Modern Russian desserts, a combination of native recipes and those brought from other countries, encompass varied dishes. Traditional desserts were built around simple ingredients -- nuts, seeds, fruits, berries and honey. When Peter the Great opened Russia to Western European persuasions in the early 1700s, the region's desserts became more diverse. Some recipes take time and delicacy, while others are quick and simple.
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Kissel is an early Russian dessert made from oats. The malts in the oats are released through lengthy baking, resulting in a sweet flavour. Combined with fruit and honey, the result is a purée with a bit of a grainy texture from the oats. Semolina kasha is a pudding-like dessert made with wheat and a fruit such as apple.
Babka, a traditional Easter dessert, is filled bread served like cake. Cinnamon, chocolate, cheese and apple are all common fillings. Pryanik is a spiced bread that has been served as dessert in Russia for centuries. Spices, flour and honey are the main ingredients. Bread makes up the crust of Apple Charlotte, a dessert filled with an apple and custard mixture.
Another traditional Easter dessert is paskha, a dried fruit and soft cheese mixture often shaped as a triangle. Similar to marshmallow but with a softer consistency and tarter flavour, pastilla is candy made from baked apples and honey. Compotes are common Russian desserts. A simple version is cubed melon mixed with honey and walnuts. Baked apples and pears as well as fruit jams and preserves are also traditional Russian desserts.
Medovie is an eight-layer honey cake filled with a sour cream and milk mixture. Napoleon is another multilayer cake popularised during the Soviet era. Still common today, the cake features a vanilla custard filling. Zapenkanka is a Russian cheesecake that can be flavoured with various fruits. Blinis, or Russian pancakes, are similar to crepes. Although not solely a dessert, blinis are often filled with fruit and honey and served as such.
Gelatins and Puddings
Tvorog cake, while not a cake in the traditional sense, is made in a mould with soft cheese and gelatin. Crimean creme is a chilled dessert made with sour cream, gelatin and berry pulp. Carrot, apple and prune pudding is made in a cake mould with biscuit crumbs and a cinnamon mixture. Baked lemon pudding is made with a short list of ingredients and cooks for only 20 minutes.
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