Christmas is my favorite time of year. The two most important parts of Christmas for me are family and food. This year Christmas will be seen through the eyes of my one-year-old grandson. How special is that? I will begin to teach him all about our family’s Christmas traditions, including the food. (Read this blog I wrote for Paper Lantern Writers about my Holiday Cooking Traditions.) In today’s post, I will talk specifically about Christmas desserts around the world and share recipes, too!
Americans, of course, love their pumpkin pie. That’s clearly shown in this 2019 map of Favorite Holiday Treat by State. Pumpkins are harvested in fall, and the spices in the pie (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice) have become synonymous with the season.
In Germany, pfeffernusse cookies are a popular Christmas treat. Small balls spiced with black pepper and anise are rolled in powdered sugar before baking. They are soft and chewy. I’m lucky to have my husband’s grandmother’s recipe for these.
Chile serves up pan de pascua (pascua refers to both Easter and Christmas in Spanish), a holiday fruitcake with dulce de leche in the batter. A cross between German stollen and Italian panettone, this rich, dense cake is filled with dried fruit and nuts.
The United Kingdom is known for its Christmas pudding. In this case, a pudding refers to a dark, sticky, dense cake very much like a fruitcake. The pudding is better made in advance, so the Sunday before Advent becomes a traditional day to make it.
Latin American countries make buñuelos for Ramadan, Hanukkah, and Christmas. The dough is fried and covered with syrup or dusted with sugar. Usually seen in discs like elephant ears, for the holidays buñuelos are made in balls like a Mexican donut.
The Australian holiday falls in the summertime, so a light, chilled dessert like pavlova is needed. This meringue dessert is made of sugar and eggs, topped with strawberries, brandy snaps, or ice cream.
In Brazil, one of the most popular desserts is flan. It’s sweet, with a creamy texture, and it only takes fifteen minutes to make. Every family has their own recipe, but they all involve eggs, sweetened condensed milk, and milk.
A Christmas in Poland is not complete without Polish Christmas Cookies, or Pierniczki świąteczne. They smell great when they’re baking. These crisp cutout cookies are hung on the tree, given as gifts, and eaten by the entire family.
Slovakians eat honey cake slices, or Medové Rezy for Christmas. Much like a petit four, this dessert is made of four thin slices of honey cake filled with a creamy pudding mixture and a layer of jam. The whole stack is topped with a chocolate glaze.
In Denmark, spherical pancake-like aebleskivers are cooked in a special pan with hollow indentations. The dough is flavored with lemon zest and cardamom, and served with jam or applesauce.
Much thanks to Four Around the World for this information.
Linda Ulleseit is the award-winning author of The Aloha Spirit and Under the Almond Trees. Her next historical novel, The River Remembers, will be published in 2023. To interact with her and other historical fiction authors and readers, join PLW’s Facebook group SHINE.