18 iconic European desserts you need to try once

How to Make an Eton Mess

The United States may have some of the most buzzworthy desserts on social media right now (ogle over these insane milkshakes), but no one does sweets quite like Europe.

Despite the fact that Europe is roughly the same size as the United States, each country developed its own unique way to satisfy a sweet tooth. Jump from France to Germany and you will start to see a lot more chocolate and apples. Swing over to Sweden and get your 'fika' on with a cake the color of Kermit.

It is impossible to pick just one dessert to sum up a country's culture (imagine if Americans tried to pit a New York-style cheesecake against a Floridan Key lime pie or beignet from New Orleans.) Instead, one sugary treat was selected from each country that is both commonly found and unique to the area.

Click below to see the top treats in Western Europe and Scandinavia worth building a trip around:

Best desserts of Europe
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18 iconic European desserts you need to try once

France: Croquembouche

A cone-shaped pile of choux pastry balls wrapped in threads of caramel. Typically served at weddings.

Photo: Getty

Luxembourg: Bretzel 

A large pretzel-shaped puff pastry commonly topped with almonds and icing in Luxembourg. During Lent, there is a festival called 'Pretzel Sunday' where men give their girlfriends pretzels to symbolize two lovers arm in arm.

Photo: Getty

Germany: Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cake)

Layers of chocolate sponge cake wedged between sheets of whipped cream and chopped cherries. It is decorated with more cherries, more whipped cream, and chocolate shavings.

Photo: Getty

Italy: Sfogliatelle

Shell shaped filled pastries filled with ricotta native to Italian cuisine, especially from Naples.

Photo: Getty

Sweden: Princess cake 

A dessert made with layers of pastry cream, sponge cake and whipped cream. It is traditionally topped with green marzipan.

Photo: Getty

Norway: Krumkake

Patterned waffle cookies made on a decorated, two-sided iron to give that luxurious texture. Krumkake is traditionally eaten after Christmas Eve dinner. It can be eaten plain or with whipped cream and fruit.

Photo: Getty

Switzerland: Vermicelles

Sweetened, puréed chestnut dessert piled on a meringue base and topped with whipped cream.

Photo: Getty

Portugal: Pasteis de Nata 

Sweet egg custard baked in puff pastry crusts.

Photo: Getty

Belgium: Liege waffle

Waffle made from a thick batter that resembles bread dough. Pearl sugar is mixed into the batter, which caramelizes as it cooks.

Photo: Getty

The Netherlands: Poffertjes

Tiny pancakes made of buckwheat and yeast that are baked in a cast iron pan. Typically served with butter and powered sugar.

Photo: Getty

Spain: Churros con chocolate caliente

Fried pastry dough in long prism shapes that can be dipped in thick hot chocolate or eaten on its own. Churros are typically eaten for breakfast in Spain, but you can find them around the clock.

Photo: Getty

Iceland: Pönnukökur

Crepes that are typically filled with whipped cream or yogurt and topped with fruit. Cherries are shown, but Icelandic people love their rhubarb jam.

Photo: Getty 

Greece: Koulourakia 

Butter-based biscuit that is typically served at Easter. It is hand-shaped and glazed with an egg wash. They are frequently topped with sesame seeds.

Photo: Getty

Ireland: Bread pudding

Warm and hearty, the bread pudding is steamed to achieve a custardy inside and crispy, crusty outside. 

Photo: Getty

Finland: Pulla

Sweet dessert bread spiced with crushed cardamon seeds and occasionally raisins. Eat with coffee!

Photo: Getty

United Kingdom: Eton Mess

Traditional English dessert consisting of pieces of meringue, cream, and strawberries. The sweet treat is named after Eton College, a secondary school that popularized the dish.

Photo: Shutterstock

Denmark: Aeblskiver

Round pancakes made of wheat flour. Batter is poured into little cast iron well pans and turned with a metal knitting needle. Traditionally cooked with apple slices inside, they are now served with jam.

Photo: Getty

Austria: Linzer torte 

A buttery, nut-flavored pastry base, topped with a thick layer of jam and a lattice crust. 

Photo: Getty


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