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32 minute read

Our Favorite Dessert Recipes from Odysseys Tour Directors

January 28, 2021

We travel for many reasons - to encounter people and cultures we've never experienced, to witness sights available nowhere else on earth, and to soak in the history we've only read about in textbooks.

Of course, we also travel for the food.

pavlova scotlandrecipe

Jane Roy's delightful pavlova from Scotland

As we continue to wait for the resumption of global travel, we thought we'd try to bring a little bit of the world into your kitchens. And since we all have a favorite cuisine, we turned our attention to something everyone can agree on: dessert!

From the sweet and sticky corn cakes of Ecuador, to the crumbly coffee cake of Ireland, to some award-winning brownies baked right here in the U.S., check out our delectable selection of dessert recipes from Odysseys tour directors around the world!

Ecuadorean corn cake from Romy Bustamante

Ecuadorean corn cake recipe

Hello dear guests! I hope you will enjoy making this very tradicional Ecuadorean recipe: sweet corn cake. It is very easy to make and it will be delicious with an afternoon tea or coffee. In Ecuador, we love to make it quickly and share it at the table when family or friends... show up unexpectedly ; )

You need:

6 large pieces of fresh sweet corn

3 eggs

1/2 cup milk cream

3 tablespoons of clarified butter

3 tablespoons of brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

*1/2 cup Mozzarella

- Preheat the oven 400 degrees F.

-Grease a 9 inch round cake pan.

-Shell corn and put in the mixer with all ingredients until creamy (except the cheese).

- Pour the mix into pan and add cheese. *If you like better dry fruit or raisins with it, feel free to replace it. 

- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Serve warm.

Cherry Flan from France's Balwinder Prabhakar

cherry flan recipe

This flan is wonderful in the summer when cherries are plentiful in our gardens. Almost everyone in the French countryside will have a cherry tree in their garden. I too have a few but the birds get them before me. This year, with the confinement, I decided to keep a watch and outsmarted the birds.  The result was lots of cherries and my husband loves cherry flan so this is what I have been making for dessert. This one is sort of burnt on top but not inside. It was finished in one day! We can also make it with apricots.

You will need:

About 450 gms cherries

40 gms flour

40 gms almond powder

4 eggs

40 gms butter (and a little bit to layer the baking dish)

15cl milk

50 gms sugar

1 small packet organic vanilla sugar

I butter a baking dish and powder it with flour and place it in the fridge while I prepare the flan.

Remove the seeds from the cherries and spread them in the bottom of the pan.

Melt the butter.

Mix the flour, Almond powder, vanilla sugar, the rest of the sugar and eggs. Add the milk and lastly the butter and mix well.

Add this preparation on top of cherries.

Bake for a half hour in the oven at 450 degrees F. Keep a watch on it as it can burn! To make sure its done, put in a knife and if it comes out clean, you know it's done!

Enjoy with coffee!

Irish Coffee Cake from Jay Galvin

Irish coffee cake recipe

This is my favourite cake as we say in Ireland “a few minutes on the lips but forever on the hips" !! It’s delicious.

My Classic Irish Coffee Cake Recipe 

Prep time  20 min approx

Cook time 30 min approx 

Serves 4/6 people 

Ingredients for the cake:

170 grams of caster sugar 

170 grams of Kerrygold Irish Butter 

3 eggs

170 grams of self raising flour

1 1/2 tablespoons of baking powder 

1 teaspoon of instant coffee dissolved in hot water 

1/2 glass of Irish Whiskey or Baileys Irish cream liquor 

For the icing:

225 grams of icing sugar

100 grams of Kerrygold Irish Butter 



Heat your oven 320* F

Line and grease 2 x 18cm sandwich tins (baking tin).

Mix sugar, butter, and eggs with flour, whisk thoroughly until fluffy and add balance of flour and baking powder gradually until completely mixed and fluffy.

Add dissolved coffee to your whisk mix.

Divide mixture evenly into sandwich tins. 

Bake for 25/30mins until risen. Check centre with a skewer to ensure baked properly.

Take tins out of the oven. 

Leave to cool for 5 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Make your icing:

Beat the icing sugar with butter until light and fluffy. Add balance of dissolved coffee and whisk thoroughly.

Add Irish ☘️ whiskey or Baileys Irish cream liquor, whisk thoroughly. 

When the sponges are cold, spread icing mix between layers and on top, add almonds and cherries optional. 

While you admire your great baking, sample the Irish Whiskey or Baileys for a job well done ☘️☘️☘️.


Cantucci (biscotti) "Fabri-style" from Fabrizio Ruffa

Italian cantucci biscotti recipe
Fabrizio's cantucci

I share a dish with you, which is my variation and interpretation of a very traditional Tuscan recipe for the famous cantucci (almond biscuits), the one you call "biscoti" that we normally eat as desert with "vin Santo" sweet wine.

I live in Florence but I was born and raised in Piedmont in northern Italy. A region famous not just for the wine: barolo, nebbiolo, barbera, etc., but also for hazelnuts and chocolate. We do not grow cocoa but we have some of the best chocolate factories in Italy that combined with harmony these two ingredients.

This is the idea: to inflate a touch of Piedmont into the Tuscan cantucci: I called them cantucci Fabri' style.

The main differences from the original are:

- there are not almonds but hazelnuts and dark chocolate

- they are a little softer (I bake them once only)

- not indicated with wine but excellent with cappuccino!

This has been my favorite breakfast during the quarantine!

