Discover 27 Amazing Romanian Desserts (With Pictures!)
Think Romania and everybody thinks Dracula and Transylvania. But this Eastern Europe gem has plenty to offer besides those with a fascination for vampires. For instance, did you know Romania’s cuisine combines Turkish, Hungarian, Slav, Balkan, German, and Latin influences?
While Romanian cuisine might be relatively unknown internationally, the traditional recipes bring everybody to the table and leave quite the impression.
Just as with many countries around the globe, Romania has different influences across its territory. For instance, Moldova is known for Slav and Turkish influences. Dobrogea is known for Turkish and Balkan ingredients and mixes. Muntenia is known for Serbian and Latin influences, while Ardeal and Transylvania combine Hungarian and German cuisines.
Let’s make Romanian desserts popular!
Some staples of Romanian cuisine have become a little more well known. You might well have heard of mititei (minced meat grilled goodies), sarmale (cabbage rolls filled with meat), ciorba de burta (aka tripe soup). But there’s so much more and Romanian desserts are not so well known, though they deserve to be.
There is an entire universe in Romanian desserts, since most of them are layered and quite eclectic. While most of these traditional desserts are made from simple ingredients, the results are deliciously impressive.
Sweet and sour. Sweet and salty. Sweet and unctuous. Sweet and fresh. Sweet and simple. Sweet and flamboyant. Sweet and bitter. You will definitely find on our list a dessert to become your favorite.
We’ve got together no more no less than 27 Romanian recipes for cookies, cakes, and pastries just so you can be prepared to order your favorite when travelling the country. Ready? Let’s go!
1. Albinita (Little Bee)
For exquisite layering, forget about trifle! This has to be your go-to cake if you love the combination of fabulous flavors, textures, and aromas.
The sponge is made with honey, which gives it a distinct aroma and sweetness. Four layers of the sponge are alternated with vanilla and lemon cream and plum preserve or apricot jam. The sweet and sour tastes combine perfectly and there’s a little bit of tanginess to it as well.
The flavors combine better when the the cake is left in the fridge with a weight on top, helping the flavors meld together.
2. Amandina (Amandin)
Do you have a sweet tooth? Do you love chocolate decadence? Are you mad about syrupy, moist cakes? Do you fancy a glass of rum every once in a while? And what do you think of fondant glazing? Yes, Amandin cake has them all. The dark chocolate layers are tanked with a sweet, aromatic syrup made out of rum and caramelized sugar.
In between the two layers there’s a rich, unctuous chocolate buttercream ganache. And on top, for a great crunch and a little bit of texture you can find a sweet fondant made out of chocolate and rum. It’s one of the best desserts in Romania and it goes great with a black coffee.
3. Prajitura cu Foi de Miere (Honey Cake)
Another cake made with honey dough! This time the layers of honey sponge are baked individually then filled with a lemon custard type of cream. The great thing about the aerated, tender, dense and yet not thick nor puffy layers is that they are baked on the back of a baking tray.
After the mixture is added in between the layers the cake rests in the fridge and is decorated with powdered sugar before serving. It has a creamy, rich and yet light and fresh, tangy flavor.
4. Savarina (Syrupy Cake with Whipped Cream Filling)
Walk into a Romanian confectionery and you’ll be finding this juicy, aromatic, syrupy, moist, decadent dessert!
A kind of donut is made from flour, milk, oil, yeast, eggs, and sugar. Once baked and cooled, they are soaked (like extremely soaked) in sugar and rum syrup. Finally, the cake is filled with whipped cream and sometimes topped with forest fruit jelly.
5. Fursecuri Piersicute Umplute (Peach Cookies with Filling)
Peach cookies are another famous dessert to be found in Romanian households and traditional shops. They are made from a sweet, buttery dough and are filled with peach jam or chocolate cream. They are usually topped with granulated sugar. Don’t pass them up if you get the chance to taste them.
