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Europe's best desserts

We seem to have reached a consensus – the best way to get through quarantine is to bake. It’s time to get out the mixing bowl and put on your apron because who doesn’t like dessert? Not only is baking proven to be a great activity to reduce stress, but you also get to eat your creations, another great activity. Here are some of our favourite sweet treats. Try your hand at them and travel the world through your taste buds. 

Jade
lastminute.com team
member

1. Moelleux au chocolat (France)

We almost went with crème brûlée but thought this list could do with more chocolate. No one does dessert quite like the French. Chocolate cake with a gooey middle? We’re all for it. 

Recipe (serves 4)

Ingredients:
  • 4 eggs
  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 110g icing sugar
  • 200g dark chocolate (60% to 80% cocoa)
  • 60g plain flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C for fan-assisted ovens).

  2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bain-marie. (All you need for this is a small saucepan with a few centimetres of water and a large heatproof bowl for the chocolate and butter.)

  3. Beat the eggs and whisk in the icing sugar and vanilla extract. Then add in the flour before adding in the melted chocolate and butter. Mix until thick.

  4. You can either use small individual pots or a greased cake tin to make it a single cake. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Let it cool and voila!

If you want to make this dish extra delicious, serve with berries and vanilla ice cream.

2. Pastéis de nata (Portugal)

These custard tarts are one of the best things about a holiday in Portugal. One bite of these will take you back to your favourite memories in the beautiful country. We made our pastéis de nata with pre-made puff pastry to save time, but if you’re up for the challenge and want a more authentic taste, make your own rough puff pastry.  

Recipe (makes 12 treats)

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 320g pre-made puff pastry
  • 400ml full-fat milk
  • 95g caster sugar
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp cornflour 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Sprinkle of grated nutmeg 
  • Sprinkle of ground cinnamon
  • Sprinkle of icing sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 210°C (or 190°C for fan-assisted ovens) and grease a cupcake tray. 

  2. Mix the egg yolks, caster sugar and cornflour together and slowly add in the full-fat milk. Mix well.

  3. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and place on a medium heat. Add the cinnamon stick. Stir and let the mixture thicken. Once it starts boiling, take it off the heat and add in the vanilla extract and a sprinkle of nutmeg. 

  4. Pour the mixture into a glass bowl and cover with cling film.

  5. Half the pastry sheet and put one half on top of the other. Roll them into a log (like a swiss roll) from the shorter side and cut the pastry into 12 pieces. 

  6. Place each piece of the log into the cupcake tray and shape them by pressing your thumb down on the middle of the piece. Wet your fingers slightly if you need to. Make a small well for the custard mixture but be careful not to make the base too thin.

  7. Remove the cinnamon stick from the custard mixture and fill each well ¾ of the way with the custard mixture.

  8. Bake for around 20 minutes at the centre of the oven or until the custard starts to caramelise on top.

  9. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes and then sprinkle with icing sugar and cinnamon.

Some people also add in lemon zest to the custard. If you would like to try this, grate a sprinkle of it into the mixture when you add in the cinnamon stick.

3. Apfelstrudel (Austria)

This Viennese treat is a real crowd-pleaser. In fact, the oldest known recipe dates back to 1697, so it's been hitting the mark for hundreds of years. As with the pastéis de nata recipe, you are welcome to make your own homemade unleavened dough but we went with store-bought pastry for simplicity.   

Recipe (serves 4-6)

Ingredients:
  • 800g apples (peeled and chopped)
  • 60g breadcrumbs
  • 90g unsalted butter
  • 80g granulated sugar
  • 65g raisins 
  • 1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 sheets filo pastry
  • Sprinkle of icing sugar

Optional: 

  • 3tbsp rum
  • A few handfuls of sliced almonds
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C for fan-assisted ovens).

  2. If you choose to use rum in this recipe, soak the raisins in rum for about 10-15 minutes. Otherwise, soak in lukewarm water for the same amount of time.

