IRAQ G’shur Purtaghal (Candied Citrus Peels) Again, this dessert could be made for a variety of countries in the Mediterranean region, because candied things show up a lot in their desserts. This was another extremely simple dessert and I thought it would take no time, but I had to peel the skins very carefully so as not to get any of the bitter white stuff and this took time. What I ended up doing was making slits all along the skins and then peeling them with a knife. It was very time consuming for so little a product and often times I could not get them long because they would rip in half. It still worked out, though, and I think my system worked well. Next I soaked them in boiling water three times; this was to get the bitterness out. The Peels looked so beautiful, they were transparent and bright in color and they just looked so cool. Then I simmered them in sugar water. By accident I put all the sugar in the pot instead of keeping some for later but it did not make a difference. Next I placed them on wax paper to cool and harden. I poured the remaining syrup in the sink which was a bad idea, because it completely hardened. If my mom had seen she would have flipped out, it was our brand new sink as well. I had to work fast and soon found that if I just ran hot water over it, the syrup would melt. That took care of it, and it also has not clogged the drain. Thank goodness! I put these out beside the sugared almonds for Thanksgiving and people really like them. Now they were brown because of the sugar, but they tasted delicious and just like orange candy. I could make these and put them with the almonds and have it be part of a Christmas present. So I probably will make them again.
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ISRAEL Chocolate Date Nut Pie This dessert sounds weird but it is actually quite delicious. Essentially, it is dates soaked in water, mashed, mixed with melted chocolate and angel food cake patted into a pie pan. On top is spread a bitter coffee, chocolate, whipped cream, and on top of this is spread a regular sweet whipped cream. I also made this for thanksgiving, and it turned out to be delicious. I could not really taste the dates too much and the bitterness of the coffee cream was balanced by the sweet cream which was an excellent combination. This was simple to make, everyone loved it, and I think that I will probably make it again.
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JORDAN Kunafa My cousin, Deryn, traveled to Jordan over the summer and told me to make this. She said that they would bake it in large baking sheets on the street and sell them. The recipe also says that it is traditionally eaten during Ramadan. Instead of baking it in a rectangular pan I made it in a cake pan because that is what the recipe called for. It is basically a layer of almonds topped with Kataifi which is a type of phyllo dough broken up and mixed with butter placed over the nuts. I just took regular phyllo dough and shredded it which worked well. Then there is a layer of cottage cheese with more Kataifi spread on top of it. After it finished baking I poured sugar lemon syrup with vanilla extract in it. It gave me the choice of vanilla extract or rose water, but the past desserts I have made with rose water have had a strange, almost soap scented, flavor. After all rose water can be used as perfume. I liked this dessert a lot as did everyone else. It was simple to make and tasted amazing.
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LEBANON Sugared Almonds Although I made this dessert for Lebanon, I could have made it for any Mediterranean country, because nuts for dessert are common in this region. This I think was the simplest and easiest dessert I have made, which was awesome. It consists of almonds mixed with egg, sugar, and spices and then cooked in the oven. Although the sugar mixture was soft and gooey, when I pulled them out of the oven, in a short time the sugar hardened, covering the almonds in a sweet outer coating. I made them for thanksgiving, and the nice thing about them was that they just sat out in a bowl allowing people to snack on them throughout the whole day. Everyone loved them, they were delicious. I know that I will make these again; they are something that if I put them in a cute bag they could be part of a Christmas present. They could just be eaten, put on a salad, or baked into something else.
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PAKISTAN Kheer (Rice Pudding) This was an extremely easy recipe to make. I just had to cook the ingredients over the stove for a while. It did take a long time though, much longer than the recipe called for, about just over an hour. My family said I cooked it a bit too long, that it was thicker than regular rice pudding but I did not want there to be too many rice chunks. It was okay, my dad seemed to like it, but I did not really like it much. It tasted like sweet rice and warm milk. Overnight we put it outside to save room in our fridge, but it rained and even though it had a lid on it water go in somehow. So in the morning it was quite watery. Oh well, I am just glad that I got to taste it and get a picture of it. I do not think I am going to make this again.
