Dec 152010
 
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When you’d like to step away from some of your own holiday dessert traditions, perhaps you’d like to explore some of the sweet treats enjoyed around the world. Below you will find a few suggestions to keep your holiday meals creative, including a traditional Puerto Rican dessert and a couple of ways to incorporate alcohol into your international sweet treats.

Tembleque – Puerto Rico

A traditional dessert in Puerto Rico for Christmas is tembleque – a custard-like treat made with coconut, cornstarch, vanilla, and cinnamon. A typical recipe may include 4 cups coconut milk, ½ cup sugar, ½ cup cornstarch, ¼ teaspoon salt, and your choice of garnish, such as cinnamon sticks, ground cinnamon, or toasted coconut flakes. Another Puerto Rican sweet treat served during the holidays is coquito, which is coconut nog that takes the place of eggnog.

Photo credit michaelaw

Pushka – Russia

If you’re in the mood for a combination of many different ingredients, then the Russian pushka may add a bit of spice to your Christmas desserts. Three cups of marinated fruit is a must. A recipe for this colorful cake may include cream cheese, sour cream, superfine sugar (castor), marinated sultana (soaked in alcohol for at least 10 days), marinated currents, dried apricots, crystallized ginger pieces, sliced almonds, chocolate chips and orange zest. The cake is then decorated with festive touches, such as chocolate chips, slivered almonds, and cherries. After making the cake, it is either refrigerated or frozen.

Til Ke Laddoo – India

This ball-shaped treat is made out of a variety of ingredients that may include fruits, vegetables, and even grains and legumes. The dessert is often prepared with sesame and is popular during the winter months because of the seeds connection to heat.  An example of a recipe may include 1 cup sesame seeds, 1 cup jaggery, 3 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter), ½ cup water, and 6 to 8 pods of cardamom seeds, which have been removed and ground into a powder. After the recipe has cooled, it is molded into the shape of balls, which eventually harden to a candy-like texture.

Zuppa Inglese – Italy

In Italy, holiday spreads may include zuppa inglese – a cake layered with pastry cream that is soaked in rum. In addition to milk, sugar, egg yolks, flour and vanilla, the pastry filling also include coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate. The dessert is comprised of two layers of yellow cake or a large pound cake. Dark rum and apricot jam are mixed together and brushed over the tops of the cake layers. Heavy cream is also used to whip up a fresh topping, which is often garnished with berries.

Festive Ice Cream Pudding – Australia

Frozen ice cream desserts are quite popular in Australia during the holiday season. To make this sweet treat, marinate 1 ½ cups mixed dried fruits in 2 tablespoons of brandy (or Grand Marnier) for at least 4 hours. Remove one 3 to 4 liter carton of vanilla or chocolate ice cream from the freezer and allow it to soften without it becoming “liquidy”. Gently stir in ½ cup toasted slivered almonds, 2 teaspoons mixed spices, and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Make sure the dessert is well mixed. Place dessert back into the carton or refreeze in dessert bowls. Before serving, allow the dessert to slightly soften.

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