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Sweets for the Sweet: New York's 14 Sweetest Spots

Sweets for the Sweet: New York's 14 Sweetest Spots

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From sugar and spice to everything nice, here’s where to indulge

From sugar and spice to everything nice, there are plenty of places to get your sugar fix in New York City.

Tasty treats, candy cravings, and delicious dreams all come true in nearly every corner of the Big Apple. It's no wonder the city isn't nicknamed the Big Candy Apple after all the sweet treats handcrafted by the city’s pastry chefs, confectioners, and artisans.

See Sweets for the Sweet: NYC's 14 Sweetest Spots Slideshow

This colorful collection of confectionaries, chocolatiers, and creameries is not ranked; doing so would be like trying to get a definitive answer to the 'which ice cream flavor is better, chocolate or vanilla?' debate.

Likewise, this list of the sweetest spots only includes actual storefronts and cafes, not moveable sweet spots like food trucks and carts — though we do suggest the liege waffles from Wafels and Dinges.

From old-school bake sale treats like the whimsical Rice Krispie treats served at Treat House, to the candy-infused cocktails at Dylan’s Candy Bar, or creative ice cream flavors at Ample Hills Creamery, these desserts are made with sugar, (sometimes) spice, and everything nice.

Share your favorites on The Daily Meal’s Pinterest Board and in the comments section below.

Lauren Mack is the New York City Travel Editor. Follow her on Twitter @lmack.

The Sweetest Candies in the World, Ranked

We all get sweet tooth cravings from time to time, and there is no better way to get your sugar fix than by grabbing your favorite candy. Sometimes, just grabbing your favorite candy bar isn’t enough, though, and you want something extra sweet. If you want to get your hands on the sweetest candy you can find, you’ve come to the right place. Here we rank the sweetest candy in the world, from those with the least amount of sugar to the most. But please, enjoy in moderation! Your dentist will thank you!

20. Black Tap: Milkshakes

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If you’re looking for one of the craziest milkshakes you will ever try in your life, Blacktap is 100% our go-to. The Female Foodie team agrees that while the actual ice cream in these milkshakes is nothing to write home about, the composition and creativity of each of these shakes certainly are making them a very iconic NYC dessert. Our favorite shakes are the , or make sure to watch for their rotating specials. Because who wouldn’t want a slice of chocolate cake or donuts or a slice of birthday cake on top of their 16 ounce milkshake?

FOLLOW-UP ON THE NEWS Taking the Guilt Out of Sweets

MANY people like sugar, but too many people feel guilty about consuming it, the Sugar Association believes.

To relieve the guilt, the association, which is based in Washington, began a $3 million television advertising campaign last year. Aimed especially at mothers, whose influence over the family diet is considerable, the ads extolled the ''sweet, pure and natural'' benefits of old-fashioned sweets - like home-baked cake, ice cream and chocolates.

Yearly consumption of cane and beet sugar in the United States ''has stayed fairly level'' at about eight million tons, or 60 pounds per capita, says the association's president, Charles D. Shamel.

But ''we really weren't trying to increase consumption so much as change attitudes,'' he asserts. And here he reports some success.

When the association tried radio ads in 1986 and print advertising in 1987, he says, studies showed that only 14 percent of the potential audience was aware of the message. Last year, with television, the figure rose to 22 percent, he says.

Encouraged that it may be making inroads on the barrage of advertising for sugar-free products, the association has set aside $3.5 million this year to repeat the TV spots.

Houston's Sweet Spots

From cookies and cupcakes to macarons and pies, H-Town is serious when it comes to sweets. Whether you&rsquore craving classic chocolate chip cookies or searching for sorbet, there&rsquos plenty to indulge in at every turn.

What delicious treat are you craving?


Tucked away in a little shop off of Morningside Drive isꃎlebrity Cupcakes. Co-owner Marie Cagle, who grew up in a baking family, has been cooking since she was a kid. In fall 2010, Cagle turned her hobby into a career, opening her cheerful cupcake boutique in Houston’s Rice Village area. Customers rave about Celebrity’s vanilla bean cupcake and appreciate the spot’s frosting, which isn’t overly sweet and doesn’t overwhelm the cake. 

H-Town’s first Crave Cupcakes location opened in 2008, touting picture-perfect treats and a sleek interior in Houston’s Uptown Park. Today, the biz has two locations, including a West University outpost, where daily-changing cupcake flavors are baked in small batches beginning at 5 a.m. Stop in for treats made with premium ingredients like pure Madagascar Bourbon vanilla, European chocolates, locally-sourced dairy and seasonal fruit from Napa Valley. 

Armed with a degree from the Art Institute of Houston’s Baking and Pastry program, Chef Vanessa O𠆝onnell took a sweet leap of faith in opening her bakery, Ooh La La Dessert Boutique, in 2007. At her Town and Country store—the third of O𠆝onnell’s locations—guests find a whimsical space marked by sprawling display cases full of decadent cupcakes, pies, cookies, and gelatos. If it’s your first visit, order a mix of cupcake minis, so you can get a lay of the land.

Listen up, cupcake aficionados, while Sprinkles Cupcakes਍oes serve up the standard vanilla and chocolate varieties, it also manages to keep things interesting with an ever-changing assortment of seasonal and specialty flavors, as well as vegan and gluten-free cuppies, both of which are available seven days a week. 

Part all-night diner and part pastry shop, with the vinyl-and-Formica decorative appeal of a bowling alley, people come to House of Pies because people come here𠅊 bit of circular logic that has remained pretty much unbroken since the place began serving up slices of chocolatey Bayou Goo in the 1970s. Its very lack of pretension is appealing, with freshly-baked sugar-free pastries, classic fruit favorites and sinfully rich offerings like the multi-layered Bayou Goo and chocolate cream, there&aposs a pie for every craving. 

Family owned and operated since 1967,ਏlying Saucer Pie Company knows a thing or two about pie. Though their business has grown a bit over the years, their classic recipes haven&apost changed. From comfort food favorites like pumpkin and apple to seasonal favorites like peach cream and blackberry cream, Flying Saucer has something for every palate. Strawberry cream, their most popular pie, is available year-round to remind you to always save room for dessert.


The first batch of glazed donuts comes out of the oven each morning just before opening. Although they aren&apost all available at one time, Shipley&aposs Do-Nuts has 63 different donut recipes in its regular rotation. With multiple locations in Houston, this donut shop is a Southern staple. 

Disappointed with the doughnut selection in their River Oaks neighborhood, billionaires Mindy and Jeff Hildebrand decided to fix the gap in the market by launching their own breakfast venture, River Oaks Donuts. Expect classic varieties of doughnuts-glazed, old-fashioned, jelly-filled and doughnut holes-along with Prasek&aposs kolaches and locally-brewed coffee.


Bite Macarons’ owner and executive chef Sandia Horng spent months designing her West University-set bakery. Inspired by modern European and Japanese architecture, the result was a simple, clean and inviting space that sets the stage for customers to revel in a perfect macaron experience. Each of the more than dozen macaron varieties is hand-crafted during an intensive, multi-day process that really helps to produce uniquely-textured and distinctive French-style macarons. Be sure to try the Earl Grey version.

Macaron by Patisse਌reates beautiful and inventive varieties of the classic French pastry. The colorful, light-filled shop, located in River Oaks Shopping Center, also serves mini pies, cake balls, mini cupcakes, profiteroles, and mini ຜlairs. Loose leaf teas and other drinks help make this a perfect after-dinner stop, particularly those looking for a romantic setting. Expect to find classics, as well as outside-the-box flavors like fig & goat cheese, tiramisu, and pi༚ colada.

