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29 Old-World Desserts We Still Eat Today

The desserts grandma brought over from the Old World will always be delicious. Find favorites from Poland, Germany, Italy and more.

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Ice Cream Kolachkes

These sweet pastries have Polish and Czech roots and can also be spelled "kolaches." They are usually filled with poppy seeds, nuts, jam or a mashed fruit mixture. The ice cream is a unique twist on traditional kolachkes, and it's simplest to use a square cookie cutter to cut the dough. —Diane Turner, Brunswick, Ohio

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Baki's Old-World CookiesTaste of Home

Baki's Old-World Cookies

My uncles have always called these "cupcake cookies" because of the unique and pretty way they're baked. My maternal grandmother mixed up many a batch. —Marilyn Louise Riggenbach, Ravenna, Ohio

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Oma's Apfelkuchen (Grandma's Apple Cake)Taste of Home

Oma's Apfelkuchen (Grandma's Apple Cake)

My husband’s German family calls this Oma’s apfelkuchen, which translates to "Grandma’s apple cake." They’ve been sharing the recipe for more than 150 years. I use Granny Smith apples, but any variety works. —Amy Kirchen, Loveland, Ohio

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CuccidatiTaste of Home

Cuccidati

The compliments are well worth making these Sicilian cookies—they're the best recipe I've found! —Carolyn Fafinski, Dunkirk, New York

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French Butter Cookies Exps Ft19 246381 F 1031 1 1

French Butter Cookies

The Brittany region of France is known for its use of butter. These French butter cookies, also known as sable Breton, shine the spotlight on the famous ingredient. This recipe is mildly sweet, rich, crisp and has a hint of salt. You won't be able to resist having a second—or third. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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Raspberry Custard Kuchen

Back where I grew up in Wisconsin, people have been baking this German treat for generations. We love it for breakfast or as a special dessert. It's no fuss to fix and impressive to serve. —Virginia Arndt, Sequim, Washington

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Old-World Ricotta CheesecakeTaste of Home

Old-World Ricotta Cheesecake

I reconstructed this dessert based on an old recipe that had been in the family for years but was never written down. The subtle cinnamon flavor of the zwieback crust reminds me of the cheesecake I enjoyed as a child, but substitute other crumbs if you like. —Mary Beth Jung, Hendersonville, North Carolina

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German Apple StrudelTaste of Home

German Apple Strudel

This gorgeous strudel has just what you crave this time of year: thin layers of flaky crust and lots of juicy apples. —Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon

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Spumoni SlicesTaste of Home

Spumoni Slices

My sweet rectangles get their name from the old-fashioned tri-colored ice cream. Our whole family prefers them. —Mary Chupp, Chattanooga, Tennessee

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GingerbreadTaste of Home

Gingerbread

My grandmother first used this recipe for gingerbread over 100 years ago. I remember that the kitchen smelled like heaven when Grandmother baked her gingerbread. The only thing better was when she took it out of the oven and served it with a generous topping of fresh whipped cream! —Ellouise Halstead, Union Grove, Wisconsin

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Italian Sprinkle CookiesTaste of Home

Italian Sprinkle Cookies

Of all the Italian cookie recipes I make, this is my favorite. These sprinkle cookies take some time, but, believe me, they are well worth it! My husband and I used to operate an Italian American restaurant, and this recipe goes back generations. —Gloria Cracchiolo, Newburgh, New York

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Chocolate Almond Pizzelles

If you love fun baking gadgets, you'll enjoy making these crispy, almond-flavored cookies, which get their unique waffle design from a pizzelle maker. They bake up golden brown in only a few minutes. Feel free to double the chocolate drizzle if you'd like to cover the cookies more generously. —Hannah Riley, Norwalk, Ohio

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PalmiersTaste of Home

Palmiers

It takes just two ingredients to make these impressive but easy-to-do French pastries, which are often called palm leaves. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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Creamy Rice PuddingTaste of Home

Creamy Rice Pudding

I was fortunate to grow up around fabulous cooks. My mother and grandmother taught me to experiment with recipes, and we tried a lot of variations on this one. No matter how we chose to embellish it, it was always tasty. When I make this, it brings fond memories to mind. —Laura German, North Brookfield, Massachusetts

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Cinnamon Sugar Peach Kuchen Exps Hca19 40799 C09 11 5b 2

