Foodie Guide: What You Need to Know About German Desserts

Germany was one of the places I visited at the start of 2020. This nice European country has so much to offer to travelers like me — Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, the Rhine Valley, Zugspitze Massif and the incredibly popular Berlin Wall.

On top of these amazing tourist attractions, I had an excellent experience enjoying German cuisine. This type of cuisine has transformed through centuries of political and social change with variations from one region to another. One of the foods that I enjoyed the most during my short stay in this country is trying out German desserts.

German Desserts: An Overview

pie and coffee
Photo by Tauralbus via Flickr Creative Commons

When you spend time in Germany, you’ll realize that the Germans have a love, respect and fondness for sweet treats. They use seasonal and local ingredients to make authentic German desserts. This means that you’ll find a range of tarts and cakes made with fresh fruit. Some of the fruits used in cakes, for instance, are cherries, apples, strawberries and plums.

What’s more, Germans have made dessert a part of their daily dairy. They follow the tradition of “Kaffee und Kuchen,” which directly translates to coffee and cake. This semi-sacred “ritual” happens during the afternoon where people prefer to pause, linger and satisfy their caffeine fix.

Participating in this kaffee und kuchen is simple — find or meet up with a friend for a leisurely afternoon, arrive on schedule (Germans value punctuality, after all) and get lost in the conversation while you drink caffeine and savor a delicious German dessert.

Examples of Famous German Desserts

black forest cake
Photo by Mikel Ortega via Flickr Creative Commons

German desserts are perfect for people who are looking to satisfy their sweet tooth, as well as enjoy the country’s rich and vast culinary heritage.

Here’s a list of German sweet treats that will surely make your mouth water:

Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte

This popular German dessert translates to Black Forest cherry cake. Take note that Black Forest is an actual place in Germany. It serves as the birthplace of this particular cake. You can find this area located in the southwestern part of the country. Black Forest is a hiker’s haven, as it stretches 160 kilometers from Pforzheim to Waldshut.

The authentic German dessert consists of delectable chocolate sponges dotted with cherries infused with kirschwasser brandy and coated in delicious whipped cream. Some dessert makers use that same brandy to enhance the flavor of the whipped cream and soak the chocolate sponge layers.

During assembly, bakers would decorate the German dessert lavishly using cherries, shavings of chocolate and even more whipped cream. When shopping for cakes and pastries in Germany, don’t forget to try out a Black Forest cherry cake.

Bienenstich

This German dessert, when translated to English, means bee sting cake. You’ll find this sweet culinary creation filled with an array of delicious ingredients, such as buttercream, vanilla custard, almonds and honey.

Dessert makers typically construct the cake as follows: The first layer is a scrumptious, yeast cake. Then, they add vanilla cream on top of that cake. The baker then places another layer of yeast cake. After that, they top the dessert with a honey-flavored, crunchy almond topping.

Bavarian Cream

You can typically find Bavarian cream as an ingredient used in donuts, cakes and other desserts. When making this dessert, chefs use gelatin to thicken the silky and rich egg custard. Then, they combine this mixture with whipped cream. They then finish the dessert off with sweet sauces and pieces of fresh fruit.

Käsekuchen

This German dessert is a traditional cheesecake that’s much lighter than its American counterpart. A Käsekuchen consists of a thin layer of shortcrust pastry topped with eggs, quark cheese and sometimes with a variety of fruits.

What makes this cheesecake unique is quark cheese — a fresh, soft, creamy and spreadable dairy product made by warming up soured milk. This lightly acidic cheese fuses perfectly with sour and sweet flavors to deliver a scrumptious and light German treat. People commonly enjoy this tasty dessert with tea or coffee.

Schokokuss

This German dessert is a chocolate-coated marshmallow treat. The sweet drop of heaven is a delicacy hailing from Germanic regions of Europe. It consists of beaten egg whites combined with sugar. Dessert makers then place this light and fluffy egg mixture on a biscuit and cover in chocolate.

Lebkuchen

Locals usually associate this traditional sweet treat from Germany with winter holidays and the Christmas season. Lebkuchen encompasses various forms of ginger- or honey-flavored cookies traditionally baked on thin wafers called oblaten. Then, the dessert is finished off with a coating of sugar icing or a glaze of dark chocolate.

Additional ingredients may be included to make the delicious German dessert shine. This tasty treat may come with candied fruit, nuts and a wide variety of spices, such as cardamom, cloves, coriander and nutmeg. You can find this dessert in the shape of a heart decorated with a German icing inscription.

Apfelkuchen

If the United States has the American apple pie, Germany has Apfelkuchen — a delightful apple cake consisting of apples (diced, sliced or halved depending on the chef) and buttery and dense dough. Depending on where you visit, you can find this delicious cake topped off with vanilla-flavored custard, cinnamon sugar and crumbly streusel. Bakers would bake the Apfelkuchen in round tins.

You can enjoy a slice of this apple cake as an afternoon dessert alongside tea, coffee or fresh juice.

Donauwelle

This Austrian and German sheet cake consists of two kinds of pound cake. Dessert makers flavor the top layer with chocolate and the bottom layer with vanilla. They then top this chocolate ganache, cherries and buttercream. When the baker places the sheet cake in the oven, the tart cherries will descend through the batter and form a wavy pattern in the dessert’s cross-section.

Schneeball

This German sweet treat, which translates to snowball, is popular in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a town located in Bavaria. This ball-like dessert has a diameter of about three inches. Back in the old days, people would serve Schneeball on special occasions, such as grand weddings. Today, you can find this German dessert sold at cafés and pastry shops.

Eiskaffee

Although this German dessert translates to ice coffee, it’s more of a coffee-flavored cold dessert than a beverage. This consists of scoops of ice cream along with cold coffee. Dessert makers top this sweet treat off with a thick layer of whipped cream and a delicious cookie.

Zimsterne

Bakers make these star-shaped German cookies using whipped egg whites, nuts (usually almonds and hazelnuts), sugar, cinnamon and vanilla sugar. After baking, dessert makers coat the star-shaped treats using white frosting consisting of sugar and egg whites.

Traveling to Berlin in the Future? Visit These German Dessert Spots

savory doughnut and a cup of coffee
Photo by Bex Walton via Flickr Creative Commons

If you’re going to visit Berlin (along with the other areas of Germany) in the future, don’t forget to dine at German restaurants or shops that offer delicious desserts.

If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few German dessert spots that you can explore:

Brammibal’s Donuts

What makes this spot different from your average bakery is that they’re an excellent alternative to Germany’s industrially made donuts. Promoting a vegan lifestyle is part of Brammibal’s Donuts’ philosophy. They make every fresh donut by hand and serve delicious specialty coffee.

Winterfeldt Schokoladen

Get your chocolate fix in this pharmacy-turned-dessert-haven. You’ll find chocolate German desserts everywhere in this bakeshop, including pralines, scones, and cakes. You’ll also find chocolate camouflaged as a Cuban cigar or a salami.

Coda Dessert Bar

This refined establishment whips up sophisticated desserts and pairs them with the appropriate beverage. Apart from serving reinventions of dessert ideas, they experiment by trying out ingredients that you would not normally find in a dessert, such as vinegar, beets and aubergine.

Kauf Dich Glücklich

This dessert shop began as an ice cream, crepes and waffles establishment. The establishment eventually became popular with the locals of Berlin that it evolved into a clothes shop. On top of checking out the stylish fashion designs of the place, you could order homemade ice cream and waffles.

Satisfy your sweet tooth by trying out a German dessert. When you visit Germany in the future, remember to make room for dessert.

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