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Bring the world into your kitchen: Desserts to try your hand at

Plate of four pieces of baklava
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Right now, many of us are spending an unprecedented amount of time at home, and while that means that travel plans are out of the question, that doesn’t mean you can’t experience another culture in other ways. Last week, we wrote about exploring museums from your couch. Today we take the journey around the world into the kitchen, and highlight a few dessert recipes you can try your hand at, for a taste of another culture. 


Baklava is a well-known dessert across the Mediterranean and middle east. Baklava is prepared with layers of filo dough and nuts, and typically covered in a honey syrup. Because it is so widespread, however, numerous variations exist: the filling may be made of walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, or pistachios; and spices and other flavorings like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom or rose water may be added. While not a difficult recipe to make, working with filo dough can be tedious, and might be best accomplished with two people. Try out this Turkish pistachio baklava recipe from the New York Times.


Alfajores are enjoyed across South America. They are a sandwich cookie with a dulce de leche filling, and coated in powdered sugar. What makes the cookies unique is the use of cornstarch in the recipe. As with any food found across a wide region, there are variations in the basic ingredients, spices, and coatings used, but the general concept remains the same. Get started on your own alfajores with this recipe on Chowhound.

Gulab Jamun

Gulab jamun is an Indian dessert consisting of deep-fried dumplings made of milk solids and served in a sweet cardamom and rose water syrup. Homemade gulab jamun can be made with milk powder. You can also buy prepackaged gulab jamun mixes, often found in international grocery stores. Try this recipe from the BBC.

Jian dui

Jian dui is a Chinese dessert, made of rice flour filled with a paste and rolled in sesame seeds. Red bean paste is a common filling, along with lotus seed paste or a sweet black bean paste. If you want to try making them yourself, check out this recipe, which uses red bean paste, from Epicurious.

Mango sticky rice

Mango sticky rice is a popular Thai dessert made of glutinous sticky rice, coconut milk, and mango. Though generally associated with Thailand, it is popular across southeast Asia. Variations can include using different varieties of mango, depending on the availability based on where you live, and even other fruits such as durian. Try this recipe from the Rasa Malaysia food blog.

These are just a few of many types of desserts and flavors from around the world. What are your favorite recipes? Let us know over on Twitter or Facebook.

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