DESSERT IDEAS FROM EGYPT, FRANCE, MIDDLE EAST, GREECE AND SPAIN
The Mediterranean Diet is all about making healthy diet choices which treat your body and mind. While the foundation of this diet consists of fruits, vegetables, tons of water and other healthy options, desserts are at the top of the pyramid, hence they should be consumed rarely and in moderation.
However, this does not mean that Mediterranean people do not know how to make their lives sweet! It is quite the opposite, as there is plenty of super tasty, and in many cases, healthy desserts consumed in this region. From tahini to melted caramel and ladyfingers to Greek phyllo dough, all kinds of flavours and textures are involved. The common point of the following suggestions is the not overwhelming sweet aftertaste, in addition to their Mediterranean origins.
Can desserts be healthy, without us even realizing it? Adding nutrients and choosing alternatives to artificial ingredients for a simple and clean outcome is one method to support your eating goals while satisfying your sweet tooth.
Swapping highly-processed, artificial sweets for nutritious, wholesome and sometimes homemade desserts is the key to a balanced relationship between maintaining a healthy lifestyle and giving in your cravings.
1. Egyptian Harissa
Harissa is a Semolina Cake, traditionally made in Egypt but consumed in other Middle Eastern countries as well. It should not be confused with the Tunisian hot chilly pepper paste, also named Harissa.
Semolina gives a rich flavor to this dessert, while the added rose or orange sugar syrup makes it sticky, moist, and addictive. Tahini, almonds, and butter are some of the other ingredients that are usually included in the harissa recipes.
2. French Coconut Cake
This coconut cake is perfect for winter, due to its appearance, and can be described as quite “très chic” with a nutty and sweet flavour. This cake is the result of mixing a variety of tastes, from sweet to savoury, such as vanilla, almond extract, and coconut.
Plus, a rich, creamy cheese frosting is added on top, making this dessert even tastier and fluffier!
3. Middle Eastern Baklava
Baklava, a dessert with a long history and a pre-Ottoman origin, is common in various cuisines, including the Greek, the Turkish, and the Maghreb cuisine. It is a pastry dessert with many layers of “phyllo” dough, prepared in large pans.
The main ingredients of baklava are nuts (typically walnuts or pistachios), and a syrup made with honey, rosewater, or orange flower water, similar to the aforementioned harissa.
4. Spanish Flan
Moving on to lighter dessert options, Spanish flan is an egg custard with a characteristic caramel top and a caramel sauce. Rumour has it that its origins are located in Ancient Rome and, but today it is mostly prepared in Spain and some other European countries as well.
Flan is a ridiculously easy dessert to make, as it basically includes sugar, eggs, and milk. Simple but super tasty!
5. Greek Spoon Sweets
Greeks love spoon sweets, a type of fruit preserve that is a must-have treat in most Greek households. Various type of ingredients can be used for spoon sweets, with the most common being sour oranges, rose leaves, and sour cherry.
Of course, one can experiment with more unusual types of spoon sweets, using vegetables like tomato, or nuts! Spoon sweets are pretty easy to make as well, by preserving the main ingredient with a thick, sugary syrup.
6. Italian Tiramisu
Tiramisu is an Italian, no-bake dessert that has a unique coffee flavour and it is made of ladyfingers and a whipped cream made with mascarpone and eggs. After its preparation, it gets chilled on the fridge, then dusted with cocoa and served.
Due to the popularity of this dessert, there are now many substitutions or alterations one can make, however we are fans of the original recipe!