Sweet Treats

Cure Your Sweet Tooth on the Continent

A world of cultures and cuisines on the continent brings with it endless flavours for you to feast upon. And what’s a holiday if you don’t indulge a little (or a lot)? So, we’ve comprised a list of the best European sweet treats for you to try, from classics you may have tried before, to more surprising options.



This French take on a pancake can be found in every corner of the country, whether at a street food vendor, or a traditional crêperie. Taking just minutes to make, it’s cooked fresh and served up piping hot with any number of toppings. You might just feel like plain sugar and a squeeze of lemon, or go all out with fruit, chocolate sauce and whipped cream. The choice is yours.

Crème brûlée

Originating as far back as the 17th century, crème brûlée is a decadent custard dish finished with a topping of caramelised sugar. It’s the perfect dessert to a luxury Gallic meal, and is often served chilled or, contrastingly, on fire. There really is no middle ground.


Madeleines are a petit French sponge cake from the Lorraine region. Shaped like a shell, you can pick up a few from any local patisserie, as well as finding them in the supermarkets. However, you’ll definitely want to choose the former option for a more authentic taste. Get down to the closest bakery early to have your madeleines served up warm, washing it all down with a coffee.



Famous for its smooth pralines and luscious truffles, Belgium have truly perfected the recipe for chocolate. Here chocolate is an art, something you will discover yourself when you step inside a chocolatier’s and stare, open-mouthed, hands pressed against the glass, at the surplus of beautifully fashioned chocolates.


Perhaps the oldest dessert on this list, the Belgian waffle has origins as far back as the medieval period. Want to try the craft for yourself? Head to the Waffle Workshop in Brussels for a class from the professionals. Otherwise, head to a waffle stop and stick to the almost impossible task of trying to choose your topping.


One of the most acclaimed Flemish desserts, in 2006 mattentaart was given a protected status by the EU, which means it can only be produced in Geraardsbergen or Lierde, where it was invented. Unusual in its construction, it’s a round cheesecake made inside a puff pastry casing, with local milk named as the key ingredient.


Dutch pancakes

Thinner than their American sibling, but not quite as thin as crêpes, Dutch pancakes or pannenkoek, can measure up to a foot in breadth, and are served up with raisins, treacle and appelstroop. Want to know where to get the best pancakes in Holland’s capital of Amsterdam? That would have to be Happy Pig. Plus, they even serve up gluten free and vegan options, so there’s no reason to miss out.



Made of two layers of batter, sandwiching between them a thin layer of caramel, the Dutch stroopwafel is a delicacy dating back to the 18th century. It first took form in Gouda but is now available nationwide. Top tip: rest your stroopwafel on top of a hot drink for a couple of minutes to soften the gooey syrup inside.


Did you know that the Dutch have the highest rate of liquorice consumption anywhere in the world? And that’s all drop is: Dutch liquorice that the locals can’t get enough of. Its popularity means it comes in every taste, texture, shape and size available, so you’ll be sure to find your flavour.



Black Forest Gâteau

This rich, cherry-chocolate layer cake is known by the world as Black Forest gâteau but known by Germans as Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. Covered in whipped cream and spiced up with a glug of liquor, typically kirschwasser, a spirit made from sour cherries, it covers every major food group for a totally balanced meal (please note the heavy overtones of sarcasm – do not eat this as a meal, unless you want to, of course…).


This sweet breakfast bun became a weekend treat in Germany during the 20th century. The name comes from the German for ‘snails’, due to the pastry’s coiled shape. However, the taste could not be less like its namesake. The sticky cinnamon buns are made with sour cream, giving them an interesting but no less delicious overall flavour.


Like Schnecken, Bienenstich has a peculiar name. Translating to ‘bee sting cake’, Bienenstich consists of a sweet yeast dough, filled with a vanilla buttercream and topped with honeyed almonds. Its topping is allegedly where it gets its name, attracting bees who hone in on the scent of honey.



Krówki literally translates to ‘little cow’, an adorable name for these Polish fudge sweets. Hard on the outside, with a soft centre, it’s one of the most popular candies in Poland, and is sold internationally. If you’re heading to Poland, hit up an independent sweet shop to discover handmade Krówki before you try store-bought.


Makowiec is a rolled pastry filled with a mixture of poppyseeds, butter, honey, raisins and walnuts that provides a bittersweet taste. You can find it in cafés all year round, but it’s an absolute must during Easter and Christmas.


Sernik is an authentic Polish cheesecake. Its ingredients include a base of sweet pastry and a filling of twaróg (a dry curd cheese). It’s one of the country’s favourite dessert dishes, which is why you will be able to find it in almost every eatery you wander into.


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