Living in Russia for 6 months now has taught me that Russians have a sweet tooth. Many of their typical desserts are based on tvorog, condensed milk, berries, and more. And they are all very tasty! So I thought about telling you some of their most popular sweet treats for you to try when you are here!
Сочни (Sochni) – It is a little pie made out of dough that resembles kind of a soft cookie dough. Inside the pie there is tvorog mixed with sugar, butter and eggs. You can find them in many shops and supermarkets by the bread section or a кондитерская (konditerskaya) located all over town. If you have the chance, try a store called Гирланда.
Картошка (Kartoshka) – It is a little bit like a chocolate salami consistency-wise, but kartoshka don’t actually have chocolate in them, only cocoa powder. The ingredients are simple: cookies, butter, condensed milk and cocoa powder (very soon you will understand that Russians are quite fond of condensed milk). The original kartoshka will look like an actual potato: dark on the outside, light on the inside. They are sold in many продукты and supermarkets and you should also easily find them in a кондитерская.
Сырки (Syrki) – The first time I tried сырок I immediately thought of a mini cheesecake. These little tvorog cakes have a similar flavor and consistency to cheesecake, but they are made of tvorog, butter and sugar. They come in very small packages in the shape of a mini sneakers, but you probably won’t want to have more than one, as they are quite rich.
Блины (Blini) – I am sure you have heard about these before. These Russian pancakes -that look a lot like crêpes – are very simple, yet so delicious. You could make a meal out of them, but you can also have one for dessert. Typically they are filled with something salty or sweet: meat, chicken, potatoes, mushrooms, or tvorog, jam, sweet condensed milk. But eating them plain is also a great option!
Сырники (Syrniki) – These are small dense pancakes made out of tvorog, semolina, eggs and sugar. Sometimes raisins can be added as well. They can easily be done at home, and I highly recommend you to do so. Make sure you eat them cold, though.
Вареники (Vareniki)– So basically this is ravioli with something sweet inside. The dough is typically made with flour, water and salt, and the inside is normally some sort of berry jam or tvorog with sugar. Interestingly, it is not considered a dessert, but a dish like any other. I say only try them if they are handmade, otherwise they should be quite plain and boring.
Зефир (Zefir) – A type of soft confectionery made by whipping fruit and berry purée (mostly apple purée) with sugar and egg whites and adding a gelling agent like pectin, carrageenan, agar, or gelatine. The name of this sweet was given after the Greek god of the light west wind – Zephyr – for it’s delicate airy consistency.
Пышки (Pyshki) – I call them Russian donuts. They are deep fried, very greasy round pieces of dough, very generously soaked in oil. They are found in some special cafés around St. Petersburg and are quite caloric. A Russian would normally have between 2 and 4 of these, and they dip the donut on icing sugar. Very tasty but definitely not something you can have very often! Try this place in Ligovsky Prospekt called “царь пышка”.
Пряники (Prjaniki) – I guess you could call it “Russian gingerbread”. It can be found in two different shapes: either a rectangular shape with a print on top made with the help of metallic or wooden pastry molds, or in small round shapes with an icing sugar glaze on top. Flavors vary from minty, with cloves, cinnamon and star anise, or filled with jam or boiled condensed milk. They are very tasty and go very well with a nice cup of hot tea.