6. Arlechin (Harlequin)
Extremely popular in Romania during the 80s and 90s, this colorful cake resembles a harlequin’s costume. It’s obviously multi-layered, just like many cakes in this Eastern European country. The dough is quite rich, made from sour cream, butter, eggs, and flour and is split into four layers.
The layers are glued together with three different preserves. Apricot, plum, forest fruit or strawberry jam are often used. And the colors keep on coming, since the cake also has a yellow glaze.
7. Prajitura cu Mere (Apple Cake)
Romanian recipes are quite tasty and usually made with surprisingly simple ingredients. One such recipe is the most popular and widely spread apple cake.
It’s a mix between pie and cake and the dough is airy, tender and it simply melts in your mouth. The dough is made with flour, butter, sugar, eggs, and sour cream and the filling is as basic as it is tasty: made from apples, sugar, and cinnamon.
As usual, since we’re talking Romanian dessert, it’s all about layering and leaving it to cool until the filling and the pastry are well infused, one with the other.
8. Cornulete cu Gem/Rahat/Nuca (Jam/Turkish Delight/Walnuts) Croissants
Anyone who grew up in Romania will have had these tender, crumbly croissants! Every grandma makes them and they taste delicious. And if you haven’t had the pleasure, you must check them out when you travel to this country. These small croissants, which are kind of in between croissants and scones, are topped with powdered sugar and filled with fruit preserves, walnuts, or Turkish delight.
What’s so amazing about them? Well, they are made with lard and they simply melt in your mouth!
9. Poale-n Brau (Moldavian Cheese Pie)
If you get to Romania make sure to try out Moldavian cheese pies. Poale-n brau, which roughly translates as ”the bottom of the skirt raised to the waist band”, is a Moldavian traditional dessert. that is Moldova the Romanian region, not the country.
Now, these salty-sweet pastries are kneaded until they become soft, airy, and puffy and they are filled with sweet cottage cheese and sometimes raisins. to make it easier to imagine, think of them as puffy wallets filled with goodies.
10. Gris cu Lapte si Dulceata (Semolina and Milk Pudding Topped with Jam)
Nothing fancy about it! Still, extremely tasty and one of the most popular desserts in Romania. Milk is mixed with semolina flour, sugar, and vanilla, and maybe lemon and orange zest. Everything boils and is stirred together to form a soft, delicious pudding. It’s served in bowls, topped with jam, fruit or cocoa.
11. Carpati (Carpathian Mountains Cake)
The highlight of every festive event, be it Christmas, Easter or anniversaries, Carpati is for chocolate aficionados. Carpathian Mountains cake is a sponge cake made from eight layers baked separately.
In between these layers, there’s heaven: chocolate cream ganache, rich, unctuous and yet light. Everything is topped with chocolate glaze, of course. Now, the thing about the name of the cake lies simply in its pointed, peaky shape.
12. Cornete Boieresti (Boyar Cones)
Eggs, flour, and sugar are mixed to form a dough. Eggs, sugar, butter, and cocoa form the cream filling. Sugar, cocoa, and butter are mixed for the glaze. The batter is turned onto sheets, baked, and then formed into cones.
Then they are filled with the cream and dunked into the chocolate glaze. They look like ice cream cones but are entirely different. They are sweet, decadent, interesting, and yet so simple. Make sure you look out for them in traditional shops and delis!
13. Mucenici cu Nuca (Sweet Walnut Bagels)
For this recipe you’ll have to visit Romania in the spring, from the 7th until the 9th of March. This is one of the most controversial of Romanian desserts since Moldova and Muntenia compete with their own recipe. Muntenia prepares a sweet soup made with tiny flour made bagels, in a dense, aromatic, delicious syrup made with cinnamon and walnuts.
Moldova has a different approach, kneading the sweet bagels and making them bigger, soaking them in a sugar syrup and topping them with crushed walnuts and honey. We love them both and they are amazingly different so you’ll have to pick your own favorite the best way: try them both!
