Wild apples, which originated in Central Asia, were first domesticated about 10,000 years ago, eventually making their way to Europe and only reaching the United States during
the 17th century. Today, there are more than 7,500 distinct apple cultivars-and seemingly countless desserts that make the most of their firm, crisp flesh and sweet, floral flavor. Here are a few notable apple desserts from around the world.
Here are a few favorites:
In Japan, where high-quality apples are considered a luxury item worthy of gifting, the candy apple takes on a particularly festive role. These shiny sweets are popular at natsu matsuri, a series of summertime celebrations. To make ringo ame, premium whole apples are dipped in a thick, malty syrup called mizuame, then dried until hardened. The flared skirt of hardened sugar syrup at the base of the apple is part of the treat’s iconic look.
A traditional Bosnian dessert, tufahije is made with peeled, cored apples stuffed with ground walnuts before being poached in a sugar syrup until soft enough to be eaten with a spoon. Topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a cherry, the apples are served hot or cold, usually with a strong cup of coffee. Some recipes call for simmering apple peels in the syrup—their pectin adds an extra-glossy shine to the finished dessert.
These Turkish cookies are stuffed with a cinnamon-spiked filling of grated apples and chopped walnuts. The pastry dough is rolled into crescents and baked until crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, then finished with a final dusting of powdered sugar. The secret to the tender-yet-flaky texture is a combination of yogurt, powdered sugar and cornstarch that keeps the dough soft. Elmalı kurabiye typically are sold at bakeries and are a popular offering to visitors at home as a sweet accompaniment to tea or coffee.
These unusual toffee apples, a specialty of northern China’s Shandong region, begin with chunks of apple dipped in a cornstarch batter. They’re then deep-fried and rolled in hot caramel. Then, using chopsticks, the caramel-coated apple pieces are pulled from the pile until long candy threads form. They then are plunged into ice water, forming a crunchy spun—sugar shell that encases the warm apple within.
This Norwegian layered apple trifle—its name means “veiled peasant girls”—may look elegant, but it’s a rustic dessert at heart. Served up in glass dishes, the parfait features layers of lemony apple compote, whipped cream and sweetened, cinnamon-scented breadcrumbs (in fact, the recipe is a common way to use up stale bread). Chopped nuts, grated chocolate and fresh mint or lemon balm are typical garnishes.