South African sweet stuff

South Africans love their sweets – drinks, food or desserts.
Brandy and Coke, whiskey and apple juice, fruit juices and spirit coolers, we love them sweet drinks. Where it comes to foodstuffs, desserts are the main attraction on the menu. Baked puddings with ice cream, baked puddings with custard, baked puddings with ice cream and custard.

We love cakes and tarts – peppermint crisp, lemon meringue and apple tarts or carrot cake, granadilla cake and chocolate cake.
Sweet marinated meats are served with sweet vegetables and breakfast is not complete without toast and jam and teas with honey or sugar. Here are the top 10 of South African sweet indulgences.

Toast with jam

South African love all jams. Home-made apricot jam, citrus marmalade, fynbos honey or syrup. Green fig preserve, fig jelly or sour fig jam made form an indigenous succulent; spread it thick and top with cheese.

Brandy and Coke

Mix brandy and Coca-Cola in whatever proportions (depending on your mood) and you have a party! Choose a cheap brandy and enjoy at own peril. In fact, South Africans mix anything with Coke; rum, whisky, red wine…


These creamy blocks of buttery sinfulness are a much loved snack-item found at farm stalls, markets and at church bazaars. The old-school caramel version is still the national favourite.

Milk tart

A crispy crust of shortbread or puff pastry hugs the bottom of this milk and egg-custard filling. Milk tarts are produced cheaply at large supermarkets or home-baked with hand-made butter puff pastry and a rich smooth custard filling, flavoured with almond essence. Served as a treat with tea and coffee, at birthdays, celebrations, funerals and office functions – milk tart is a tart to be respected and a South African staple.

Fruit and juices

South Africa is a prime producer of excellent fruit so eating it fresh and slightly cooled is best. Other serving suggestions include fruit salad with muesli and yogurt for breakfast, freshly squeezed orange juice,  ice cold slices of watermelon, slivers of fruit served with ice cream, liquidised strawberries and vodka…

Malva pudding

The dark brown baked sponge pudding, drenched in a buttery syrup was Nelson Mandela’s favourite.  But malva pudding is more than just a sticky toffee pudding. Oh yes. The traditional pudding was said to be flavoured with a geranium leaf, called ‘malva’ in Afrikaans. This pud is served with custard or ice cream or sometimes both.

Snoek with apricot jam

Snoek is a fish caught during the winter months of the Western Cape. This large fish is a mainstay in many traditional dishes such as curry fish, pâte and smoked snoek. The most popular version is grilled over an open fire. A mixture of butter, apricot jam, garlic and lemon juice is spread over the fish which is then roasted over the hot coals. You will ask for more.

Sweet meats

We inherited the traditional lamb with mint jelly from our British colonial chefs. We serve pork with apples and chicken is baked with pineapple pieces and spiced with curry. We marinate our meat in sweet concoctions of sherry, Coke and chutney. We served it with dried fruit or raisins and coat it with chutneys. We love our meats sweet!

Sweet vegetables

Pumpkin fritters, sweet potatoes, gem squash with sugar and butter anyone? Our carrots are sprinkled with brown sugar and cinnamon, potato salads coated with condensed milk and mayonnaise and fresh butternut is grated and served with crushed pineapple. South African veggies are any child’s dream. How about some Brussels’ sprouts with chocolate sauce..?


These deep-fried syrupy delights come in two famous variants. The koeksister is a plaited crispy pastry, deep-fried and dipped in a sugar syrup. The Cape Malay ‘koesister’ has a spongy texture and is flavoured with cinnamon, cardamom and aniseed. After dipping in hot syrup it is rolled in coconut.

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