Sweet started in a small kitchen by two self-taught friends with a pure passion for desserts. After years catering to small parties, weddings, and farmers markets, the pair launched their small Sweet shop in CityCentre, offering a quaint urban refuge, designed and put together by local artists. There, fans find a variety of gourmet cupcakes, coffees, teas, espresso, tapioca, cookies, and nearly two-dozen macaron flavors. Don’t miss the popular salted caramel and vanilla bean macarons. 

Chocolate & Candy

Exotic handmade chocolates are what you&aposll find in Cacao & Cardamom, the sweetest new addition to the Centre at Post Oak. Located near Grand Lux Café and across from the Galleria, this decadent chocolate shop focuses on the art of chocolate with bold and innovative combinations. 

Specialty Ice Cream

Award-winning pastry chef Chris Leung and biz-partner Christopher Balat recently opened their highly-anticipated ice cream and sorbet shop, Cloud10 Creamery. Leung’s first brick-and-mortar outpost comes after years stocking local restaurants with his gourmet desserts. There, patrons find progressive flavor mash-ups like the lemon & mint sorbet, mango pineapple sorbet, and toasted rice ice cream, as well as 10 seasonally-changing varieties.

For more than 20 years, Hank’s Ice Cream Parlor has remained a go-to favorite for old-fashioned, handmade ice cream. The bright and cozy business offers guests 18 daily-changing flavors, culled from a list of nearly 100 flavors. Beyonce has even been known to pop by to get her fill of banana pudding ice cream, while other regulars return for dulce de leche, cake batter and chocolate chip varieties.

Gelazzi is the Houston Heights newest answer to beating the heat. The neighborhood gelato purveyor dishes out over 40 flavors of gelato. 

Gourmet Bakeries

It’s not just the towering cakes and decadent dessert-filled cases that draw fans to Montrose’s The Chocolate Bar, the store is packed with clever novelties�ll phones, hand tools, cars𠅊ll crafted in rich chocolate. Through a large window at the rear, you can look into the preparation area where all this chocolate magic is concocted. But the heart of the operation is a marvelous ice cream cooler with a dozen stunning, made-on-site flavors that use chocolate to varying degrees.

Since 1995, Sara Brook and her Dessert Gallery crew have been serving up some of Houston’s favorite sweet treats. From lunch to dinner, with dessert first (of course), Dessert Gallery is in the business of putting smiles on people’s faces.  

Pondicheri Bake Lab + Shop is a full-scale bake "lab" and shop just upstairs from Chef Anita Jaisinghani&aposs  acclaimed restaurant, Pondicheri, in Upper Kirby. 

The company that brought Sweet to CityCentre has expanded with an EaDo-set concept called Tout Suite Café. The urban-chic spot (pronounced "toot sweet") is quickly gaining a reputation for its brunch, baked goods, and ample workspace. 

Common Bond is a unique cafe and bakery experience located at Westheimer and Dunlavy. The café offers an impressive savory menu as well as a vast array of viennoiserie, pastry, bread, gelato and more. 

As a Baylor University grad with a fashion merchandising degree, Candace Chang had a thing for the perfect outfit𠅊nd the perfect dessert, which led her to open her shop, Dolce Delights. But instead of just copying what great pastry chefs do, Chang was determined to create her own recipes, crafting confections that were tasty and also healthier than the norm—whether it&aposs tofu cheesecake or Chang’s own lava mango crunch cake. 

Known locally as the sugar hooker, Pastry Chef Rebecca Masson has manned the mixer at restaurants like New York’s Daniel and The Red Cat, as well as Houston’s Ibiza and 17* Restaurant. Her Fluff Bake Bar has been a long time vision for Masson. The Midtown spot, which marries a bakery and bar concept, opened in late May 2015, making Masson’s dream of owning her own sweet shop a reality. There, guests will find the chef’s popular classics like Fluffernutters, SOLs (her version of a moon pie), cookies and brownies, but they will also find charcuterie plates, plated desserts, coffee, beer and wine offerings.

For nearly 200 years the Jucker family has been in the baking biz. The tradition started in Poland in the 1820s, stopped when the family was sent to Nazi concentration camps in 1941 and revived on Houston’s Holman Street in May 1949. Ever since, the Jucker family has been busy serving their famous eastern European style bread, cakes and pastries to loyal Houstonians at both their inner-loop and Memorial-area Three Brothers Bakery locations. Look for the business to open a third Washington Avenue spot in 2014.

Pastry Chef Michael has been serving some of the finest cookies in town for nearly a decade. With a degree from the Culinary Institute of American and a 13-year tenure with The Four Seasons Hotel & Resorts, the creations from Michael’s Cookie Jar aren&apost just ordinary cookies. Choose from a variety of cookie categories including Americana, fancy tea cookies, seasonal, special occasion cookies and custom logo and photo cookies.

Sweets on the spot or take away&hellip

1. Colors Café &ndash Four Seasons

Luxurious and modern, the venue offers an outstanding variety of homemade ice cream with 19 flavors, cakes, muffins, pastries, as well as the well-known croissants, which hold the first place worldwide as the best in their kind. Combine them with coffee, cocktails and light meals on the spot, or enjoy them through the take away service.

Address: 67-69 Amathounta Avenue, Ayios Tihonas
Contact number: 25 858 000

2. Pralina Confectioneries

The venue, along with the special sweets, leads you to a complete tasting experience. The fantastic sweet treats, such as the famous Pralinakia, the brownies, the biscuits, the sweets and the cakes, are perfectly accompanied by the fine circular lines and the high aesthetics of the venue. You have the opportunity to enjoy the sweets twice, either at the Pralina area along with coffee, drinks or a meal, or with the take away service.

Contact number: 25 355 336
Address: 224, Makariou Avenue III

New York’s Best New Desserts of 2018

While most people are thinking about New Years resolutions with a focus on healthy eating, I can’t help but look back at all the DELICIOUS new desserts I ate in 2018. New York has welcomed some great newcomers in its ever-inventive dessert scene, from vibrantly colored brownie cakes to cookie hybrids you never knew you needed – these are the city’s best new desserts of 2018.

Hot fudge sundae cookie at Chip

After taking Astoria by storm with chunky scone-like cookies, Chip made the big move to Manhattan and seriously stepped up its line-up this year. These cookies celebrate the season’s sought-after flavors like no other, from pumpkin spice latte to summery strawberries, but my favorite was the Food Baby collaboration: the ice cream inspired-sundae cookie, overflowing with HOT fudge and covered in thousands of sprinkles. Dear Chip, make this a permanent item, sincerely – ALL New Yorkers.

Address: 353 W 14th St, NY 10014 (favorite location)

Mookie & Black and White Cookie at Dana’s Bakery

Reimagining fine French macarons with all-American flavors like s’mores and birthday cake, pastry chef Dana Pollack has always taken a creative approach to desserts. But in 2018, Dana took her delicately-made macarons and stuffed them in American-style cookies, launching an entirely new dessert hybrid: the oh-so marvelous Mookie. If that wasn’t enough already, New York’s famous black and white cookie got a makeover on the INSIDE, contrasting its stark appearance with Instagram-ready rainbow colors (soft and sweetened with almonds).

Address: 1011 3rd Ave, NY 10065 (inside Dylan’s Candy Bar)

Croissant toast at Supermoon Bakehouse

From making Mr Holmes Bakehouse a famous San Fran attraction to selling out cruffins before noon at his first solo spot Supermoon, pastry chef Ry Stephen has made quite a name for himself in America’s playful pastry scene. New flavors drop on a daily basis and weekends highlight extra-special brunch-worthy creations such as the croissant toast. You never know kind you’re going to get, but expect a thick slab of soft dough, a dome in the middle (often made with raspberry cheesecake or chocolate mousse) and toppings like sugared almonds, white chocolate bulbs and meringue shards. So extra, but I love it.

