10 European Desserts to Try

One of the things I love about travel is trying all the different foods that countries are famous in each area.  I try to do a little research before traveling to make sure I know what I should try.  I found the following article helpful and can’t wait to try the following.  I do not have recipes attached, but I might have to start finding them and trying them at home.

On The Great British Bakeoff, Paul Hollywood had the contestants attempt to makePastéis de Nata, and it was not one of the more successful endeavors, so not sure if I am going to try that one.

Europe’s cultural diversity manifests itself in its cuisine, from Italian pasta to French escargot. But for those travelers with a sweet tooth, this appetizing variety extends to the continent’s many mouthwatering desserts. Forget about your diet if you’re planning a trip soon, here are ten European desserts you have to try.

Rødgrød

Rødgrød
You’ll find fruity rødgrød if you visit Denmark, but the similar rote grütze can be found just across the border in northern Germany. Served hot or cold, it’s bursting with summer berries like redcurrants, blackcurrants, raspberries, and blackberries. The fruit is cooked with sugar and some form of starch, like semolina or potato starch is added to make the pudding. Custard or cream often accompanies the dish to balance the acids in the fruit.

Pastéis de Nata

Pastéis de Nata
Pastéis de Nata is the traditional Portuguese custard tarts that are small enough to fit in your mouth in one go. The best place to find them is in the Pastéis de Belem bakery that’s been churning them out in their millions since 1837. The proof of the quality is in the length of the queue, which snakes around the block whatever the time of day. They sell about 50,000 of these delicious tarts every day, which surely makes them a contender for western Europe’s favorite dessert.

Gelato

gelato
Italy’s dessert menu might encompass tiramisu, pannacotta, and zabaglione (all fabulous!) but its gelato is legendary the world over. Every imaginable flavor can be found, on street corners, at pavement cafes, and in fancy restaurants. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s the same as ice cream, however. If what you see is heaped high above the edges of the container, it’s full of air and not the real deal.

Clafoutis

Clafoutis
This baked French dessert originates from the Limousin region and was popularized in the 19th century. It is usually made with black cherries, though raspberries, plums or blackberries are occasionally substituted. The fruit lines a baking dish and a thick batter is poured over the top. Traditionally, the cherry stones are left in, adding an almond-like flavor to the dish.

Apfelstrudel

Apfelstrudel
Apfelstrudel is one of Austria’s greatest exports. Layers of thinly-rolled dough are filled to bursting with sweet apples, juicy raisins and a liberal measure of cinnamon. The first recipe dates from Vienna in 1696 and it’s just as popular today in the city’s many coffee houses.

Sticky toffee pudding

Sticky toffee pudding
Peruse the menu in any British gastropub and you’re almost guaranteed to find sticky toffee pudding. This dense, dark pudding is topped with lashings of toffee sauce and served with cream, ice cream or custard. It’s rich, so save plenty of room for dessert if you plan to try it.

 

Flan

Flan
A flan is not a flan when it’s from Spain. Instead of receiving a small tart or quiche, order flan in Spain and you’ll be presented with a tasty crème caramel. To make it, a caramel syrup lines a mold and warm custard are poured on top. It’s cooked in a water bath to ensure the custard doesn’t curdle and flipped over to serve once cooked and set.

Waffles

Waffles
If there’s one dessert synonymous with Belgium, then it’s surely waffles. Known as gaufre to the nation’s French speakers and waffels to Flemish speakers, the two most popular kinds hail from Brussels and Liege. Buy one from a street stall and eat it straight from the paper, dusted with icing sugar. In a cafe, you’ll find them served with fruit compote, Nutella or Chantilly cream, but hold off on the maple syrup as that’s not the way it’s done on home turf.

 

Baklava

Baklava
Layer upon layer of rich, flaky filo pastry bound together with sweet honey and lavishly sprinkled with nuts, baklava is understandably the Greeks’ most popular sweet treat. But though they’ll argue the toss, it actually originated in the city of Istanbul in Turkey before migrating east. That’s still Europe, at least in part. Wherever you try it, it’s delicious.

