I recently discovered a new Russian dessert, kartoshka. I had already seen it a few times before but I was a bit hesitant to try it because “kartoshka” translates as “potato”. Not my idea of a yummy ingredient for dessert!
But a few days ago I was at the Paveletsky train station in Moscow, where I had some time to kill and where I had lunch at Мама Раша (Mama Rasha), a Russian-cuisine self-service restaurant. I noticed the delicious-looking kartoshka right away but decided I should have something more nutritious and took the buckwheat kasha with mushrooms and carrots. However, the portion was so small (not at all unusual here) that I was still hungry enough for dessert.
And the kartoshka turned out just as delicious as it looked! It reminded me a bit of “koekjestaart” (“cookie pie”) and some online research revealed that its ingredients were indeed not much different: mainly cookies (or cake or even bread) and butter, completed with cocoa powder and condensed milk and sometimes powdered sugar, nuts and liqueur. You can find a recipe with cookies here, cake here and bread here.
So why do Russians call them “potatoes”? Apparently because they are supposed to look like potatoes. The Mama Rasha variant was not a very good example of this, but these are quite obvious 🙂