Address: 120 Rivington St, NY 10002

Salted caramel brownie at Sherry B Dessert Studio

The start of 2018 brought in this Upstate-born dessert studio, a modern-looking space with updated treats to match. Pastry chef Sherry B prepares American favorites with fine French techniques, so instead of oversized American cookies and brownies, expect delicate versions, smaller in size but BIG in flavor. The salted caramel brownie, two exceedingly gooey chocolate squares folded over a layer of sticky salted caramel, is a match made in heaven.

Address: 643 Hudson St, NY 10014

Newly-Nutella cookie at Spot Dessert Bar

Swapping drinks for desserts in Saint Marks’ bustling bar scene, Spot gives Asian-inspired sweets the attention they deserve – served at your table, tapas-style as a full-blown meal. But if you can’t stay, their take-out counter now has you covered with Newly-Nutella cookies. Popped in the oven to achieve a cake-like structure, it’s a super soft dark chocolate cookie filled with Nutella and speckled in nutty flakes of Feuilletine (crushed, caramelised crepes).

Address: 13 St Marks Pl, NY 10003

Gold-dusted dossant at Sugar & Water

2018 was the year I ate gold dust, and life will never be quite the same again. A newcomer to Astoria’s Ditmars neighborhood, Sugar & Water specialises in cake donuts and so-called dossants (a croissant-donut hybrid with flaky layers), jazzed up with fancy toppings like silver pearls, glitter and gold dust. All of that is sprinkled on top of a classic vanilla glaze, or for extra decadence, deeply rich melted chocolate.

Address: 29-14 23rd Ave, NY 11105

Lucky charms cupcake at Sprinkles

The best way to start the new year, Sprinkles launched a whole line-up of cereal-inspired cupcakes throughout January. Not that we need a reason to eat cupcakes for breakfast, but trust me, cacao puffs are the perfect partner to banana cake cinnamon toast crunch gets added spice with cinnamon-infused cream cheese and lucky charms taste so much sweeter on strawberry frosting. I wonder what Sprinkles has in store for 2019…

Address: 780 Lexington Ave, NY 10065 (favorite location)

Cookie Monster cookie at Duchess Cookies

Taking inspiration from desserts to her very own dreams, baking goddess Sofia Demetriou reimagines cookies with highly creative fillings (think dulce de leche, birthday cake cream cheese) and striking coats. Take the Cookie Monster for example, a doughy chunk with melted chocolate chips wrapped in a blue sugar cookie, or the mysterious-looking galaxy creation made with black coconut ash. In New York, dreams really do come true.

Address: 117 W 46th St, NY 10036 (inside For Five Coffee Roasters) or online

Rainbow cookie brownie cake at Baked in Color

A baking company that stays true to its name, Baked in Color highlights all the colors of the rainbow in mini, munchable cookies to whole cakes with endless layers. Behold the rainbow cookie brownie cake an incredibly moist brownie forms the base, which is then cushioned with oreos and covered in a blanket of chocolate chip-packed rainbow cake. Dear 2018, thanks for the memories, or should I say calories?


IT is hard to imagine that anyone who is interested in New York and its past would not be lured at least occasionally to Sweets, the city's oldest seafood restaurant. Opened in 1842 at the edge of the Fulton Fish Market, this charming, old, second‐story restaurant is one of the few genuinely antique eating places New Yorkers have a chance to visit. In the best of all possible worlds the experience would be as satisfying gastronomically as it is romantically. Unfortunately, we have never found that to be the case, even though optimism draws us back time and time again. Because of its proximity to the wholesale‐fish market, Sweets does offer fish and seafood that are fresh and of high quality, but the disappointing final results are due to the cooking (or, more Ocactly, the overcooking) and to the inferior quality of secondary dishes, such as vegetables, sauces, salads and desserts. Nevertheless, those who enjoy walking around the South Street Seaport Museum and the interesting side streets of this beguiling old neighborhood, can find enough acceptably prepared dishes on the Sweets menu for a satisfying not inspiring dinner.

The general rule worth remembering is order the simpler dishes on the menu. Sauces, such as those used for the creole, au gratin and Newburg dishes, are, plain and simply, awful. But the broiled fish such as the true gray sole, red snapper, swordfish, halibut and blue fish are always far better, if invariably overcooked. The same flaw slightly mars what must be the tiniest and sweetest bay scallops available—worth recommending in spite of the overcooking. It is possible that the kitchen takes fish orders from the broiler before they are overdone but because broiling is done on heavy metal sizzle platters that hold the heat the cooking continues as the fish being carried to the table and even as it is being eaten. Often the fish sticks to the platter and must be scraped off to be eaten. Frying is done very well, whether for the appetizer oysters or the luciously fat soft‐shell crabs. Broiled lobster, protected by a coating of bread crumbs, is also recommendable, even though small at the price. Smoky finnan haddie a Sweets (broiled in milk) was lusty, and the salty flavor was mellowed the milk‐and‐butter

The best appetizers sampled were plump and juicy oysters broiled in butter and clams on the half‐shell, always cold and sparkling. Clam or oyster stews, preferably in cream, were properly briny and satisfying. Lump crabmeat cocktail was delicious, slightly skimpy, even at a mere $4.75, but the meat the lobster cocktail had no taste at all, probably because it had been kept on ice out of the shell. Clam chowder at Sweets was consistently disappointing, tasting almost exclusively of canned tomatoes. The briny clam broth is more bracing for someone who considers soup essential.

Cold and unseasoned plain boiled rice or a crisp and well‐roasted potato are served with all hot main courses. An order of fried eggplant tasted overwhelmingly of the bread crumbs that coated the slices, but the frying, again, was crisp and greaseless. Hash browns, cole slaw, iceberg‐lettuce salads and canned string beans ranged from banal dreary.

If you feel like dessert, stick to the lovely ripe fresh melon. Ice cream and cheese cake are dreadful choices, as is Jell‐o with whipped cream and the commercial tortoni and spumoni. The sophistication of the wine list matches that of the dessert selection better to order one of the good imported beers or ales. There is usually a fast‐moving waiting line at Sweets, and it is worth adding a few minutes to that wait to sit in the Irc‐nat dining room. The back room, with the slamming doors of the kitchen and the bathrooms and the brusque help that works there, is most uncomfortable. Prices are moderate by uptown standards, and a three‐course meal ranges from $7 $22, with $12 an average.

Given the handsome simplicity of its airy, modern, blond‐wood setting and the stylishness of its moderate‐price, wine‐restaurant menu, Claret's on 60th Street, just east of Madison Avenue, should be a wel come newcomer to the New York scene. The only two features that spoil the picture are the service and the food. The chaotic carelessness of the dining‐room staff is evenly matched by the apparent ineptitude of the kitchen. Perfectly decent ingredients are used as starting points, but there is no evidence the chef has even the slightest idea of what tastes go well together. A perfect case in point was a fresh and glowing slab of striped bass steamed in a heavy covering of basil leaves so heady and overpowering they wiped out any hint of the fish's own delicate flavor. Similarly, a somewhat pasty pie containing good chicken, ham and vegetables was musty with thyme, and we cannot remember ever having been served a fines herbes omelet made with dried herbs before. Both this omelet and one with watercress were tough and rubbery, but the dried‐herb specimen was truly inedible.