Black Forest Cherry Gateau

Black Forest Cherry Gateau
Germans know a thing or two about cake, but its most famous cake is not quite what it appears. That signature bake, Black Forest Cherry Gateau, was invented, so they claim, in 1915 at the Café Agner in Bad Godesberg near Bonn. It’s so popular it even has its own food festival. The key ingredient is the “Schwarzwälder kirschwasser”, a potent cherry brandy which made its way across the border from Switzerland but is named after the Black Forest region of Germany. Without the kirsch, it’s just a chocolate and cherry cake.

10 European Desserts to Try

I want to make this soon!

Buttery German Apple Cake

8 servings

This gorgeous cake was unanimously crowned the best of the best from this year’s Readers’ Choice Week recipe submissions. We love the simple method to get that professional shingled look without having to layer each individual apple slice. Make sure the butter is truly room temperature, or it will be difficult to bring the dough together. Read more about the family story behind the cake (at the end of the article), which was passed down (in memory! Not written down!) through three generations, beginning with one resourceful German grandmother. It’s also known as Versunkener Apfelkuchen, meaning German apple cake.

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • ¼ cup plain fine breadcrumbs
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp. apricot preserves
  • 3 medium, firm apples, such as Pink Lady or Honeycrisp
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Unsweetened whipped cream (for serving)

Special Equipment

  • A 10″-diameter springform pan with removable bottom

RECIPE PREPARATION

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Grease bottom and sides of springform pan with butter, then coat with breadcrumbs, tapping out excess.

  • Whisk granulated sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, salt, and 1 cup flour in a large bowl. Create a well in the center and add egg, vanilla, and remaining ½ cup butter. Using a fork and working in a circular motion, stir until the dough starts to form large clumps. Using lightly floured hands, knead very gently in a bowl until dough comes together in one large, soft mass (you may need to add a little bit of flour to the dough to keep from sticking to your hands).

  • Still using lightly floured hands, press dough into the bottom of springform pan, then press into an even layer with the bottom of a dry measuring cup or mug, sprinkling a little flour over the dough if it starts to stick to measuring cup. Spread apricot preserves in a thin layer over the surface of dough with a small offset spatula.

  • Peel and quarter apples. Cut the core out of each quarter and arrange apples flat side down on cutting board. Make thin parallel crosswise slices in each quarter, taking care not to cut all the way through so apples stay in one shingled piece. Arrange apple quarters in concentric circles over the entire surface of the dough, trimming to fit if necessary (you may have a few extra pieces).

  • Bake cake, rotating the pan halfway through, until apples and crust are golden in color, 55–60 minutes (apples will not be completely tender, but that’s intentional). Let cool 15 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, place powdered sugar in a small bowl. Gradually pour in lemon juice, whisking constantly until a thick but pourable glaze forms.

  • Remove sides of springform pan. Lightly brush top and sides of cake with glaze. Let cool completely before transferring to a platter. Serve with whipped cream alongside.

    The best things in life are worth preserving, which is why Olaf Klutke knew he had to record the recipe for Buttery German Apple Cake, this year’s winning Reader Recipe. Out of the hundreds of recipe submissions we received, this one stood out. It’s creative in its construction, delicious, and, perhaps most of all, passes on a family tradition.

    Ilse is Klutke’s mother, and her famous apple cake recipe was based on one she learned from her mother-in-law, Marta. Newly married (and newly cooking) Ilse learned how to bake with Marta in a tiny, hand-built kitchen in Hamburg, Germany. In 1964, Ilse and her family, including three-year-old Klutke, immigrated to the United States, just outside of Chicago. She brought the memorized recipe for the cake with her, too.

    “Once she learned, it was always there,” Klutke says. “For special occasions, for Sunday night dinner. Even if she saw good-looking apples at the store, that was reason enough to make it.”

    It’s based on a traditional German apple cake, Versunkener Apfelkuchen, but what is usually a runnier batter is more dough-like in her version, yielding something between a cake, a tart, and a cookie. It’s moist and chewy, with a crisp, golden crust. The dough comes together in one bowl but makes two different textures through baking. First, it’s pressed into a buttered springform pan with a removable bottom that is sprinkled with breadcrumbs, which is where the cookie-like, crumbly quality comes from. Then the top of the crust is spread with apricot preserves, which seep into the dough and keep a layer of it soft like Oooey Gooey Butter Cake, even as the bottom crisps up. There are peeled and quartered apples on top displayed like the top of a beautiful tart. You can use any kind you prefer to bake with, like Pink Lady or Honeycrisp.

