Being popular across the country, pumpkin is a common ingredient in both savory and sweet dishes. Pumpkin custard, which is a dessert often reserved for special occasions, is considered as a treat. It is best to make this sweet and creamy dessert the day before and to store it in the refrigerator overnight to chill. Though pumpkin custard cannot be often found in the markets like other sweet treats, it is a sweet and creamy dessert option well worth your try.
Cha Houy Teuk
One of the most refreshing desserts is Cha Houy Teuk, a sweet jelly dessert made with agar, gelatin that is derived from seaweed. The jelly can be brightly colored in pinks and greens, making it especially popular with children. Combined with sago, bleached mung beans and coconut cream, Cha Houy Teuk is usually served in a bowl with a scoop of shaved ice. Some have sticky rice or sago drenched in coconut milk and topped with taro, red beans, pumpkin and jackfruit.
Rolled Banana Cake
Num ansom chek is one of the most common desserts in Cambodia. The cakes are particularly popular during the Khmer New Year and Pchum Ben holidays when they are taken to pagodas and given to monks as offerings. The rice cake is filled with bananas to sweeten it up before being wrapped in banana leaves, steamed and served.
Khmer Layer Cake
Num Chak Kachan is traditionally eaten during Buddhist holidays and comes in a variety of styles and colours. Super sweet, the glutinous treat is made from rice flour, palm sugar and coconut cream. It is steamed to give it its smooth texture.
Mung Bean Pudding
Sweet Mung Bean Pudding, a classic Cambodian dessert, is the perfect treat for when you want to make yourself something a little indulgent or when you need a simple dessert that everyone will enjoy. Topping the pudding with coconut sauce is optional but it seems to be the most popular topping used.
Mango and Sticky Rice
Because of the sweetness of the sticky rice, which is chewier and has more texture than regular white rice, mango and sticky rice is considered as a dessert dish. Mango and sticky rice, where the tart and exotic flavor of the mangoes compliments the starchy rice, is a favorite dessert not only in Khmer restaurants but also at many of the cookery classes in the capital. This dish is often served warm with coconut milk added into the mixture to add to the sweetness as well as soften the rice. After the first taste, you will be gulping it down without regard for neatness, thus don’t worry about trying to eat in sections or layers.
Locals dipping sticks of fruit into a bag of salt and dried chillies is a common sight in Cambodia. The fruit can be unripe and sour, so go easy on the dip as it often has a kick to counterbalance the sour taste. You can buy these treats from street sellers pushing carts or at one of the many fruit stalls.