Are you ready to add some bold and delicious Mediterranean desserts to your repertoire? We’ve collected some of the best and most popular dishes from Greece, Italy, Africa, and beyond in this brief countdown. You can delve into any of these dazzling dishes to dumbfound your friends and expand their taste buds, or you can simply enjoy them all to yourself… we won’t tell.
Many desserts here have origins in one area but became so popular that they started popping up in new countries here and there, each new version different than the last. Kanafeh is one of these dishes. This delectable cheesecake confection originates in the middle east, but today is popular throughout the Arab world, Turkey, Greece, and the Balkans.
Kanafeh is made with a noodle-like pastry or with fine semolina dough, soaked in a sweet, sugar-based syrup, and typically layered with cheese, cream, and the occasional handful of pistachio nuts.
2. Honey-pistachio roasted pears
This one might not sound like a dessert right off the bat, but with the right combination of ripe pear slices, cheese, pistachios, butter, and honey, this splendid little snack will satisfy your sweet tooth any time of the day. Roasted and candied fruits are a staple in many Mediterranean countries, but among them, pears are extremely popular.
3. Italian apple olive oil cake
For those who find happiness on the not so sickly sweet side of life, an apple olive oil cake is a great bet. Originating in the coastal area of Liguria, Italy, this easy dish is a dense, moist, and subtle combination of raisins, apples, spices, and extra-virgin olive oil, best served with tea. To add an extra touch of sweetness without overwhelming the naturally subtle fruit flavors of the cake, try adding a little bit of honey on top. Remember, this is Mediterranean cuisine, so don’t worry about the butter!
Also known as Greek rice pudding, Rizoglo is yet another pleasantly straightforward and easy dish. Made with a combination of rice, milk, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon, this dish is probably the sweetest item on our list, and the best suited to slake our- very American- soft spot for sticky sweet treats.
When it comes down to it, it’s hard to beat the classics. Baklava is a traditional pastry that originated in what is now Turkey but is enjoyed all over the world. Like many other dishes on this list, it can be served differently depending on what country it happens to be from. In Iran, Baklava is typically a little bit drier and served with rose water. In Turkey, almonds, pistachios, and walnuts are traditional. In Greece, Baklava is actually supposed to be made with 33 layers of dough, signifying each of the years in the life of Jesus Christ.
In any and all of these cases, Baklava is made with layers of Filo and sweetened with honey, orange flower water, and rose water. Last but certainly not least, one more great feature of Baklava… it’s totally vegan!