Take one second to imagine – what will be in your next dessert? I bet snow or blood weren’t the first things that came to mind. Well in these 10 countries below, these ingredients aren’t a far-fetched fantasy. Some of these unique dessert ideas have stood the test of time and others are purely the result of modern ingenuity and creativity. Every country has a sweet spot for desserts, and some fill that spot with ideas pulled from the least expected corners of the kitchen. But if you find yourself traveling to any of these countries, you must give these strange desserts a try in order to get the full experience.
1. Ras malai, India
Rasmalai means “juice cream” in Hindi, but it hardly resembles the juice you are probably thinking of. The dessert is actually made out of chhena, which is a type of cottage cheese preferred in India and it is typically soaked in reduced milk. For extra flavor, saffron or ground cardamon is added. It is often cooked in sugar syrup and milk. The result is a mildly sweet and soft dessert that is typically topped or stuffed with almonds, pistachios or dried fruit.
Get it here: Haldiram’s (New Delhi)
2. Maple Taffy, Canada
If there’s two things that Canadians love (or at least we think they do), it’s snow and maple syrup. So would it be so wrong to assume that they somehow would probably manage to incorporate the two into a yummy dessert? Perhaps not! The maple taffy is made by boiling pure maple syrup to about 240F and pouring it over clean snow. As it begins to solidify, a wooden stick is used to roll up the dessert. The result is a dessert similar to a taffy in texture and it’s both chewy and sweet.
Get it here: Make your own
3. Veriohukainen, Finland
Also known as blodplättar in Swedish, or blood pancakes, this Nordic dessert is made out of real blood. Pig blood and milk are whisked together and several other ingredients are added to make this one horrifying breakfast. It is typically eaten with lingonberry jam. It has a crunchy outside with a soft inside, While it’s not as common today, it is actually still commercially available in some stores for purchase.
Using blood for cooking is actually not an uncommon practice historically. It started as a way to use up all parts of an animal that was killed and the blood was considered a valuable resource. Not only it was considered to contain valuable nutrients, but it was a way for warriors to inhibit the power of the animal that they slayed. Blood is still used today as it is deeply engraved into some cultures.
Here’s a hysterical video of Gordon Ramsay trying a version of these.
Get it here: Online.
4. Šakotis, Lithuania
While not containing any unusual ingredients, this Lithuanian favorite gets in our list of strangest desserts purely because of its bizarre look and the unique making process. First made as early as 1500’s, the dessert is still very common today. The ingredients are very easy to get – eggs, butter, flour, sugar and cream. However, making is a little more difficult. It requires a special oven, where a rod is spun (traditionally on an open fire) and the batter is slowly dripped onto it. This process is what makes its unusually awesome shape and how this dessert gets its name Šakotis, or “branchy” in English. The process takes several hours depending on the size, however, the result is totally worth it. It’s soft yet crunchy, just the right amount of sweeteness and the unique texture makes it that much more enjoyable.
Check out the making process here:
Get it Here: Romnesa (Ignalina, Lithuania)
5. Hematogen, Russia
While not as popular as during the Soviet Union era, the Hematogen bar is still widely available in pharmacies in Russia and surrounding countries. Originally developed to be a nutrient bar to treat iron deficiency, it quickly became a favorite dessert among kids because of its sweet and chewy nature. The Hematogen bar’s secret ingredient? Albumin, which is extracted from cow’s blood. The other ingredients may vary but typically include sugar, glucose syrup, condensed milk and vanillin.
When it was created in 19th century, it was scientifically proven that iron is one of the most important supplements for our blood. Many new products were made to help improve iron deficiency, and one of them was called Hematogen. Over the years, the bar has evolved. To mask the unpleasant taste of iron, the makers ended up with the current sweet and very delicious version. Aside from the sweeteners, the bar is said to have quite a few benefits from its albumin, iron, and vitamin content.
Would it be enough to convince you to try this bloody treat?
Get it here: Local pharmacies (Russia & Lithuania)
6. Mákos Tészta, Hungary
Poppy seeds are at the heart of Hungarian cuisine. So it only makes sense that they would put them on their noodles as well. The way Italians bathe their pasta in tomato sauce is the way Hungarians bury theirs in poppy seeds and sugar. Mákos Tészta are egg-noodles, made with butter, topped with poppy seeds and sugar. Apparently, it’s a very common cafeteria food that’s served at schools and usually eaten after some soup.
Get it Here: Make your own
7. Hagelslag, Netherlands
No dutch breakfast is complete without hagelslag. Toast topped with chocolate, fruit or even licorice flavored sprinkles (hagelslag) is as normal as it gets. About 30 million pounds of hagelslag is consumed by the Dutch every year! So if for some reason you are already putting sprinkles on all your breakfast toast, there’s a whole country of people waiting to be friends with you.
Get it Here: Online
8. Mpanatigghi, Italy
Native in the town of Modica in Sicily, this strangely named dessert has been first brought to Italy in the 16th century by the Spanish. The Spanish have a much easier word for it – empanada. Both words mean “to cover or wrap with bread dough”. Traditional Mpanatigghi made in Modica are made with Marsala liqueur, almonds, eggs, dark chocolate, cloves, walnut kernels and wait for it… beef! It’s a must try for all those visiting Sicily. Even vegetarians are not exempt, as the meat can be substituted for eggplant.
Get it Here: Pasticceria Basile (Sicily, Italy)
9. Tangyuan, China
Tangyuan is a dessert that traditionally marks the end of celebrations for the Chinese New Year and signifies family unity. Although it is typically eaten on the 15th day of the New Year, it has become an every day food for many. The ball-shaped dumplings are made from glutinous rice (actually gluten-free) and then covered in sweet broth. The chewy dumplings are filled with anything from black sesame, peanuts to red beans, but they may also be served on their own. This inexplicable combination of chewy rice balls and syrup soup is what lands this on our weirdest desserts list.
Get it Here: Make your own
10. Wasp Crackers, Japan
We’ve saved the worst for last. Yep, these are cookies filled with, you guessed it – wasps. I once had a nightmare that I had some kind of insect in my chocolate chip cookies. But at least there were chocolate chips. There’s no silver lining to this one, as the wasps are the “chocolate chips”. The wasps found in the cookies are specifically bred from human consumption and the cracker is rice-based.
Get it Here: Nagano Prefecture (Japan)