Italian cantucci biscotti recipe
Cantucci "Fabri-style" (left) versus traditional (right)


300 gr / 11 oz flour (the most common 00 superfine flour)

200 gr / 7 oz sugar

115 gr / 4 oz hazelnuts

75 gr / 2 ½ oz dark chocolate cut in small pieces (same dimensions as the hazelnuts)

3 eggs +1 yolk

small pinch of salt

6 gr / ¼ oz baking powder


Mix all the ingredients, with the exceptions of one yolk, hazelnuts, chocolate, and knead bearing in mind that the dough must be smooth but not very sticky; if it is too sticky add a little bit of flour then add hazelnuts and chocolate and knead a little bit more.

Shape into three stick loaves 2 in wide and 12 in long, brush with the beaten yolk.

Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper and cook in the oven at 350°F for 25/30 minutes (in a ventilated oven).

When the surface is crisp and golden remove from the oven and, using a wide-bladed knife cut the loaves obliquely into biscuits ½ in thick.

These cantucci “Fabri’ style” are ideal to be dunked into a creamy cappuccino!

Pavlova from Scotland's Jane Roy

pavlova scotaldn recipe

This is a photo of Jane's Pavlova with fresh Scottish berries. The fresh strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries were all grown in Scotland.

I’m wheat intolerant so I often make meringues, which are so quick, easy, scrumptious and suitable for almost any occasion, from casual afternoon tea in the garden to a formal dinner party or wedding. Meringues are very popular in Scotland, especially when our wonderful berries are in season.

RECIPE (serves 6):

3 egg whites

6 oz caster sugar

6 fluid oz fresh whipping cream

Selection of seasonal fresh fruits, lightly chopped or sliced if necessary 

Icing sugar to dust

Can be made the night before.

Heat oven to 300°F or 150°C.

Cut baking parchment to fit flat baking tray.

Beat egg whites until they form soft peaks.

Gradually beat in caster sugar.

Transfer to baking tray covered with baking parchment. 

Shape meringue mixture with the back of a spoon to create a shallow hollow in the middle. 

Turn oven temperature down to 280°F or 140°C.

Bake in oven for 1 hour. 

Switch off oven but leave meringue in oven either overnight or several hours until completely cooled. 

Whip fresh cream and spoon into hollow.

Add fresh fruit.

Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately. 


Torrijas from Spain's Iris Bravo

Spanish torrijas recipe

Torrijas- typical Spanish sweet pastry for Easter


1 loaf of bread (French)

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups of milk

1/4 cup of sugar

4 spoons of cinnamon powder

1 cup of olive oil


1- slice the bread

2- leave the bread inside water for aprox. 10 min. to make it soft

3- mix eggs, sugar, milk and cinnamon powder in a plate

4- once bread is soft, place it in the plate with the previous mixture and make it absorb mixture

5- in a pan with hot olive oil, fry the bread until it has got a brown colour

6- take out the bread and put sugar and cinnamon again on top of it

7- you can eat it hot or cold (it's better on the next day!)

Bon appetit!!!

Sending you regards from Barcelona!

Blue-Ribbon Brownies from Donna Hackler

brownies recipe
Donna with her award-winning brownies!

This recipe originally came from Cook’s Illustrated, March/April 1994.  I tweaked it a bit and won the blue ribbon at the 2001 Minnesota State Fair.  Follow these simple directions and make no substitutions (the first time!) and you’ll have a prize-winner, too.

Two bowls – small and medium



Parchment paper

8-inch square metal pan

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 ounces good unsweetened baking chocolate (Guittard, Ghirardelli [or Callebault or Scharfen Berger, if you have loads of $], Baker’s in a pinch – not Hershey’s)

2/3 cup plain cake flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup coarsely chopped, toasted pecans

brownies recipe

1.  Adjust oven rack to center and preheat to 350 degrees.  In the large bowl, microwave butter and chocolate together until melted.  In my microwave, that takes 2 ½ minutes on medium power.  Set aside to cool for 10 minutes (set the timer).

2.  In the small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together.

3.  Butter the pan and line the bottom with a square of parchment paper. Butter the paper.

4.  Whisk sugar into the cooled chocolate mixture.  Whisk in eggs and vanilla, then fold in the flour mixture and pecans until just combined.

5.  Pour batter into prepared pan; bake until toothpick inserted halfway between center and edge of pan comes out with a few fudgy crumbs, about 20 minutes.  If batter coats toothpick, return pan to oven and bake 2 to 4 minutes more, but no longer than 24 minutes total.  Cool brownies completely in pan set on a wire rack.  To cut, loosen the sides, turn out onto a cookie sheet, remove the parchment paper, and turn onto a cutting board.  I get the cleanest cuts when the brownies are not only cool but cold, so I put the cooled pan in the refrigerator to chill.

Vietnamese Rice Balls from Nguyễn Duy Hưng

vietnam rice ball recipe

Nguyễn's daughter with her delicious creations!

I am Nguyễn Duy Hưng , one of the TDs in Vietnam. I've sent you some photos that my family make Banh Troi or Vietnamese glutinous rice ball (my wife teaches my daughter how to make Banh Troi and my job is to take pictures and enjoy what she cooks! )

Ingredients for making Banh Troi:

  • Glutinous rice flour: 0.5 kg
  • Rice flour: 50 grams
  • Palm sugar dices : 200 grams
  • Roasted sesame: 100 grams

Detail recipe:

  1. Prepare the dough: blend the two kinds of flour together. Gradually add in water, mixing until the dough turns smooth, elastic and glutinous. 
  2. Pinch a little dough and flatten it out. Place a sugar cube in the middle and roll it to make a ball. The proper size of the ball is about 2.25 cm in diameter 
  3. Boil the balls in water and take them out when they start to float. Immediately dip into a bowl of cold water to prevent them from being sticky
  4. Put the balls on a plate and sprinkle the roasted sesame seeds on top of the rice balls.

If you come to Vietnam in the future, please let me know and you will be served this dish cooked by my daughter!

Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET

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