10 Desserts from Around the World

Sweet Talk

Get your dessert fix with these sugary treats from around the globe.

Mochi in Kyoto.
Marrakech's popular m'hanncha almond pastry.

By Becca Hensley
Originally appeared in the April/May 2016 issue of Virtuoso Traveler.
Sacher Torte | Vienna
Befitting its regal past, penchant for Cinderella balls, and café culture, Austria’s imperial city gave the world this elegant chocolate torte with sponge cake, apricot jam, and a fudge fondant top. Sweet Spot: Try it at Hotel Sacher Wien’s Café Sacher, which claims to use Franz Sacher’s original, secret recipe, dating back to 1832. (4 Philharmonikerstrasse)
Beignets | New Orleans
Bite into a hot, fried, chewy, pillow-shaped beignet and be immersed in the Big Easy’s French fusion past. Expect swirls of powdered sugar to settle on your face and clothing, but that’s nothing a napkin can’t remedy. Sweet Spot: Locals and tourists alike gather at storied Café Du Monde in the French Market for beignets and chicory coffee 24 hours a day. (800 Decatur Street)
Mochi | Kyoto
If a topping of mochi on Pinkberry frozen yogurt is your children’s favorite, take them to Kyoto for the real thing. Chefs pound short-grained mochigome rice into a paste, then mold it into brightly hued, chewy cakes in myriad flavors and shapes. Sweet Spot: Since 1899, Demachi Futaba has served long lines of mochi cravers. (236 Seiryucho, Kamigyo-ku)
M’hanncha | Marrakech
Passionate about sweets, Moroccans have a long tradition of pastries. One of the most famous is this snaky coil of flaky phyllo dough; brimming with almond paste, it’s as transporting as a magic carpet ride. Sweet Spot: Try it with a glass of mint tea at Pâtisserie Amandine, a locals’ favorite in the heart of the city. (175 rue Mohamed El Beqal)
Gelato | Florence
Cold, velvety, and packed with flavor, gelato is like eating all the sights, sounds, and romance of Italy in one bite. Order more than one scoop for multiple taste sensations, then join Florentine families for their afternoon stroll. Sweet Spot: The family-owned Vivoli gelateria makes a wide variety of flavors fresh daily, as they have for generations. (7/r Via Dell’Isola delle Stinche)
Churros | Mexico City
The consummate Mexican midnight snack, tube-shaped churros arrive piping hot, piled on a platter. Soft on the inside, with crunchy exteriors, this fried phenomenon pairs perfectly with a cup of thick hot chocolate for dipping. Sweet Spot: For more than 80 years, El Moro, the quintessential churrería, has sated sweet tooths 24/7. (42 Eje Central Lázaro Cárdenas, Cuauhtémoc, Centro)
Shave Ice | Honolulu
Like flavored snow, finely textured shave ice chills out tired sand-castle builders, body surfers, and Hawaii-born presidents after a long day in paradise. Sweet Spot: Homemade small-batch syrups at the original Waiola Shave Ice, an island classic since 1940, include novel flavors such as bubble gum, cotton candy, and root beer. (2135 Waiola Street)
Chocolate | Quito
Chocoholics: This colonial city is your mother lode. Surrounded by abundant cacao seeds, Ecuadorans discovered how to harvest and prepare this antioxidant-rich treat millennia ago. Lucky them. Sweet Spot: Chocolate bars bought at Kallari Café benefit local farmers in the Napo Province; artisan chocolate-making lessons are a plus. (E4-266 Wilson & Juan Leon Mera, La Mariscal)
Crepes | Paris
A French rite of passage, light-as-air crepes – sprinkled with sugar or spread with creamy Nutella – ward off hunger pains between Paris museum visits and those long lines at the Eiffel Tower. Sweet Spot: Head to the Brasserie Esméralda crêperie stand behind Notre Dame, then eat your snack by the celebrated Gothic cathedral. (2 rue du Cloître Notre Dame)
Lamingtons | Melbourne
These squares of sponge cake, dipped in chocolate and covered in coconut, are so beloved by Aussies that they celebrate National Lamington Day each July 21. Sweet Spot: Try Candied Bakery’s slight twist on the traditional recipe, with Valrhona chocolate ganache and raspberry jam. (81A Hudsons Road, Spotswood)  

Photo Credits: (Sacher Torte) Stefano Politi Markovina/Alamy, (Beignet) Jim West/Alamy, (Mochi) Antares71/iStock, (Gelato) Graham Franks/Alamy, (Churro) Kyoko Uchida/Alamy, (M'hanncha) Johnny Greig/iStock, (Shave Ice) Image Navisozaijiten/Alamy, (Crepes) The Picture Pantry/Alamy, (Lamingtons) Brett Stevens/Cultura/Corbis

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