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SAUDI ARABIA Ghoraiba This was an easy dessert to bake with simple ingredients. Instead of using ghee I used butter. I made the cookies golf ball sized but if I were to make this again I would make them bite size. They turned out extremely similar to the cookies I made from Afghanistan. I cooked them longer then the recipe said to cook because it seemed like they needed to bake longer. They were dry and crumbled when bitten into. I could take one bite and like them but then the second bite was a bit too much. Therefore, I think it would be better to make them smaller.
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SYRIA Khoshat bil Mishmish (Macerated Apricots and Nuts) This is a dessert that the Syrians have during Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. At the end of the day when they can eat, this is one of the things they make. Essentially it is apricots soaked in water overnight. Then some of them are blended in the blender and mixed back in with the others along with raisins, nuts, sugar, and rose water. It basically looks like chunky soup. The rose water (made from rose petals) is used abundantly in the Middle East to flavor desserts. I was able to find it at Whole Foods in the soap, lotion, and make-up section. This is because rose water is also used as a perfume. This is also why the dessert then had almost a shampoo or conditioner underlying taste. So far this is the most bizarre dessert I have made and I really did not like it. I took it to my soccer dinner and a few people tried it. About two people actually thought it tasted good.
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TURKEY Kaymakli Kayisi Tatlisi (Apricots Stuffed with Cream) I ended up making this over two days because the cream it uses sits out for seven hours. First the cream is boiled. Although traditionally it is made with buffalo milk the recipe substitutes it for just milk and heavy cream. It is then left out to sit in a shallow pan for seven hours. The cream does go a little sour and gets a thin skin on it. Then it is placed in the fridge overnight. The apricots are also soaked overnight and then simmered in sugar syrup. Then they are stuffed with the “thick” cream. My cream was still very liquidly and I ended up placing the apricots in a shallow bowl so they could sit in some of the cream. I actually thought this dessert was not too bad. The cream reminded me of clotted cream from England. My mom and grandma also enjoyed them but Jency Boyce, who helped me make them, did not like them at all.
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YEMEN Bint Assahn (Pastry with Honey) This dessert was layers of flat round dough stacked on top of each other with nuts and butter inbetween and then baked. I placed these in a pie pan which worked well. Then honey and butter is poured over it when it comes out. It was surprising how similar it was to baklava. The only differences was that it was not phyllo dough, it was circular shape and there were no spices added to it, but other than that it was basically the same. I wonder how many desserts are going to end up similar to each other. It was not nearly as good as baklava. There was too much dough and not enough nuts and there was no syrup. In the future I will just make baklava.
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ALGERIA Stuffed Dates and Walnuts For this dessert I ground pistachios and almonds in a blender. Unfortunately I got pepper flavored pistachios, it did not make that much of a difference so I used them anyway. Then I mixed the sugar and water together. I know it called for orange blossom water but I did not have any nor could I find any. Instead I used rose water which the people in this region use interchangeably with the orange blossom water. Then I put this in the dates. I could not get any fresh dates so I used dried dates which worked fine. It ended up tasting terrible. I think if I had been able to use orange blossom water it would taste better, or I could probably have used honey which would have been good. I decided not to use any walnuts because I thought just the dates were enough. Well, if I ever do decide to make this again I will be sure to change the ingredients a bit.
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BURKINA FASO Groundnut/Peanut Cookies This was a simple peanut cookie that tasted quite good. I mixed all the ingredients together and was a bit worried because the batter seemed quite watery but when they finished baking they were nice. I baked them on non-stick baking sheets which helped the cookies not stick. They had the texture similar to a regular cookie and they tasted like peanuts. I took them to contemporary church where everybody enjoyed them.
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CÔTE D’IVOIRE Melon Finger with Lime This is an African country along the Ivory Coast. This dessert was the easiest one yet. All I had to do was cut up a honey dew melon into slices. Then I made cut marks along each slice and put a piece of lime in the middle of each. It was awesome to have a super simple dessert to make. I actually do not like melon but if I squeezed the lime juice onto the fruit then I could eat some of it. It is too bad I do not like melon because if I did it would be such a perfect dessert. Oh well!
