Happy holidays from all of us here at AESU! The holiday season is a time for festiveness and relaxation with friends and family. Throughout the world, people have celebrated the coming of Christmas and the New Year by creating and enjoying special treats. Some have even built traditions around those treats too! Whether you’re in the mood to try something new for your holiday dessert offering or are simply curious about other cultural traditions, these holiday treats are sure to put you in the festive spirit.
France: Bûche de Noël
Christmas cake is relatively popular as a holiday treat and you’ll see it just about everywhere, with variations depending on each country and its traditions. France, as you might expect, has one of the most artistically beautiful cakes in the Bûche de Noël. This cake looks like a wooden log, and in fact, it is created with special decoration techniques to make it look more like it. Icing is used on the outside to make it look like bark, while a sugar dusting makes it look like a dusting of snow. The actual cake portion uses yellow cake and a tasty chocolate buttercream filling and is rolled in a very distinctive style. No matter how ornate the cake may be, don’t be afraid to dig in!
Cookies are very popular holiday treats in America, with snickerdoodles, gingerbread cookies, sugar cookies, and more enjoyed at holiday parties all over the country. Sweden also enjoys their cookies during Christmas too, the most popular of which would be the Pepparkakor. This is a very thin spiced cookie that can be snapped very easily – with the tap of a knuckle. It is said in Sweden that if you can snap your cookie into 3 perfect pieces and eat it without saying a word, your wish will be granted!
Buñuelos are pastries that are found throughout Latin America, but the Mexican version of this holiday treat is very distinctive (and tasty!). The original recipe produces a fried dough ball that is then flavored with all kinds of sweet ingredients such as anise and cinnamon syrup. In Mexico, however, the buñuelo is rolled flat, almost like a tortilla, before being placed in the fryer and then served with piloncillo syrup. They say that Mexican buñuelos pair perfectly with a hot cup of Mexican hot chocolate, too!
In Slavic and Nordic countries, pudding tends to be dominant in the holiday treats department. At the end of the devout Christmas season, where Orthodox believers are expected to fast throughout, Ukrainians look forward to their serving of kutya to mark the beginning of their festive Christmas dinner. And we do mean beginning – the Ukrainian kutya is one of those rare holiday treats where you’re expected to eat it before you begin eating the main course! The pudding is comprised of a mix of walnuts, poppy seeds, and wheat berries topped with a drizzle of honey.
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