Other failures on Claret's menu included a tasteless terrine, greasy and unpleasant black‐bean soup and something called an onion “tart” that was merely a gratin dish full of sauteed onions under cheese topping. An order of chicken double bearnaise was chokingly dry from having been cooked far in advance and then held, and the fairly good sauce was so overabundant it virtually drowned the chicken. Filet mignon with a shallot sauce was tough and dry, stuffed loin of lamb was washed out and bland, and at one lunch shepherd's pie had a soupy filling and a distracting, bitter, metallic flavor. The Claretburger, made of ground lamb, proved dry and mealy.

Zucchini frites — paper‐thin slices of fried zucchini —were burned black at two meals and were tasteless at two others, and Claret's crunch salad was the standard, insipid apple and walnut Waldorf salad, not saved by the addition of canned water chestnuts.

Now for the mediocre news. If you find yourself at Claret's, there are some minimally acceptable selections to choose from. Among them are insalata di mare, consisting primarily of squid in a vinegar and oil sauce that could use some sparking up fresh and decent, if underseasoned, chicken, ham and cornichon salad a passable, cold sorrel soup, moules marinieres, liver pate (Claret's pate), and sauteed calf's liver with onions. A grilled loin veal chop was quite good but the sauce Dijonnaise was unevenly and too mildly seasoned with mustard and did the fine chop an injustice. It's safer to order the sauce on the side. The only worthwhile desserts were fresh fruit, clove‐flavor poached pears in wine and tarts topped with sliced apples or pears. Liqueur cheese cakes were heavy and gummy, and the creme caramel leaden.

Considering that Claret's is billed as a wine restaurant where 14 varieties of wine are available by the glass each day, the help is embarrassingly ignorant on the subject. One night we ordered a bottle of Alsatian Gerwiirz Tramine, only to be told the house was out of it, but that there were “other sweet German wines to choose from,” and at lunch we were offered a special BOO‐joelay. Prices by the glass are stiff, with the somewhat ordinary GerwUrz Traminer $3.50 and the BOO‐joelay at $2.95.

At lunchtime, Claret's is a madhouse, and much like a gussied‐up coffee shop. At night, the back room, with its decorative vineyard murals, is fairly pleasant. At both times the background music is deafening. Portions are generous and prices moderate. Three‐course meals range from about $10 to $20. It is expected that the back room will function as disco come autumn.

2 Fulton Street (corner South Street). 8:25‐9786, 3449189. Atmosphere: Pleasantly antique, Old New York settings fair service.

Recommended dishes: Clams on the half‐shell, crab‐meat cocktail, fried or broiled oysters, clam broth, fried soft‐shell crabs, clam or oyster stew, finnan haddie is Sweets, broiled lobster, broiled bay scallops, broiled fish.

Prices: Ala carte menu, with main courses $4.50 to $14 (includes potato or rice).

Hours: Monday through Friday, 11:30 A.M. to 8:30 P.M. Closed Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

Reservations: Not accepted.

33 East 60 Street (between Park and Madison Avenues). 758‐1051.

Atmosphere: Bright and attractive modern decor service, well‐meaning but careless and confused.

Recommended dishes: Insalata di mare, moules mariniOres, chicken and ham salad, calf's liver with onions, veal chop, poached pears, apple or pear tart.

Prices: Ala carte menu for lunch, with main courses $4.25 to $11.75 (includes zucchini frites) a la carte menu for dinner, with main courses $7.95 to $14.95 (vegetable included). Sunday buffet, $13.50.

Credit cards: American Express, Master Charge, Visa, Diners Club.

Hours: Lunch, Monday through Friday (through Saturday from Sept. 1), noon to 4:30 P.M. Dinner, Monday through Saturday, 5:30 P.M. to midnight. Sunday buffet, 4:30 P.M. to 11 P.M.

Reservations: Recommended for dinner. Accepted for lunch for parties of four or more only.

These ratings are based on the reviewer's reaction food and price in relation to comparable establishments.

50 of the world's best desserts

Imagine the best dessert on Earth. Better yet, turn to a stranger on the street and ask them. Odds are good .

Imagine the best dessert on Earth. Better yet, turn to a stranger on the street and ask them. Odds are good -- dollars to doughnuts -- their answer is different from yours.

From childhood treats to a grandparent's favorite recipes, beloved foods are deeply personal. This seems especially true of desserts, which often take pride of place at celebrations and traditional holidays.

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Food and beverage industry

Kinds of foods and beverages

Middle East and North Africa

Northeastern United States

Packaged candy and desserts

Restaurant and food service industry

For all the nostalgia of sugary treats, though, some sweets rise above local flavors. Head to any country to find tender slices of Italian tiramisú at the bottom of cafe menus or sniff out the creamy scent of Hong Kong's dan tats in cities around the globe. In the unofficial elections of the stomach, both have been voted to a permanent place in the world's food hall of fame.

And like dan tats, many of these recipes aren't desserts at all -- the eggy tart is more often eaten as an afternoon snack. The idea of serving a sweet at the end of a coursed meal is relatively recent, and in some places, including Africa and Asia, desserts are a foreign import.

But with food, like language or culture, determining what's "foreign" turns out to be complicated. Tiramisu relies on chocolate, coffee and sugar that arrived in Italy through global trade, while Hong Kong's most iconic sweet has roots in the Portuguese age of exploration.

Like the best desserts, then, this list blends the personal with something more broadly appealing. It's the fruit of my nine years in the pastry kitchen, when I traveled to explore new-to-me flavors everywhere from Liguria, Italy, to Yucatan, Mexico, and conversations with chefs whose resumes are as global as the recipes themselves.

Bangkok-born Pichet Ong, a celebrated pastry chef known for blending Asian and European ingredients, told me how sweets from Singapore and Thailand tell the stories of Asian migration and international trade. Baker and illustrator Johanna Kindvall, who divides her time between Brooklyn and Sweden, shared a recipe for cardamom buns.

In emails sent from Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, Syrian-Lebanese cookbook author Anissa Helou recalled favorite sweets that grace tables in Morocco, Iran and the Levant.

In alphabetical order, here's a list of some of the greatest sweets on the planet, from humble chocolate chip cookies to the crisp tang of kashata, a beloved brittle that's enjoyed across East Africa. Bon appétit -- or as they'd say in Swahili, karibu chakula!

Alfajores, South America

Step into a neighborhood bakery from Argentina to Peru, and you're likely to find these tender, filled cookies piled high behind the counter. The crumbly bite of shortbread gives way to a sweet layer of dulce de leche, a caramel-like candy made by gently cooking sweetened milk until it turns into a rich, mellow treat.

The very simplicity of the cookies has proved to be the perfect base for creative cooks across Latin America. Try versions that are dunked in dark chocolate, coated in a sweet layer of white chocolate, rolled in coconut and dressed up with spices, or opt for the classic -- it's among the world's most comforting snacks.

Apfelstrudel, Austria

For a floury lesson in gluten's architectural wonders, whip up a batch of traditional strudel dough. The real thing is stretched -- not rolled -- into an improbably thin sheet according to legend, it should be transparent enough to read a newspaper through.

Once extended, the delicate dough is wrapped around a sweet, apple filling that's enriched with buttery fried breadcrumbs, raisins and sometimes walnuts. The delicious result can be found in pastry shops around the world, but for the classic experience, head to Vienna's Café Korb for a slice followed by a lush cup of cream-topped Viennese coffee.

Baklava, Turkey

Dozens of delicate layers melt into a single tender bite in this syrupy confection, which is among the sweetest legacies of the Ottoman Empire. While it remains a sought-after treat through the Levant, Balkans, the Caucasus and North Africa -- regions that were once ruled from Constantinople -- the spiritual home of baklava is surely the modern-day country of Turkey.