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EGYPT Khoshaf el Yameesh (Macerated Dried Fruit and Nut Salad) This dessert is surprisingly similar to the dessert from Syria. That is because Syria and Egypt are quite close to each other. It is not only eaten during Ramadan, but has basically the same ingredients. However, after soaking the apricots I simmered all the ingredients for about half an hour. Thus, instead of being soupy it is just a bit moist. I actually took this up to our club dessert party but nobody tried it. This did not bother me though because it does not look appetizing; it is completely different from desserts we are used to. Although it is better, in my opinion, than the Syrian dessert I still do not like it that much. My mom thought it was okay and my Nonna thought it tasted delicious. Well everyone’s taste buds are different, I guess.
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ETHIOPIA Dabo Kolo These were an interesting type of cookie. They were hardly sweet and had cayenne pepper in them, which was quite surprising. I had to make the dough twice because I found a moth worm on the counter which absolutely disgusted me. I am not sure if there were more in the dough but I was not going to take any chances. I inspected all my ingredients, I know they would not be in the oil, sugar or salt and that left the flour and the pepper. I could not find any sign of them in the flour and so I moved onto inspect the cayenne pepper. I found the little webby strings that accompany these worms, I think it holds the eggs, in the container and although I could not find any more warms I am positive that this is where the worm came from. I never knew that these worms liked cayenne pepper. I thought it would be too spicy for them. Any way I got new pepper and made the dough all over again. I rolled each ball out like a snake and cut pieces off of it and then cooked them. It was interesting, some people said that they were too spicy, but others including myself, found them to be spicy but not too much. I surprisingly really enjoyed them. Because they were not too sweet they were like a snack, more like pretzels than cookies. My dad took them to his work and people seemed to enjoy them as well.
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GABON Baked Bananas I made this dessert with my cousin Jency and we had quite a lot of fun. The recipe says to cut the bananas into diagonal pieces so we assumed we should cut them cross wise with a slanted cut. This worked out well. After we tossed them in the bread crumbs and in the oil we baked them. By accident we baked them much longer than we were supposed to but they did not burn. I put them on a platter and drizzled sour cream on top of them and sprinkled brown sugar on top of that. It looked quite nice but it also could have been good to have sour cream and sugar in a bowl and dip the bananas in. Obviously I did not like them because I do not like cooked bananas but also the bananas we used were a bit fermented. I did not know that bananas could become fermented but I guess they can so I wish we had used less ripe bananas instead. Jency actually liked them anyway but other people did not.
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GAMBIA Chakery This dessert is a couscous milk pudding. I mixed everything together but it did not tell me how much couscous to put in. I decided to follow a normal couscous recipe which called for a cup of couscous and a cup of water. The water is boiled and then the couscous is added, mixed, and then taken off the stove. Then it is supposed to sit with the lid on. The water is then all absorbed. I then mixed this into the pudding and over time the couscous soaked some of the pudding up. However, it still remained quite watery. I did not like the taste at all. It has yogurt in it and I do not like the taste of yogurt, but I think something had gone bad because it had an extremely sour taste. I had to spit out the bite I took and drink a lot of water. Also I do not like puddings as much as other desserts.
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GHANA Akwadu (Banana Pudding) This was extremely simple and easy to make. I sliced up bananas lengthwise and laid them along the bottom of a pie pan. Then I took orange juice and brown sugar and poured it over the bananas. Lastly I covered it with a thick layer of coconut shavings and popped it in the oven. I left it in the oven for about twice as long as it said to because I wanted the coconut to get more browned. When I pulled it out it smelled almost identical to banana bread. I ate it while warm with some vanilla ice cream. It tasted like banana, coconut and was a bit tangy from the orange juice. I already do not like banana bread so I chose to eat it with ice cream so I could enjoy it, otherwise I would not have liked it because of the cooked banana flavor.
