It’s hard to think of a Christmas ritual that is not centered around food.
As a self-proclaimed sugar junkie, December is an exciting time for me and anyone with a sweet tooth. Everywhere you look there are holiday candies, cookies, and cakes, oh my!
Production ramps up with the anticipation of the holiday season in kitchens everywhere. Every shop and household is busy dusting off those special recipes that we look forward to once a year.
It’s easy to forget that those traditional desserts in your part of the globe aren’t necessarily what’s popular everywhere. There are so many amazing treats from around the world to enjoy!
So if you are doing some last minute baking why not consult this list before deciding what to whip up for your friends and fam:
Lebkuchen – Germany
Lebkuchen is one of Germany’s quintessential holiday confections.
Often compared to gingerbread, lebkuchen combines a sweet and spicy blend of ingredients that typically includes honey, spices like cloves, ginger and cardamom and nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts.
Nuremberg is considered the capital of lebkuchen. A tradition that began some 600 years ago. Back then they were called ‘honey cakes’ and prized for that key ingredient that was practically worshiped for its magical healing and life-giving powers.
Today it is a time-honored and beloved tradition to bake lebkuchen to celebrate the holidays.
Vanillekipferl – Austria
The word ‘Kipferl’ is a broad term referring to anything crescent-shaped when it comes to baked goods.
When visiting an Austrian bakery you will find a wide variety of kipferl delights! From briochekipferl, germ-rosinen-kipferl, nusskipferl… the list goes on. But, the most famous of the kipferl, drumroll please, is the Vanillekipferl!
These small moon-shaped, vanilla sugar dusted biscuits are iconically Austrian and especially in demand during the winter and holiday season. Vanillekipferl have been enjoyed since the 13th century. They have a reputation for being a bit fussy to make but they are worth the effort.
Rum Cake – Caribbean
Most of the world’s rum is produced in the Caribbean and Latin America, so it is fitting that one of the most famous treats is soaked in the stuff.
Rum cake is descendant from the plum pudding recipes brought to the Caribbean by European colonists in the 18th century but with a distinctly Caribbean spin. Hello, rum!
This boozy holiday desert contains dried fruit that has been sitting in rum (sometimes for months) and combined with brown sugar, citrus peel, and spices. Nom.
Beigli – Hungary
This stuffed cake roll is a big-time favorite in Hungary.
Because it is so well-loved there are as many variations of Beigli as there are families in the country. It is enjoyed in many other central and Eastern European regions as well.
The dough is sweet and it can be found with a variety of fillings but the two most common are poppyseed and walnut. It is thought these rolls probably originated as a means of transforming leftover bread dough into a special treat for the family. And now the yeast-raised dough loaves are a sign of the season!
Banketstaaf – Netherlands
The Dutch Christmas log or Banketstaaf is a festive favorite in the Netherlands. The flaky pastry log is filled with almond paste and can be served as a dessert or in the morning for breakfast (yes please), or really anytime alongside a coffee or tea.
Sometimes these logs are formed into letter shapes (most common is an ’S’ for Sinterklaas).
Cold or warm, noon or night – this one will be a sure crowd pleaser.
Panforte – Italy
Panforte is a flat, chewy Italian dessert containing fruit and nuts. It is sort of fruitcake-candy hybrid.
The word translates to mean ’strong bread’ and its history dates back to the 11th century to the original variation called Panpepato (‘peppered bread’). At that time one of the many ingredients included was pepper, a rare and expensive spice.
In 1879 an alteration of the original Panpepato was made in honor of The Queen Margherita of Savoy. This version had a softer taste and replaced the black pepper with vanilla sugar – the Panforte was born!
Bûche De Noël – France
The custom of burning the Yule log goes back to medical times. A tree was chosen and burned during the winter solstice, a ritual that would protect the house and the family within.
The story goes that back in the 19th century Napoleon Bonaparte of France banned the use of chimneys during winter as it was believed that the cold air entering was spreading disease.
Instead of burning the Yule log in the hearth of a home, a cake resembling a log was gathered around instead! Parisian bakers popularized the desert in this way. Ever since the Bûche de Noël has been a very popular Christmas symbol in France, Quebec and other former French colonies.
Philippines – Bibingka
Filipinos are known to be some of the most religious people in the world. About 80% are Roman Catholic.
Night Mass is a nine-day mass period in the lead up to Christmas. On the last day, there is a big celebration with lots of food and special treats and bibingka is one of the most treasured.
The Filipino Christmas rice cake has a soft and spongy texture, and traditionally cooked in a terra-cotta pot lined with a banana leaf that holds in the mixture and covers on top while baking.
Not a bad line-up hun?!
What sort of sweets do you look forward eating over the holidays? We’d love to hear about your family must-haves and if you are trying anything new too. Comment below with your stories! 🌟