Is there anything more delicious than tucking into a local delicacy? A pastry oozing a gooey filling, a cake with a timeless recipe or a dessert that’s like nothing you’ve ever tasted before! We might have to show some self-control at home, but holidays are all about enjoying ourselves – especially if that means indulging our cravings for sugary delights. We’ve put together five of our favourites for you to enjoy, just think of us as your sweet tooth fairy. Before we get going here’s a quick reminder not to drool, especially if you’re reading this in public!
Pastel de Nata (Pasteis de Nata), Portugal
This Portuguese custard tart doesn’t mess around in the dessert stakes! Its flaky pastry is just the right mix of firm yet crumbly, while the creamy custard-like filling has a texture that’s just as delightful as the taste. From humble beginnings it’s gone onto great things, giving a good name to Portuguese bakers around the world.
It’s been over 300 years since Belem monks used their leftover egg yolks to create these fluffy bundles of joy! They’d use the whites to starch their clothes, so not only were they sharply dressed they’d also inadvertently created one of the finest pastries you’re likely to find anywhere in the world. Is you’re heading to Belem be sure to refer to them as Pastel or Pasteis de Belem! You don’t want to offend a local baker before you’ve even had a chance to try this sweet treat. Everywhere else Pastel or Pasteis de Nata is fine.
It might look a little familiar, but donut underestimate the Bombolone! If it’s true what they say and you are what you eat, we’re fine with being a Bombolone. Sweet, soft and sugary on the outside, with a pleasant centre – what’s not to like!? Typically these are filled with cream, but you might get a surprise when you take that first bite. Chefs across Italy are known to put their own spin on Bomboloni. And if there happens to be no filling at all, you’ll simply get the full texture and flavour experience of this doughy Italian delight.
Tarte Tatin, France
Literally turning the world of pastry on its head, it’s this delectable French upside-down apple tart. The sweet-caramel apples are the star of the show, leaning on a fairly modest pastry base. With sugar and butter complementing the natural sweetness, this is one dish that’s guaranteed to satisfy your cravings! And like the Pastel de Nata, this is a dessert with a story to tell. Named after the Tatin sisters, the story goes that their creation was all a happy accident in their hotel kitchen. Forgetting to add pastry to her apple tart, Stephanie Tatin simply popped some on top and served it upside down. This quick thinking not only saved her wasting her apples, but also led to a mouth-wateringly exquisite treat.
Sometimes you just need that simple yet effective dessert, one that doesn’t overwhelm you with sweetness or too many flavours at once. Enter the Magdalena! A light and fluffy Spanish sweet treat, often drawing comparisons with our very own fairy cakes. You won’t be left in a sugary daze after this one, suffering from an overload of the sweet tooth. Typically made with a pinch of lemon zest, there’s a subtle citrus zing to Magdalenas that tastes just right! Locals often enjoy these tasty cakes as a snack, accompanying a cup of coffee – so why not sample a Magdalena the local way?
A tasty relic of the Ottoman Empire, the sweet flavours of Baklava can be found in many countries across Europe and beyond. And plenty will proudly tell you that their ancestors were the creators of this layered treat! It’s a testament to taste that so many want to claim the credit for introducing Baklava to the rest of the world. In truth, each country has developed their own spin on the traditional recipe – so expect a slightly different experience in each country! Greece is well-known for its Baklava prowess, so where better to sample the ultimate sweet treat!?
When you bite into a piece, expect a sweet explosion of flavours! Encased in those thin layers of filo pastry, you’ll find sugary and honey-soaked nuts with other spices and seasonings thrown in. And the syrupy coating on the outside adds even more sweetness, as well as making it look extra appetising. You might feel like you could eat a plateful but with something so sweet, less definitely tastes like more.