14. Rulada Diplomat (Whipped Cream Roll)
This right here is a decadent and rich dessert. Yet it doesn’t contain any chocolate, the usual symbol of rich and decadence when it comes to desserts. It’s actually a whipped cream, custardy roll with plenty of fruit! It’s fresh and quite light and it’s one of the most popular desserts you’ll find in Romanian confectioneries.
It all starts with a light sponge cake base. The sponge cake base is filled with a cream made from whipped cream, milk, sugar, eggs, gelatin, and fruit. The resulting cream is a thick, yet fresh custard. The roll is topped with whipped cream and frankly it’s quite hard to stop yourself once you take a bite.
15. Ciocolata de Casa (Homemade Chocolate)
If there’s one thing about the Romanians, it is that they know how to make do! No matter the setback, they find a way to carry on. And that’s how they created homemade chocolate.
During the communist period, chocolate was not easily found so it was made at home, and, boy, oh, boy, it probably was the most popular dessert in the country! Made with butter, caramelized sugar syrup, cocoa, and powdered milk, this sweet and rich dessert is definitely one to try out.
16. Gomboti or Galuste cu Prune (Dumplings Filled with Plums)
Romania hasn’t had an easy past. Poverty and food shortages were often a struggle and people learned to cope. When it comes to desserts, the story is no different at all. Gomboti or Galuste cu prune (aka plum filled dumplings) tell one such story of creating amazing taste with simple, basic ingredients.
The dumplings are made with boiled potatoes and flour (kind of like gnocchi). After forming the dumplings, a half or whole plum (destoned) is placed inside it. The dumplings are boiled and then covered in a sweet mixture made from breadcrumbs, sugar, cinnamon, and a little sunflower oil.
17. Cozonac (Sweet bread)
Cozonac resembles Panetone in its dough. However, it’s more associated with babka, since it also has various chocolate fillings. This dessert is mostly made at Christmas and Easter. Sweet bread, aka cozonac, is usually aromatic, made with plenty of eggs, butter, and lemon zest. There are also various fillings used, depending on the geographical area and the traditions in the household.
Walnut and chocolate paste, poppy seed filling, Turkish delight and raisins with rum, and even all of the above combined can make the perfect cozonac. With a fluffy, moist and aromatic taste and the filling of your choice, cozonac is perfect with a glass of milk or a cup of coffee. The only bad thing about it: you can’t stop after one slice.
18. Orez cu lapte (Milky rice pudding)
Again: simple and yet fabulous. One of the tastes of a Romanian childhood: milk and rice pudding. Yes it’s as easy as it seems. The rice is boiled in milk with sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest. It’s served with jam, fruit, and even cocoa powder just like semolina pudding.
19. Placinta Dobrogeana (Dobrogea Pie)
Romanian food is quite diverse across its geographical regions. Dobrogea pie is a pastry dessert and it’s both salty and sweet.
It’s a pie filled with cottage cheese, salty cheese (a type of cheese that resembles Feta and is called telemea), sour cream, and eggs. Sometimes rum soaked raisins are added and sugar is sprinkled on top while the pies are hot.
If you like to learn more about telemea, make sure to check our guide on Romanian cheeses.
20. Prajitura Alba-ca-Zapada (Snow White Cake)
Yet another layered cake, guys! Who would have thought, right? Well, although the technique is similar, the result is different. And of course, soooo tasty! As usual a dough is made and the sheets are baked on the back of a tray. Flour, sugar, oil, eggs, milk, and a raising agent are mixed into a dough. The cream to fill the cake is made from butter, sugar, milk, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla, and flour, resulting in a thick yet light custardy filling.
As usual, after adding the filling, the cake stays in a cool place, preferably the fridge, with a weight on top, to get the ingredients melting into each other.
