Global Inspiration: Traditional Desserts from South Africa

Global Inspiration: Traditional Desserts from South Africa

Globally-inspired desserts are among the highest indexing across generations, according to research from Mintel released in late 2023, and they see demand for authentic cultural food experiences continuing to rise among all consumers.

We asked our Chefs at Chocolate Academy™ South Africa about traditional desserts from their region and how they approach updating classic desserts to appeal to modern customers. They’ve taken some of their favorite childhood treats and added innovative, indulgent chocolate twists. The results are inspiring for any chef looking to add global influence to their menu.

Koeksister Ice Cream Sandwiches by Chef Chantal Molnar

Chef Chantal used koeksisters as the jumping-off point for a decadent ice cream sandwich. The addition of chocolate makes her version irresistible for the South African sweet tooth. The smoked milk chocolate caramel sauce adds a unique twist.


Koeksisters may remind you of standard doughnuts, but there is a crucial difference: after frying, the braided dough is immediately plunged into an ice-cold sugar syrup. This creates a unique crunchy texture and a soft, gooey center. Traditionally, koeksisters are sold to raise funds for the building of churches and schools, and you’ll find that many of the best-loved South African desserts were developed with sharing and community in mind.

I like to try a lot of desserts in a lot of different restaurants and then recreate it in my own way. Depending on what is currently trending and popular in the industry. I also like to make my life difficult and step out of my comfort zone by re-creating traditional desserts and pushing myself to make an already traditional/classic dessert even better. I like to stick to the flavours I used to eat growing up.

Chef Chantal on modernizing and adapting traditional desserts
Chef Anro Ralph's molded bonbon inspired by Hertzoggie

Chef Arno Ralph took the traditional jam/coconut combo found in Hertzoggie and transformed it into a bonbon using Cacao Barry’s Caramel Zephyr. The apricot jam he chose pairs beautifully with both the coconut and the caramel notes of the chocolate.


The main components of Hertzoggies are fruity jam and coconut. While they are commonly found in cookie form, the dessert makes an excellent tartlet for chefs looking for something a little more upscale. Hertzoggie are a popular item for cottage bakers, and they can often be found sold from roadside stalls alongside koeksisters. In the Cape Malay community, they are a popular dessert to enjoy during Eid.

I always look to find the meaning in a moment and then try to recreate it in a bite. Going back to Traditions, we all have our version of it, and only you can share your side and interpretation of it. Reminiscing on how you grew up with it. Creating your version tells the story of your past only the way you can. Food is art, and by creating a piece of "food art," you can transport someone back to a specific moment in time. Reminding you of baking with your Gran, Spending time with family, starting a new job, or even getting married!

Chef Arno Ralph about finding inspiration in favorite desserts and traditions

Malva Pudding

No discussion of South African desserts would be complete without Malva Pudding! This moist and spongy baked pudding always includes apricot jam and is usually served warm with a cold custard sauce. This homey, morish dessert is a beloved comfort food for many South Africans.

More Global Inpiration