Traditional Christmas Cakes, Cookies and Pastries from Around the World

With the holidays right around the corner, I’m sure we are all looking forward to all the goodies that we only get to enjoy around this time of year. Most of us are familiar with the tree-shaped Christmas cookies and the (infamous) fruit cake. But we aren’t as familiar with the sweet treats other countries eat for the holiday. Today, let’s take a virtual trip around the world and see what others enjoy around this time of year!

France: Buche de Noel

This interesting looking log-shaped cake has quite an interesting history. The Celtic’s winter solstice celebration involved burning a giant log as a thank you for the warmth the sun provided that year. In the 12th century, the pagan tradition began to evolve with the rise of Catholicism. As time continued and houses no longer had fireplaces, or space for a giant wooden log, the yule log cake eventually came into prominence. This heavenly chocolate cake rolled with chocolate whipped cream has now become the symbol of Christmas time in France. If you want to learn more about this cake, read more on this post

Colombia: Buñuelos

This predominantly Catholic country takes Christmas very seriously, starting celebrations on December 1st. There is one tradition that Colombians never skip and that is the eating of buñuelos. Buñuelos are a type of bread made from costeño cheese which is similar to queso fresco, but harder and saltier. They have a perfectly crispy crust and pillow-y soft interior, creating the perfect balance of textures. Buñuelos are best enjoyed with Colombian hot chocolate. If you want to be traditional, add a block of cheese to your hot chocolate. It may sound strange, but it is absolutely delightful!

Sweden: Pepparkakor

You may know this cookie by its English name, “gingerbread.” Our current gingerbread men cookies are actually a variation of the pepparkakor of Sweden. When Europeans began emigrating to the Americas they brought over the delicious pepparkakor with them, but found that sugar was quite difficult to come by. The settlers replaced sugar with the much cheaper molasses, creating a softer and thicker cookie. The pepparkakor is still enjoyed in Sweden and much of Europe, but it is a much crispier cookie than the American version we may know. 

Denmark: Æbleskiver

Do you love pancakes? If so, this is the holiday treat you need to try! In Denmark around Christmas time, street vendors and families start to cook up the aebleskivers. This treat looks a lot like a pancake but comes in a spherical shape, so it’s like a pancake ball. The treat itself is quite simple in flavor, but it is usually paired with berry jams and sprinkled with powdered sugar to make it more flavorful and enjoyable.

Malawi: Mbatata (Sweet potato spice cookies)

Holiday goodies aren’t usually the healthiest for you, but Malawi’s sweet potato spice cookies are an exception to this rule. This southeastern African country has a heavily agricultural economy, and the sweet potato is an important part of their diets and culture. It even sneaks into their sweet treats! The mbatatas are traditionally cut into a heart shape, to represent the loving nature of the people of Malawi. Try these lovely cookies and get a taste of the kind nature of the Malawi people.

We may not be able to fully travel for the holidays yet, but we can always enjoy the delicacies of other cultures at home. Try something new this holiday season and give one of these sweet treats a taste!

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