    The apples are a brilliant move in and of themselves. Each peeled quarter is sliced like a fan at ⅛-inch thick almost to the bottom, but not fully, so that they still hold together, like a Hasselback squash or potato. Though Marta probably wasn’t thinking this, we’re happy to point out that this makes for a particularly ‘grammable cake. The real reason she did it? “When the cake bakes, those slivers separate and brown on their own,” Klutke says. “They get soft, but the center core stays firmer, so you have variety. When my mom was cutting, I took out a ruler to see how far apart the slits were.” He told the BAtest kitchen the apples should be “al dente” when we cross-tested the recipe. The baked result was pleasantly firm, unlike soft-bordering-mushy apple pie filling. It almost made the cake taste healthy.

    In the original recipe, Klukte notes that his grandmother Marta, or omi, served it with a dollop of whipped cream, or schlagsahne, as we do here. “The more American version would be with a scoop of ice cream,” he writes, “which omi would certainly approve of!”

    Because she knew what it meant to adapt. During World War II, Klutke’s grandparents had to escape Germany. They fled to Poland, and then eventually to the small town of Schruns, Austria, where they lived in a hotel for about five years. In exchange for their stay, Marta worked in the hotel kitchen, baking her cake for its visitors, who were often American and French soldiers. Once the war was over and it was safe to return, his grandparents made their way back to Hamburg, where they found their city, and house, in ruins. Klutke’s grandfather re-built the structure from the ground up, but Marta’s memorized recipes were always at-hand, and then passed down to her daughter-in-law, Ilse.

    Klutke has been recording his family recipes for the past year, trying to make a written record of dishes in his mom’s head—things like beef Rouladen and goulash. For the cake, he even printed photos and made diagrams of how to slice the apples to go along with it. “I have to stand next to her and grab ingredients and actually measure them as she’s working,” he says. “I have a whole cookbook like this that I’ve done.”

I want to make this soon!

PECAN PIE CHEESECAKE

I am not a big Cheesecake fan, but I do LOVE Pecan Pie, so this combination just might be beyond wonderful. Test it out and let me know what you think.  I will be trying it later this month.

Screen Shot 2018-03-26 at 8.05.30 AM

INGREDIENTS

GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST

      • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
      • 1/3 cup sugar
      • 8 tablespoons butter, melted

PECAN FILLING

    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
    • 3/4 cup dark corn syrup
    • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 pinch salt

INGREDIENTS

CHEESECAKE FILLING

      • 24 ounces cream cheese
      • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
      • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
      • 4 large eggs
      • 1 cup heavy cream

PECAN TOPPING

    • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
    • 1 1/2 cups toasted pecans, chopped
    • 1/3 cup heavy cream
    • 1 pinch salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter. Press evenly into bottom and halfway up the side of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 6-8 minutes; set aside to cool.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 6 tablespoons butter. Add 1/2 cup light brown sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to bubble and sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in dark corn syrup, 1 1/2 cup chopped pecans, eggs, vanilla extract, and salt. Pour into prepared crust; set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, 1 cup light brown sugar and flour until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until just combined. Add 1 cup heavy cream and stir until well combined. Pour over pecan pie filling and place springform pan on a baking sheet. Bake for 60-70 minutes until cake jiggles slightly when moved or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Turn off oven and leave the cake in for 1 hour, then remove from oven and let cool completely.
  4. To Make the Pecan Topping:

DIRECTIONS

  1. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and cook until bubbling, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 1/2 cups toasted pecans, 1/3 cup heavy cream, and pinch of salt. Let cool to room temperature then spoon over.
  2. cooled cheesecake. Slice to serve or store refrigerated.

 

PECAN PIE CHEESECAKE

Oven Hack to Change the Way You Cook

1Preheating the oven has always been a thorn in your side, especially when you’re trying to put dinner on the table ASAP.

Whether it’s because something came up unexpectedly, or because you totally forgot to turn the oven on (we’ve all been there), using your oven to put dinner on the table can be unnecessarily challenging.

Sometimes, if your oven isn’t ready to roll when you are, you might psych yourself out and abandon your dinner plans altogether. This could be a costly mistake, and you might resort to a faster pitfall.

