10 best pastries from around the world

November 10, 2023

Imagine you’re going on holiday to a foreign country and already know the basic “hello” and “thank you”. What if you could learn one more sentence before you get there? Which one would you pick?

Forget about “Where is the train station?” or “What time is the next bus?” We all know that the best way to explore a new place is by getting lost and trying the local food, of course!

So, I’ve asked ten dessert lovers in the office for their favourite pastry from the country they’re from and how to order it. Get ready for a round-the-world trip that will make your mouth water!

1. Sonho (Brazil)

Sonho means “dream” in Portuguese and as soon as you bite into one of these you’ll understand why. They are a type of doughnut filled with lots of custard and covered in sugar. Yum! They’re perfect to satisfy those sweet cravings at any time of the day.

How do I order one?

Um sonho, por favor. (One sonho, please.)
Pronounced: Oom son-y(o) po-favohr.

                            Juliana, from Belo Horizonte


2. Mochi (Japan)

Mochi are traditional Japanese cakes. Their chewy texture is achieved by pounding short grain rice which is then moulded into whatever shape you like. Sometimes people even compete for the fastest mochi maker title! These irresistible sweets come in lots of different flavours. You can have them plain, filled (often with a red bean paste) or even as ice cream. Make sure you try all the different types!

How do I order one?

おもちをひとつください。 (One mochi please.)
Pronounced: Omochi wo hitotsu kudasai.

Yuriko, from Tokyo

3. Mandelhörnchen (Germany)

Mandelhörnchen literally means “almond horn” because these treats are mainly made with marzipan, almonds and chocolate. You can find them in most German bakeries and they are just as good for breakfast as they are for an afternoon snack.

How do I order one?

Ich hätte gern ein Mandelhörnchen. (One Mandelhörnchen please.)
Pronounced: Eecsh hette ghean ain Mandel-hoen-cshen.

Matilde, from Berlin

4. Fengli Su (China)

Fengli Sus are round or rectangular delicacies made with crumbly shortcrust pastry filled with pineapple jam. Some are made with winter melon as a substitute but try and get the ones with thick pineapple jam to get the real experience! They’re extremely popular across other Asian countries too.

How do I order one?

Qing gei wo yi da fengli su, xiexie. (Can I get a dozen fengli su please?)
Pronounced: Chin gay wor e da fong lee sue, she she.

Margaret, from Beijing


5. Cannoli (Italy)

Cannoli means “little tubes” in Italian. These crunchy Sicilian pastries are filled with sweet and creamy ricotta. They are sometimes sprinkled with candied fruit, crushed pistachios or chocolate chips. Delicious!

How do I order one?

Buongiorno, un cannolo per favore. (Hello, one cannolo please.)
Pronounced: Bwon-djor-no, oon can-nolo pear fahvo-re.

Marta, from Iseo

6. Jalebi (India)

These Indian snacks are made by deep frying maida flour batter in circular shapes and then soaking them in sugar syrup. They can be served hot or cold. They taste great and they’re fun to make at home too!

How do I order them?

Bhaiya ek plate Jalebi dena garam garam? (Can you please give me one plate of warm jalebi?)
Pronounced: Bahyah ekplait djalehbi dehnam garehm garehm?

Swarnim, from Ranchi


7. Pastila (Russia)

Pastilas are traditional Russian sweets made with baked apple, honey and egg white. You can also find them in other flavours like vanilla or cranberry. The best way to have them is with a cup of tea.

How do I order one?

Здравствуйте. Яблочную пастилу, пожалуйста (Hello, can I have an apple pastila please?)
Pronounced: Zdravstvuite. Yablochnuyu pastilu, pojailusta?


Maria, from Moscow

8. Künefe (Turkey)

Sweet meets savoury in this typical Turkish dessert made with tel kadayif (a dough with a thread-like texture) and melted cheese covered in sugar syrup. It is served hot with pistachios on top and often comes with kaymak (clotted cream).

How do I order one?

Bir porsiyon künefe alabilir miyim lütfen? (Can I have a portion of künefe please?)
Pronounced: Bee(r) por-seeyun kun-ehfe ahlabilimeeyim luhtfeh?

Ozge, from Istanbul

9. Churros (Spain)

A churro is a deep-fried dough pastry made with three simple ingredients: flour, water and salt. You can have them for breakfast or as a merienda (afternoon snack) with a hot chocolate or a coffee.

How do I order them?

Cuatro / seis churros, por favor. (Four / six churros, please.)
Pronounced: Qwa-tro / se-ees choo-rros por fa-vor.

Elena, from Salamanca

10. Alfajor (Argentina)

Anyone from Argentina would say that alfajores are typically from there, but they were actually imported from Andalusia, Spain. The name alfajor comes from the Hispano-Arabic al-hasú which means “the filling”. These delicious treats consist of two cookies and a sweet filling, most often dulce de leche (a sort of caramel cream). They can be covered with powdered sugar (the traditional ones), icing sugar, desiccated coconut or chocolate.

How do I order one?

Hola, ¿me das un alfajor? (Hello, can you give me an alfajor?)
Pronounced: Ola, meh das oon alphahore?

Eleonora, from Buenos Aires

Well, hopefully this list has tickled your tastebuds! Now that you can order food like a local all around the world, get ready for some great culinary adventures! And, if like me you’re not going on holiday any time soon… just get your international friends to bake them for you!

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