20 Best London Desserts That Are Worth The Indulgence

October 11, 2018

Many are getting on the healthy bandwagon and choosing to limit their consumption of sweets. If this applies to you, the few treats you might have while in London need to be chosen carefully — very carefully. And remember, even Harry and Meghan eat treats!

We have compiled a list of 20 of our favorite desserts and sweet treats you will find in The Royal City, so you can be selective — even when you are traveling.

Traditional English Desserts

  • Sticky Toffee Pudding
  • English Trifle
  • Spotted Dick
  • Jam Roly-Poly
  • Eton Mess

Street Treats

  • Bubble Wrap
  • Ben’s Cookies
  • Gelato
  • Crepes
  • Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches

Pastries

  • Scones
  • Cronuts
  • Almond Croissants
  • Portuguese Custard
  • Doughnuts

Candies

  • Chocolate
  • Jellies
  • Turkish Delights
  • Black Licorice
  • Maltesers

Traditional English Desserts

After an evening at the theater in London, there is nothing better than enjoying a fine dessert. Some of these well known English treats will add the to elegance of the occasion, as they have for centuries. You can find several on the dessert menu at Rules Restaurant, at fine hotels, and even at many of the pubs.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

In the U.S., we think of pudding as a soft, custard-like dessert eaten with a spoon. In the U.K., puddings are a cake that are topped with a sauce and cream. Sticky toffee pudding includes butter, eggs, flour, and dates and is baked. It is served with a warm caramel sauce and topped with whipped cream. Delicious!

Trifle

A well known layered dessert with sponge cake or ladyfingers, fruit, whipped cream, and custard or creme anglaise. Of course, it usually includes some sherry in the layers.

Spotted Dick

There is nothing like a lovely steamed English pudding, and this has been a favorite for centuries. The spots are usually raisins or currants. Comfort food at its finest.

Jam Roly-Poly Pudding

This fruity delight that was developed in the early 1800’s became even better known to the world through the Beatrix Potter book “The Tale of Samuel Whiskers or the Roly-Poly Pudding.” You’ll have to give it a read, but hopefully it won’t ruin the plot to tell you that the mischievous kitten almost becomes part of the pastry!

This is baked in the oven and is usually an autumn or winter dessert. Served with custard, clotted cream, or ice cream — doesn’t your mouth water just thinking about this fruit-filled treat?

Eton Mess

English tradition tells that a new dessert was created at Eton College in the late 1800’s and was served at cricket matches. This lighter dessert is meringue, topped with fruit and cream. It is normally served in summer and more difficult to find. If you happen to see it offered, taste it while you can!

Street Treats

Now what about those lovely afternoons when you are walking around Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, or any of the open air markets. What treats should you be watching for?

Bubble Wrap

This is one of the newer desserts that is very popular in London right now, inspired by a Hong Kong treat. Think of a waffle cone but instead of a grid pattern, the egg waffle is an edible “bubble wrap” with spheres of yumminess!

Ben’s Cookies

Our financial secretary, Kim, makes sure to eat one of these cookies each day she is in London — that’s how much she loves them! Rated #2 London dessert on the popular Trip Advisor app, what’s not to love about a cookie? With several locations around the city, you will be sure to spot Ben’s Cookies.

Crepes

When you decide to visit the open air markets, watch for crepes. Some of the shops have savory choices if you want a treat that isn’t sweet. A delicious combo for a dessert crepe iso sliced strawberries and your choice of Nutella, lemon curd, or vanilla custard.

Gelato

Many shops can be found that now feature this Italian frozen treat. Most will give you a sample to help you choose from the dozens of choices. You will find traditional chocolate and vanilla, but don’t be hesitant to try lavender or mango.

Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches

Sammie, the creator of this unique treat wanted a way to use the egg yolks left after making macarons with all the egg whites. Why not make custard — and frozen custard is even better. Since she thought of the idea to combine the two after looking for recipes she could put yolks in, she named her shop YOLKIN. Stop by, and maybe you will meet her there as you try these amazing creations.

Pastries

We can’t forget afternoon tea — sweets are certainly included. How about picking up one of those traditional pastries or other favorites to take back to your vacation apartment? Enjoy one or two the next morning for breakfast (if you can wait until then).

Scones

Originally from 16th century Scotland, these traditional U.K. treats are a must for afternoon tea. Close to what Americans would consider a biscuit, the scone itself isn’t sweet but is served with clotted cream and jam. You must try at least one while in London.

Portuguese Custard

You will find these amazing custard tarts throughout London, but our favorites are at Café de Nata near South Kensington Tube Station. You might enjoy the open kitchen where you can watch the pastries being prepared and baked throughout the day. DIVINE.

Doughnuts

Crosstown Doughnuts in Piccadilly is Thomas Moore III’s favorite doughnut shop. As the founder of London Connection vacation apartments, he is often in London. He especially likes how the pastries are displayed in the showcase, and then boxed for you to take. You will notice their unique X that decorates  their featured doughnuts of the day. Bread Ahead in Borough Market also receives rave reviews.

Almond Croissants

When we posted this photo taken by Tom, Sr. on our Facebook and Instagram, we had more likes and clicks than almost anything we had ever published. He took this photo at Harrods, and you can also find them at other shops like Patisserie Valerie, so there you go — FIND THEM!

Cronuts

This hybrid of croissant and donut was created in 2013 by Dominique Ansel, who was named “World’s Best Pastry Chef” in 2017. The cronut was the first pastry sold on the black market at 20 times its retail price. Dominique Ansel Bakery, with Ansel still the head pastry chef, creates a unique cronut featured each month. Heads-up: the quantities are limited, even when ordering ahead of time.

Candies

And then there are the candies! Charlie’s Sweet Emporium in Westminster, Harrods in Knightsbridge, or Borough Market on Southbank are some of the favorites spots. However, you will find candy shops tucked into every neighborhood.

Chocolates

You can’t go wrong by visiting the food hall at Harrods, including the chocolate section. If you are going to have the calories, have the most delicious calories. It is more fulfilling to your sweet tooth to have one fine chocolate than a dozen cheap, waxy “pretend” chocolates. Do you agree?

Jellies

And while already at Harrods, they have a great selection of jellies. The same theory applies, one or two of the best (eaten slowly) will satisfy your cravings better than a dozen from the huge package at the grocery store. Buy a few and savor every bite!

Black Licorice

Either you love it or hate it, am I right? I have never met someone who is so-so about black licorice. If you love it, London will be a treasure trove. You will find licorice in all shapes, sizes, and textures.

Maltesers

A few years ago, malt balls were voted as UK’s favorite treat. This one is easy enough to find — check out any of the groceries you happen to visit, you should easily find these with the other candies.

Turkish Delights

Many had their introduction to this candy when reading “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis, published in 1950. As you probably remember, the white witch tempted young Edmund to betray his siblings with this mysterious and delicious treat. When you try them, you will see if they hold the same allure for you.

Are you salivating? Here is the nice thing to remember: you won’t gain weight by looking at the pictures. Also keep in mind, you will probably be walking around London and burning more calories than sitting at your desk back home. Be selective and choose a few favorites to enjoy. One final thought: if we are what we eat, why not be sweet?