There, pastry shops serve great trays sliced into diamonds, filled with ground nuts and dripping with honeyed syrup. This is just the most famous of the Ottoman Empire's syrup-soaked pastries, but it's snagged the limelight for good reason. With a simple list of ingredients and endless variations, it easily ranks among the world's most tempting treats.

Black Forest Cake, Germany

Along with fairy tales and mountain-top castles, Germany's Black Forest region is known as the namesake -- if not the origin -- of the country's most luscious cake. Dark rounds of chocolate cake are doused in a cherry syrup spiked with kirschwasser, a sour cherry brandy, then stacked atop a thin, chocolate base with deep layers of whipped cream and fresh cherries.

If that wasn't flavor enough, the whole thing is swathed in more cream, dusted with shaved chocolate and studded with cherries. The resulting cake is a frothy dream dessert that's the star of pastry cases around Germany, where it's known as a Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte.

Borma, Middle East and Turkey

Threads of crisp, golden knafeh dough wrap around a rich nut filling in this sweet dessert, which is an elegant and aromatic relative of baklava. Unlike baklava, borma is often fried, adding an extra infusion of flavor and a crisp texture that stands up to a sugary bath in flavored syrup.

And while baklava hides its filling inside a modest layer of filo dough, borma is rolled and sliced, showing off a cross-section of colorful pistachios, pale pine nuts or walnuts. That eye-catching presentation makes borma especially popular as a present. Pastry shops across the Middle East and Turkey tempt passers-by with piles of borma stacked high on enormous platters.

Brownies, United States

Fudgy or cakey? Corner piece or slice from the middle? Aficionados of this beloved American sweet are sure to have a take on the best -- and worst -- way to make a brownie. One of the earliest recipes appeared in Fannie Farmer's 1906 "Boston Cooking School Cook Book," using the unsweetened chocolate that lends brownies a fudgy texture.

In more than a century of brownie making, they've become a mainstay treat, the base for sundaes and a seriously addictive ice cream flavor.

Even the actress Katharine Hepburn had an opinion on how to bake them, and an old story holds that the glamorous star once dispensed the following advice: "Never quit, be yourself and don't put too much flour in your brownies."

Cannoli, Sicily

A shattering-crisp shell gives way to a creamy cheese filling in this Sicilian classic, whose roots reach deep into the island's diverse culinary history. With origins at the wild Carnival celebrations at Palermo, the traditional cannolo is filled with silky-smooth ricotta cheese made from sheep's milk.

Taste that rich filling for evidence of the Arab influence that infuses Sicilian cuisine: The candied citrus that often flavors the creamy interior remains beloved throughout the Middle East.

Cardamom Buns, Sweden

October 4 might be Cinnamon Bun Day on the Swedish calendar, but many bun aficionados insist that the aromatic cardamom version outshines cinnamon's more assertive charms. One of a family of vetebullar, or wheat buns, cardamom buns are best enjoyed as a part of fika, the coffee break that comes twice daily in many Swedish workplaces.

While a freshly baked cardamom bun is a memorable treat, it's also a simple and comforting one. In a classic recipe from author Johanna Kindvall, crushed cardamom seeds are stirred into lightly enriched, yeasted dough, then rolled up with a sweet layer of sugar and spice.

For the perfect fika, whip up a batch of cardamom buns, brew some strong coffee and call a friend, since the iconic Swedish coffee break is as much about talking as it is about treats.

Cendol, Singapore

On sweltering afternoons in Singapore, locals cool off with this chilled and silky sweet, which is a favorite at seaside restaurants and sidewalk stands. Iced coconut milk is sweetened with a palm sugar syrup, which lends it a lightly smoky, caramelized flavor.

The rich liquid is a lush base for tender threads of green rice-flour jelly, which gets its vivid color from the pandan juice that's extracted from leaves of the tropical screw pine.

Versions of this blissfully cool dessert can be found throughout southeast Asia, but with the addition of a scoop of sweetened red beans, Singapore's take on the classic treat remains especially tempting.

Chocolate Chip Cookies, United States

The quintessential American treat is deceptively simple: a basic, creamed-butter cookie recipe turns out to have endless subtle variations that produc dramatically different results.

Whatever your favorite version, a perfect chocolate chip cookie is a delicate balance of textures and flavors. A crispy rim gives way to a tender, melting center, and the buttery sweetness of the dough sets off the slight edge of bittersweet chocolate and brown sugar.

Legend has it that the chocolate chip cookie has its origins in a happy accident, when Massachusetts inn owner Ruth Wakefield stirred chopped chocolate into her cookie dough in an attempt to make uniformly chocolatey cookies. Her brand-new recipe was published in a Boston newspaper, and the rest was pastry history.

Chocolate Mousse, France

An airy confection made with just a handful of ingredients, chocolate mousse is a delicious paradox: the richer it is, the lighter it seems. Gallic chefs have been whipping up chocolate mousse -- the word means "foam" in French -- for at least a few hundred years, but the quest for foamy chocolate is much older.

Among the Olmec, Maya and Aztec peoples who consumed chocolate long before contact with Europeans, a hefty layer of foam was considered the height of good taste, and ancient codices depict cooks pouring chocolate from several feet in the air to create a froth.

Coconut Cake, Southern United States

Bouncy, buttery rounds of vanilla cake are piled high with shredded coconut and seven-minute frosting for a classic Southern dessert. This is the kind of all-American sweet that stars at potlucks, cake walks and church picnics, and it's often made with recipes passed down on hand-written recipe cards.

There are dozens of versions, but every single one is cloaked in a frothy layer of shredded coconut . preferably fresh.

Layer cakes weren't invented in the United States, but the distinctive profile of the coconut cake is pure Americana, and there's no mistaking the high, round shape of an American layer cake for a slim European torte.

Despite the minimalist, all-white color scheme, the coconut cake is an over-the-top, old-fashioned pleasure. The tooth-achingly sweet meringue frosting is a throwback that's rarely seen outside of the South, and it's worth making the original version for a taste of a unique American tradition.

Cornes de Gazelle, Morocco

Even in a crowded field of tempting Moroccan sweets, these filled pastries are perennial favorites, and the labor-intensive dessert appears at celebrations and special meals throughout the year.

In the classic version, a thin layer of dough curves around a filling of ground almonds scented with orange blossom water. Since cornes de gazelle are baked just until they're lightly golden, the dough retains a tender texture that melts into the center.

While cornes de gazelle are prepared across Morocco -- as well as in the nearby countries of Tunisia and Algeria -- the most visually elaborate versions come from the Moroccan port city of Tetouan, where bakers use intricate molds to create patterns in the dough before baking.

Crème Brûlée, France

Shiny, burnt sugar tops this creamy dessert, and the perfect crème brûlée is a study in contrasts. Each bite should blend a bit of crispy caramel -- burned just to the very edge of bitterness -- with the aromatic flavor of vanilla custard.

Often made using pure cream, crème brûlée is among the richest of all the custard desserts, and it must be gently cooked in a water bath to prevent curdling and overbaking.

For pastry chefs, part of the appeal of preparing crème brûlée is the fiery drama of burning the sugar topping. They execute the job with everything from a blow torch to a traditional salamander, a cast-iron disk that can be heated to blazing temperatures and is said to produce the most even results.

Dan Tats, Hong Kong

Follow the wafting scent of egg custard into a Hong Kong bakery to sample one of the territory's most iconic treats. Perfectly sized for eating out-of-hand, dan tats are best enjoyed fresh from the oven, when the warm custard meets a perfectly crisp crust. And with a map-spanning backstory, dan tats are among the tastiest symbols of globalization.

