11 Most Popular Latvian Desserts & Sweets
Food is more of a tradition than an identity in Latvia. Some treats have been a favorite of Latvians for decades. Many desserts have been passed down through the generations, and every family has a favorite dessert recipe or vision of what it should be.
In general, Latvian cuisine is influenced by the chilly and damp environment of northeastern Europe. It’s no surprise that there are heavy dishes here, frequently accompanied by sweet desserts.
Sugar has only been commonly used in Latvia since the 19th century. But sweet dishes quickly caught on: berry and fruit jellies, mousses, biscuits, flatbreads, cakes, and so on.
Let’s round up some of the most popular Latvian desserts.
1. Rye bread soup
The famed Latvian rye bread is truly exotic and you will not get real Latvian rye bread soup anywhere else on the planet. Rye bread has a strong flavor and excellent nutritious content. The sweet soup made with dried and toasted rye bread, spices, dried fruits, and berries is served chilled with whipped cream.
Rye bread is still prepared in Latvia using unique techniques: natural dough is fermented in wooden vessels, then big loaves are cut out and cooked in wood-fired bread ovens.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Latvian cookbooks presented modern bread soup recipes. The first versions called for the use of local ingredients: toasted rye bread slices and something acidic such as cranberries or rhubarb, as well as fresh or dried apples. Sugar or honey was used to sweeten the soup. The bread was soaked and rubbed through a sieve after being toasted and then boiled with fruit juice and peel, spices such as cinnamon and cloves, and sweeteners.
Then it’s heated over an open flame, chilled, and served with whipped cream. The bread soup thickens the next day and should be served with milk.
2. Stacks of rye bread
This tasty, traditional Latvian rye bread dish with jam and whipped cream has a structure similar to tiramisu. It is a simple but tasty dish that is traditionally prepared on the national holiday of November 18th. The dark red and white of the food resemble the Latvian flag, and as the main ingredients are local, the dish is fitting for a national celebration.
Another big plus of this dessert is that it is not naughty, though it is very rich. You only need a very small piece at the end of the meal to say with satisfaction, “it’s okay, I have enough!”
Despite this, this layered dish is rarely left over for the next day, which is a shame as it tastes even better then than when freshly cooked – the layers stick together and the jam and cream soak into the breadcrumbs.
In terms of nutrition, the layer is a real calorie ball. The cream is fatty and the jam and rye bread are high in sugar, so it’s not something yo should eat every day.
3. Blueberry Dumplings (Klimpas)
Latvian dumplings are balls of dough that resemble Italian gnocchi. They’re eaten mostly as a sweet dish with jelly. However, the addition of chicken is also common as are rhubarb, apples, and other fruits or berries.
For adding to soups, chopped onions, garlic, or greens, finely chopped bacon or smoked ham, and various spices are sometimes added to the dumplings.
Blueberry dumplings in Latvia are a seasonal dish prepared while berries are in season in the middle of the summer. Wild blueberries are one of the most valuable berries in Latvia. They are not only tasty but also very healthy as they boost immunity and well-being with their antioxidants.
Blueberry dumplings can be boiled in water first or boiled in berry juices. Both techniques are equally delicious.
4. Cranberries in Icing Sugar
This is a popular snack and provides plenty of healthy vitamins for children and adults. This is especially true during the fall and helps prevent catching viruses. However, cranberries can also be found in Latvian swamps in the spring, when the snow has melted.
5. Sweet Cottage Cheese Casserole
Cottage cheese casserole is a very Latvian sweet dish. For it to be truly tasty, the curd must be fresh and soft, not grainy and sour. Cottage cheese is widely used in Latvia; it is rich in protein, calcium, vitamins A, B, C, and D, and amino acids. It is an integral part of the diet for pregnant women and young children.
You can use any berries or fruits for the jelly. In the spring you can cook it with rhubarb, orange peel, and cloves; in the summer with strawberries, raspberries, or cherries; and later with sour apples or plums. Cranberries are an autumn and winter classic.
Sometimes raisins are added to the casserole, which makes it especially tasty.
6. Thin Pancakes
These thin pancakes are prepared in Latvia on holiday mornings, especially if the family has children.
Traditionally, it is a sweet breakfast food that brings memories of childhood. You only cook one side of the pancake, put the filling on the golden brown side, roll it up, and cook it in a pan. They can be stuffed with minced meat, cheese, and sweet curd.
Thin pancakes are served with honey and various jams. In summer, they can be used with fresh berries. There are also some vegan pancake recipes.
7. Biscuit Cake
While exquisite and unusual cakes are made from time to time, Latvians often return to the most ordinary biscuit cake, which has occupied an honorable place on the cake pedestal for decades. The secret of this cake is probably not only in the simplicity of its preparation but also in the perfectly balanced taste.
Making it is very simple. The first layer is whole cookies. Then jam, cream, and more cookies, jam, cream until you have enough.
Difficult as it may be, the cake should not be eaten straightaway; it should be left in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. Then the cookies will be soaked with the cream and jam.
8. Debesmanna or Heaven Farina
Debesmanna has such a poetic name because it is very popular. Translated literally it is heaven farina. The usual English translation is much less poetic: mousse. It consists of jelly-boiled semolina served with milk. Preparation is quite simple. The secret of it lies in the process of threshing the farina. It used to be churned with a wooden spoon but now most Latvians have switched to the mixer.
This sweet dish is suitable for every season, changing only the berries as they become available, and, look, another taste!
Served with cold milk, this dish evokes feelings of happiness.
9. Floating Islands
This is another sweet dish that is associated with childhood holidays, when eggs were beaten and cooked into an airy miracle. It is a dessert for real gourmets which is sweet and has a soft texture. It is a whipped egg white with a vanilla sauce.
10. Gotiņa (Little Cow)
One of the most interesting candies in the world is gotiņa candy, a sweet treat that melts on the tongue. Today, they are commercially but they can be made at home. They are fun to make with the kids.
The sweets are made by adding sugar and vanilla sugar to milk or cream and boiling, stirring constantly, until the mass thickens and turns light brown. The longer the mass is heated, the thicker it becomes. The finished mass can be filled in candy wrappers, silicone forms, or in a larger pan.
It is then removed from the molds or cut into pieces. While it is soft, you can form it into balls and roll them in crushed or chopped nuts.
11. Maple Juice
Maple juice contains up to 10% sugar and not only quenches your thirst but also provides energy. In Latvia, it is obtained by drilling a hole in the tree and tying a container to collect it.
Drinking maple juice in the spring is widespread, especially outside the cities. The natural sugar contains both minerals and enzymes, various organic acids, tannins, vitamins, and other biologically active substances which improve health and digestion. Boiling the juice for a long time gives you maple syrup.
Related: Most Popular Latvian Dishes