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South African desserts for the sweet tooth

By January 24, 2020January 19th, 2023Newsletter

South African desserts for the sweet tooth

January 24, 2020


When you look at the wide range of South African desserts, it’s easy to see that South Africans have a sweet tooth. Our South African desserts have been passed down from one generation to the next – just think of your grandmother’s Melktert (Milk Tart)recipe. To satisfy your sweet tooth, we have put together some dessert recipes that have a distinctly South African flavour.

Famous South African dessert recipes

Easy Milk Tart recipe

Every family has their favourite Milk Tart recipe, here is one of ours:


  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  •  1 cup white sugar
  •  3 egg yolks
  •  1 cup cake flour
  •  1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  •  1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  4 cups milk
  •  3 egg white
  •  1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C. Coat a 23cm deep dish pie plate with vegetable oil cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the egg yolks and beat until light and fluffy. Sift in the cake flour, baking powder and salt, and stir until well blended. Mix in the vanilla and milk. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks using an electric mixer. Fold into the batter. Pour into the prepared pie plate, and sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the top.
  3. Bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven, then reduce the temperature to 165 degrees C. Continue to bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the centre is set when you gently jiggle the pie. Serve hot or cold

Don Pedro

Don Pedro is a uniquely South African dessert – that you enjoy through a straw. A great dessert to enjoy after a braai or any meal.


  • 3 cups Vanilla Ice Cream
  • ¼ cup Kahlua Liqueur
  • ½ cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 whole Flake Chocolate Bar, (30gram Bar) or 1/2 Cup Grated Milk Chocolate


Scoop the ice cream into the blender. Add the liqueur and cream and blend. Pour the blended mixture into a wine glass. Crumble or grate chocolate on top. Serve with a short straw.


Koeksisters are a favourite at teatimes or anytime! These twisted pieces of pastry soaked in honey are just delicious!


  • 3-¼ cups Sugar
  • 1-¼ cup Water
  • ½ teaspoons Cream Of Tartar
  • ½ teaspoons Ground Ginger
  • 2 whole Cinnamon Sticks


  • 2 cups Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Baking Powder
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • ¼ cups Butter
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1 cup Milk
  • Oil, For Frying


For the syrup:

Heat the sugar and water in a pot over medium heat until the sugar has melted, stirring continuously. Add the cream of tartar, ginger and cinnamon sticks to the syrup and bring to a boil. Boil uncovered for 5 minutes (don’t stir). Remove from the stovetop, transfer to a stainless steel bowl and remove the cinnamon sticks. Place the bowl into an ice bath to cool the syrup down. Once it’s cool, divide the mixture between 2 bowls (the reason for this later) and chill in the fridge until ready to use.

For the Koeksisters:

Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt) into a mixing bowl. Add the butter into the flour mixture. Rub until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Set aside.

Beat the eggs and milk together in another bowl then add it into the flour. Mix the dough well and then knead for 2 minutes before covering and allowing it to rest for 1 hour.

When ready, roll the dough out into a rectangle. It should be about 1 cm thick. Next, cut the rectangle into strips about 4 cm wide (they can vary in length depending on whether you want large or bite-size koeksisters.)

Koeksisters are done in 2 ways: Twist 2 strands of dough together or braid 3 strands together. Twist/braid until all the dough is used.

For the frying and dipping:

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed deep pot (use enough so that when you put the koeksisters in, they will be fully immersed) to 190 degrees C. Drop 2 koeksisters in at a time and fry for 1 minute. Flip them over halfway through frying so they brown evenly. With a slotted spoon, remove the koeksisters from the oil and allow to rest for 1 minute on some paper towels.

Pull out one of the bowls of syrup. After 1 minute of resting, drop the koeksisters into the chilled syrup for 1 minute. Note: the syrup is best if it’s kept chilled so swap out the bowl of ‘warmed’ syrup for the other bowl of refrigerated syrup every few minutes. After 1 minute of soaking, fish the koeksisters out the syrup and place on a cooling rack to allow excess syrup to run off.

Repeat this process until all the koeksisters are fried, rested and dipped. Enjoy for dessert or as a treat with coffee.

Peppermint Crisp Tart

This dessert is a great favourite with children and adults alike. You might argue that it is more a sweet than a dessert, but rather than argue, just enjoy it – and the great thing about it is that you don’t need to do any cooking!


  • 200g Tennis biscuits, crushed
  • 250ml cream
  • 360g tin Nestlé Caramel Treat, beaten
  • 3 x 49g Peppermint Crisp chocolates, crushed


  1. Sprinkle half the biscuits into the base of a 1.25L dish.
  2. Beat the cream until stiff peaks form, then mix in the Nestlé Caramel Treat and 2/3 of the chocolate. Spoon half the mixture onto the biscuits in the dish. Top with a layer of the remaining biscuits and then the rest of the caramel mixture.
  3. Sprinkle the rest of the crushed chocolate over. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Malva Pudding

This sweet pudding/cake is delicious after a meal on a cold winter night and includes a favouite South African ingredient – apricot jam!


