wine and cheese

Europe's sweet treat trail

This guide will aim to provide the ultimate list of desserts from France to Romania for escorted river cruise holiday guests to sample, and also where to best enjoy them in between insightful excursions and evening entertainment.


Perhaps one of Europe’s most famous deserts is Germany’s Black Forest Gateau. This traditional layered cake dessert, or Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte as it is known in Germany, is famous around the world, but nowhere creates this spectacular sweet treat quite like the Black Forest wooded mountain range area of Germany itself. Traditionally, the dessert is made with cherry liquor from the Black Forest and consists of layers of chocolate cake, whipped cream and cherries.

There are many places in the Black Forest, and indeed the world, that make the famed Black Forest dessert, but one that boasts one of the best recipes is the traditionally-styled Colombi Hotel. Situated just outside of the Black Forest in Freiburg, the eatery serves up a cake that consists of the most delicate flaky pastry base, light sponge layers, rich chocolate layers, the all-important liquor-saturated jelly layer with alcoholic whipped cream casing – delicious!

Perhaps best of all, those who travel on our 8-day Jewels of the Rhine river cruise, which is brand new for 2015, can learn how to make this classic sweet treat for themselves at a family-run Gasthof and taste a homemade sample.


The traditional honey-cake, Medovnik, is not only a delicious sweet treat, but has also been praised with health benefits for its main ingredient – honey. While many families in Prague and across Russia and Ukraine have developed their own recipes for this unique cake, there are still plenty of cafes offering this great cake for visitors to try. Medovnik consists of honey-sweet layers of cake sandwiched together with a custard filling and while it is not the most aesthetically pleasing of the desserts on this list, its taste is among the best.


Austria, or Vienna in particular, is known for its beautiful pastries and dusted icing sugar which inspired the British-made Viennese Whirls, but it is also known for its inventing of the Sacher torte. This exquisite chocolate torte was invented in 1832 for Prince Wenzel von Metternich by his head chef’s apprentice, Franz Sacher, after the leader of the kitchen had taken ill.

This rich torte can be sampled across Vienna and it has now become one of the most recognisable products of the city. Hotel Sacher in Vienna and Salzburg is the place to sample this super sweet dessert as it still guards the original recipe details closely.


Where is more celebrated for its desserts than France? Home of the pâtisserie, French pastries and sweets are often the drawing factor of many couples' European river cruises. Pâtisserie Chocolaterie Patrick Mallard in Avignon and Pâtisserie Sébastien Bouillet in Lyon are two great pâtisseries outside of the capital serving up some of the country’s traditional desserts.

The French macaroon emulates the delicate and sophisticated nature of the beautiful country – its pretty form is only succeeded by its delicious flavour. This almond and meringue-based sweet is famous the world over, making it a must for when visiting its place of origin.

The éclair is another popular French sweet treat best tasted in France, with the sweet-toothed coming from the world over to sample this light choux pastry and cream dessert.

While the French are highly regarded for their amazing array of carefully-crafted desserts, some have only come into fruition thanks to pure luck. The famed Tarte Tatin was first created by accident as the Tatin sisters, who ran a hotel in the north of France, accidently overcooked the apples for an apple pie and, in an attempt to rescue the dish, placed a pastry base on top of the cooking pan and cooked the concoction whole in the oven, turning it out to form the tarte tatin.

Finally, on the list of the top French desserts is the impressive opera cake, making recent fame in the BBC’s The Great British Bake Off thanks to Mary Berry’s culinary skills. Consisting of layers of almond sponge cake- known as Joconde in French- and soaked in coffee syrup, the cake is then layered with ganache and coffee buttercream, and covered in a chocolate glaze. The cake’s origins lie with the famed Dalloyau food company, who date back to the Versailles Court; pastry chef Cyriaque Gavillon created the cake that is made to give the whole taste of the dessert in one bite. The name actually came from Gavillon’s wife who named the dessert after an Opera prima ballerina.

Image Credit: Carwyn Lloyd Jones - Dylunio Creadigol (

This content was written by Angela Sloan. Please feel free to visit my Google+ Profile to read more stories.