Countries from Greece to Israel claim ownership—and who could blame them? Baklava’s luscious layers of flaky pastry sheets and honey delight the palate and, to Greeks, symbolize purity and happiness. Baklava also contains nutritious walnuts, chock-full of monounsaturated fats, and cinnamon, shown to lower blood pressure and balance insulin.
Another treat ambiguous in origin, halvah is most often made with calcium-rich sesame-seed paste (tahini) and honey; other ingredients like nutrient-packed nuts and seeds, chocolate, or delicate saffron or rose water add flavor. Raw preparations preserve the ingredients’ nutritious qualities.
Jalea de guayaba
Also known as guava jelly or jam, this traditional Latin condiment contains a handful of basic ingredients: guava, lime juice, sugar, and water. Smear on muffins or scones for a new dimension to tea time, make guava jam thumbprint cookies, or go savory and serve with cheese and crackers.
Commonly served in America with ice-cream filling, the traditional Japanese dessert is made from rice, pounded into paste and infused with flavorful ingredients like adzuki beans or green tea. Often eaten around the Japanese New Year (also on January 1), mochi is perfect year-round as a bite-size indulgence.
This sweet, dome-shaped Italian bread is filled with dried fruit and flavored with honey and vanilla. Its baking method allows for a long shelf life sans preservatives; some healthier versions also cut back on eggs and butter, using yogurt instead. Enjoy with mulled wine or, as the Italians do, with cappuccino at breakfast or with Prosecco for good luck.