  3. Put the chopped apples in a mixing bowl and mix with the lemon juice. Then add in the cinnamon, sugar and raisins.

  4. Melt around a third of the butter (30g) over a medium heat and add in the breadcrumbs. Give them a stir and take them off the heat once the breadcrumbs are golden. Add the breadcrumbs to the apple mixture.

  5. Melt the rest of the butter (60g) and brush a little bit onto one sheet of filo pastry. Then spoon the mixture onto the filo pastry sheet (the buttered side), leaving about 3cm space on the edges. If you want to add almonds, sprinkle a few on top of the apple mixture before rolling up the pastry. You can use a dry tea towel to help you roll the pastry if it's easier.

  6. Tuck the ends of the pastry in and place the strudel onto a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Make sure the seams are facing downwards, onto the baking tray. 

  7. Once you’ve done the first strudel, continue with the other sheets of filo pastry and filling. Once they’re all on the tray, brush them over the top with the melted butter.

  8. Put your treats in the centre of the oven for about 45 minutes or until the crust turns golden brown. Leave to cool and dust your treats with icing sugar before tucking in.

 Serve the apple strudel on its own or with vanilla sauce, custard, cream or ice cream. 


4. Tiramisu (Italy)

Our list wouldn’t be complete without this classic dessert. This coffee-flavoured sweet treat literally translates to “pick me up” and it certainly is just that. Prepare yourself for mouth-watering bliss. 

Recipe (serves 8)

Ingredients:
  • 4 eggs
  • 110g granulated sugar
  • 300g Savoiardi sponge fingers
  • 500g mascarpone
  • 300ml espresso (or other strong coffee)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp rum, marsala, amaretto or cognac (Optional)

Method:
  1. Make the coffee and add in the optional rum, marsala, amaretto or cognac if you desire. 

  2. Separate the egg whites from the yolks and place them into two separate mixing bowls. 

  3. In the bowl with the egg yolks, whisk the yolks along with the caster sugar using an electric mixer. When smooth, add in the mascarpone and mix well. In the other bowl, whisk the egg whites until the mixture is stiff and soft peaks form. Then fold this into the other mixture with the egg yolks and mix with a wooden spoon until it's creamy. 

  4. Dip the Savoiardi sponge fingers into the coffee (do so quickly and one at a time so they don’t get soggy). Once dipped in coffee, line them up at the bottom of your dish. 

  5. Spread the mascarpone mixture on top of the Savoiardi fingers. Add another layer of the sponge fingers and cover with more of the mascarpone mixture. 

  6. Sprinkle with cocoa powder and leave in the fridge for at least 5 hours, but ideally overnight. 

For chocolate lovers, feel free to grate chocolate and sprinkle on top to really bring out the bittersweet flavours.


5. Victoria sponge (UK)

Is there anything more deliciously British than a light, buttery Victoria sponge cake? It was named after Queen Victoria, who enjoyed the treat with afternoon tea. What better way to get through quarantine than to have a dessert that is literally fit for a queen?

Recipe (makes around 10 slices)

Ingredients:
  • 210g unsalted, softened butter
  • 210g caster sugar
  • 210g self-raising flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ½  tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • strawberry or raspberry jam
  • 220ml double cream 
  • Sprinkle of icing sugar

Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C and grease two cake tins that are approximately 18-20cm wide.

  2. Mix the butter, sugar and vanilla extract, and then beat in the eggs one by one.

  3. Fold in the self-raising flour and baking powder. The mixture should be smooth and fall off a spoon fairly easily. (Feel free to add a splash of milk if needed).

  4. Divide the mixture equally between the two cake tins.

  5. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 20 minutes, or until the top is golden. You will know it's done if you gently press your finger in the middle of the cake and the cake bounces back up.

  6. While you’re leaving the cake to cool, whisk the double cream until it forms soft peaks.

  7. Spread as much jam as you desire on one of the cakes (crust-side down) and add the whipped cream before sandwiching the cakes together.

  8. Sprinkle icing sugar on the top of the cake. Enjoy!  

 Feel free to swap the double cream out for buttercream if you have more of a sweet-tooth.


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