Tim Tams and travel? Yes please! These are the best desserts in Australia for travelers to try.
TurnipseedTravel is thrilled to welcome back Jo from Frugal First Class Travel for a second guest post. Her first contribution, Beyond Bondi Beach: An Insider's Guide to Sydney, gave us a behind-the-scenes look at this iconic city. Now Jo helps us explore a topic dear to my heart....
AUSTRALIAN SWEET TREATS TO SAVOUR
Anyone who reads Turnipseed Travel regularly will know Vanessa has a sweet tooth. I doubt she’s met a brownie she didn't like. Now down here in Australia, we don’t have a strong brownie culture, so to stop Vanessa going into withdrawals I’ve come up with a list of true Aussie delights to tempt her taste buds. As always, I’m conscious of her coffeecan budget, so everything I've chosen won’t break the budget. Oh, and by the way, they are all easily found in supermarkets, cafes or bakeries (except the Haigh’s chocs, which are well worth the trip!)
First: A Lesson in Australian Food Dialect
While it is creeping into our language, we don’t use the term “baked goods”. Instead, we use the specific term for what we are talking about: cakes are called cakes, pies and tarts are pies and tarts and biscuits are biscuits.
What we call biscuits North Americans would call a cookie. We do use cookie, but it tends to be limited to those enormous biscuits kept in jars in cafes. If you are in the supermarket, you need to look for the biscuit aisle to find biscuits!
North American biscuits are known by the English term scone, and are served as a sweet – with either cream or butter and jam. We pronounce the word as in “gone” not as in “cone”.
My top sweet treats to tempt……
Pavlova. This is a controversial choice, as both Australia and New Zealand claim the “pav” as its national dessert. Regardless of where you stand on the argument, if you are in Australia, enjoy it, and do the same in NZ. A good pavlova has a light, crisp meringue-like crust, then a soft, gooey, sweet meringue centre. Add freshly whipped cream and fruit (personally I like strawberry and passionfruit, both of which are very traditional). If you travel to Australia, you can buy good quality pre-prepared pavlova shells in the supermarket, and make your own if you have kitchen facilities. Make sure you buy proper whipping cream (not that awful stuff in a can), whip the cream and add your fruit of choice. If you can’t imagine a dessert without chocolate buy a Flake bar (or two) and crumble the layers of chocolate over the top! If you don’t have access to a kitchen look for pavlovas in cafes and enjoy with a coffee.
ANZAC biscuits. One thing Australia and New Zealand don’t argue about is the ANZAC biscuit. Based on a traditional Scottish oat biscuit, the ANZAC was created during World War 1 to send to the Australian/New Zealand forces (the ANZACs). Buy them in cafes to enjoy with a coffee, in bakeries or in packets at the supermarket. There are many variations on the theme – some hard, some softer in texture, so try a couple of different varieties to see what you like.
Tim Tams. If the ANZAC is our most traditional, the Tim Tam is our passion. Expats go misty eyed, and fanaticism reigns. The original Tim Tam has two chocolate biscuits, layered with rich chocolate cream filling, then covered in milk chocolate. The manufacturer has now introduced all sorts of different flavours, so raid the supermarket and choose your favorite! Be warned though, our local supermarket actually has an entire Tim Tam section in the biscuit aisle……..
Iced VoVos. If your taste runs to the more retro ironic, head for the Iced VoVo. A plain biscuit base with strawberry and vanilla marshmallow, coconut and raspberry jam, the Iced VoVo has been around for years. Pick them up cheaply in the biscuit aisle.
If a cake is more your scene, don’t go past the lamington. A traditional lamington is a square of cake, dipped in a thin chocolate sauce-like icing (that stays moist rather than sets), then dipped in coconut.
Connoisseurs will argue as to whether a real lamington has raspberry jam in the centre or not, and lamington style cakes can be bought as a sponge roll, a traditional square, or even as a whole cake. Buy them at cafes and bakeries, or in the cake/bakery section of the supermarket.
Haigh’s chocolates. It would be remiss of me not to mention Haigh’s chocolates, Australia’s very own master chocolatier. Not cheap and not available everywhere, this family run business is an Adelaide institution that has now expanded throughout the country. The chocolate frogs are traditional, but for a more local experience, go for the Australian selection, featuring Australian native fruits and spices. A trip to Haigh’s is a splurge you deserve. (And they gift wrap if you want to take some home as presents!)
Cooking at home. If you really get into the Australian cake and biscuit scene and want to try some at home, head to any large bookshop. Walk past the trendy celebrity chef cookbooks and find either a Margaret Fulton cooking book, or the Country Woman’s Association – both are the last word in “proper” traditional Australian cooking. You will find recipes for pavlovas, ANZACs, lamingtons, and all sorts of other brilliant traditional cakes and biscuits.
So there you have it. While she may be short of brownies, I think Vanessa will be well satisfied with these Aussie options!
Jo and Vanessa want to hear from you! What are your favourite traditional baked goods?
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Beyond Bondi Beach: An Insider's Guide to Sydney
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