“It’s fart time!”

As far as pastries go, these probably win for having the least tasty-sounding English translation. The reason? The French-Canadian Pet de Soeur literally mean “nun’s fart”. Québécois often bake the flaky delicious spirals of dough especially during holidays. The pastry, glazed in butter, brown sugar, and occasionally cinnamon, pays crass homage to the nuns who first made it, and it’s significantly tastier than its name implies. So, why a flatulence reference for such a delicious treat? Well, nobody knows for sure, as explanations abound. Some say it stems from the…

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Carrageen Moss Pudding – a sweet, silky Irish pudding with a seaweed as secret ingredient ~

Ever seen “carrageenan” at the end of an incomprehensible list of ingredients on the back of your ice cream tub (or your toothpaste tube, too)? Probably you didn’t know that this mystery ingredient comes from one of several species of seaweed, carrageen (Chondrus crispus). Know as carrageen “moss”, but actually a seaweed, is one of Ireland’s more unusual natural resources, and there are any number of ways to spell its common name: carrageen, carrageenan, carragheen and carragheenan, take your pick. But, in any case, they’re all derived from the Irish…

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Russian Napoleon Cake, the traditional dessert that commemorates the country’s sweet taste of victory over the French emperor in 1812.

In Russia, where Christmas was banned in 1928 during Bolshevik rule and not reinstated until 1991, New Year’s Eve has long been the biggest celebration of the year, with decorative trees and opulent feasts. But also a towering Napoleon cake, often home-baked. The so called Napoleon cake may be similar to the French emperor in fame, but certainly not in stature… Standing tall with at least eight tiers (and sometimes more than 20) of alternating layers of delicious pastry and custard, it has become a national Russian dish, inspired by…

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Election Cake: an American almost forgotten tradition

In the first known cookbook written in the United States, Amelia Simmons’s 1796 American Cookery, you’ll find some recipes that seem familiar like the pumpkin pie or the roast turkey, but also the so-called Election Cake. American Cookery’s recipe speak about “thirty quarts of flour, 10 pound butter, 14 pound sugar, 12 pound raisins, 3 doz eggs, one pint wine, one quart brandy, 4 ounces cinnamon, 4 ounces fine colander seed, 3 ounces ground allspice; wet flour with milk to the consistence of bread over night, adding one quart yeast;…

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Smearcase: a cheesecake named after 19th-century cottage cheese still served in a few Baltimore bakeries.

A dairy wagon in Virginia City, Nevada, made the news when it tipped over in 1878. The Territorial Enterprise published an article called “Whey Goin?” in which a pun-crazed reporter described in this way the scene: “The air was filled with milk and the wagon was left a complete wreck. It was a regular smear-case. From the length of time he has been in the milk business Pedroli’s horse ought to know butter than to act in such a whey— ’tain’t the cheese.” Interestingly, all of the dairy products listed…

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Kek Lapis Sarawak: the Malaysia’s most complex dessert

Kek Lapis Sarawak is a traditional Malaysian cake famous both for its intricate kaleidoscopic appearance and the grueling process required to make it. Kek translates as “cake” and Lapis means “layers” in Bahasa Malaysia, Malaysia’s national language. Inspired by the spit cakes that Dutch colonists used to enjoy, it was born in Malaysia’s Sarawak state, located on the northwestern coast of Borneo, sometime in the 1970’s. It’s basically a much more complex version of kek lapis Betawi, or lapis legit, that incorporates spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, clove, and star…

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30 fabulous cakes that look like paradise islands

If Covid-19 pandemic has made vacationing in a tropical island paradise a lot harder this year, you can satisfy your craving for tropical destinations (as well as your sweet tooth) with some ultra-realistic cakes! Incredible but true, some cake masters are so skilled that they can recreate a tropical island setting using regular baking ingredients, food coloring and jelly. Looking at some of these elaborate cakes, it’s hard to believe that they are 100% percent edible, including foamy waves, marine wildlife and even the sand! “When baking this cake, the…

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Easter Lamb: in Sicily, Italy, it is sweet, caloric and made of almond paste!