Those 15 extra minutes of preheating time really do make a world of a difference, and we have a kitchen hack for heating your oven even faster – the broiler

If you put your oven’s broiler on high for 3 to 5 minutes, you’ll find that your oven can reach higher temps almost immediately when you set the oven to the necessary temperature later.

I witnessed this magical, time-saving advice firsthand. Using my standard, two-rack oven for a test run, I found that I was able to get the interior heated to 350 degrees in just 2 minutes after using my broiler first.

Thanks to this ingenious shortcut, you’ll never have to hover in front of your oven, tapping your fingers on the door, again.

Oven Hack to Change the Way You Cook

What is your state’s dessert?

Here is how to explore desserts, one state at a time by “The Daily Dish”

Minnesota: Seven-Layer Bars

ALABAMA: CREAM CHEESE POUND CAKE

“I’m a northern girl, who tries so hard to cook southern delights — this cake does not disappoint. It was a HIT!”

Idaho: Spudnuts

Louisiana: Brennan's Bananas Foster

 

What is your state’s dessert?

Perfect Pie Crust

This wonderful article is from a King Arthur Flour Blog that I receive via email.  I wanted to share all this wonderful information with you all.

Screen Shot 2018-03-13 at 9.12.56 AMChoose your ingredients carefully.

The simplest pie crust includes just four ingredients: flour, salt, fat, and ice water. Each needs to work seamlessly with the rest to produce a top-notch crust. Let’s look at these key ingredients.

Flour

You can make pie crust with several types of flour. That said, the lower the flour’s protein level, the more tender the crust.

  • Pastry flour (8.0% protein) will yield a delightful fork-tender crust, though its dough is a bit delicate and tricky to handle. Use pastry flour if you’re a confident pie baker.
  • All-purpose flour (11.7% protein) will make a moderately tender crust whose dough is easy to handle and roll out. Use all-purpose flour if you’re less sure of your skills; you can move up to pastry flour when you’re ready.
  • Our Perfect Pastry Blend, with its 10.3% protein, offers the tenderness of a pastry flour crust with the easy handling of all-purpose dough.
  • Whole wheat flour makes a crust that’s noticeably grainy, due to the flour’s bran; it’ll also be less tender than either all-purpose or pastry flour crusts. Whole wheat pastry flour is both lower protein and more finely ground, and will produce a more tender, delicate crust than standard whole wheat flour.
  • Gluten-free crust requires gluten-free flour and a gluten-free crust recipe. We don’t advise simply substituting GF flour in your favorite non-GF crust recipe.

Why is fat so important in pie crust?

Tenderness and flakiness are the hallmarks of a great crust. How do you attain both?

It’s all in how you combine fat with flour. By working part of the fat into the flour thoroughly, you coat the flour’s gluten with fat; this yields a crust that’s tender, rather than tough. Leave the rest of the fat in larger pieces, and it separates the wafer-thin layers of flour/water that make up the bulk of the pie dough. As the pie bakes and the fat melts, these layers stay separated; we perceive them as flakiness.

We’re big fans of our All-Butter Pie Crust. But an all-shortening crust has its proponents, as well. See our comparison of the two: Butter vs. shortening: the great pie crust bakeoff.

Fat

Shortening. Butter. Lard. Oil. Each of the three solid fats will yield reliably tender, flaky crusts, so long as you combine them with the flour using the correct technique. An oil crust will be more tender than flaky.

  • Vegetable shortening yields a crust that holds its shape well in the oven. For a pie with the sharpest-looking crimp, use shortening. It is downside? Shortening lacks flavor, and an all-shortening crust may taste flat.
  • Butter makes a flaky crust that’s packed with wonderful flavor. Due to its water content, it also makes a “loftier” crust; as the butter melts it gives off water that turns to steam, which in turn separates the layers a bit, yielding a slightly puffy crust. We prefer unsalted to salted butter, as it’s generally fresher; it also lets us control the level of salt in the crust more precisely.
  • Lard, rendered from pig fat, has a higher melting point than butter or shortening; thus it yields an extra-flaky crust (though the flakes are small in size, rather than large). It also gives pie old-fashioned diner-style flavor.
  • Vegetable-based oil, including olive oil, makes a crust that’s somewhat hard to handle; without the “plasticity” of solid fat, it tends to crumble as you roll it. Also, an oil crust will be only marginally flaky — but very tender.
Which fat should I choose?

