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15 Delicious South African Desserts That You Must Taste

By | Last Updated: 16th December 2022

When it comes to dessert, South Africa has a diverse range to offer. The puddings like malva pudding, cape brandy pudding, sago pudding, and many more have been introduced by the Dutch and their Malay slaves who settled here. They are warm, rich, creamy, and saucy, ideal for between-the-meal treats, especially in winter. You’ll also find many cold desserts like coconut ice, fruit trifle, and peppermint crisp tart, favorite especially among children. The rest, like koeksister, hertzoggies, and queen cakes, makes for excellent tea-time snacks. All of these are not much complicated to prepare, requiring ingredients readily available in the kitchen.

South African Desserts

1. Melktert



Melktert is a delicious traditional dessert whose name translates into milk tart. It comprises a smooth pastry crust with a rich filling of milk, flour, eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Though it somewhat resembles a custard pie, it is more delicate and creamy in texture. Before baking, it is refrigerated to prevent it from rising. It is served chilled or warm as per one’s choice, with a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar on top. The soft and sugary delight quickly melts inside the mouth, leaving a flavorful taste behind to relish. This is even an ideal dish to enjoy with your entire family on the occasion of National Milk Tart Day, celebrated each year on the 27th of February.

2. Koeksister



Koeksister is a sweet snack item having an appealing appearance. It is prepared with dough shaped in braided strips, deep-fried, and dipped in a sweet aromatic syrup. To let the Koeksisters soak in it well, you will have to chill the syrup overnight. Sticky and crispy in texture, they are great accompaniments to a hot cup of tea.

3. Malva Pudding

Malva Pudding


Malva pudding, a warm dessert, is ideal in winters. It has a caramelized outer layer and soft spongy interior, making it different from other puddings. Ingredients like eggs, flour, milk, apricot jam, sugar, and salt go into preparation. A combination of cream, vanilla, sugar, butter, and salt is poured after creating holes into it. Its smooth, fluffy texture probably gives it the name ‘malwa,’ meaning marshmallow. However, some say that the pudding’s name comes after Malvasia wine that was once a part of its main ingredients. Though it is delicious and filling on its own, you can also enjoy it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

4. Melkkos



Melkkos is a typical South African sweet dish prepared by adding flour, salt, and butter to boiling milk. It is continuously stirred until it acquires a thick and lumpy consistency. A sprinkle of cinnamon sugar goes on the top, making it more flavorful. It is a comforting food, served hot, and enjoyed most during the cold season.

5. Pampoenkoekie



Pampoenkoekies are traditional sweet fritters made of mashed pumpkin combined with flour, eggs, sugar, and vanilla. The batter is then fried till golden brown and served with a drizzle of sticky caramel sauce for added sweetness. They are sweet and savory in taste, ideal as a snack, breakfast, side dish, or dessert item.

6. Tameletjie 



Tameletjie is one of South Africa’s oldest confections made by boiling sugar and water until caramelized. Many variations also include walnuts, almonds, and pine nuts to make it crunchier and for the nutty taste. This sweet toffee is sticky and chewy, just like its name,  denoted to describe a sticky or challenging situation, in South African articles and writeups.

7. Hertzoggies



Hertzoggies are a combination of biscuits and tarts with an apricot jam meringue filling. While the pastry base contains flour, egg, butter, baking powder, sugar, and salt, the meringue filling is made with apricot jam, egg whites, castor sugar, and desiccated coconut.

They were initially prepared during the vote campaign and named after General JBM Hertzog, the South African Prime Minister between 1924 and 1939, who promised women the right to vote. Now a popular sweet item, it is best accompanied by a hot cup of tea. The soft, smooth pastry crust complements well with the chewy and slightly crunchy filling.

8. Cape Brandy Pudding

Cape Brandy Pudding


Cape brandy pudding is a tipsy tart delight, often considered an excellent alternative for Christmas pudding. The main ingredients for preparing the batter include dates, baking powder, butter, sugar, flour, eggs, and salt. On the other hand, the boozy syrup contains sugar, butter, vanilla extract, brandy, and salt. It is a rich, and flavorful dessert served warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

9. Coconut Ice

Coconut Ice


This sweet treat is easy to prepare using everyday ingredients like condensed milk, sugar, and desiccated coconut. A few drops of pink food color also go into it to make it look more tempting. The mixture is refrigerated and sliced into small squares before serving. Soft and chewy in texture, it is a huge hit among children all over South Africa.

10. Potato Pudding

Potato Pudding


This traditional dish is mainly popular among the Cape Malay community of South Africa. It’s made with mashed sweet potatoes, butter, eggs, sugar, milk, vanilla extract, and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Before serving it warm, it is cut into cubes with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar and stewed fruits at the side. Though somewhat smooth in texture, the taste is quite filling and flavorful with all the spices going into it.

11. Sago Pudding

Sago Pudding


This classic pudding dessert is simple yet delicious, made by baking the mixture of sago, milk, cinnamon, sugar, butter, eggs, and salt. You might also add apricot jam meringue to it to make it extra flavorful. Once the meringue topping turns light brown, it is taken out of the oven and served warm or at room temperature.

12.  Fruit Trifle

Fruit Trifle


This mouth-watering dessert is famous all over South Africa. Though there are several ways to make it, the traditional method includes a sherry-soaked sponge cake base, fruit jelly, custard, and whipped cream. A variety of fresh fruits like blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, and some chopped nuts go on the top, enhancing the taste.

13. Queen Cakes

Queen Cakes


These simple yet elegant cakes stand true to their name. The ingredients required in making its batter include eggs, butter, flour, castor sugar, baking powder, milk, and salt. They’re small in appearance resembling cupcakes but are richer in taste. An ideal tea-time treat, you can add sprinkles on top to make it look more attractive.

14. Asynpoeding



Asynpoeding, also known as vinegar pudding, is a delicious traditional sweet dish. Unlike its name, it is not sour at all due to the vinegar added to the sweet syrup. Instead, it helps to make the syrup less sweet, perfectly balancing the flavors of the pudding. Though satisfying on its own, you can enjoy it with custard or whipped cream.

15. Peppermint Crisp Tart

Peppermint Crisp Tart


This flavorful South African tart is delicious and requires no baking. It is made with layers of tennis biscuits, caramelized condensed milk, fresh cream, and peppermint-flavored chocolate bars called Peppermint Crisp. After refrigerating it overnight, it is best served with a cup of tea. The crunchy texture of the peppermint crisp and smooth layer of caramel tastes heavenly. Toppings of the remaining crushed chocolate bars add to the flavor and crunchiness.

These are some delicious South African desserts that are a must-try on your visit to the country. Besides these, other equally lip-smacking desserts are also popular here, like Boeber and Voetkaek.


Best Warm Desserts: Melktert, Malva Pudding, Cape Brandy Pudding

Best Holiday Desserts: Malva Pudding, Melkkos, Melktert

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