Mince Pies (England)
The history of this tasty pastry dates back to the 11th century and originally included three spices (cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg) to represent the three gifts given to the Christ child by the Magi. Throughout the 1700s, only the upper class could afford pastry chefs to create this dish during the Christmas season, making mince pies a symbol of wealth. In modern times, children often leave out mince pies for Santa on Christmas Eve. View recipe.
Sfenj is a doughnut cooked in oil and often a traditional Hanukkah dish in northern Africa. This delicious yeast doughnut, with an Arabic name meaning “sponge,” is known for being both crispy on the outside and airy on the inside. Typically, it’s eaten as breakfast or is a snack purchased from a street vendor. It’s dipped in sugar and drizzled with syrup or honey. While sfenj may look like a beignet or an American doughnut, it is much less sweet, tasting more like fried bread. View recipe.
Pan de Pascua (Chile)
There is some confusion about the naming of this Christmas cake. Translated into English, it technically means Easter bread. But it’s more of a cake, and commonly eaten at Christmastime. Also, in Chile the word “Pascua” is interchangeable with Navidad (Christmas). This spongy cake is flavored with rum, fruit and nuts and is often paired with a spiced, alcoholic coffee called cola de mono (monkey’s tail). It’s similar to eggnog but lighter. Pan de Pascua is thought to be influenced by European holiday breads, namely Italian panettone and German stollen. View recipe.
Benne Wafers – Kwanzaa Cookies (United States of America)
Benne (or sesame seeds) – the main ingredient in this cookie – originated in East Africa, was transferred to West Africa and then cultivated by African slaves who brought the seeds to the U.S. Legend has it that eating benne wafers brought good luck. The thin and crispy wafer is both delicious and simple to make. In the U.S. and parts of Canada, benne wafers are a favorite treat during Kwanzaa, a week-long celebration honoring African heritage in African-American culture that happens between December 26 and January 1. View recipe.
If you’re up for eating a dessert that’s difficult to pronounce, Möndlugrautur may be the right choice for you. This Icelandic Christmas dish is a type of rice pudding with one almond hidden inside. Whoever finds and eats the almond is said to have good luck for the upcoming year. For some added fun, have a gift set aside for the guest or family member who finds the almond. This warm, creamy dish is a perfect way to end a cold winter night. Grab a spoon and dream about the Northern Lights dancing in the Icelandic skies. View recipe.
Are there any international dishes you’ll be sharing with family and friends this holiday season? Let us know!
If so, subscribe now for tips on home, money, and life delivered straight to your inbox.