In the life of the traveling-foodie there comes a moment of longing after each trip abroad, a moment of longing for the taste of their favorite Turkish pastry, Chinese ice cream, or other traditional dessert which reminds them of their time away. What so many fail to realize is that you don’t have to go halfway around the world to regain that experience. In fact, you can recreate those moments right at home. These four simple desserts will take you on a journey across the world without ever taking a step outside your own kitchen!
1. French Crepe
First up is the crêpe- a soft and buttery French favorite that may appear daunting, but is so simple to make. These pastries are well loved in France and are enjoyed extensively every year on February 2nd on their holiday Fête de la Chandeleur (or Candlemas). Though crêpes are often thought of as a sweet dessert, they are also served as a savory dish filled with everything from perfectly cooked vegetables to melted cheese and tender meat.
Ingredients: The best part of this light, buttery pastry is how easy they are to make at home. All you need are five basic ingredients: flour, milk, eggs, butter, and salt; then grab a skillet and your perfect toppings. (If you want, throw in a dash of cinnamon! This will give your crêpes a warm, homey flavor.)
After whisking the ingredients together, make sure to cook the crêpes in a well-buttered pan on medium-low heat. The secret to getting a lovely, thin crêpe is spreading a light layer of batter in the pan, making sure that it reaches all the way to the lip of the pan. This will make your crêpes perfectly shaped with just the right amount of crisp!
2. Turkish Baklava
Next on the list is the mouthwatering dessert from Turkey – baklava. This honey-drizzled, flaky pastry dates back to the early 1300s and was referred to as Güllac. Though baklava has transformed throughout the years, it has remained the preferred dessert within Turkey, as well as other surrounding countries. When you bite into the layers of pastry and nutty filling, you will feel as though you’ve entered into the delightful atmosphere of Middle Eastern culture.
Ingredients: Baklava does require a few more ingredients, but the preparation is simple! The filling consists of sugar, nuts (such as almonds or walnuts), and spices. After mixing together the filling, layer 10-12 sheets of filo pastry in a buttered pan, topping with the spiced, nut mixture. This should be covered with another 10-12 sheets of filo, making sure to butter between layers! Now all you need is the syrup. This is simply sugar, water, lemon juice, and cinnamon and should not be poured over the pastry until AFTER baking.
Tips for making the best baklava:
1) add a couple tablespoons of breadcrumbs to the filling to help bind together the ingredients, creating the perfect consistency!
2) Let the syrup soak into the pastry for at least five hours in the fridge. If you don’t, your baklava will be slightly soggy – a situation which no one wants!
3. Indian Mango Lassi
This next treat may not be a baked good, but it is both simple and tasty. A simple lassi is a Middle Eastern drink made from yogurt, ice, and spices, but the mango version serves as the perfect finish to a delicious Indian meal! As you eat through the curries, spices, and bold flavors of Indian food, your taste buds may get a little overwhelmed. The lassi will cool the tongue, cleanse the palate, and assuage the ever-present sweet tooth with its smooth texture and sweet and tangy flavor. Make it yourself will only take a few minutes!
Ingredients: The first step to conquering the lassi is to pick the best mangos. To tell if a mango is ripe, judge it by the feel, rather than the color. A good mango should have a slight give when you gently squeeze it, just like a ripe peach or avocado. Another way to test ripeness is whether or not the mango has a scent. A ripe mango will have a slight fruity smell near the stem-end of the fruit.
Once you have two delicious mangos, grab some plain yogurt, sugar, and ice. Toss it all into a blender, and voila! you now have a mango lassi! This is not only a fantastic treat for ending you Indian dinner, but also for hot summer days. No matter when you choose to drink it, you will quickly find yourself making this lassi over and over again.
4. Lithuanian Fritter
Last, but most certainly not least, is the Lithuanian donut better known in the area as the fritter. Lithuanians are talented at making heart-warming comfort food and using ricotta cheese in countless, yet remarkable ways. Their donut combines both of these aspects in the perfect treat. Unlike the American donut, this dessert is formed in the shape of a ball, has a slight crunch to the sweet outside, and contains a bready-center that perfectly balances sweet and salty.
The smooth texture and heavenly flavor can be attributed to the fact that the ricotta cheese is incorporated into the batter rather than making a filling, giving you a pastry you’ll keep coming back to. Making this traditional dessert on your own is perfectly simple.
Ingredients: Grab two bowls for mixing, some flour, cinnamon, sugar, eggs, baking powder, vanilla, and ricotta cheese, and a pan/oil for frying. After mixing together the ingredients, use an ice cream scoop to drop the batter into the oil. The ice cream scoop will help you to create consistent donuts. Cook for four minutes, turning only once, and then place on paper towels to drain. This step is essential, so that you can roll the donuts in cinnamon and sugar without them being greasy.