17 Russian Desserts

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Isn’t everybody rushing for desert? Oh, sorry, you said Russian desserts? Well, if that’s what you are looking for, you are in the right place. Russia is a huge country with plenty of different cultural influences. As a result, there are plenty of tasty treats to enjoy. Want to see how many? Check out our list of 17 authentic Russian desserts, they are all tasty, and most can be made with ingredients you’ll already have at home!

russian dessert

Blini

When we first thought of our list of Russian desserts, we weren’t sure that people would know any of them. Well, we were wrong. You’ll see blinis (not to be confused with Bellini’s) on breakfast tables up and down the country. Granted, they might be slightly bigger than the traditional format.

What are we talking about? Well, pancakes, of course! These little pancakes are served in a stack and are slightly less over-facing than your traditional pancakes. 

There are a few subtle differences, however. Whereas buttermilk pancakes use a mix of acidic buttermilk and baking soda to get their rise, blinis do it in a slightly different way.

They are, in fact, made with yeast. As this heats, it causes little carbon dioxide bubbles to form. What that means in taste terms are super fluffy yet super small Russian pancakes. 

Rugelach

You could already be familiar with this Russian dessert too. You might be forgiven for thinking this is a Jewish dessert. It is true, but there is significant crossover as Russia has a large Jewish community. However, this dish snook across the border from Poland (another country with a large Jewish community). 

If you haven’t tried rugelach before, consider it as a sort of cross between a chocolate pancake, a croissant, and a Danish. It is a triangle of flaky puff pastry that is topped with a chocolate sauce (yes, we cheat and use Nutella) before being rolled into a crescent sausage shape.

Once baked, you end up with a layered dessert that works wonderfully with a large dollop of heavy cream. 

Kartoshka

Never had Kartoshka before? Think again. This is the Russian version of ‘cake pops’. As no-bake recipes go, it has to be one of our favorites.

We use broken-up cookies combined with a little condensed milk, melted butter, and sugar. If you want to try the adults’ version, it is apparently authentic to include just a drop (ok, a splash) of Russian vodka. 

Sharlotka

Did you know that the German, English, and Russian Kings at the turn of the 19th century were all cousins sharing the same grandmother? As a result, there is a significant crossover of cuisines! You might also know this cake by another name… Icebox cake! This is actually super easy to make, provided you have a large cake tin.

Normally the tin is lined with a mixture of either bread slices or biscuits before being topped up with a fruit or custard filling. The traditional Russian cake uses bread (rumor has it stale bread makes the best Sharlotka) and apple sauce. Consider it a little like a Russian apple pie.

Kogel Mogel

If you think that the name of this dessert sounds a little bit Yiddish, that’s because, like many of the 17 Russian desserts on our list, it does have a Jewish influence. We love this dessert for several reasons, primarily because it is so easy to make. 

What’s it like?

We’d say actually pretty similar to eggnog. It is a mixture of creamy egg yolks, a vast quantity of sugar, and topped up with something naughty, like rum… Or, in this case, vodka. We view this one as an unset ‘adults only’ custard.

It is easy to make because it became hugely popular in Russia during the communist era when imported dessert items and many other ingredients became hard to come by. About two egg yolks and three spoonfuls of sugar are all it takes! If you want to pimp up your gogel mogel, you can add a few things to it. In true Russian style, we add some honey along with raisins and rum. Warming and delicious!

Guliyev Porridge

We know what you are thinking. No, it isn’t the name of a Russian president! At one point in history, Russia was the worlds leading producer of wheat. As a result, it is hardly surprising to find something made with oats on our list of the 17 Russian desserts! Move aside boring breakfast. This isn’t any old porridge. It is packed full of tasty things.

Like?

We make ours with chopped and toasted walnuts, a few dried apricots, and raisins, not to mention some honey too. And we don’t stop there. We top the mixture with cream before baking it in a hot oven until the top gets a thick brown skin. You can actually make this into a layered dessert, sort of like a fruity porridge lasagna! Give this one a go. It is a rare treat that can be eaten hot but is equally as delicious cold. 

Kulich

The predominant religion in Russia is Orthodox Christianity. It isn’t often that you’ll see holy bread seen served as a dessert. This is a great example. Kulich is traditionally prepared around easter time. It isn’t a million miles different from Italian panettone, except it isn’t traditionally served Christmas. It is also a little denser. 

Normally it is served as a layer cake with three distinct sections. Once each section is baked, it is stacked on the previous before being dusted in powder sugar. It’s entirely up to you if you want a Russian priest to pop around and bless it. That said, it is so tasty, it will probably be gone by the time he gets there. 

Medovik

This has to be one of the best on our list. If you want to make only one Russian dessert, give this a go (unless you want to get drunk, then Kogel mogel is for you). This is a light cake stacked into tasty layers with cream filling, honey, and condensed milk. The idea with this cake is that it goes slightly hard and stale on the outside, while the center remains light and fluffy.

We need to be honest. This cake does take a while to prepare as it can contain many layers, which must be baked individually before being assembled into the finished article. Oh, and a top tip, you don’t have to go all authentic and let it go hard on the outside.

