holiday desserts from around the world

Around the World in 10 Holiday Desserts

Between fresh snow and family reunions, the holidays are invariably the best time of the year. But what really makes this season reign supreme? The food. Or to be more specific, the dessert.

Once you’ve had your fill of obligatory pumpkin pie and candy canes, opt for one of these exotic desserts from around the world.

1. Pan De Pascua

pan de pascua

Eaten In: Chile

Holiday: Christmas

This dense spice cake is an adaptation of stollen, the traditional German fruit bread. Do as the Chileans do and flavor it with rum, fill it with dried nuts, and pair it with cola de mono.

 

2. Nanaimo Bar

nanaimo bars Canada

Eaten in: Canada

Holiday: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving dessert in Canada is all aboot Nanaimo bars: three decadent layers of coconut, custard, and chocolate.

 

3. Sfenj

sfenj

Eaten in: Morocco

Holiday: Hanukah

This Moroccan donut is the lesser-known cousin of sufganiya, the classic jelly-filled delight. Add flavor to the unsweetened dough with a drizzle of honey or sprinkle of sugar.

 

4. Bibingka

bibingka

Eaten In: Philippines

Holiday: Christmas

Bibingka is a coconut rice cake topped with shredded cheese and salted eggs, making it a peculiar sweet and salty combo. Filipino vendors sell it outside churches in the days leading up to Christmas.

 

5. Niangao

niangao

Eaten In: China

Holiday: Chinese New Year

Celebrate the Chinese New Year with a bite of this sweet rice cake flavored with almond extract and Chinese brown sugar. A piece of niangao is even said to improve your luck in the coming year.

 

6. Sweet Potato Pie

sweet potato pie

Eaten In: America

Holiday: Kwanzaa

Most families have their own secret recipe, but it usually includes sweet potatoes, vanilla, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Top it with marshmallow and pecans for an extra sweet finish.

 

7. Lebkuchen

Lebkuchen

Eaten In: Germany

Holiday: Christmas

Franconian monks first concocted lebkuchen in the 13th Century. This soft, gingerbread-like cookie is made from spices, candied citrus peel, and hazelnuts.

 

8. Mooncake

mooncake

Eaten In: China

Holiday: Mid-Autumn Festival

Mooncake pastries are traditionally stuffed with lotus seed paste and salted egg yolk. But if you dare, you can find more exotic flavors like crayfish or bullfrogs in Shanghai.

 

9. Pepparkakor

Pepparkakor

Eaten In: Sweden

Holiday: St. Lucia Day

These thin, crisp cookies are just like your mom’s gingersnaps. It’s custom to make a wish and tap the middle of the cookie until it breaks. Superstition dictates that your wish will come true if it cracks into exactly three pieces.

 

10. Vaniljekranse

Vaniljekranse

Eaten In: Denmark

Holiday: Christmas

With a wreath-like shape and vanilla flavor, it only makes sense that these crisp butter cookies directly translate to “vanilla wreath” in English.

 

Sweets are plentiful during the holidays, but you can (and should) treat yourself year-round. These international desserts will hold you over until next season’s first snow.

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