With so many life demands, not to mention the craziness of the world we live in, waking up early in the morning can be tough enough, let alone waking up in a good mood. When I know I have to get up extra early to tackle a busy day of work and home priorities, I will often build in something to look forward to in the morning – such as listening to a travel-inspired podcast, taking a walk, or savoring a European-inspired sweet treat with my coconut almond milk latte. Or if I really need the extra motivation – I reward myself with all three …and all before I start the workday.
For me, anticipating what I’m going to eat for my have to get up early to embrace my 10-hour work day morning is half the motivation. And it’s no surprise that my go-to breakfast rewards just happen to have origins in Europe. So when I’m eating them, it’s almost as if I’m transported to Europe, even for a few minutes. Ok, not really, but did I mention my 10-hour work day? Still, there’s something about European pastries – whether you eat them for breakfast, dessert or anytime throughout the day – that make you dream of your favorite travels, and daydreaming seems to make the day a little brighter and happier. And let’s face it, we could all use brighter, happier days right about now.
So what are my favorite European breakfast pastries?
3 European Breakfast Pastries I’d Seriously Wake Up Early For
British Scones – Scones are my absolute favorite treat to have for breakfast or even an afternoon break. Believed to have originated in Scotland, the scone grew in popularity across the UK over many years, eventually becoming a staple for afternoon tea. I enjoyed my first authentic British scone during my first afternoon tea in Wales while traveling throughout the UK one summer. Although scones vary by country and region, I remember the traditional British scone as being plain, dense and crumbly – similar to a typical US biscuit but with less butter – and not too sweet. Hence, the scone was also accompanied by thick and sticky raspberry preserves and Devonshire clotted cream (a very thick cream that tastes like a combination of heavy whipped cream and butter). Modern day scones come in a variety of flavors and often contain currants, berries, chocolate chips, or nuts. My local US favorite is the Panera orange scone, although just about any maple walnut scone is a close second. While Panera’s scone is not exactly like a traditional British scone – it’s more fluffy and very sweet – it still reminds me of that first tea experience, and is just the incentive I need to get out of bed.
Dutch Stroopwafels – I first tried a stroopwafel while on a United Airlines flight on my way to Europe many years ago. I was curious and a little confused as to why I was being served what looked like a plain, prepackaged American waffle for breakfast but then quickly realized the stroopwafel was very different. Originating in the Netherlands, the wafel is much thinner and more like a wafer cookie. Two of the wafers are used to sandwich a sweet filling, like honey, caramel, chocolate or Nutella, creating a soft chewy center. The trick with these beauties is to set the wafel over your hot tea, coffee or latte just for a minute or two until the cookie warms up a bit (not too long or it will literally fall into your mug!) and then, just like magic, it becomes gooey perfection! Side note: Trader Joe’s sells Daelmans mini stroopwafels which are great if you just need a taste to get you by.
French Croissants – And finally, how could a blog post about European pastries be complete without a faux trip to France for a buttery, French croissant? Like the traditional British scone, plain croissants are not really sweet, but can be sweetened with preserves or flavored butter. But when you truly have an authentic French croissant – with all of its flaky and buttery goodness – adding anything else to it might distract from the true taste. While in Paris a few years back, I remember trying several types of croissants – almond, apple, chocolate and more. But when authentic and fresh out of the oven (or close to it), the classic, plain butter croissant is all you really need for morning motivation and a trip down a Parisian-inspired memory lane. I admit, it’s hard to find authentic French croissants in the US, however, the Galaxy Classic Croissants from Williams Sonoma are pretty darn close.