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KENYA Coupe Mount This dessert is a pineapple sauce on mango ice cream. I already made mango ice cream/sherbet from Cuba and I still had some left which I used. Therefore, I only had to make the sauce. This was simple to make and only has four ingredients. I borrowed the rum from my aunt and uncle, and when I smelled it, I gagged. It smelled like rubbing alcohol and I cannot believe that people drink it just like that. When I poured it into the sauce I thought that it would cook but really the pineapple pieces are just meant to soak in the sauce and not cook. I let it marinate for about 24 hours and then put it in the refrigerator for a couple of days. I know that the alcohol evaporated out of it by the time I tried it. It was delicious. I do not even like pineapple but with the sorbet it tasted good. The sauce tasted like pineapple and though I am sure that the rum added a flavor I could not distinguish it. Unfortunately it is in the middle of winter at the moment and this would be a wonderful dessert for a hot summer evening.
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LIBERIA Cassava Cake For this cake I used minute tapioca instead of cassava, because I could not find it anywhere. The Tapioca is mixed together with the milk and egg while the other ingredients are mixed together. Then they are added together creating a runny batter which is poured into a cake pan and baked. This cake smelled delicious and tasted good as well. The only thing was that it left a strange after taste, and there were still pieces of hard tapioca. I think if I make it again I will try to soften the tapioca more. I brought it to church and people seemed to enjoy it.
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LIBYA Semesmyah (Sesame Candy) This was one of the simplest desserts I have made. It only calls for three ingredients. After I mixed all the ingredients together over the stove I poured them onto a greased piece of foil and put another on top. It says to put this in a baking pan but I just rolled it on the counter. I flattened the mixture to about ¼ of an inch and cut out little squares. I think that they also would have worked out well if I had molded them into little balls. I actually liked the taste of them despite my dislike of honey. I brought them to the AKM banquet and then to contemporary church where people really enjoyed them. The one problem is that when they are in a container they mould/stick onto each other, but it is still manageable.
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MADAGASCAR Salady Voankazo This dessert was another fruit salad with similar ingredients as the Cambodian dessert except it had strawberries and cantaloupe. Another very interesting thing is that the people of this country traditionally eat fruit with vanilla extract. I personally found the vanilla flavoring to be too much; I did not really like it. It tasted quite strange. Also there were lychee fruit in this dessert as well. Earlier I said how they tasted like grapefruit because the juice of the grapefruit got on them; well they actually do taste a bit like grapefruit because this salad did not have any grapefruit in it. So I decided that I actually do not like lychees, because grapefruit is too bitter for me. Again, if I am going to make a fruit salad, I will make it the way that I want and use fruit that I like. It is interesting though to make something more elaborate every once in a while.
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MALAWI Peanut Puffs This was another simple dessert. I mixed everything together and the dough was still a bit dry so I added a bit of water. Then I molded them into little balls and baked them. When I took them out I rolled them in the powdered sugar immediately which was difficult because they were quite hot. They were dry but still tasty. I took them to the boy’s dorm and I am sure that they enjoyed them.
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MOROCCO Mescouta (Date Cookies/Bars) From my research paper I wrote for Senior Project, I know how important dates are to the people of North Africa. These palm trees grow extremely well in dry climate and the people in this area make great use of them. So when I came across this recipe I knew that it would be great for this North African country. I used walnuts because I did not have any almonds but either would have been good. I thought that the powdered sugar was to be added to the dough but it really is for the squares to be rolled in after they are baked. I waited about 15 minutes after I took the dough out of the oven to cut squares out and coat them in the sugar. They look quite tasty, and were not bad. They were a good texture, soft but not mushy and tasted a lot like egg. I did not like it when I got a bite of date though because I do not like dates unfortunately. I took them to school and some people tried them. Kama Pellani really liked them which was great.
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MOZAMBIQUE Filhos de Natal (Christmas Fritters) This dessert was simple dough with yeast and no sugar in it. After kneading it, it is left to rise, and then it is rolled out flat. This is annoying because the yeast makes the dough shrink in again, but I kept working at it and finally got it flat enough. Then I cut it into little rectangular shapes and deep fried them. After they drained on a paper towel I dipped them in warm water with honey so they got a sweet outer coating. I took them to church where everyone liked them a lot. Because I do not like honey, I did not like them. They were similar to the doughnuts I made earlier but were a little fluffier. These really are best when they are just finished and still warm as is anything that is fried in oil.
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