Iceland's volcanic landscape, glacial rivers, and vast meadows are usually what gives it a reputation with so many people. If it's not that, then it's more likely that they've heard of the Blue Lagoon, or another geothermal pool, and that's how the idea of this beautiful country lives rent-free in their heads. We're about to blow your minds with something else, though - Iceland is also home to some pretty delicious, and slightly dramatic, desserts.
Many of them have evolved through generations and have traditional Icelandic names that, when translated, sound like they would be as much fun to eat as they actually are to eat. There's nothing not to love about something such as a cake that promises a happy marriage, or a cake that's so chocolatey that 'death' is part of its name. Ready for more? Because we're not sure your sweet tooth can handle it.
The only other country that has such a reputation for meringue is Australia, with its famed pavlova desert. While that meringue is usually covered in fresh fruit and drizzled with a fruit sauce of sorts, Iceland's meringue cake is a little bit different. This cake is double-layered and has a thick layer of yogurt which gives it a good tang in contrast to the natural sweetness of the meringue. The toppings of this cake can include fruit which does make it similar to a pavlova, but they can also vary greatly from that with many recipes calling for macaron cookies and chocolate, in contrast. No matter what's on top of this cake, its fusion of textures and contrast in flavors is delicious.
Hjónabandssæla, AKA Marriage Cake
Of course, this cake comes with a story. It's often said that the secret to a happy and healthy marriage, and one that's bound to last, is probably this cake. While everyone knows that the future of a couple's marriage isn't likely to depend on a dessert, it's a fun excuse to make this celebratory sweet. According to Culture Trip, this cake promises more the longer a couple keeps it, similar to the tradition of a couple keeping a slice of their wedding cake in the freezer. This cake starts with a base of cake that's made with oatmeal and flour, and it's filled with rhubarb jam.
Every country has its own twist on some kind of dairy-based cake (AKA cheesecake) but Iceland's recipe calls for skyr, a traditional Icelandic yogurt. This yogurt is very tangy, thick, and is made from cow's milk which gives it a delightful creaminess. Therefore, the resulting cheesecake is just as rich and creamy and is usually topped with a blueberry sauce. The crust of the cheesecake is also different from most and features crushed biscuits rather than shortbread or graham crackers. The flavor is altogether unique and while not as sweet as many recipes, it's delicious and decadent, with the perfect hint of fruit.
Chocolate Cake Of Death
Don't worry, there's no actual danger associated with eating this cake! While its description might make it seem a bit intimidating, there's nothing wrong with it... unless you don't like chocolate, in which case, stay far away. When it comes to the amount of chocolate in this cake, well... it's quite a bit. The traditional addition of coffee only serves to enhance the flavor of the chocolate (a little pro tip) which makes it taste even more decadent without adding an outlandish amount of chocolate to the recipe. In short, it's truly a chocolate lover's dream, but should be eaten in small amounts because it is very rich.
Rye Bread Ice Cream
Rhubarb makes an appearance again as a topping for rye bread ice cream, which isn't surprising considering how beloved it is throughout the country. It balances out the flavor of the ice cream which might seem unusual to some - after all, it's not every day that one uses bread as an ice cream base. Rye bread is popular throughout the region and its subtle sweetness lends itself well to ice cream, as it's been a staple in the country for decades now. While rye grains originated as a cheap and affordable way to make rye bread, which is the accompaniment to many Icelandic entrees, it's now become overwhelmingly popular. The best place for visitors to go if they're keen on trying this brilliant rye and rhubarb combination is Café Loki in Reykjavik, which practically has a worldwide reputation.