If you choose a solid fat, make sure it’s cold! Chunks of cold fat in pie crust dough are your ticket to a flaky crust.

We find that a combination of butter and shortening, like that in our Classic Double Pie Crust and Classic Single Pie Crust recipes, makes crust that’s easy to handle: flaky, tender, and full-flavored.

Salt

Salt is added to pie crust dough for one chief reason: flavor. While it does strengthen the flour’s gluten just a touch, making the dough easier to roll out, its basic role is heightening the flavor of the flour and fat, and thus the crust overall.

Does it matter if you use sea salt, kosher salt, or table salt? Only to your measuring spoon. The coarser the salt, the more space it takes up. All of the pie recipes on our King Arthur Flour site are written for plain table salt. If you use a coarser salt, you’ll want to add more than the recipe calls for, to taste. You’ll also want to dissolve coarse salt in some of the water from the recipe, to make sure it’s fully dispersed throughout the dough.

What about that vodka trick?

You may have heard about substituting vodka for water to make an extra-tender crust. Since vodka is alcohol, the theory is it won’t toughen your crust like water can. In our experience, vodka makes pie dough slightly easier to roll out, but doesn’t result in any appreciable difference in the baked crust’s flakiness or tenderness.

Ice water

Water mixed with flour gives pie crust dough the structure it needs to hold together. The amount of water you use is critical; too much, and you’ve made a sticky mess. Too little, and the crust won’t hold together, or will crack around the edges as you roll.

You’ll notice that there’s usually very little water in pie crust. Your goal is to use just enough to create a flour/water matrix that’ll hold its shape, but not enough to potentially make the crust tough. In addition, using ice water helps the fat remain cold and solid; and the colder the fat when you put the pie into the oven, the greater the chance for flakiness.

Why is it important to keep the fat cold?

Flour and water combine to form thin layers (flakes) in pie dough. The chilled fat in the unbaked dough keeps its thin layers of flour/water separated; so long as that fat is cold, the layers stay separate. When the pie finally goes into the oven the fat melts; but the space where the fat was remains, yielding layers of flakes: flakiness.

Other Ingredients

You may have seen pie crust recipes calling for an egg, milk, buttermilk, vinegar, lemon juice, or sugar. All of these add-ins have their own minor effect on the dough.

Egg, milk, and buttermilk add protein, which enhances browning and tenderness. Egg also makes a sturdier crust, one with more body; bakers will often use an egg in pies they want to serve outside the pan.

We used to think that lemon juice or vinegar “tenderized” the gluten, encouraging it to remain un-elastic and making the dough easier to roll. As it turns out, the small amount of these acidic liquids added to pie crust dough doesn’t really do anything one way or the other — though there’s no harm in using either, if that’s what you’re used to.

Sugar enhances both flavor and browning when added to pie crust dough. When sprinkled atop the oven-ready pie, it offers a bit of crunch, as well as pretty shine.

How to make great pie crust.

You’ve got the recipe. You’ve chosen your ingredients. Now let’s put everything together and make a tender, flaky pie crust, a worthy vessel for your favorite filling. Below, see step-by-step directions for baking a basic pie crust using our Classic Double Pie Crust recipe.

  1. Step 1

    Start with our Classic Double Pie Crust recipe. Add the shortening to the flour, using a pastry blender, fork, mixer, or your fingers to work everything together until the mixture is evenly crumbly.

  2. Step 2

    Cut the butter into pats, and work it in. Leave some of the butter in larger, pea- or marble-sized pieces. This will create space between the layers of pastry, which translates to flakiness in the baked crust.

  3. Step 3

    Stir in 4 tablespoons of the ice water. Then add additional ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until the dough starts to become cohesive and form clumps.

  4. Step 4

    Transfer the crumbly dough to a piece of parchment. Squeeze it into a ball. If it’s dry and chunks break off, spritz the dry parts with additional ice water.

  5. Step 5

    Use the parchment to press the dough together until it’s cohesive. Fold the dough over on itself three or four times to bring it together. This will create layers, which translate into flakiness.

  6. Step 6

    Divide the dough into two pieces; the bottom crust should be larger than the top. Flatten each piece into a disk, then roll like a wheel to smooth the edges. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling.

Perfect Pie Crust