move it into the bowl.

Add sweet red beans and condensed milk (you can substitute ice cream). The amount controls the sweetness. Add some rice cakes.

Add your sweet toppings on top. Serve!

Dulce, Portuguese: Brigadeiro

Brigadeiro, meaning brigadier, is a very popular dessert in Brazil and in Portugal. Using only three main ingredients, it is very simple to make and so it is usually the first treat children learn to cook. Brigadeiros are small half-inch chocolate and condensed milk hand rolled balls, ideal for children’s parties, standalone desserts or as small treats served with a cafezinho, Brazilian style coffee.

Here’s the receita, recipe, and then a short video to show how to make the sweet gooey balls. Bom apetite, enjoy!

1 can leite condensado (condensed milk)
1 tablespoon manteiga (butter) + extra butter to form the balls
4 tablespoons chocolate em pó (powder chocolate) or 7 tablespoons chocolate powder mix (Nes-Quick)
chocolate granulado (granulated chocolate)


In a deep saucepan, add the butter and the condensed milk;

Stir well then incorporate the powder chocolate in two batches;

Cook in medium heat, stirring continually for about 15 minutes or until you can see the bottom of the pan;

Let the mixture cool in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes;

Rub a small amount of butter on your hands then add about a teaspoon of the chocolate mixture rolling it into a ball;

Sprinkle with granulated chocolate.

Penelope, Greek: μελομακάρονα

One of the most popular and favorite Greek desserts are μελομακάρονα= melomakarona (me-lo-ma-KA-ro-na). They are really popular around Christmas but all year around you can find them on the Greek table!

Melomakarona are baked in the oven. They are little sweet honey cookies with crushed walnuts on top. Some people add a touch of cinnamon and clove for topping. They have plenty honey syrup and they are very moist and soft: they melt when you eat them!

You can find a recipe for μελομακάρονα here.

Anja, German: Quarkspeise

My favorite dessert is Quarkspeise. It is difficult to describe Quark, it is similar to sour cream. Very German. Germans use this for everything, on a role above butter and below honey, in cheese cake, for baking, for cooking. Everywhere.

You must buy it in an international specialty store and even there it is hard to find in the US. German stores tend to have it, but genuine German store are close to nil in the US.

Here’s how you make Quarkspeise:

Take quark (lots)

Milk (to get consistency you like)

Lots of sugar (depending on how sour/sweet you like it)

Bananas (number depends on consistency you like, more for thick, less for thinner)

Vanilla sugar (2 tablespoons)

…and every fruit you like.

Mix, and voilà!

It is delicious! The best part is, the exact proportions do not matter. It is hard to mess this up!

Sakura, Japanese: 抹茶パンナコッタ maccha panna kotta

抹茶パンナコッタ (maccha panna kotta) Matcha Green Tea Panna Cotta: The Japanese staple meets a delicate Italian dessert!

Ingredients (two servings)
3g gelatin
15g water
20g sugar
3g matcha powder
100g milk
50g heavy cream


  1. In a small bowl, soak gelatin in water and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together sugar and matcha powder.
  3. Add milk little by little into (2) while stirring constantly.
  4. In a medium saucepan, stir in (1) & (3) in low heat until gelatin dissolves.
  5. Pour the mixture into a bowl and let it cool for about half an hour.
  6. Stir heavy cream into the mixture.
  7. Pour the mixture into two serving cups and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  8. Garnish whip cream on top when serving if desired.



I don’t know about you, but that made me hungry! Why not celebrate National Dessert Day by making one of the above?