Tag Archives: dessert

Pastry-Post Doc: Thiakry / Degue from West Africa

We recently attended the end-of-the-year gala for the local college’s African Student Association, which was a delightful banquet full of delicious dishes from all around Africa: jollof rice, moi moi, plantains, injera, beef tibs, samosas and more. However, there were no African desserts. That got us to thinking – what would be a good African dessert to add in the future? That’s when we first heard about Thiakry (aka Dégué) – a sweet couscous-like dish with origins in West Africa. Both titles refer to the millet grain used in the dish itself, which is called Thiakry in Senegal, or Dégué in the rest of West Africa. The grain used in Thiakry can be millet or if that is not available, wheat, which is then mixed with dairy, dried fruit, vanilla and spices like nutmeg or cinnamon. The final texture is similar to rice pudding. You can check out the following recipes for varieties of Degue/Thiakry: Yummy Medley, Food World, and Salwa Petersen. You can buy Degue/Millet in most African markets, or in various shops online. This is a dish that is open to experimentation and customization – so you can add pretty much anything you want – as in this modern take on the recipe from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (seen below).

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Pastry Post-Doc in South Sudan: Kuindiong

south-sudan_flag.pngThis is the first time that South Sudan (which only became an independent country in 2011) is competing in any Olympics, and 5 refugees associated with South Sudan are also competing for the Refugee Olympic team. South Sudanese shares many features with the traditional cuisine of Sudan, which features a wide array of stews, corn-based breads, and hearty veggies like okra, but relies more heavily on fish. However, the South Sudanese can do sweets, too. One of the emblematic desserts of South Sudan is a sweet semolina pudding, Kuindiong. This pudding reminds us of Middle Eastern semolina puddings, like Basboosa, and uses the same semolina flour used in Italian pasta. This recipe from SBS Australia (seen below) seems simple and delicious.Kuindiong.jpg

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Pastry Post-Doc in Rio: Cinematic cakes at Bomboniere Pathe

cinelandiabrazilBack in the day, an area of Central Rio de Janeiro, Cinelândia (pictured above in 2013), as its name suggests, was the home of Rio de Janeiro’s opulent Art Deco movie theaters. At its peak, there were over a dozen, centered on the square called Praça Floriano Peixoto. Only one movie theater still remains, the Odeon (link in Portuguese), whereas the other grand movie palaces have been converted to performing arts centers, churches, bookstores, or adult movie theaters. Bomboniere Pathe (Praça Floriano, 45, Rio de Janeiro) used to be below one such grand cinema – Cinema Pathe (now a church), which opened in 1901 and closed in 1999. 

CakeStoreThough the theater is closed, this tiny corner shop that sells nothing but cake is still chugging along. The store is blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-small. But don’t let the humble appearance fool you – the cakes are amazing! There are a dozen or so traditional and exotic flavors available every day, and are worth a special trip. It costs $R 5 for a slice, and $R 65 for an entire cake. With the current exchange rate of the Brazilian Real, that is a pretty reasonable price. The refrigerator case for the cakes is rolled right out into the street, enticing passers-by with scrumptious cakes.


So what kind of cakes can you expect? While we were there we sampled: A tri-color Neapolitan cake, a brigadeiro cake (chocolate condensed milk) with brigadeiro truffles right on top, coconut cake, prestigio cake, a traditional chocolate and coconut layer cake, passion fruit cheesecake, key lime, strawberry, blueberries and whipped cream, Black forest cake, and more! The selection changes daily, so be sure to ask ahead if there is something you have in mind. You can also buy single bite-size Brazilian treats like truffles, brigadeiros / casadinhos / cajuzinhos / beijinhos and small pudins (egg puddings).


If you order a slice, you are treated to a hearty wedge in a little plastic container. Since this is a take out place, there is no “eating-in.” However, you will see some people gathered around the shop just noshing on their cakes. Another nice touch – for my birthday they even gave me a cake with a candle in it (see below)! We sampled cakes at least once a week and were never disappointed. Located near the business center of Rio, it is a popular choice for businesspeople on a lunch break, and the crowd strictly seemed to be locals. If you are in Central Rio and looking for a sweet, traditional Brazilian dessert, look no further!