Eggs, rabbits…we already know what these symbols mean. Also the lamb is one of the most prominent symbols of Easter. In Christianity, it symbolizes purity and sacrifice, two qualities associated with Jesus Christ, who is referred to as the “Lamb of God” in the New Testament. Sicilians prepare a traditional Easter celebration with the help of a little lamb. Locally known as “agnelli pasquali” or “pecorelle di pasqua”, this sweet figurine is molded from marzipan and often filled with pistachio paste. One distinct characteristic of the Easter sweet is the…

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Kransekake: the queen of cakes!

Around the world, holidays are an excuse for ambitious baking projects and, above all, for eat! But few delicacy are as architecturally impressive as the almond-based cake Kransekake, a Norwegian (and Danish) speciality. Its origin can be traced to the 18th century, where it was first created by a baker in Copenhagen. The Kransekake (or Kransekage in Danish), literally translated as “wreath cake”, is a type of tower cake. It’s more like a cookie than a cake, bakers make its rings from almond flour, egg whites, and sugar, and arrange…

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21# Puto Bumbong – Philippines

We are in the Philippines, which are home to one of the longest Christmas seasons in the world, stretching from the beginning of September until the end of December. In fact Christmas carols are heard as early as September and the season last until Epiphany, the feast of the Black Nazarene on the second Sunday of January, or at the Feast of the Santo Niño held every third Sunday of January. As a results, months of festivities are dotted by a wide array of delicious, often colorful treats, and among…

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19# Fruitcake: the gift that keeps on giving

American journalist and humorist Calvin Trillin theorized that there is only one fruitcake and that it is simply sent from family to family each year. What is true, is that most Americans turn their noses at the very thought of fruitcake even though, for some reason, this item keeps making the rounds and this is made possible because the cakes are soaked in alcohol or other liquors to keep them from go bad. Don’t believe me? This man sampled a cake that someone had kept as a family heirloom dating…

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18# Melomakarona: Greek Christmas Honey Cookies with curious origins

Sweet orange-zest cookies soaked in honey and topped with walnut? Yes, please! This treat is a holiday treat that regularly appears on tables in Greece. Known as melomakarona, if you visit Greece in Christmas time, you’ll eat far too many of these delicious Christmas honey cookies. Imagine a cross between baklava and an gooey pecan pie and you’ve got these: typical Greek Christmas honey cookies, and probably you won’t be able to eat just one. Every self-respecting Greek household has a huge pile of these on their Christmas treat table.…

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9# The Tradition of Christmas Pudding

Christmas pudding, known also Plum pudding, or simply “pud” is a type of pudding traditionally served as end of the Christmas dinner in the UK, Ireland and in other countries where it has been brought by Irish and British immigrants. It has its origins in medieval England, and despite the name, it contains no actual plums. Its name come from the pre-Victorian use of the word “plums” as a term for raisins. Many households have their own recipes for Christmas pudding, some handed down through families for generations, but what…

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2# Gata at Geghard Monastery – Armenia

We are in the rugged Upper Azat Valley in Armenia, around the entrance to the rock-carved Geghard Monastery. Here you’ll notice elderly ladies clustered around roadside stalls leading to the site, selling round Gata cakes inscribed with patterns and intricate Armenian script. The glazed pastry, made with simple ingredients, has a crusty texture that’s soft once you bite into it, and is stuffed with a sweet filling, called khoriz, made from a fluffy mixture of flour, butter, and sugar, with a consistency of baked custard. Even if styles will vary…

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Frog Cakes, the cute amphibian treats and South Australian icons.

Here we are: Australia is home to more than 200 magnificent species of frogs, including one really delicious, comprised almost entirely of sugar! The frog cake is a sweet treat in the shape of a crouched frog, so beloved in its native Adelaide that it was recently deemed a South Australian Heritage Icon. At its heart, the frog has two pieces of sponge cake joined by a thin layer of jam and topped with a scoop of buttercream. To transform this pastry into a frog, bakers coat everything with green…

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