Delicious Types of South African Desserts

Here in the United States, we do not often hear about African cooking. This is a shame, because the recipes of Africa offer a lot of flavor and nutrition. Each African nation has their own great food traditions to share. South Africa is a country at the tip of Africa. It has a rich traditional food culture that you may want to check out. South African cuisine covers wild game, soups, stews, seafood, and desserts. The indigenous people built a wonderful cuisine around native foods. During the colonial era, many different culinary influences blended with the traditional foods. French, Dutch, German, British, and Indian cuisines lent their favorite tricks to create today's South African food.

Desserts like koeksisters (similar to fried donuts), mealie-bread and malva pudding are common in South Africa. Melktert, or milk tart, is a traditional custard-like dessert. There is more milk than eggs in this compared to European custards, giving the dessert a light texture and more of a milky flavor. Like many recipes from South Africa, this dessert may trace its history to the Dutch. The Cape of Good Hope was the site of a permanent Dutch settlement during the days of the Dutch East India Company. The name melktert is a combination of Dutch and Afrikaner. Melk is the Dutch term for milk and tert is the Afrikaner version of tart.


The recipe for melktert also has a history reaching back to Persia, where similar pastries were known as grasshopper wings due to the delicacy of the texture. Originally known as skilferkors, the recipe was first published in 1653. You can find many versions of this recipe online. Buttermilk pie, a recipe from the Southern United States, is very similar.

Recipe for Melktert

This is an old fashioned milk tart that is a favorite in South Africa.

What You Need

  • 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 pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cups milk
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoons cinnamon sugar

How to Make It

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray the inside of a 9 inch deep dish pie plate with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, cream the sugar and butter together until smooth. Add the egg yolks one at a time, blending them in until the batter is light and fluffy. Sift the salt, baking powder and cake flour and mix well. Add vanilla and milk and mix until well blended. Using a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the batter. Pour the mixture into the pie plate and sprinkle the top with cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 25 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the tart continue to bake for another 25 to 30 minutes or until the center is set when the pie is gently jiggled.

Serve the milk tart hot or cold.

Delicious Types of South African Desserts

If you like trying new foods, pick up some Mexican recipes the next time you are recipe hunting. You can find some excellent Mexican desserts, main dishes and side dishes to explore. Try them whenever you want something a little spicy. The Sweet Side of Mexican Food