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Romanian desserts are not very known around the world, but when you decide to visit a country it is important also to taste it for the full experience. So after you have decided when to come to Romania and what to do here, you must also know what to eat.
Romanian cuisine has influences from the people around and when you visit the country you will see that even the main regions of Romania have different dishes because their history is different.
People in Transylvania are eating other things than the ones in Bucovina and are even using different spices when they cook.
But when it comes to Romanian dessert recipes, the local influences are not so strong. There are some traditional Romanian desserts that you can try everywhere in the country.
Usually, dishes in restaurants are big, so if you want to try something sweet, you should ask from the beginning how large the portions are.
And after you’ve tried them all, I would be curious to know which one is your favourite. But before you decide, it is important to taste at least some of the following.
Romanian sweet bread (cozonac)
The Romanian sweet bread called cozonac is one of the best known Romanian Christmas desserts. Yes, you can find it all year long in the stores, but it is not very common to eat cozonac in summer, for example. Romanians enjoy it also during Easter.
Cozonac is a sweet bread with nuts, raisins, chocolate, and other fillings. The traditional Romanian recipe is difficult and you need several hours and a lot of work to obtain a delicious cozonac. But its smell is the smell of Christmas in many Romanian houses.
A real Romanian cozonac is made with eggs, butter and milk and is kneaded for at least 1 hour until the dough comes off the hand and becomes smooth.
In the past, the preparations for the cake started a few days before. The flour was prepared and kept warm, sifted several times a day, to be dry and airy.
It’s not easy to make it, but it’s delicious, and its recipe is passed down from mother to daughter. There are several cake shops that manage to get tasty cakes from peasant houses.
You can eat it as a dessert or as a snack with hot milk. Think of an Italian panettone, but not so sweet.
Romanian dumplings filled with plums
More a traditional Transylvanian recipe, the Romanian dumplings with plums are now served all over the country. Its main ingredients are potatoes and plums.
In some regions of the country are known as gomboti.
The dumpling dough is made from potatoes, flour, semolina, eggs and is usually stuffed with plums or jam.
After boiling, roll the dumplings in a mixture of breadcrumbs fried in butter and sugar.
The sugar is always added after we turn off the heat, in the hot breadcrumbs, and mix well.
Probably when you say potatoes and plums, you cannot imagine something good, but I guarantee they are delicious! This Romanian dessert is not very difficult to prepare, but it takes some time.
Even though crepes are not among the Romanian dessert recipes, we like them very much. The traditional part is the way they are served.
They can be a tasteful sweet (filled with jam, ice cream, or chocolate) or an interesting appetizer (with cream cheese and dill, with ham and cheddar).
A local version is “clatita brasoveana” (crepes from Brasov), filled with sweet cheese and raisins and cooked in the oven.
They are nourishing, delicious and easy to make.
In the pancake filling, you can also put fruits with raisins or even nuts, hazelnuts or almonds, depending on your preference.
Brasov pancakes, a well-known Romanian dessert, are wrapped in a square shape, after being filled with cheese and raisin filling.
Then coat in vanilla sugar and put in the oven for a few minutes. They will become extremely crunchy and tasty, thanks to the sugar that will melt nicely.
Romanian doughnuts with cream cheese (Papanash)
One of the best known Romanian desserts are papanasii(usually they are 2). These Romanian doughnuts can be boiled(the healthy option) or fried(the yummy option), but they are always made of cream cheese, flour, and eggs.
Boiled papanasi have their origins in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but Romanians are proud of their fried version, specific to Moldova. With a round, ring shape, papanasii are made of semolina and cow’s cheese, unlike the classic doughnuts in which flour is added. Garnish with sour cream and jam of various fruits.
They are necessarily composed of sweet cottage cheese, in addition to eggs, semolina, sugar and sometimes flour. Without sweet cheese, which softens the wonderful composition, there would be no papanasi. They would be just classic doughnuts, on which you would pour sour cream and jam.
The classic papanas are those with sour cream and cherry jam, raspberries or blackberries. The cream must be sweet, neither too weak nor too greasy, and the jam sourer, cherries or berries, so that the taste resulting from the combination is light and velvety, cool and yet satiating.
To obtain the perfect texture of these doughnuts even the cheese can be made following a certain recipe. And once they are ready, they are served with sour cream and fruit jam.
