In the Czech Republic, dessert is a big deal. The whole country has a major sweet tooth and pudding is a fundamental part of a meal, rather than an after-thought. A trip to Prague offers the ideal excuse to indulge your dessert fantasies and sample the city’s best traditional Czech sweets and pastries. Leave your diet home and worry about your waistline later because there’s plenty of tempting treats to sink your teeth into. From Czech-style gingerbread and Medovnik cake to fruit-filled Palačinky and sweet dumplings, here are some of the best desserts to try in Prague.
Dumplings are a staple part of the Czech diet; whether made from wheat or potato and served as a side for a main course or dressed up as a dessert, there’s no getting away from the steamed balls of goodness. Sweet fruit dumplings (ovocné knedlíky in Czech) are particularly popular, filled with jam or fruits such as strawberries, apricots or blueberries, and served warm with chocolate or sweet cottage cheese – or both.
The origin of Trdelník pastries is debated, with many claiming they derive from Slovakia, but one thing’s for sure – they remain one of Prague’s most popular Czech sweets to this day. Trdelníks are made from pastry, which is sliced into strips, rolled around a stick and covered in sugar and spices such as cinnamon, before being cooked over flames. The result? A sweet bangle-esque snack with an enticing caramelised exterior and soft warm interior. Pick one up from the many vans based around the city.
Medovnik, also known as honey cake, is arguably the most popular cake in Prague. Distinctly different from other cakes of its kind around the world, the dessert oozes with 10 layers of sweet crumbly cake and cream filling. But while you’d assume it to be a sugar overload on account of all the honey inside it, the cake is actually fairly savoury and far from sickly, meaning one slice just isn’t enough…
Originally developed as a wedding present, kolaches are time-honoured pastries that have been prepared in the Czech Republic for decades. The palm-sized pastries are traditionally made from sweet yeast and topped with a special poppy seed filling – a must-try when visiting Prague. If poppy seeds don’t tickle your fancy, kolaches can also be found packed with cheese, plums, blueberries and apricots, among other fruits.
While pancakes are prevalent across Europe, Czech-style Palačinky pancakes are definitely worth a try. The pancake itself is made in a similar way to crêpes, while the fillings traditionally include sweet cheese covered in vanilla sauce, or apricot jam with sugar (and maybe even, depending how adventurous you’re feeling, a dash of fruity liquor).
Strudel may be synonymous with Austria, but it’s also a Czech favourite. Apple is the most common flavour in Prague, while for a savoury take on the dessert, strudels can also be filled with poppy seeds or cottage cheese.
While Czech-style gingerbread (pernik) is seasonal, it’s worth a mention for its popularity and distinctive flavour, which comes from a large variety of spices. Once shaped and baked, the gingerbread cookies are decorated with intricate icing patterns to celebrate special occasions such as Christmas.