The Perfect Pairing: Treats to Have with Your Armenian Coffee
For many people, Armenian coffee isn’t right without a sweet treat to pair it with. It’s not unusual for people to make coffee without sugar, and instead, nibble on a treat while they’re drinking the coffee. The contrast between the bold taste of the coffee and the sweetness of the dessert creates a striking balance that’s delectable. In Armenian culture, when you a friend or family member visits for coffee, it’s custom to have some treats on the coffee table for them to enjoy with the coffee you serve. Below, we cover some of the traditional treats, desserts, and pastries that many Armenians enjoy.
Nazook is an Armenian pastry that features a thin and crispy outer layer on the top, but has the perfect amount of softness when you bite into it. In some recipes, this rectangular pastry can have a dry walnut filling that adds delicious flavor. Our favorite version, however, is referred to as Yerevanian nazook (pictured above), which is named after Armenian’s capital city. In this version, there is no filling, but the pastry puffs up and there is an air bubble inside the pastry, somehow making the top layer a little crispier and the inside a bit softer. With a quick search on Google, you can find many different recipes to make nazook, but if you want Yerevanian nazook, you’ll have to visit Armenia or a bakery in the greater LA area.
Some people use gata and nazook interchangeably, and although they taste relatively similar, they’re not the same. Gata refers to a round, soft, sweet bread that is cut into slices and enjoyed with Armenian coffee or tea. Traditionally, gatas were baked in tonirs (cylindrical underground wood-fired ovens), until the ease and convenience of conventional ovens changed this. In certain regions of Armenia, however, gata is still made using this authentic technique.
Armenian Dried Fruit (“Chir”)
From apricots to apples, plums, pears, persimmon, grapes, and mulberries, a range of different types of fruit are grown in Armenia. Historically, drying fruit was a way of preserving it for longer periods of time. Over time, this dried fruit has become a favorite among Armenians. Not only does it go great with Armenian coffee, but in addition, it’s the healthiest option on this list. In Armenia, you’ll find chir packaged in extremely appetizing ways—often designed in beautiful visual patterns using multiple different fruits (as shown above). Fortunately for the Armenian diaspora in the USA, food distribution companies have started importing dried fruit from Armenia, so you may be able to find the taste of home from one of your local Armenian grocery stores or bakeries.
Ponchiks are Armenian pastries that are deep-fried then coated with powdered sugar. There is nothing like taking a bite of a doughy, custard-filled ponchik and then following it with a sip of your Armenian coffee. There’s no doubt that one ponchik is full of too much sugar and too many calories, but every once in a while, it’s a treat you won’t regret. If you’re ever in Armenia, Grand Candy in Yerevan has arguably the most famous ponchiks in the world. In the USA, nearly all Armenian bakeries offer ponchiks. In recent years Papillion Bakery in the LA area has been making waves for their Nutella-filled ponchik.
If you have a knack for baking, there are many recipes online for nazook, gata, and ponchik. Regardless of whether you choose to bake them yourself or buy it at the store, make sure you pair any and all of these treats with your Armenian coffee for a truly indulgent experience.