8 Countries 8 Christmas Sweet Treats

Our love affair with trying sweets from all over the world never ends. Step into 2017 in style.

A sweet tradition at the start of a new year could be more important than we thought. If you’re ready to leave all the baggage behind in 2016 to start 2017 on the best foot, indulge yourself by making your own Christmas treat tradition. Here you have some inspiration.

NetherlandsOliebollen

Oliebollen

They have often been called the precursor of the doughnut, the popular American treat.

Literally meaning ‘oil balls’ (Dutch Doughnuts) oliebollen are deep fried dough balls, studded with raisins and currants. Usually an oliebol is simply a large ball of sweet, fried doughy deliciousness and sweetened with a generous dusting of powdered sugar. They are traditionally served around Christmas and New Year, always with coffee.

Russia: Bobalki- Bobal’ki

This Sweet is typically served on the Christmas Eve meal. It consists on small biscuits combined with poppy seed with honey. Bobalky ingredients include: ground poppy seed, honey, sugar and boiling water. Milk is listed as an ingredient too, but for strict observers they may want to substitute with non-dairy such as almond or soy milk. There are different recipes for bobalky, but the right level of sweetness is what makes it tasty.

Russian Orthodox Christmas takes place on January 7th (following the Old Calendar, this is the 25th of December) and the celebration lasts for six days. In the Orthodox tradition nothing is eaten or drunk on Christmas Eve until the first star appears in the sky. The star is symbolic of the great star that led the Magic Kings to the newly born Christ. Once the first star has appeared in the sky, the festivities begin with a Lenten meal where meat or dairy products (including chocolates) are excluded. This Christmas Eve meal is ‘The Holy Supper’. The family gathers around the table to honor the coming Christ Child.

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Scandinavian Countries, Sweden & NorwayLussekatter – Lucia Buns.

They are a sweet bread or ‘boller’ (saffron Buns) decorated with raisins. The literal translation of lussekatter is ‘Lucia cats’; this is because of the characteristic winding tail design. Traditionally, lussekatter were made with saffron, a very fine product for the time, as it was very expensive and hard to get a hold of. The saffron gave the buns a special flavour and their yellow colour. Saffron is still used today in some recipes, but as it is still expensive, people use turmeric or a saffron essence instead for color. Lussekatter also have quark, a special ricotta cheese.

In Sweden and Norway, saffron bread and buns are traditionally eaten on St. Lucia’s Day (13th December) and they are referred to as Lussebullar, Lusseboller or Lussekatter depending on where you are. On St. Lucia’s Day they wake up early and sing the light into the darkness. Processions of children in white robes tied with red sashes walk through towns holding candles. At the front there’s a girl – the Lucia Bride – that wears a wreath of real candles in her hair.

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Lucia is Santa Lucia. Her eyes were so beautiful, that they were admired by anyone who looked into them. In the act of chastity, she tore them out. For this great sacrifice God gave her a pair of even prettier eyes. Santa Lucia is the protector of the blind and the saint of the light. As her day is the 13th of December, they celebrate it to bring more light into the long Swedish winter nights.

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GermanyDresdner Stollen

A very special Christmas treat. Dresdner Stollen is the famous fruitcake from Dresden that is sold throughout Germany during the Christmas holiday season. This tasty version bursts with nuts and fruit is sure to change your mind about the term ‘fruitcake’.

By law of the European Union, commercially sold Dresden Stollen can only be made in Dresden based  certain standards. Stollen has been sold at the Dresden Christmas market since the 15th century. If you happen to go to Germany, don’t miss going to this amazing and charming city. And if you’re planning a getaway, this is the place to go.

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Dresden at Christmas time

ItalyPanettone & Pandoro

When it comes to traditional Italian Christmas cakes we can choose between Panettone (with raisins and candied fruit) or Pandoro (a delicious simple and buttery cake). If you don’t like fruits, you’ll go straight  to Pandoro, but if you do, the best thing is to buy or make both of them! They are the Italian Christmas treasures. Here are the main differences between both sweet breads:

Panettone: A Christmas bread from Milan. The sweet, yeasty treat has a distinctive domed shape. Panettone is often compared to fruitcakes because both are traditionally made with raisins and candied fruits.

Panettone
Panettone

Pandoro: A Christmas cake that originated in Verona. A traditionally star-shaped cake that is dusted with powdered sugar. True to its name (pan d’oro means ‘golden bread’), the cake has a bright yellow color

Pandoro
Pandoro
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Florenze

EnglandChristmas Pudding

An old time favorite and also the traditional end to the British Christmas dinner. The Christmas pudding making starts on the Sunday that is closest to Saint Andrew’s Day (November 30th). The “Stir Up Sunday”. 

Christmas pudding with English custard

It’s usually served along with amazing and delicious English custard. Some people like to flambé the pudding once on the table with more Brandy, then is served with cream or custard. The flavors are amazing, with that hint of Brandy, just the perfect end of a huge meal.

The Old tradition tells how to make it. It should be thirteen ingredients in the pudding (represents The 12 Apostles and Jesus): raisins, currents, suet, brown sugar, bread crumbs, citron, lemon peel, orange peel, flour, mixed spices (usually cinnamon, coriander seed, ginger, cloves, allspice…), eggs, milk, and brandy. When cooked it has a dark brown finish and a shiny glaze on top. There’s a say in the Book of Prayers: “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen”

If you’re planning to go to UK just try this delicacy. It’s a heavy dessert but it’s worth it.

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FranceGalette de rois

The galette des rois is a cake traditionally shared at Epiphany, on 6 January. It celebrates the arrival of the Three Wise Men in Bethlehem. Composed of a puff pastry cake with a small charm hidden inside with notches incised across it, and browned in the oven. It is usually filled with frangipane, a cream made from sweet almonds, butter, eggs and sugar. But more gourmet versions are available today, like with chocolate, apple or candied fruits. The one the French like most is filled with frangipane. It is said to have been invented by a Florentine nobleman, the Marquis of Frangipani, several centuries ago.

In the past, the pastry would be cut into as many portions as there were guests, plus one. The last one, called the “part du pauvre” or poor man’s share, was for the first poor person who stopped by the house.

In the South of France, the traditional dessert is not a puff pastry but a brioche or couronne des Rois with fruit on top or sugar, also containing a fève (a charm), and known as the gâteau des rois. It is made from a sweet brioche dough flavoured with orange flower essence, shaped into a crown, with pieces of red fruit and sugar on top (similar to the Spanish Roscón de Reyes)

Couronne des Rois au sucre perle