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Swedish Cake Table for St. Lucia’s Day

sweden_flagWe are pretty fond of the Swedish way of taking coffee, Fika, and we also love their idea of the “cake table” aka kaffebröd or fikabröd which accompanies this traditional Swedish fika coffee break. A cake table typically includes cakes (obviously), cookies, pastries and other sweet treats. We think that a full fika with cakes and cookies is the perfect way to celebrate St. Lucia’s day, a holiday celebrated in Sweden on December 13th. Here are some top picks that we think would be perfect on any holiday table (or just for fun):


Kladdkaka by Andreas Ivarsson

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A trip to Romania with Ovy Transylvanian Bakery

romanianflagAs you can tell from our blog, we are big on sweets so we decided to keep the momentum going with a Chicago-area Romanian find. Ovy Bakery (3455A W Dempster, Skokie, IL) is so unassuming, if you blink you’ll miss it for two reasons: 1. it is located in a completely nondescript strip mall and 2. there is a big sign reading “La Patisserie” outside from the bakery’s former incarnation. I only noticed Ovy because I was intrigued by the “Transylvanian” sign in the window – not a common sight. Ovy Bakery is small, and when we visited it was pretty crowded! There were 2 sections of pastries in the glass case: traditional Romanian and more modern French-inspired creations. Chef Ovidiu Pop, the eponymous “Ovy,” who is of Romanian extraction, honed his pastry skills by working at Blackbird and the Peninsula Hotel in Chicago, which explains the mashup of Romanian and other European styles.


We were bringing dessert to a friend’s house for dinner so we decided to sample five different pastries from both categories (clockwise from top right):

  • Amandine – This is one for the rum lovers – a chocolate covered chocolate cake that had been soaked in rum. beware – it is very strong.
  • Dobos Torte – This is a classic Eastern European cake that is composed of thin layers of chocolate buttercream and yellow sponge cake. Ovy’s was a perfect rendition that equally blended both varieties, which complemented each other perfectly, with neither flavor dominating. A creative new twist was the crunchy, caramelized top
  • Honey Cake (seen at the bottom of the page) – This was similar to the Dobos torte in appearance, and featured delicate layers of honey cake, pastry cream and apricot jam. It had a faint graham cracker flavor, which was both delicious.
  • Creme – This dessert looked simple, but had a very unique taste – it was puff pastry filled with a vanilla cream that tasted more like a gelatinous zabaglione than pastry cream. Though the texture was a bit unusual, it was still very good!
  • From the modern side we sampled a Passion Fruit Mousse on a cookie base, which was exquisitely presented, and tasted even better.

I was pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of Ovy Bakery. They even offer catering for savory Romanian dishes, and other tidbits like breads (the most popular seemed to be the sweet bread Cozonac) and doughnuts. If you are in the mood for something a little different to bring to a dinner party, these pan-European treats from Ovy will definitely impress your guests


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Kunefe, Baklava and other Turkish treats for the end of Ramadan

turkeyThe end of Ramadan is right around the corner, which means it is time for Eid-Al Fitr feasts! Every country has it fair share of festive foods, and Turkey pulls out all the stops when it comes to desserts for holidays. Ozlem’s Turkish Table has a variety of delicious Turkish desserts that would be perfect at any Eid Al-Fitr (known as Ramazan Bayramı in Turkey) celebration, including the well-known baklava as well as lesser-known but still delicious treats like Kunefe and Revani.

Ozlem's Baklava

Ozlem’s Baklava


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Kaju Katli (Cashew fudge) Recipe for Diwali

India FlagDiwali, the Hindu festival of lights, is right around the corner, which means it is time for Diwali sweets, or Mithai. The sweets served vary from region to region, and we have covered a few before on ETW (just a drop in the bucket), including ghugra and susiyam. However, we recently discovered a new Diwali specialty, Kaju Katli, a cashew fudge candy made with sugar and ghee (yes “Kaju” means cashew). M loves cashews, so this recipe seemed especially appropriate to try, and Kaju Katli seems pretty easy to make. Here’s a recipe from Padhu’s Kitchen and another from Rak’s Kitchen (which includes saffron). For extra flair, it is also sometimes decorated with silver leaf, vark (as below). In some ways, Kaju Katli even reminds us of one of our favorite Brazilian candies made from cashew and sugar, the cajuzinho!

