Monday, July 25, 2011

South African Food Part 2: Sweet Treats

After a long wait, I finally have the post on South African Sweet Treats.

Like the braai, there will be more than one opinion on what makes up the basis of our sweets, so I decided to share some of my favorites. Please note that clicking on the pictures will lead you to recipes. :-)

First up is this:

Milk tart is very similar to custard tarts, except that the milk to egg ratio is much higher, which results on a lighter texture and a milkier taste. The consistency tends to vary from recipe to recipe, with the biggest difference coming from the way in which the tart it made. Some milk tarts are made by baking the pastry and the filling at the same time (my favorite), others are made by baking the pastry and filling it with a ready made "custard" and putting it in the fridge. The former results in a fluffy, mousse-like texture. The latter in a smooth, more set tart. The second largest source of difference comes from the crust/pastry. Talk about variation. I have to admit that I'm not a fan of this crust, so if you're dead serious about a truly divine recipe, let me know and I'll send you one.

Next on the menu is Malva Pudding.

Named after Malvasia wine from Madeira. In the olden days the wine and the pudding were served together as dessert. Nowadays we're not that fussy. I like my pud with custard, but it can also be served with cream or vanilla ice cream. All varieties are yummy, because Malva pudding has a caramel taste.

Then there's Souskluitjies, which are dumplings in a cinnamon sauce.

The origins of this yummy dish seems pretty unclear. Some say it's from Persia by way of the Netherlands. Others say it was brought to South Africa by German migrants. I'm not all too fussed. Now when I have the scent of warmed cinnamon wafting through the house.

Now on to my small treats. Starting with my (an almost everyone's) favorite:

The Koeksister. In a way, this is the South African take on doughnuts, except it's consistency on the inside is more like a croissants than bread. Basically it's made by braiding the dough and deep frying them before letting them seep in a cold sugar syrup. The perfect koeksister is neither too sweet nor too bland and must be juicy and crispy at the same time. Now THIS is the one I hope that my foreign blogger friends will try. (And a milk tart.) Incidentally, this is another dish of Malayan origin, although it's less spicy.

Then there are the jam tartlets:

Jan Smutsies, named after Jan Smuts, one of the most prominent statesmen in our history. He was one of the key founding members of the League of Nations and is the only person to sign the charters for both the League of Nations and the United Nations.

Hertzoggies, named after General J.B.M. Hertzog.

Both Smuts and Hertzog were prime ministers in South Africa, but apparently the supporters of each only ate the confection named after them. Fortunately I don't have to make that choice. Basically, the bases of both these cakes are the same, as are the jam fillings (ALWAYS apricot). The difference comes in the toppings. Jan Smutsies have a top very similar to the base, while Hertzog toppings are made of a sugary coconut mixture.

So there you have it. A crash course on South African sweet treats, there are more (we have sweet teeth), but I think I managed to pick out the highlights for you.

Hope you enjoyed it!

Now I quickly want to ask. Are you guys interested in one more food post?


Claudia Moser said...

For sure I am interested, can you add some recipes? I am now curious to bake some :) Lovely idea!

Steph Schmidt said...

Jan Smutsies look like they'd be perfect with some tea on a hot afternoon.

C. N. Nevets said...

Good golly, my mouth is literally watering.

Joanne said...

The Malva pudding looks delicious!
Blessings, Joanne

Marjorie said...


Geoff Maritz said...

To all those who have commented on this particular post so far, from a dedicated South Africa to the rest of the world, you've got to try a Koeksister.
This is something that I as a man with a sweet tooth cannot resist. They are amazing, trust me, I know.
Misha, you keep going, you know how fantastic our cuisine is. God bless, Geoff.

Mike Keyton said...

Misha, I'm forwarding this to my daughter who has the sweetest tooth in our family. Me? I just eat anything. I've checked down to your savouries, and was surprised to find no mention of Boboutie (correct spelling?) which is my favourite South African meal. No, not really surprised - just egocentric :)

Margaret Almon said...

My sister moved to Johannesburg a couple years ago from the US, and she loves Malva pudding!