Many trace dan tats to the similar pastéis de nata of Portugal those eggy tarts traveled with Portuguese traders and colonists to cities around the world. After establishing a foothold in Hong Kong via nearby Macau, they were re-exported to Chinatowns around the globe, where they tempt passersby from steaming pastry cases and shop windows.

Doughnuts, United States

In the Pantheon of world desserts, fried dough is a mainstay. Everything from French beignets to Greek loukoumades are doughnuts of a kind, and it's no wonder they're so beloved a quick swim in boiling oil transforms simple bread dough into a fast and filling treat. But it's latter day American doughnuts that earn a place on this list for their creative approach to fillings and flavors.

From Portland, Maine's The Holy Donut to Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon, the old-school doughnut has been loaded down under piles of maple frosting, crispy bacon, fresh fruit glazes and boozy toppings that take the sweet into uncharted territory

Eszterhazy Torta, Hungary

In its glory days, the Austro-Hungarian empire stretched across central Europe, and a century after the empire fell its creamy legacy can still be found in pastry shop windows from Vienna to Sarajevo.

For this elegant cake, slim rounds of almond meringue are piled high between stripes of chocolate buttercream, then topped with a marbled spiderweb of chocolate and vanilla fondant.

A melting texture and rich sweetness make this old-fashioned cake a perennial favorite in sweets-loving Budapest, but it's just as easy to find in Vienna, the grand city that once led the empire. It remains deeply influenced by a shared culinary tradition.

Flan, Latin America

In the sprawling family tree of custard desserts, Latin America's flan is the coolest cousin, blending perfect simplicity with creamy sophistication.

A whisper-thin layer of dark caramel tops the dessert, melting into syrupy sauce around the base. Flan might have arrived in Latin America from Spain, but it's since been claimed and reinvented by generations of cooks here.

In Mexico, where the dessert is served everywhere from neighborhood cafes to family celebrations, the silky texture of a classic flan is the perfect foil for a meal with fiery chiles and aromatic spices.

Gâteau Fondant au Chocolat, France

Cut into a warm round of gâteau fondant au chocolat -- that means "melting chocolate cake" in French -- to release the slow flood of chocolate from the interior.

This dark and rich cake is a high-wire act of time and temperature: Serve too early and it's a sticky pool of hot cake batter serve too late and it's a brownie. When the balance is perfect, however, the treat blends the tender bite of a chocolate cake with the oozy pleasure of a melted chocolate bar.

In the 1990s, the cake became a menu star as a lava cake or molten chocolate cake. While the heat of the craze has passed, this sensuous dessert remains one of the world's most sophisticated ways to end a meal.

Gelato, Italy

From shaved ice to sorbet, frozen desserts are melting evidence of one of the world's great food truths: there's nothing so welcome as a cold, sugary treat on a summer afternoon.

On the global heat map of frozen desserts, though, gelato's sweet innovations earn top honors. Lower fat content and a warmer serving temperature help flavors shine brighter than in ice cream, whether you're savoring a sunny scoop of lemon gelato, a rich hazelnut version or classic chocolate.

In Italy, the year-round treat in an essential food experience, and true aficionados even make the pilgrimage to the Gelato Museum in Bologna, where tours include a guided tasting at the museum cafe.

Gulab Jamun, India

A lush, syrupy distillation of milky flavor, these deep-fried Indian treats are anything but a simple doughnut.

Traditional recipes for gulab jamun dough start with a scoop of khoya, a reduction of cow or buffalo milk that simmers for hours over a low flame, lending the finished product a melting texture.

Frying gulab jamun in ghee provides a second injection of fatty flavor before the dumplings are soaked in an aromatic syrup infused with cardamom seeds and roses.

The rich and labor-intensive sweet is a favorite at Indian celebrations from Eid al-Fitr to Diwali, but the name points to origins in Persia -- legend has it that gulab jamun arrived in medieval India with Persian troops.

Japanese Cheesecake

For the cheesecake aficionado who finds the New York version a trifle heavy, this Japanese treat might be a revelation. In the creamy sweet, which blends the flavorful tang of cheesecake with the loft of a sponge cake, the richness of lightly cultured cheese is offset by a light and airy texture.

The secret is an unusual technique of blending beaten egg whites -- a meringue -- into a warm batter that is rich with cream cheese and vanilla. Versions of this cheesecake are available everywhere from Japanese convenience stores to top-shelf bakeries.

When making your own or shopping for the perfect slice, watch for a characteristic jiggle that hints at the light, tender texture to come.

Kashata, East Africa

Wander through a market in East Africa to find this golden sweet, which blends the satisfying crunch of caramelized sugar with the rich heft of peanuts, fresh coconut or a blend of the two.

Bridging the delicious divide between cookie and confection, kashata gets an aromatic boost from the addition of cardamom, which elevates the brittle-like treat into the realms of world-class sweets.

The traders who once plied the coast of East Africa in dhow sailboats brought new words, flavors and spices from across the water, and the name of this beloved treat is adapted from Arabic -- but for many, kashata is among the sweetest and most nostalgic flavors of East Africa.

Kifli, Hungary

While the rest ofthe world eats jam, central Europe enjoys the rich flavor of lekvár, a chunky preserve that retains all the tartness of the region's ripe apricots and plums. The hearty fruit preserve is the delicious prize inside these crescent pastries.

A soft, flaky dough is shaped into a plump half-moon that barely contains the sweet filling, then topped with a light blanket of powdered sugar. Not that kifli are limited to fruit preserves. The sweets, which are especially beloved at holiday times, are often stuffed with sweetened walnuts or poppy seeds.

Knafeh, Levant

Golden pastry tops sweet cream, nuts or salty cheese in this syrupy dessert, which offers a satisfying contrast of texture and flavor. Like many Middle Eastern desserts, knafeh is soaked in an aromatic sugar syrup that infuses the pastry topping and filling with the flavor of roses or orange blossoms.

While crowds line up for sweet slices of knafeh from Amman to Alexandria, the most iconic place to try the dessert might be in the Palestinian city of Nablus, which claims the title of knafeh's home town.

In the Nablus version, a tangy filling of goat cheese is covered by threads of fine pastry or a tender blanket of baked semolina. Some knafeh-loving locals even layer the local sweet with a pair of pita rounds for a memorable sandwich.

Kouign Amann, Brittany, France

Once a little-known treat that drew pastry pilgrims to Brittany, the kouign amann has officially made it big. Celebrity pastry chef Dominique Ansel gave it a boost by serving the caramel-crusted rounds in his SoHo bakery, but it's the kouign amann's sheer perfection that sent it down the sticky road to fame.

Brittany is known for the high quality of its butter and sea salt, and kouign amann simply means "butter cake" in the Breton language. It earns the name. Like a croissant, the kouign amann is rolled and folded with layers of butter, but fewer folds mean the kouign amann has a toothier, more rustic texture than its sophisticated city cousin.

A roll in sugar, a sprinkle of Breton sea salt and one of the world's great pastries was born.

Kulfi, India

Among the most voluptuous treats in the ice cream family, this frozen dessert has a temptingly rich texture. Traditional recipes, which can require hours of constant stirring, start by simmering fresh milk over a low flame, a slow reduction that lends a caramel sweetness to the milk's natural sugars.

While modern-day kulfi appears in dozens of flavors, classic versions are infused with some of India's most lilting tastes.

In cities across the country, visit a kulfiwallah for a transporting sample of rose, cardamom, saffron or pistachio kulfi while recipes change with time, the sweet treat you're tasting is thought to have roots in the Mughal Empire.

Lemon Tart, France

A slender layer of lemon cream fills this classic French tart, whose flavor balances rich butter, the acidity of lemon juice and the bite of lemon zest. The crust, with a texture that's similar to a shortbread cookie, retains a fatty crunch that's an ideal contrast to the silky filling.

