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Desserts Around the World, From Chicken Pudding to Cake-On-a-Spit

We’re sampling seven desserts in seven countries in the latest episode of “Around the World.” Great Big Story senior producer/dessert fiend Beryl Shereshewsky likes to surprise us. So she went on a global dessert hunt and found some of the sweetest treats the world has to offer. Among them: Turkey’s tavuk göğsü, aka, chicken pudding; alegría, a sweet Colombian coconut delight; wagashi, an intricate Japanese confection that’s almost too pretty to eat; and France’s gâteau à la broche, cake cooked over an open fire. The one thing all of these desserts have in common? Lots of yum.

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TURKEY

Tavuk göğsü

Chef Mahmut Tak is the second-generation member of his family to run Istanbul’s Özkonak. The nearly 60-year-old pudding shop is famous for tavuk göğsü—aka chicken pudding. The traditional Turkish treat dates back to the Ottoman Empire. It’s made with fresh buffalo milk and finely shredded chicken breast slowly heated to perfection on a stove in a big pot. The rich, creamy vanilla pudding is topped with a dash or two of cinnamon before it is served.

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WALES

Bara Brith

She lives in Teddington, a suburb of London. But making and eating bara brith takes Gwyneth back to her childhood in Wales. The Welsh tea cake is called speckled bread in English. But it’s no ordinary loaf. Bara brith is sweet and spicy and full of fruit and sugar. It’s often enjoyed with afternoon tea. What’s the secret to making the best bara brith? Gwyneth soaks raisins and other dried fruit in tea overnight, then stirs the flavorful mixture into her dough the next day.

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COLOMBIA

Alegría

From cocadas to caballitos, Everlinda Salgado Herrera sells homemade sweets in San Basilio de Palenque. Fresh coconut and pure cane sugar are the main ingredients of alegría, a dessert that is near and dear to her heart. Alegría honors the great taste of freedom, Herrera explains. Her town was believed to be the first in the Americas liberated from slavery. And she is proud to honor her ancestors by making recipes handed down for generations.

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JAPAN

Wagashi

Wagashi are ornate sweets that are carefully sculpted from a smooth dough made up of a mixture of bean paste and sweetened rice cake. They are often shaped into the form of flowers. Nothing short of perfection is accepted at the wagashi shop run by the Fukushima family in Tokyo. According to Toshio Fukushima, wagashi must be a feast for the eyes as well as the mouth. The best way to enjoy a dessert that’s almost too beautiful to eat? With green tea.

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INDIA

Gajar Ka Halwa

If you love carrots and cardamom, gajar ka halwa just might be your dream dessert. It’s incredibly popular in India. Anar, who lives in Gujarat, makes the pudding-like treat. She uses her mother-in-law’s recipe, adding grated carrots to milk or cream and sweetening the mixture with sugar. Fried nuts and raisins add flavor and texture. While the dessert is a winter staple, Anar says people also enjoy gajar ka halwa in the summer with ice cream.

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LEBANON

Knefe

Knefe can be eaten any time of the day. Even for breakfast. Nada Akiki, who lives in Aramoun Keserouan, often serves it to her family on Sunday mornings. To prepare the Arabic dessert, she mixes cooked semolina, soft toast and cheese, then bakes it in the oven. Akiki loves nothing more than the smell of knefe wafing through her home, alerting her family to the presence of the cheesy, crunchy treat she has made for everyone to enjoy.

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FRANCE

Gâteau à la broche

Gâteau à la broche is a cake cooked on a spit over an open fire. Napoleon’s soldiers brought the recipe back to France from Russia. And Joseph Loste is keeping the traditional dessert alive in the Pyrenees Mountains. It takes a team of people to make this cake. You need at least one person to turn the spit and another person to carefully drizzle batter on a mold attached to the spit. The moment of truth comes when it is time to remove the cake from the mold. It has to be done with great care so the dessert doesn’t break apart.

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