Dessert in Israel at this time of year means sufganiyot--loosely translated as donuts, but in fact the fried goodies that come packed with all manner of yummy fillings bear little resemblance to American donuts.
The delicious balls of calories are prepared in honor of Chanukah, when it’s traditional to eat anything fried in oil to commemorate the oil that was used by the Maccabees to reconsecrate the Temple.
Even when it’s not the Chanukah season, Jerusalem does not lack dessert spots where you can happily forget about the calorie count for a few blissful hours.
Among the best places to settle down for some serious desserts are:
1. Nona–an intimate chocolate shop and cafe nestled in a corner close to the King David Hotel and the YMCA on elegant King David Street. Nona serves up an array of hand-made chocolate tortes and mousse cakes; rich chocolate drinks and made-from-scratch waffles with assorted delectable toppings.
2. Cafe Kadosh is a favorite downtown Jerusalem bakery and cafe. The atmosphere is classical European, with small round tables both inside and on the pavement and a large glass display case just inside the door filled with pies, individual fruit tarts, chocolate cakes and tortes of every kind. Glorious tall ice cream concoctions, milk shakes and ice coffees are on offer too.
3. Near the Machane Yehuda market, Teller Bakery is the place to stop for a coffee and dessert pick-me-up in the midst of all that shopping. The pastries are all made with the finest ingredients and the tortes are topped with whatever fresh fruit is in season from the market. It’s worth the wait to snag one of the small number of tables in the bakery.
4. Tmol Shilshom may be a little hard to find in the alleyways of Nachlat Shiva downtown Jerusalem, but once you’re settled in with dessert at this bookstore-cum-cafe you won’t want to leave for a while. Creme brulee; chocolate souffle topped with ice cream and a Belgian chocolate tart with hazelnut and nougat cream are all on the menu.
5. If you have a craving for something more exotic, take a walk into the Moslem Quarter of the Old City where the aroma of freshly baked knafe and baklava will assail you on almost every street. Stop at any one of the little storefront bakeries on El-Wad or Shuk Khan Ez Zeit Streets and order a Turkish coffee to go with the sweet treats served dripping with honey and pistachios.
6. Not far way, on the corner of the Via Dolorosa and El Wad Street, is the fabled Austrian Hospice. Find your way to the ground floor cafe and order a sublime apple strudel topped with authentic shlagsahne sweetened whipped cream. Take your dessert out into the beautiful garden and savor every bite.