With gingerbread men, candy canes and rich fruit cake, the holidays offer a wealth of sweet treats. But by looking at the Christmas traditions celebrated across the globe, you can find bountiful local specialties to try. If you love desserts as much as we do, take a look at our pick of mouth-watering Christmas food around the world that we can’t wait to tuck into.
French Bûche de Noël
Bûche de Noël, or the Yule Log, can now be found in many countries during the holidays, but this roulade is a common feature on French dining tables in particular on Christmas Day. Combining sponge cake and butter icing with chocolate ganache, this is an indulgent treat few could turn down.
Pan de Pascua in Chile
The Chilean cake, pan de Pascua, is considered the nation’s holiday treat, as the word Pascua refers to Christmas as well as Easter in Chile. Derived from a similar recipe introduced to the nation by German immigrants, this sweet sponge cake combines ginger, honey, candied fruit and nuts.
While panettone is the best known of Italy’s festive desserts, struffoli is another worth seeking out. For this Neapolitan sweet, dough balls are fried until golden and crisp on the outside, and then coated in honey, cinnamon, sweet sprinkles and candied orange rind. Served warm, these indulgent treats can be found across Italy during the festive period.
British Christmas Pudding
It was in medieval England that Christmas pudding first became popular, and was often referred to as plum pudding. Especially rich due to its abundance of dried fruit and spices, commonly with the addition of treacle and brandy, these steamed puddings are ideal for wintery days, and are often theatrically flambéed at the dinner table.
Cougnou in Belgium
At Christmas, this sweet bread with milk and raisins is made to represent the baby Jesus and traditionally given to children with a mug of hot chocolate. Cougnou varies across Belgium’s southern regions, with a unique style of decoration in each place.
Bolo Rei in Portugal
Translating to King Cake, Bolo Rei is a Portuguese cake typically cooked up at Christmas, and eaten from the 25th until the 6th January, which the Portuguese refer to as Kings’ Day. This ring-shaped cake of dough stuffed with nuts and raisins and decorated with crystallised fruit is said to have been introduced by the monarchy’s official bakery Confeitaria Nacional in 1829.
Pavlova of Australia and New Zealand
It’s believed this meringue dessert containing fruit and whipped cream originates from the 1920s, when Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova toured Australia and New Zealand and the dessert was made in her honour. There is some dispute around where the dish actually originates, but it is considered a national dish of these two nations, and typically a part of the Christmas feast.
This sweet confectionary made from sugar and egg white, with toasted almonds and candied fruit nestled within it, can be found in Spain year-round. But Christmas is when it’s most likely to be served and enjoyed with some Spanish dessert wine. Originating from 15th century Alicante, this truly is an authentic taste of Spain.
If you’re inspired to seek out this Christmas food around the world, take a look at the Trafalgar trips that go to each of these destinations.
Image credits: Cover photo © iStock / dfphotonz. The Yule Log © iStock / etorres69. Italian Struffoli © iStock / Angelafoto. Christmas Pudding © iStock / ZAKmac. Bolo Rei in Portugal © iStock / nataliaspb. Pavlova © iStock / GMVozd.