When perfectly executed the result is dessert heaven, and the simplicity of the tart makes it a fitting icon of the French pastry kitchen. While the old-fashioned version remains a beloved stand-by, some of the best tarts in Paris offer intriguing twists: try Sadaharu Aoki's yuzu tart, made with an aromatic relative of the lemon, or head to Pierre Hermé to taste an extra lemony version topped by bits of candied citrus.

Linzer Torte, Austria

Like its namesake city in Austria, this slender torte is an old-fashioned favorite that's still a star in the 21st century. A dough enriched with ground nuts, often hazelnuts or walnuts, melts into a jammy filling for a treat that's somewhere between cake and tart.

Recipes for Linzer tortes have been around since at least 1653, and in the torte's Linz homeland, families pass variations on the richly spiced confection from generation to generation.

Along with the peek-a-boo lattice crust that hints at the filling at the heart of the torte, spices lend this tender sweet its lasting charm. While the filling is often a simple fruit preserve, Linzer torte dough is aromatic with ground cloves, cinnamon and lemon zest that make the Austrian treat a perennial favorite.

M'hanncha, Morocco

Cut into this golden spiral of pastry to uncover a rich filling of ground nuts, orange blossom water and mastic, a natural resin that perfumes sweets from Tangier to Turkey. Paired with a traditional glass of Moroccan mint tea, it's a generous and celebratory dessert that invites every guest to serve themselves as much as they'd like, scattering the slivered nuts and ground cinnamon that decorate the top.

Even thinner than filo, the delicate warqa dough that's used for this Moroccan sweet is prepared by daubing a ball of dough on a hot griddle it's an impressive labor of love that takes deft hands and many hours of practice.

Ma'amoul, Middle East

When celebrating some of the year's most anticipated holidays, many in the Levant reach for the comforting taste of these filled cookies, whose thin, semolina crust wraps around a delicious blend of chopped dates, nuts or both.

The simple cookies are shaped in wooden molds carved with intricate patterns, emerging as finely-wrought rounds or detailed cones.

They're a memorable treat with an appealingly mild sweetness, and a love of ma'amoul unites the region's three predominant religious traditions: Jews enjoy ma'amoul as a Purim treat, bakers shape vast piles of the sweets for Easter, and in some areas, ma'amoul are an essential part of Eid feasts.

Bite into one of these traditional sweets and you'll find out why.

Mandazi, South Sudan

The addition of coconut milk lends a tender bite and subtle aroma to these satisfying fritters, whose light sweetness is especially appealing when paired with a cup of milky coffee or chai tea.

In some versions, a pinch of ground cardamom provides an extra jolt of spice, and the simple doughnuts are an invitation to get creative with flavors, toppings and sides.

While many mandazi lovers trace the origins of these fried treats to South Sudan -- where they're often served with a rich chocolate dipping sauce that lands them firmly in dessert territory -- mandazi are also a beloved snack across Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique and Uganda.

Medovik, Russia

A touch of honey infuses an aromatic lilt into the slender layers of this cake, which is among Russia's most beloved treats. In between the cake layers, which can be stacked 10 high in the most elaborate versions, is a creamy frosting that melts into the honeyed rounds.

Variations on medovik differ widely, but the most popular takes incorporate one of two very Russian ingredients into the sweet filling.

Some use the rich sour cream that adds flavor to some of Russia's most comforting foods, from borscht to blini. Others get their flavor from sweetened condensed milk, which became an icon of Russian cooking during the Soviet era, when fresh milk could be hard to come by.

New York Cheesecake, United States

The Big Apple's most iconic dessert seems to defy pastry physics. A light crumb offsets rich creaminess, a winning combination that elevates a simple list of flavors.

Like the city itself, New York cheesecake draws inspiration from around the globe, and a genetic map of the cheese cake world would likely include the crumbly, dry-curd cheesecakes of eastern Europe, German kasekuchen and the fresh-cheese versions that are beloved in Italy.

Unlike more fanciful recipes, New York's classic take on cheesecake eschews toppings or pronounced flavors, with just a hint of vanilla extract or lemon zest to lend a lilting aroma to a blend of sugar, eggs, cream and cream cheese, almost always Philadelphia brand. The brand is so associated with American cheesecakes that it's often called out by name on menus around the globe, where tarta de queso Philadelphia or gâteau fromage Philadelphia are rich diplomats for a beloved New York sweet.

Oliebollen, Netherlands

The Netherlands' sweet contribution to the world of fried dumplings, oliebollen are a deliciously Dutch way to celebrate New Year's Eve. A crunchy, crispy ball of sweetened batter studded with raisins or currants, then dunked in powdered sugar, oliebollen are best eaten hot from street stands called oliebollenkrams.

It might seem like a simple snack, but oliebollen are serious business in the Netherlands, where an annual contest uses blind testing at the academic Center for Taste Research in Wageningen to choose the country's very best oliebol.

Pavlova, Australia and New Zealand

Pastry-loving Aussies and Kiwis get riled when dinner conversations turn to Pavlova, a wonderfully messy meringue dessert that's a long-running sore point between Australia and New Zealand.

Anna Pavlova, the globe-trotting Russian ballerina that the dessert is named for, visited both countries. Each claims the sweet as their own, but that's where the dispute ends -- no one denies the crunchy, creamy pleasures of a perfectly made Pavlova.

Sink a fork into the crisp meringue shell, and you'll discover a sweetly chewy interior. Piled high atop the meringue are fluffy whipped cream and tart fruits, a lofty topping whose richness and bright flavor offset the sugary base for a world-class dessert.

Polvorónes, Latin America, Spain and the Philippines

Tiny, powdered cookies that crumble at the lightest touch, these shortbread treats are beloved from Manila to Mexico City. In the United States, a version of these cookies is often called Mexican wedding cookies, but it would be a shame to leave them for special occasions alone. Polvorónes are the kind of simple treat that's welcome as an afternoon snack or piled onto a dessert tray, where they can hold their own against the world's greatest cookies.

Recipes vary, and include almonds, walnuts or pecans, but each iteration of the cookies shares the same tender bite and origins in Spain some speculate that the treats have even older roots in the Middle East.

Qatayef, Middle East

As if hours of fasting weren't enough to pique the appetite, many Ramadan adherents can look forward to the sweet taste of qatayef when the sun finally does set.

The dessert starts life as a kind of yeasted pancake batter, but qatayef is griddled on just one side, creating a toothy balance between the golden-fried crust and tender interior. Stuffed into the folded base is a sweet mixture of fresh cheese, dried fruits, nuts or cream, often scented with rose water or ground cinnamon.

Some versions of qatayef can be eaten just like that -- perhaps with the addition of some aromatic syrup -- but classic recipes are fried before serving, adding an additional layer of crunch and flavor before the beloved sweets hit the holiday table.

Rigó Jancsi, Hungary

Fluffy chocolate sponge cake is sandwiched with apricot jam and airy chocolate mousse in this classic treat. Topped with a whisper-thin layer of chocolate glaze then cut into tidy cubes of chocolate, the Rigó Jancsi stands out even in the notably crowded field of fabulous Hungarian desserts.

Beloved for a silky texture and rich flavor, the seductive cake was named for a love story that caught the world's attention with racy images and juicy details. Rigó Jancsi was a Romani violinist who won the heart of the (married) Princesse de Caraman-Chimay of Belgium, and the two made international headlines when they ran off together in 1896.

Saffron Ice Cream, Iran

Scented with saffron, rosewater and pistachios, it's no wonder that this Iranian ice cream is a favorite at Nowruz, the Persian New Year.