Pastila

Did the word above remind you of pastilles? That’s because it actually has the same root and gives you a good idea about what this Russian dessert is.

In truth, it is a little like Turkish delight and is formed by compressing dried fruit paste into a sort of gelatinous ball. The type of fruit varies nowadays, but in the past, they used lingonberries which only grow in colder climates (like north Russia). The mixture was blended with egg whites and either honey or sugar to stop it from becoming too bitter. 

You might struggle to find them nowadays, but there is the occasional Russian recipe around. If you want something similar, check our suggestion ‘Zefir’ below.

Pirog

Pirog sounds like something else… What could it be? Ah, that’s it, pirogi. Again these two Russian desserts have the same root word. You’ll find both pirogi and pirog throughout Russia and eastern Europe.

Both Russia and Poland are Slavic countries, and the word pirog loosely translates to ‘feast’ or ‘banquet’. These can be served as both a savory or a sweet dish.

Sweet fillings include cheese or spiced meat. But that’s no good for a Russian dessert, so we would suggest instead that you go for the more traditional sweet cream, chopped nuts, or honey. Pirog comes in various sizes. Traditionally they were a large hand pie, but they switched to smaller sizes to allow for multiple fillings (it stopped the Russians from fighting at the dinner table).

Chocolate Salami

This is a wonderful Russian dessert to serve at dinner parties. It literally looks like a sausage. Your guests can help themselves to a slice of a few rings whenever they like! This is chewy, chunky, and just a little bit chocolatey. The best thing is it doesn’t have too many ingredients.

We combine tasty things like chopped nuts, dried fruit, and a few broken-up Oreos to make a different Russian dessert with every slice.

Pirozhki

Think of a small crescent-shaped pastry filled with sweet cream, chopped nuts, and or honey… Sound familiar. Look at the name of this Russian dessert again. Does it sound like anything else? That’s right, they are, in fact, extremely similar to pirog!

In fact, it is an identical dessert, the only difference being the size. In fact, when we think about it, this is literally the Russian spelling of pirogi!

Pryanik

During the Soviet era, goods like sugar weren’t always readily available, so the Russians had to improvise. This is the reason why you’ll see honey featuring as such a predominant ingredient in so many Russian desserts. This is no exception. Loosely translated, this word means ‘spiced cake’, but locally, Russians simply call it ‘honey bread’.

The texture is very similar to gingerbread, but that’s where the similarity ends as it contains no ginger and instead uses honey as the main flavor element. It can be served in many different ways. You’ll often find huge bars of it in Russian stores. Still, the bake-at-home version is traditionally served as little bite-sized balls given a liberal dusting with powder sugar. 

Ptichye Moloko

Ever tried to milk a bird? No, us neither. However, the literal translation of this dessert is ‘birds milk cake! You’ll find this is one of the most popular Russian desserts out there. You’ll find it in both bar and cake form. The basis of this dish is a light, fluffy and sweet cream center surrounded by a layer of moist sponge (in England, they call it Swiss roll). The center is also ever so slightly chewy with an almost gelatin-like consistency.

The Russians use agar syrup to give it this consistency as it is cooked and then sets it thickens and becomes quite stiff. As to where the ‘birds milk’ comes into it, we have absolutely no idea! 

See Also: Jewish Desserts

Vatrushka

If you want to get a donut in Russia, you would be out of luck. However, let us offer you one of these instead. A vatrushka is a part bagel, part donut, and is super delicious. It isn’t filled like a donut, so the shape is where the similarity ends. Instead, you’ll find it topped with a fruit compote or occasionally a sweetened cream cheese with some chopped nuts.

The dough itself is interesting too. It is full of sugar, which helps feed the yeast within, causing it to balloon and swell massively in size. One thing is for sure with this Russian dessert. It is very, very filling, so if you are feeding a crowd, it could be the one to go for.

See Also: Spanish Desserts

Zefir

Remember how we said you’d struggle to find pastilla? Well, this is the answer. Zefir is quite similar in several ways. First, it is also made with fruit puree. Second, it also contains sugar and egg white. The difference is that it is slightly more ‘set’. This is achieved by adding either agar syrup or, more recently, gelatin. 

If you’ve ever eaten a macaroon, you’ll have a good idea about what the texture of this Russian dessert is like. It is very chewy but also quite light as well.

See Also: Filipino Desserts

Conclusion

Well, our list of 17 Russian desserts should leave you spoiled for choice. Some are fully Russian. Others may have been borrowed from neighboring countries, but we can tell you that they are all completely delicious and easy to make. Which was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below. 

17 Traditional Russian Desserts

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Recipe by Laura Ritterman

Ingredients

  • Blini

  • Rugelach

  • Kartoshka

  • Sharlotka

  • Kogel Mogel

  • Guliyev Porridge

  • Kulich

  • Medovik

  • Pastila

  • Pirog

  • Chocolate Salami

  • Pirozhki

  • Pryanik

  • Ptichye Moloko

  • Vatrushka

  • Zefir

Directions

  • Choose from this list of Russian desserts
  • Gather the required ingredients
  • Serve up

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