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
Eaten In: Chile
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
Eaten in: Canada
Thanksgiving dessert in Canada is all aboot Nanaimo bars: three decadent layers of coconut, custard, and chocolate.
Eaten in: Morocco
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.
Eaten In: Philippines
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.
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
Eaten In: America
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.
Eaten In: Germany
Franconian monks first concocted lebkuchen in the 13th Century. This soft, gingerbread-like cookie is made from spices, candied citrus peel, and hazelnuts.
Eaten In: China
Holiday: Mid-Autumn Festival
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.
Eaten In: Denmark
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.