What does it take to stop you in your tracks? Some people are waylaid by shop windows filled with designer goods. Others are entranced by sparkling displays of jewellery. Me, I can always make time to stare lovingly at a mouth-watering array of cakes. Which is why Bertels Salon (Kompanistræde 5) in Copenhagen is my sort of place.
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Right in the centre of town, Bertels Salon is in many ways a classic Copenhagen café: a small and welcoming place, with an inviting aroma of coffee and stylish Insta-ready interiors.
What sets it apart, however, is that three-tiered display of magnificent cakes. The specialty of the house is cheesecake, which comes in an array of flavours from liquorice to mango to brownie cheesecake with blueberries.
It is while I’m working my way through a large slice of Bertels’ cherry cheesecake that I start musing about the Danish knack for sweet treats. It shouldn’t really come as a surprise – after all, these people have had a type of pastry named after them - but after just a few days in Copenhagen, I have already found plenty of ways to sate my sweet tooth. I’ve feasted on all kinds of tasty pastry, including the frøsnapper, a pastry twist topped with poppyseeds, and the kanelstang, a gooey cinnamon-laden treat that has become my favourite snack.
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My first encounter with a kanelstang takes place in Torvehallerne (Frederiksborggade 21), Copenhagen’s chic food market. We happen to walk past the quirky Cafe Rosa just as a tray of kanelstang are pulled out of the oven, and the aroma is impossible to resist. We manage to scoff two big serves in a matter of minutes, even though we have just finished breakfast.
At another popular Torvehallerne outlet, Summerbird Chocolaterie, I am introduced to another favourite Danish treat, the flødeboller, a chocolate-coated marshmallow concoction. I am particularly taken with Summerbird’s passionfruit-flavoured mini flødeboller, but I later discover an even more delicious version at the popular Lagkpalet
Perhaps it is because they know that there is a cruel winter ahead, but during the long summer days, you will often find Copenhageners queuing at their favourite ice cream shop. On a friend’s recommendation I visit Østerberg Ice Cream (Rosenvængets Allé 7C, Østerbro), which is known for its all-natural ingredients and its broad range of flavours. The selection changes daily, but alongside evergreens such as chocolate and liquorice (to the Danes, everything tastes better with a little liquorice), you may come across unusual flavours such as tamarind, dragonfruit and soursop.
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A different sort of icy treat is available at Hija de Sanchez (Slagterboderne 8). Headed up by a former Noma pastry chef, this trendy taqueria in the Meatpacking District also sells delicious paletas, Paddlepop-style treats. The flavours rotate regularly, but may include coconut, hibiscus and – you guessed it – liquorice.
More to sate your sweeth tooth: A Sweets Tour of Europe - Sugary Specialties of The Continent
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Copenhagen’s chefs also know a thing or two about serving up sweet stuff. One of my favourite foodie experiences in Copenhagen takes place, somewhat unexpectedly, in a brewery. Tapperiet Brus in the trendy Nørrebro district (Guldbergsgade 29F) is where you will find one of Copenhagen’s most surprising restaurants, Spontan.
Chef Christian Gadient constructs inventive menus in which dessert is one of the highpoints. My meal ends with a pretty-as-a-picture concoction of geranium ice cream teamed with crystallised white chocolate and burnt lemon flakes. A combinations of fresh, sweet and tart flavours, it is a refreshing way to end a meal. I like it so much, I’m almost tempted to start the whole meal over again.