Anyone who knows me knows that I have a pretty bad sweet tooth. When I was a kid, I used to tell my parents that I had a separate stomach for dessert, so I always had room for dessert no matter how much food I’d already eaten. Given my love for dessert and all things sweet, I’ve had a pretty great time in South Africa exploring new desserts. This past week, for our Culture, Language, and Identity course, two other NU students and I gave a presentation on South African desserts. So, working with the knowledge from that presentation as well as my own first hand experience with South African desserts, I present to you:
EMILY’S DEFINITIVE RATINGS OF SOUTH AFRICA’S FINEST DESSERTS
Dessert #1: Koeksisters (7/10)
Koeksisters are basically a South African donut. They’re a kind of chewy-crunchy hybrid that I can’t really compare to any other food I’ve had. They’re deep-fried then immediately dipped into a sweet, sugary syrup. So basically, a crunchy donut, dripping with a syrup that tastes somewhere between honey and pure sugar. They’re pretty good, but you can only eat so many before it’s just too sweet. Fun fact: there’s a two-meter tall statue of a koeksister in a town called Orania.
Dessert #2: Malva Pudding (8.5/10)
Malva pudding, while hard to make (even using a box mix) is delicious. This is the one dessert that we actually made for our class presentation instead of buying it from the grocery store. We used a box mix, and it seemed easy, but this is the “kitchen” we have to work with in our dorm rooms:
However, the end result was surprisingly good, despite being burned on top and underbaked in the middle. Probably because of the entire stick of butter that made its way in there. Anyway, malva pudding is a cake-like pudding made with apricot jam that’s often served with custard or ice cream. It’s very delicious, and even Oprah has a recipe!
Dessert #3: Milk Tart (9.5/10)
Milk tart is my new favorite dessert, and I’m really looking forward to trying to make it when I get back home. However, I told a South African that milk tart was my favorite South African dessert, and looking confused, he said, “Well milk tart’s not really dessert… Desserts are desserts and tarts are tarts.” Regardless of the status of milk tart in South African cuisine, it’s delicious. It consists of a pastry crust filled with a creamy custard and topped with a dusting of cinnamon. There’s even a National Milk Tart Day on February 27th, which I will most definitely be celebrating in 2016.
In conclusion, South African dessert (and South African cuisine in general) is pretty amazing. Koeksisters seem a little difficult to make, but malva pudding and milk tart are totally worth a try. There are tons of recipes for all three of these desserts online. Time has flown by and we have less than two weeks left in South Africa, so I’m making an effort to get as many of these desserts as I can while I’m still here. I know my homemade versions back home won’t be as good, but at least I’ll be able to take a bit of the culture back with me!