21. Nuci Umplute cu Crema (Walnut Cookies)
One of the most popular cookies in Romania, filled walnuts, were all around the table at festive events. They are made with a shaping mold, to create the crusty, crispy dough in the shape of a walnut. The aromatic mixture that fills the cookies is made from jam, rum, and ground walnuts or chocolate cream ganache and nuts. Sometimes they are topped with powdered sugar.
22. Papanasi (Donuts with Sour Cream and Jam)
This is probably one of the most popular desserts in Romania. You can find it in most restaurants and you really have to order a portion for yourself. Papanasi are fried (in Moldova, Muntenia) or boiled (in Transylvania and Ardeal) donuts made with semolina, flour, and cottage cheese.
The donuts are finished with sour cream and jam on top. Usually you’ll find it topped with blackberry, sour cherry or forest fruit preserve. It’ll probably take a couple of hours to walk it off, but this is a dessert you must try!
23. Prajitura cu Bulion (Tomato Bullion Cake)
Did we already say Romanian desserts are a work of art made from the simplest ingredients? Well, we cannot stress this enough when it comes to tomato bullion cake. Yes, you read that right! Again, it’s a layered cake and the dough is made out of flour, water, oil, tomato bullion, baking powder, sugar, and vanilla. Yes, tomato bullion and vanilla!
The dough is formed in sheets that are baked on the back of a tray. There’s also a filling made with intercalated layers of plum jam and semolina pudding made with milk. The cake rests in the fridge with a weight on top so that the flavors mix and it simply melts in your mouth.
24. Prajitura Valurile Dunarii (Danube Waves Cake)
One of the most festive Romanian desserts, Valurile Dunarii mixes chocolate glaze, sour cherries, vanilla custard, and a sweet, buttery base. This is a German recipe and has been made popular in Ardeal and Transylvania, becoming one of the most appreciated desserts. The base consists of an extremely buttery sponge cake with a hint of cocoa.
Sour cherries are added to the base mixture (and they don’t skimp on them!) to give a tangy flavor and a fresh aroma. The vanilla, eggs, and butter custard goes on top of the base and everything is finished with a dark chocolate glaze.
25. Salam de Biscuiti (Biscuit Salami)
Another cookie that was made in most households in the communist period and even before it. The great thing about it is that this cookie is made from non-pretentious ingredients but the result is quite impressive! Biscuits, butter, cocoa, sugar, milk, sometimes rum soaked raisins, and even more rum added to the mix get together in this dessert.
The biscuits are crushed and they are added in the mixture formed by the other ingredients. Everything is rolled in a plastic sheet to form a salami shaped cookie that then rests in the fridge. When you slice it up, the biscuits really make the cookie like salami.
26. Prajitura cartof (Potato cake)
Is there anything more basic and simple than a potato? Well, Romanians have taken simple and basic ingredients to the rank of high art. This is not a cake, nor is it a cookie. It’s something in between and it simply blows your mind. Made from biscuits, melted butter, cocoa, walnuts, sugar, almonds, milk, and orange zest, this dessert doesn’t need to be baked.
The ingredients are mixed together and formed into a potato shape. After that they are powdered with cocoa, walnuts, sugar or even crushed biscuits.
27. Mere-n pijama (Pyjama apples)
Pyjama apples are actually apple donuts. The batter is formed with flour, sliced apples, milk, cinnamon, sugar, eggs, baking powder, and a touch of salt. Then you simply fry the donuts and serve them with vanilla ice-cream, caramel, chocolate, yogurt, or sour cream.
Most of these desserts are traditionally made in Romanian households so if you get a chance to visit someone here, don’t miss out! Some of them can be found in bakeries and shops while only a couple of them can be ordered in restaurants.
Make sure to ask about the stories of these cakes and cookies and you’ll find memories and precious times associated with them. Also, make sure you don’t worry about the calories as most of them are quite rich, buttery, and sugary, and worrying will simply detract from the scrumptious experience.