From a lightly golden color to its distinctive aroma, the creamy treat is the essence of spring. Saffron ice cream, or bastani, is a memorable experience on its own, and its flavor alone easily snags a spot among the world's greatest frozen desserts.

For the complete bastani experience, though, opt for a traditional Iranian ice cream sandwich of saffron ice cream between two thin wafers. The wafers' mild flavor and crispy texture are the perfect foil -- and conveniently shaped handle -- for the rich and aromatic ice cream, which is beloved from Tehran to Tehrangeles.

Sesame Balls, Jian Dui, China

Bite into the crisp shell of a deep-fried jian dui to discover a sweet filling within the golden, sesame-seed-studded exterior. This traditional Chinese treat is often filled with a sweet bean paste or a soft puree made from lotus seeds both versions offer a deliciously mild counterpoint to the crunchy seeds.

Jian dui are especially popular as a treat at Lunar New Year celebrations, but not just for their delicious flavor. Dessert blogger and author Anita Chu writes that for many Chinese people, jian dui offer a special symbolism during that time: both the spherical shape and golden color are good omens for the year to come, as is the way the jian dui puff up when fried in hot oil.

Snow Ice, Xue Hua Bing, Taiwan

Like snow cones, Hawaiian shaved ice, raspados, granitas and dozens of other local variants, snow ice is Taiwan's answer to one of the world's great food truths: Nothing beats a sweet, icy treat when the weather is steamy.

Unusual shaving technique and complex toppings elevate the Taiwanese version above the competition. A creamy base, which can be flavored with everything from green tea to fruit purées, is frozen solid then shaved into a lofty pile of crumbling ice flakes.

To top it all off, blend your own perfect mix of treats. Favorites include adzuki red bean paste, taro, grass jelly, fresh fruit, sweetened condensed milk and mochi, but Taiwanese snow ice is an invitation to get as creative as you'd like.

Snow ice has spread to cities across the globe in recent years, but for the classic experience, head to Taipei's Shilin Night Market, where locals line up for the xue hua bing sold by dozens of vendors.

Sour Cherry Pie, Midwestern United States

Slice into the crispy top of a sour cherry pie, and the brilliant filling might come as a shock -- it's an electric color that seems more likely to be harvested from a can than a tree. That electric red comes from the tart Montmorency cherries that are the classic filling for this pie. Since the tender fruits are more perishable than their sweeter cousins, if you live outside the Midwest or Northeast United States you might never have seen one.

Sour cherries have plenty of acid to counter-balance the sugar in the filling, and they're rich in tannins, too. It's a hint of complexity that put this fruit pie over the top as one of the best in America.

On the search for the perfect slice of sour cherry pie? Head to the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, Michigan, or to Jacksonport, Wisconsin's Cherry Fest.

Sticky Rice with Mango, Thailand

Ignore the chalky versions sold in restaurants that are 10 time zones from a mango tree a ripe, tender dish of sticky rice with mango is among the world's most perfect desserts. This traditional sweet begins with the glutinous rice that's grown in paddies across southeast Asia, and the starchy grains combine with rich coconut milk and palm sugar for a treat that retains a chewy bite even when it's perfectly soft.

The sweet world of mangoes includes hundreds and hundreds of cultivars, but for a truly Thai sticky rice with mango there are just two favored varieties: choose between nam dok mai, a sweet, yellow fruit that's pertly curvaceous, or aok rong, whose higher acidity offers a pleasant counterpoint to the sweet rice.

Sticky Toffee Pudding, United Kingdom

The ultimate in comforting British desserts, this homey sweet is a warm serving of sticky nostalgia. A base of soft cake is studded with chopped dates, then drowned in a creamy sauce. Much of the distinctive flavor comes from treacle, or molasses.

While treacle has given way to crystallized sugar in most cooks' pantries, it was once a favored sweetener that was an important part of working-class diets in the UK. It's worth noting that sticky toffee pudding is not what's known as a pudding outside of the British Isles, where "pudding" is a generic term for dessert, but it's proved a popular export.

With versions served from Wales to Wellington, it's likely that the sun never sets on the world's sticky toffee puddings.

Tarte Tatin, France

If you've never encountered this famed French dessert, then tarte Tatin may arrive as a delicious surprise. A world away from the architectural, lacquered creations that fill Parisian pastry shop windows, the very best of these are a humble mess with heavenly flavor -- preferably topped with a generous dollop of tangy crème fraîche. To bake this caramelized treat, start by layering apples, sugar and butter in a heavy pan, then top it off with a round of dough. The pastry seals the filling into a steamy enclosure, allowing the sugar to caramelize as the apples melt into tender perfection. The crux of the operation is when the tart emerges from the oven and must be flipped onto a plate before the molten sugar turns to sticky glue.

Tiramisú, Italy

Creamy layers of whipped mascarpone cradle coffee-soaked ladyfingers in this modern Italian dessert, which has become a sweet mainstay around the globe. It's no wonder. With a name that translates to "pick me up," it's a combination of coffee, chocolate, cream and optional booze that's sure to pique even the most jaded palates.

Most pastry-loving historians trace the treat's origins to the Treviso restaurant Le Beccherie, but by the time the world reached peak tiramisú in the late 1980s and 1990s, rival claims were hot as a strong-brewed cup of Italian espresso. Whatever the truth behind the creamy dessert, it's earned well-deserved pride of place on menus from Umbria to Ulaanbaatar.

Tres Leches Cake, Mexico and Central America

A fluffy sponge cake is the perfect vehicle for delivering loads of flavor in this wonderfully creamy dessert. The "three milks" that the sweet is named for are usually sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and cream, which combine for a delightful cake so wet it's almost a drink.

While fresh milk is now widely available, the flavor of sweetened condensed milk is a throwback to a time when the perishable stuff was hard to find, especially in warmer climates.

Even in the days of refrigerated trucks, the gooey, sweet milk retains an appeal all its own, and flavor that infuses beloved treats around the world: it's stirred into Thai iced tea, drizzled over shaved ice raspados in Latin America and cooked into Brazilian brigadeiros.

Trifle, United Kingdom

Tender layers of sherry-soaked sponge cake alternate with jam, custard and -- in a practical British twist -- almost anything sweet and delicious the baker has on hand, as long as it's topped with a lush blanket of whipped cream. And no matter what you tuck between the rounds of cake, a trifle has a sweetly old-fashioned feel.

The name dates back to at least the 16th century and is probably older, though the ingredients of the dessert have evolved over time. Even as the equally-historic syllabub has disappeared from the standard playlist of homemade British desserts, trifle remains pure, creamy nostalgia for many food lovers.

The secret to the longevity of the trifle might be in its forgiving nature. When I was an apprentice baker in an Oakland café, a pastry chef offered me this reassuring advice: As long as your flavors are good, she said, don't worry too much about cakes emerging from the oven looking flawless. The worst-case scenario? "Put it in a bowl and call it a trifle."

Tub Tim Krob, Thailand

With a name that translates to "crispy rubies," it's not hard to love this colorful and refreshing Thai dessert. After a fiery meal of Thai cuisine, tub tim krob cools with crushed ice and a sweetened coconut liquid infused with pandan leaves.

While often compared with vanilla, pandan has a lilting aroma all its own, but for tub tim krob lovers the "rubies" are the real treasure. For these, water chestnuts are soaked in vivid grenadine syrup, rolled in tapioca flour, then boiled.

The result is a sweet bite that's both chewy and slightly crunchy, with a hint of salt from the coconut broth. The verdict? A chilled bowl of tub tim krob is easily worth the flight to Bangkok.

Watch the video: Sweet - New York Groove (July 2022).


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