You’ve had your second, or possibly even third, helping of Christmas dinner. You’ve demolished as much turkey, stuffing, and Brussels sprouts as you possibly can, and you’re probably thinking, “I cannot eat another thing”. But when someone says “What about dessert?”, it’s almost as though we all develop a second, dessert-friendly stomach that immediately eradicates all memory of the main course, and the indulgence starts all over again. This is why we love Christmas.
Find out about different desserts for Christmas around the world
Whether you have a sweet tooth or not, Christmas desserts take some beating, especially those desserts we grew up indulging in as kids. Now they’re a vital part of our Christmas celebrations, giving us a sense of nostalgia, and we wouldn’t want to be without them. But every now again, it’s good to add something new into the mix. We’ve put together a list of seven awesome Christmas desserts from around the world that could add a little something extra to your Christmas dinner this year. Keep reading, and find some inspiration to give your Christmas an international twist this year!
Favorite desserts for Christmas in Europe
Probably the most recognizable of all the Christmas desserts is the aptly named Christmas pudding. Dating back to medieval England, this was originally created as a way to preserve meat. However, by the 1700s, it started to become closer to what we know today as Christmas pudding. Traditionally made from egg, suet, treacle, dried fruits, and several spices for flavoring, typically the mixture is prepared up to five weeks before Christmas on “stir-up Sunday”, the Sunday before advent. When served up, a lot of people will coat the finished pudding in brandy, and set it alight as a Christmas display, and a blue flame will briefly be visible. If you want to add to the already rich flavor, brandy butter—icing sugar, cooking butter, boiling water, and of course, brandy—is an excellent addition!
This Christmas treat has been around for close to 700 years and is a beloved Christmas pastry in Germany. Known in Germany as Christstollen, it is a yeast bread that is baked with dried fruits, candied citrus peel, nuts, and spices. Once out of the oven, the stollen is dusted with icing sugar to be reminiscent of the snowy landscape in Germany during the winter months. If you’re lucky enough to visit Germany over the Christmas period, you’ll be able to head to a bakery and sample some freshly made stollen bread, or visit one of the many Christmas markets that take place and have some while enjoying some mulled wine as well.
Bûche de Nöel or the Yule Log Cake
A favorite in France, Quebec, and in a number of former French colonies, this is a good alternative for those of you who are not so hot on dried fruit based Christmas desserts. Shaped like a log, as the name suggests, this cake is a chocolate lover’s dream, and a great opportunity to show off your baking skills. Essentially a chocolate-covered chocolate roulade, it’s as indulgent as you can get for a Christmas dessert, and it is sure to be favorite with all your guests this Yule Tide.
Roscón de Reyes
This Spanish Christmas dessert is traditionally eaten on the 6th of January. While for a lot of people, Christmas and New Year are over and real life has taken over again, in Spain, they are still celebrating. Similarly, countries that traditionally follow the Orthodox faith, such as Greece and Russia, celebrate on the 7th of January. This time of year is called Epiphany, and it is to celebrate when the Three Kings visited Jesus to offer their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Shaped like a doughnut and made of two pieces of yeasted dough, the filling is a generous helping of fluffy cream. Topped with candied fruits, the end result is emblematic of the crowns or hats worn by the Magi. In Spain, it’s traditional for children to receive gifts in the morning from the Three Kings, and many cities celebrate with a parade where three volunteers dress up as the kings and hand out candy to onlookers.
This traditional Hungarian pastry is not just eaten at Christmas, as they put it back on the menu for Easter as well. Made with a roll of sweet yeast bread, it is traditionally filled with poppy seeds or minced walnut. Various bakeries in Hungary offer different fillings nowadays to expand on your options. You can find Bejgli filled with chestnuts, plums, and cinnamon as well. However, the original fillings tend to be the preferred choice among Hungarians at Christmas and Easter. As a tasty accompaniment to this appetizing treat, Hungarians like to indulge in a glass of fruit wine as well.
Traditional Christmas food in Latin America
A firm favorite in Mexico over Christmas and New Year, bunuelos are fried dough covered in cinnamon sugar, and yes, it is as delicious as it sounds! It’s generally thought that bunuelos originate from Spain and made their way over to the Americas during the Spanish settlement of the region. You can now enjoy them across Latin America, especially in Colombia, Nicaragua, and Cuba, and there are various recipes and flavors, including savory versions as well. However, come Christmas time, these cinnamon covered treats are a staple of a Mexican Navidad.
How to celebrate Christmas in Japan
Japanese Christmas Cake
Christmas in Japan is more about a time to share and spread happiness than it is a religious celebration. Christmas Eve tends to be the day that people celebrate and it’s even considered a romantic day. Couples will spend the day together and enjoy seeing the Christmas lights around the city, and go to restaurants for a romantic meal, not too dissimilar to Valentine’s Day. If you want to enjoy a Japanese style Christmas, then you can’t go wrong with a Japanese Christmas cake. Unlike the traditional, European fruit cakes, this is usually a sponge cake with whipped cream and decorated with strawberries, and also occasionally topped off with Christmas chocolates or seasonal fruits. Since in Japan it’s traditional to celebrate on Christmas Eve, this could be a fun dessert before the real feast begins on the big day itself!