In Russian desserts, the key components are cheeses, fruits and pastries. Russia's most notable dessert is its pancake, or "blin," which is similar to the American pancake, only smaller and usually topped with sour cream. Several Russian desserts are considered staples in the Russian diet and enjoyed elsewhere around the globe. Some popular Russian desserts are ptichye moloko, a Russian crème torte, pashka, a soft cheese and dried fruit dish, vareniki, small sweet dumplings, and blin, the Russian pancake.
Ptichye moloko is one of the better-known Russian desserts. Translated, it means "bird's milk," and like many Russian desserts, it is indeed a rare indulgence as its unique name suggests. Sometimes this treat takes the form of a candy with a meringue base and hard chocolate topping, but most often, it is the cake form of ptichye moloko that graces the tables at parties and dinners. Sitting atop a thin biscuit base, a creamy eggwhite and agar-agar soufflé is topped with a chocolate glaze. This dessert has its roots in Russian folklore where a princess sends a suitor on a quest to bring her back a luxury she wants but that does not exist: bird's milk.
Pashka is a Russian dessert that is traditionally enjoyed at Easter. It is a sweetened cheese mold that is similar to a cheesecake only it does not have a crust, and is usually topped with nuts and candied fruit. The foundation of the pashka is small curd, cream-style cottage cheese, eggs and whipping cream, with vanilla flavoring and sugar added for sweetness. The dessert is wrapped in cheesecloth and placed in the refrigerator to cool for 24 hours before being served.
Vareniki are little dumplings that can are filled with sweet or savory ingredients. As a dessert dish, they are typically stuffed with a semi-soft cheese called tvorog, and preserved fruit, with sour cherries being one of the more popular options in Slavic cuisine. The dough of vareniki is composed of flour, eggs and salt. Nuts and spices are added to give variation to these tasty nuggets.
The dessert version of the Russian pancake, blin — or blini if plural — is smaller and thinner than an American pancake and uses yeast to make it rise. Although usually served with sour cream, these delicious buckwheat pancakes can be filled with fruits, puddings and chocolates. One popular version of this dessert is to stack layers of the blinis on top of each other, slather each layer with jam, cut the stacks into pieces and serve like cake.