Christmas is celebrated in many places throughout the world. From a gastronomic point of view, there is a guiding thread that is common too many nations: Christmas desserts. Here are some of the traditional desserts being served in seven different countries to celebrate the festive season:
There is no one like the French to demonstrate all that is chic, luxurious and refined about their products during Christmas. The puddings, of course, are no exception. If you had to choose one, it would without a doubt be the “Bûche de Noël,” a cake in the shape of a log, rolled and covered in chocolate, cream, jam or caramel, and decorated with a Christmas theme.
Italian cuisine offers many typical desserts. One that stands out among them is the “Pandoro,” originating from the city of Verona, a dessert that is consumed all over Italy at Christmas. It is a very fluffy leavened sponge cake in the shape of a star that is prepared with cocoa and vanilla butter.
There are many typical desserts at Spanish tables during these dates, but the “turrón” is a classic that can’t be missed. Of Arabic origin, the “turrón” is a sweet pastry that is made by cooking honey, sugar, egg whites and almonds.
At Christmastime, the typical gingerbread cakes known as Spekulatius cannot be missed in German homes. They are made with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger powder, cardamom and white pepper. Although they can be bought in any bakery, typically they are made and baked at home with the help of children.
A country with a Buddhist majority does not celebrate Christmas, but the Japanese people are respectful to those who adhere to other religions, enjoy festivities in general, and could not resist also celebrating the 25th day of December with the typical “Kurisumasu Keiki” or Christmas cake, a cream tart adorned with fresh strawberries, adapted from a classic American recipe.
The Ottoman occupation of the Balkans resulted in the acceptance of many Turkish customs in the region, and, of course, the patisserie is one of them. Christian families in Serbia always serve typical “baklava” after the Christmas meal, a very sweet cake that originated in Turkey and is made with chopped nuts or pistachios over a fine puff pastry soaked in syrup or honey.
The most popular Christmas dessert in the British Isles is the Christmas Pudding, a hearty dessert that is made with dried fruit and lots of spices cooked for a long time. Many families still soak them afterwards in brandy or rum and leave them covered in a heavy cloth so that the flavor and the shape are absorbed and combined completely. ■