Famous Traditional Russian Sweets

From Tula gingerbread to caramels, from pastila to chocolate bars, these are some of the irresistible and famous confectionaries from the Russian food list of delicacies to taste and not forget. Thanks to literature, internationalization and restaurant menus, many people know the names of traditional Russian food, such as borsch or shchi. It is not so, however, with the names of the most beloved Russian sweets, which are still unknown to most of the public abroad.  So, if you eventually end up staying in some Russian house, you will surely be offered some hot tea accompanied by some traditional Russian sweets. Here a few famous Russian desserts you may try and taste.

Tula gingerbread (Tulskij prjanik)

Gingerbread can be considered one of the oldest deserts belonging to traditional Russian food. The “honey bread”, already known to the ancient Egyptians, appeared on the territory of modern Russia in the 9th century, when the legendary Rjurik and Oleg of Kiev brought the isolated western Slavic tribes and the Ugric-Finnish tribes together in a single state. Back then the gingerbread was made with a mixture of rye flour, honey, and wild berry juice. It took its historical name only when, due to its preparation, spices from India and the Middle East began to be traded in Russia during the 12th-13th centuries. The most famous Russian gingerbread is from Tula, usually sold in the form of rectangular tiles filled with jam or condensed milk, and which is in fact produced in the establishments of the homonym town, located about 200 km south of Moscow.

Tula gingerbread

The pastila

Russian merchants had extensive commercial relations with the Eastern Arabia. Not surprisingly, one of the most popular desserts of Russia is the pastila, which is very reminiscent of the lokum, the traditional Turkish delight, made famous by Shahrazad’s fable. The main ingredients of these delicacies, which appeared in Russia in the 14th century, were the harsh Russian apples and honey. In the 15th century, egg white was added to the pastila dough to give the cake a white color. The ingredients of the most delicious pastila – from the city of Kolomna – were kept in secret until the 19th century, when the French added whipped egg whites to apple puree and fruit, thus obtaining a new delicacy: marshmallow. In the same century, the Russian confectioners replaced the honey in the classic recipe with sugar and it appeared to be the final recipe that we know today. At RussianTable you can find pastila in different tastes, such as vanilla, strawberry and cranberry.

kolomna pastila

The “Bird’s milk” cake and candies

This cake with a rather strange name – which bird, in fact, would produce milk? – and with a rather modest appearance (a thick rectangular tile covered with chocolate) is actually one of the best Russian delicacies, which risks tarnishing both pastila and gingerbread. Not surprisingly, the “bird’s milk” was the first cake for which a patent was issued. The recipe was conceived by a group of pastry chefs led by Vladimir Guralnik, a chief pastry of the Moscow restaurant “Praga” and a true legend of Russian Haute patisserie, and it represents a similar texture of the marshmallow but with some changes in the dough. The cake is very popular in Russia, and although it is very easy to find imitations, even delicious sometimes, they can’t be compared to the original masterpiece. Most of the Russian households have their own receipt of Bird’s milk cake but as it takes time to prepare it, people in Russia have come up with an easy solution – candies. Bird’s milk candies have an authentic taste and can easily compete with the cake.

Bird's milk

The Chak-Chak

Chak-Chak is one of the most popular Russian confectionaries. Borrowed from the Turkish culture, it ended up on our list because it is still the national dish of Tatars and Bashkiri, one of the biggest and most numerous ethnicities in Russia. Moreover, unlike the pastila, the Chak-Chak recipe has remained practically unchanged since its conception. This oriental cake has a soft dough made from raw eggs, worked to obtain thick and short strips and then fried in boiling oil and arranged in a small hill, on which a warm honey glaze is poured. Everything is left to rest for a while before being served.

The “Prague” Tort

This variant of the famous Viennese cake “Sacher” has very little to do with the capital of the Czech Republic. The cake requires four types of creams with the addition of cognac and other liqueurs, while the dry base is soaked in rum. In the Viennese variant recipe, the cream is completely absent.