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Desserts in Tiny Cups: Brazilian Doces de Colher

brazilWe have talked before about one of our favorite Brazilian treats: brigadeiros. However, you can also get brigadeiros in another, slightly more liquid form. Known as doces de colher literally “spoon sweets,” these Brazilian treats come in little cups and are meant to be eaten with a spoon. Technicolor kitchen has recipes for some of the most popular spoon sweets: brigadeiro, beijinho and bicho-de-pé. Warning: these are definitely only for those who have a VERY sweet tooth.

Doces de Colher by Biana Bueno

Brigadeiro Doces de Colher by Bianca Bueno

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Recipe: Brown Butter Raspberry Tart

Anything with fresh fruit screams Summer to us, but we wanted to try something a little more complex than fresh berries on ice cream. With fresh raspberries on hand – we wanted to try something new – and what could be more elegant than a brown butter raspberry tart. We got the recipe from the June issue of Bon Appetit, which was chock full of fruit recipes. It was surprisingly easy to make – even though we are usually wary of making pie crusts. The brown butter, true to advertising, did add richness and depth of flavor to the filling. The nice appearance of our tart was aided by the meticulous styling by my sister A, who made sure to concentric raspberry circles were perfect. Though we usually don’t make pies, we were very impressed at how this one turned out – and we may venture into more advanced varieties soon.



  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 6-ounce containers fresh raspberries



  • Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Using rubber spatula or fork, mix melted butter, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl. Add flour and salt and stir until incorporated. Transfer dough to 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Using fingertips, press dough evenly onto sides and bottom of pan.
  • Bake crust until golden, about 18 minutes (crust will puff slightly while baking). Transfer crust to rack and cool in pan. Maintain oven temperature.


  • Whisk sugar, eggs, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add flour and vanilla; whisk until smooth. Cook butter in heavy small saucepan over medium heat until deep nutty brown (do not burn), stirring often, about 6 minutes. Immediately pour browned butter into glass measuring cup. Gradually whisk browned butter into sugar-egg mixture; whisk until well blended.
  • Arrange raspberries, pointed side up and close together in concentric circles, in bottom of cooled crust. Carefully pour browned butter mixture evenly over berries. Place tart on rimmed baking sheet. Bake tart until filling is puffed and golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool tart completely in pan on rack (The tart can be made in advance).
  • Remove tart pan sides. Place tart on platter. Cut into wedges and serve

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Time for Dessert at Hot Chocolate in Chicago

Hot Chocolate
1747 N. Damen Ave.
Chicago, IL

This ultra-modern chocolate bar has the feel of sitting inside of a chocolate bar itself! Done in deep browns and creams, Mindy Segal’s restaurant has a full dinner menu, as well as the featured deserts and chocolate drinks. We weren’t really in the mood for another large meal, so we stayed in the lounge section at the front of the restaurant and sampled some of the chocolate drinks and dessert creations instead. As dessert bars usually are, this one was a bit on the pricey side. However, the delectable deserts were worth it.

Doughnuts by Stu Pivak

Doughnuts by Stu Spivak

We sampled a vanilla crème brûlée with summer berries ($11) and a “Shot of Hot Chocolate” which was a tiny, rich brownie with a shot glass of chilled hot chocolate ($4). Each was delicious, and an inventive take on a dessert classic. Other unique menu items included a platter of doughnuts with a hot chocolate dipping sauce. We also had a good sampling of chocolate-flavored alcoholic drinks such as the Chocolate Martini, with Stoli vanilla, Kahlua, Baileys and chocolate milk ($12). In this case, the alcohol tended to overpower the chocolate. Not bad, of course, if that what you’re going for. All in all, sampling the treats at Hot Chocolate is a great way to end the night and satisfy your sweet tooth. Maybe next time we will even saple some of the savory items. If you’re ever in the Wicker Park area, we recommend stopping by to at least check out the unique ambiance and delicious deserts.

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