Sweetest Ways: Worldly Delights

Our city is a melting pot of tasty treats. Here are three that show off our cultural heritage.

CANNOLI: For Casa Dolce owner Margie Axelrod, this Italian pastry comes with plenty of youth-filled memories. "I'm Sicilian, so that was always a special dessert we would have — especially on holidays," she says. To make more than 150 a week at her shop, she lines shells made in New York with a thick layer of rich Belgian Callebaut chocolate. Once hardened, the tubes are filled with a creamy ricotta mixture that includes mini Callebaut chocolate chips ($3.25). "Italians are not huge on dessert," she says. "They like desserts that are good with a cup of coffee." 5732 Mayfield Road, Mayfield Heights, 440-473-0660, casadolce.net

BAKLAVA: Becky Alex started learning the process of making baklava at 6 years old. "I just sat and watched all the ladies," says the owner of Athens Imported Foods. The secret to her store's version of the sticky-sweet pastry ($1.50 per roll) made with buttered and nut-filled phyllo dough soaked in honey? "We make it the way my grandmother used to make it," she says. "She put cloves in it, in the center of the baklava. And when you pour the syrup over it, the cloves sort of just intertwine with the hot syrup." 5120 Pearl Road, Cleveland, 216-861-8149

STRUDEL: The original owner of Lucy's Sweet Surrender wanted someone to keep up her Hungarian baking traditions when she sold it in 1994. Current owner Michael Feigenbaum's Eastern European roots help him carry out the labor-intensive task of making strudel ($18). He starts by stretching large balls of raw dough across an 8-by-4foot table until it's see-through thin. He then fills one end of the dough with either fruit or cheese before rolling the pastry and cutting it into strips. "The really super thin, flaky dough is the hallmark of the Hungarian style of making strudel," he says. 20314 Chagrin Blvd., Shaker Heights, 216-752-0828, lucyssweetsurrender.com

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