  • ¾ cups Sugar
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon Apricot Jam
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter (a Generous Tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon Vinegar
  • 1-¼ cup Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • ⅓ cups Milk


  • 7 Tablespoons Butter
  • ¾ cups Heavy Whipping Cream
  • ½ cups Sugar
  • ⅓ cups Hot Water
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Grease an oven dish (a 7×7 square Pyrex dish works, or a 9’’ circular dish) or spray it with baking spray.
  3. Beat together the sugar and the eggs until the mixture is thick and yellow.
  4. Mix in the apricot jam.
  5. Melt the 1 Tablespoon of butter, and mix in both the butter and vinegar until combined.
  6. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt; add it to the wet mixture along with the milk and give the whole thing a good beating.
  7. Pour the mixture into the greased oven pan and bake until the pudding is golden brown and has risen (somewhere between 30-45 minutes depending on your oven and size of your pan).
  8. Meanwhile, make the sauce: melt the 7 Tablespoons of butter and mix remaining sauce ingredients together.
  9. As soon as the pudding comes out of the oven, pour the sauce over it as evenly as possible. Let it stand for a few minutes before serving, and serve it warm!

Buttermilk rusks

Buttermilk rusks are a traditional South African treat and they can be enjoyed at any time of the day, whether it’s with a cup of coffee or a cup of tea – just go ahead and dunk!


  • 1 kg cake flour
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 3 level tbls baking powder (not baking soda)
  • 500 ml buttermilk OR
  • 500 ml full fat milk mixed with 3 tbls vinegar or lemon juice (buttermilk)
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 1½ cups sugar (white or light brown)
  • 1 tbls caramel essence or vanilla essence
  • 250gr cold butter, cut into small blocks


  1. Turn oven onto very low heat about 65 degrees C.
  2. Spray 2 loaf tins with non-stick baking spray or grease with butter. You need 2 cookie sheets for drying out the rusks at end, ungreased.
  3. If you are not using buttermilk, add the vinegar or lemon juice to the full cream milk, stir and let it stand for about 5 minutes.
  4. Sift flour, salt & baking powder together.
  5. Rub the butter into the flour until it looks like bread crumbs. (you can use a food processor on pulse mode for this step).
  6. Transfer breadcrumb mixture to a large bowl.
  7. Beat the egg, add buttermilk and essence to egg mixture, add sugar and stir.
  8. Add to dry ingredients and mix in with a knife.
  9. Knead well by hand until the dough reaches the elastic stage. If the dough is too sticky on your hands, just sprinkle a little flour in until dough is no longer sticky.
  10. Roll mixture into sausage shapes (about the length of your thumb and a bit thicker) and loosely pack into tins, OR halve dough and shape into 2 loaves in tins then cut to size when cooked, whichever you prefer. (I do the loaves)
  11. Put tins with the mixture into the oven for ± 45 minutes at 65 degrees C to rise.
  12. Remove from oven.
  13. Set oven to 180 degrees C when oven reaches this temperature, bake for 40 – 45 minutes.
  14. Set oven to lowest heat again, about 65 degrees C.
  15. Turn out loaves to cool.
  16. When cool gently break balls apart, or slice loaves into slices about ¾ inch thick then slice these slices into ¾ inch fingers – if possible use an electric knife.
  17. Place in a single layer on cookie sheets with a little space between each rusk, place in the oven at 65 degrees C to dry for about 8 hours, turn rusks one turn about every 2 hours.
  18. Allow to cool, put into air-tight tins or air-tight plastic bags.

Note: Test dryness, if rusks are not dry enough after 8 hours, turn the heat up about 100 degrees C and leave for another hour. 


This refreshing dessert is usually enjoyed at Christmas Time after your Christmas Meal. It’s so delicious – make a mental note to leave a space for it! Here is a recipe with a traditional Christmas them – White Forest Trifle:


  • 2 x 80g packets cherry jelly
  • 200g white chocolate, chopped
  • 375ml cream
  • 30ml icing sugar
  • 500g caramel Swiss roll
  • 125ml sherry or kirsch royal
  • 100g pecan nuts, chopped
  • 125ml fresh or maraschino cherries with stems, drained
  • gold dust (optional)


  1. Prepare the jelly according to packet instructions. Pour into a 3L glass dish. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours or until set.
  2. Heat the chocolate and 80ml of the cream in the microwave for about 1 minute 30 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds until melted. Cool to room temperature.
  3. Beat the remaining cream to soft peaks. Slowly beat in the icing sugar. Fold into the chocolate.
  4. Slice the Swiss roll into 3cm thick slices and arrange on top of the jelly. Drizzle with the sherry or kirsch. Spoon over the white chocolate mousse and set in the fridge for 1 hour or until firm. Top with nuts and cherries dipped in gold dust (if using).


Hertzoggies are one of the most delicious South African treats and are enjoyed at teatime and in school lunchboxes around the country.


  • 420ml cake wheat flour
  • 30ml castor sugar
  • 10ml baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 125g butter, cubed
  • 3 eggs, separated


  • 15ml water
  • 250ml smooth apricot jam
  • 250ml castor sugar
  • 500ml desiccated coconut


  1. Line a 22cm square tray with baking paper, allowing a 2cm overhang.
  2. Sift together the flour, castor sugar, baking powder and salt. Rub the butter into the flour with fingertips
    until it resembles bread crumbs.
  3. Beat egg yolks lightly with the water and mix through the flour mixture until a smooth and workable dough
    forms. (Add a drop or two of water if the dough is too firm.) Press the dough out onto the base of the
    prepared tray and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  5. For the topping, spread the jam evenly over the dough. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Slowly add the sugar, and continue beating until shiny. Add the coconut. Spoon on top of the jam and bake for about 25 minutes until golden and cooked. Cool completely before slicing.

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