Cinnamon-Sugar Peach Kuchen

My comforting cinnamon peach kuchen showcases fresh summer fruit. You can use other stone fruits, too, such as plums or nectarines. This is one of those homey desserts that beg for a scoop of ice cream on top! —Mary Bilyeu, Ann Arbor, Michigan

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Grandma's Scottish ShortbreadTaste of Home

Grandma's Scottish Shortbread

My Scottish grandmother was renowned for her baking, and one of the highlights whenever we visited my grandparents was her bringing out the baking tin. Her shortbread cookies were my favorite, and now, whenever I make them, I remember her. This is not a thin, crispy dessert shortbread; it’s a deep bar that is best served with a cup of tea. —Jane Kelly, Wayland, Massachusetts

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Hazelnut Almond BiscottiTaste of Home

Hazelnut Almond Biscotti

Pour a cup of coffee and indulge! Crisp, crunchy biscotti cookies are perfect for dunking. Hazelnuts and almonds make my favorite version even better. —Johnna Johnson, Scottsdale, Arizona

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Quick and Easy Baklava SquaresTaste of Home

Quick and Easy Baklava Squares

I love baklava but rarely indulge because it takes so much time to make. Then a friend of mine gave me this simple recipe. I’ve made it for family, friends and co-workers—they can’t get enough. I’m always asked to bring these squares to special gatherings and parties, and I even give them as gifts during the holidays. —Paula Marchesi, Lenhartsville, Pennsylvania

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TorcettiTaste of Home

Torcetti

Our Sicilian grandmother often had my sister and me roll out the dough for these tasty torcetti. Their melt-in-your-mouth goodness is delicious without being overly sweet.—Joy Quici, Upland, California

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Swedish Almond RusksTaste of Home

Swedish Almond Rusks

Not too sweet, these nutty, crunchy cookies go well with a cup of hot coffee...and travel well in care packages, too!

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Chocolate AmarettiTaste of Home

Chocolate Amaretti

These classic almond paste cookies are like ones you'd find in an Italian bakery. My husband and children are always excited when I include these goodies in my holiday baking lineup. —Kathy Long, Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin

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Mashed Potato KolachkesTaste of Home

Mashed Potato Kolachkes

My husband's Bohemian mother brought a kolachke recipe with her when she came to America. So these rolls are a part of our family's heritage. Other traditional fillings are prune, poppy seed and cottage cheese. —Jan Wagner-Cuda, Deer Park, Washington

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Italian Cornmeal Spritz CookiesTaste of Home

Italian Cornmeal Spritz Cookies

A chef at a local culinary school gave me this recipe, and I've been using it for years. Italian cornmeal cookies are from the Piedmont region of northern Italy. They're not too sweet, and the glazed cherries add just the right touch. — Kristine Chayes, Smithtown, New York

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Apricot Raisin RugelachTaste of Home

Apricot Raisin Rugelach

Rugelach is a classic addition to holiday trays. The flaky, buttery pastry slices encase a spiced fruit and walnut filling. —Laurie Klett, Hamilton, Michigan

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Hazelnut-Almond ZimtsterneTaste of Home

Hazelnut-Almond Zimtsterne

These nutty, nicely spiced cutouts dusted with sugar are a German tradition. Serve them with cups of tea or coffee for dunking.

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Swedish Apple PieTaste of Home

Swedish Apple Pie

This decadent apple pie serves up homemade flavor in every bite. This is a perfect snack with coffee or as an after-dinner treat. —Sarah Klier, Grand Rapids, Michigan

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Finnish Pinwheels

When my sister was hosting an exchange student from Finland, she served these cookies I'd made to her guest. The young lady instantly recognized what they were. So I know they're still being made in our ancestors' country. —Ilona Barron, Ontonagon, Michigan

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Italian Sesame CookiesTaste of Home

Italian Sesame Cookies

These nontraditional European cookies aren't overly sweet and have a wonderful crunch from sesame seeds. They're the ideal accompaniment to a freshly brewed cup of coffee or tea.—Sarah Knoblock, Hyde Park, Indiana

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Chocolate Cherry CrepesTaste of Home

Chocolate Cherry Crepes

One of the reasons that we love this impressive-looking recipe is that it's easy to make. We prepare the crepes and filling in advance, and assemble them and add the topping just before serving. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen

Katie Bandurski
Katie is an Associate Editor for Taste of Home, specializing in writing and email newsletters. When she’s out of the office, you’ll find her exploring Wisconsin, trying out new vegetarian recipes and combing through antique shops.

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