The zefir

Another representative of the world of modern Russian sweets. Being associated with international marshmallow, zefir is still the traditional Russian food that is unique. Covered with chocolate with a fluffy white marshmallow inside, zefir has a tender taste which can be well accompanied by a cup of black tea. “Charmelle” is the unique Russian brand that probably has the best receipt of all Russian zefir producers. Their zefir tastes like a dream and when you try it once, there is no way you will not do it again.

Baked and dried apples

Russia is a Nordic cold country, where very few fruits grow. For this reason, the basis of many fruit or dessert dishes is the apple. Traditional Russian apples have a sour taste, but Russian cooks have already devised ways of making sweet dishes with them in ancient times. The apples are first soaked in various syrups and sweet infusions, then, once the core is removed, the fruit is filled with a sweet filling and placed in the oven. Baked apples are probably the healthiest sweet of Russian food. Being rich in potassium and iron, cooked apples are also used in various slimming diets. According to dietitians, regular intake of baked apples would help not only lose weight but also improve metabolism, skin tone and reduce wrinkles.

Another apple snack that is commonly known in Russia is dried apples. It goes without saying, that this receipt is a healthy substitution for all the junk snacks we are used to consume. Imported Russian dried apples can solve the small hunger or they can be added to the “Compot”, which is the Russian traditional fruit or berry drink that is ideal for winter season, when there are no healthy fresh fruits available.

Syrniki and Oladi with Jam

The oladi, as well as the syrniki (an oladi made from fresh farmer cheese), don’t resemble at all a sweet dessert. In fact, to make them sweet you should eat them with creams such as smetana (the classic Russian sour cream), jams, honey and syrups. Furthermore, these small pancakes contain very useful ingredients for our body’s health: in addition to cheese, flour, and eggs used for the dough, carrots, apricots, apples are added as well as pears, walnuts, and pumpkin cubes, which make the dish not only tasty but also very healthy and complete. You can easily find the receipt online and try to bake either of them, when it comes to jams, however, we would definitely recommend to buy authentic Russian jams that are available in different tastes from apricot to feijoa.

Batonchiki (Praline sticks)

In the socialist era, there was no student who did not know this traditional Russian candy (batonchiki). It was always possible to find them in stores, without having to stand in line. For their taste, they remind a bit of halva, a typical dessert of oriental cuisine, but only remotely. Perhaps because they are based on ground peanuts. The most popular praline bars are those produced by the “Rot Front” brand. You should remember that they have very high-calorie content, but eating one with a cup of tea is a pleasure you cannot refuse.

Russian chocolate

Beside all these Russian candy and sweets, it is also possible to find even more delicious Russian chocolate bars. The Russian chocolate “Alenka” has become one of the most well-known brands in the industry and one of the most loved milk chocolates. Founded in 1965, initially was a project of the socialist food program that aimed to create a mass milk chocolate accessible to all. With a basic but characteristic wrapping, this thin Russian chocolate bar with the face of a beautiful little girl quickly became a legend of Russian confectionery history.

Russian chocolate “Babaevsky” is considered to be exquisite and elegant. The dark chocolate bar with different tastes (grapefruit, orange, nuts and more) can be enjoyed with coffee and tea. As Babaevsky is a well-known brand, they also produce a wide variety of candies and other confectionaries. Famous “Babaevsky” truffles are so sophisticated in the look and taste, which makes them a perfect gift for your beloved ones.

Russian chocolate

Assorted chocolates

Speaking about the gifts, a bar of chocolate would be a good sign of attention, but when it comes to higher value presents, Russian assorted chocolates should definitely be considered as an option. The candy sets that vary in size, taste and price are all available at RussianTable. You can choose between different collections, but the bestseller is definitely “Vdohnovenie” candies, which have praline filling with nutty crusts. The packaging also looks very representative.