They can be found in almost every restaurant in Romania and you can eat them when you want to try some desserts in Bucharest. But it is an art to cook papanasi, so you must know where to try them!
Romanian pastry and pies
Pies in Romania are not just batter filled with fruits and baked in the oven.
Romanian pies are prepared either in the oven or in a pan on the fire.
The most popular pies are those filled with apples (hardened apple with sugar and cinnamon), cottage cheese and raisins or pumpkin.
The dough resembles that of a pastry, very thin or it can be a more fragile and thicker dough.
Here you will find different specialities made with dough, fruits, cheese or meat and fried after. They are not very healthy, but they are delicious.
A traditional Romanian pastry that comes from Dobrogea is the dobrogeana pie, filled with sweet or salty cream cheese. You can buy them at any pastry shop around the city if you like to try some street food.
Other Romanian sweets to try are mucenici with walnuts.
Mucenici are usually a traditional dessert served on March 9th when Romanians celebrate the 40 mucenici (Roman Christian soldiers that were beaten with rocks because they refused to betray their faith in Jesus).
According to popular tradition, on this day, women make mucenici in the form of 8. They are taken to church to be blessed and then consumed in the family.
An important aspect of this holiday is the tradition of drinking 40 glasses of wine. This wine is believed to represent the shed blood of martyrs soldiers.
There are 2 types of mucenici in Romania. The ones traditional from Moldova are sweet pastries covered in honey and walnuts. These can be found all year long, not only on March 9th.
The second type is traditional in the southern part of Romania and it is like a sweet soup with 8-shape pasta-like dough, sugar, walnuts and cinnamon. This one is cooked only on March 9th.
Usually, you must visit a Romanian family on 9th March if you want to try the sweet mucenici soup. But the Romanian cake called mucenici can be found also in the cake shop.
Invented in the oldest cake shop in Bucharest (Casa Capsa), this Romanian chocolate cake takes its name from the French Marshal Joseph Jacques Cesaire Joffre.
When the marshal came to Bucharest in 1920 to offer a medal to King Ferdinand, the owner of Casa Capsa (official supplier for the Royal family at that time) created a small cylinder cake covered in chocolate and named it Jofra. If you want to taste it, you can enter almost every cake shop in Romania, but only a few know the secrets of this cake!
The traditional coliva is a symbol dish present at all religious ceremonies, dedicated to those who left us. Coliva represents in the Romanian tradition the body of the missing person, because the main food of the human body is wheat, an ingredient from which bread and coliva are also made.
The traditional coliva is made with lots of walnuts and is decorated for the memorial or church. It can also be a very tasty dessert. Of course, coliva is not necessarily treated as a regular dessert, but rather a ritual sweet.There are people who refuse to eat it because it is associated with the death of a person. It is prepared both in memory of those who disappeared near us and as an offering for a saint. Usually on the day dedicated to it in the Orthodox calendar. Some Romanians took the receipe and made coliva as a dessert abroad. It is really tasty and in foreign countries nobody knows when is it used in Romania.
The main ingredient of the coliva is the wheat barley. Wheat barley is just shelled wheat. It boils faster than wheat.
After washing well, the barley is covered with a liter of water and boiled over medium heat. After it is cooked, add the sugar, the flavors, the ground walnuts and leave to cool. After it has cooled, it is placed in molds and garnished with grated biscuits and cocoa. Usually a sprinkled cocoa cross is drawn on it and then followed to the church or distributed to the poor.
Each housewife has 1-2 recipes for more tender or crunchy croissants, of which she is very proud.
There are no Romanian holidays without trays full of all kinds of cakes and cookies, including the delicious croissants, these twisted strips of tender dough, with different fillings.
It bears no resemblance to French croissants. Romanian croissants are made from flour mixed with salt, eggs and lard. Lard is basically their secret ingredient, which makes the dough fragile. After kneading well, put the dough in a plastic bag and put it in the fridge.
So cold it is stretched and cut into not too large triangles. Then fill it with walnuts, shit or plum jam and roll. Bake the croissants in the oven and then add powdered sugar. Being very tender, they can be easily crushed, but they last for many days and are just as tasty after a while.
These are only some of the traditional Romanian desserts you must try to feel the taste of the country. There are some specific recipes used only in certain regions around the country, but others have gained their national fame, so you can try them in every part of Romania. So, next time when you are in a Romanian restaurant, check also the dessert list. Your taste buds will thank you!
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