Celebratory Desserts from Different Cultures

Regardless of culture or religion, food plays an important role in the way we all celebrate special occasions and holidays. Within our own culture, food can unite us, making us feel connected to one other. Through this blog we take a look at 10 creatively different desserts around the world that make their grand appearance during specific times of the year. Grounded in tradition, these remarkable desserts are always a welcoming sight to the tastebuds, as they're usually the perfect ending to a delicious meal or a reminder that we should always be celebrating the sweetest and most delicious moments in life!


Spain: Rosca de Reyes

This oval shaped cake pastry is traditionally eaten on January 6 to celebrate "Día de los Reyes" also known as "Kings' Day", which honors the coming of the three wise men. In addition to decorating the cake with dried or candied fruits, one usually hides a charm, a coin or a figurine of Jesus Christ inside the bread to represent baby Jesus fleeing from King Herod's plan to kill all the babies that could be the Messiah. The lucky person who finds the figurine is blessed and is said to enjoy good luck in the year ahead. (Learn how to make this bread here.)

Philippines: Bibingka

Enjoyed during the Christmas season, this tantalizing dessert known as Bibingka is a rice cake from the Philippines that's made with rice flour, coconut milk, sugar, eggs and baking powder. Customarily, banana leaves line a special clay pot where the mixture is poured into. Then, more banana leaves are added on top and underneath to cover it as it's heated on hot coals. This soft, spongy cake's toppings include butter, sugar, cheese or coconut, with a texture that can either be spongy or sticky. During the holiday season, Bibingkas are usually enjoyed right after Midnight Mass where they are sold outside of churches. (Try making this mouth-watering dessert by checking out this recipe.)

Australia: Pavlova

Widely recognized as a popular Australian dish, Pavlova is a light and fluffy dessert similar to a meringue but different in that it has cornflour in it. The cornflour makes a crisp and crunchy outer shell with a soft marshmallow-like center. This cake is notorious for deflating if exposed to cold air, so after it's cooked, it's left in the oven to fully cool before the oven door is opened. It was named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, who toured Australia and New Zealand in 1926. Frequently served during celebratory and holiday meals, this dessert is usually decorated with fresh fruit and whipped cream. (Make the strawberry topped one, pictured above, by following this recipe.)

Czech Republic: Kolache

Poppyseed, prune, pineapple, apple and apricot is tucked away inside the middle of a sweet roll or pocket. This is a kolache, a pastry that holds a a dollop of fruit surrounded by a puffy pillow of soft dough. An indigenous food of the Czech Republic, the kolache has become quite popular in the United States as a semi-sweet alternative to more sugary desserts. In the US, the fruit can be swapped for sausages, cheese and even jalapenos. (Try out this raspberry white chocolate chip kolache recipe!)

Turkey: Asure (aka Noah's Pudding)

Asure or Noah's Pudding is a delightful Turkish dessert that was traditionally made to commemorate the ark's landing and to celebrate the bond between families, friends and neighbors as an offering of peace and love. As the legend goes, Noah and his animals were about to run out of food on the ark when he mixed together whatever ingredients were left and cooked them all together to feed his people. It's usually enjoyed during the first significant holiday of the Muslim year, Muharrem, which takes place on the 10th day of the first lunar month. On this day in history, Noah and his family were able to leave the ark after the floodwaters receded. This pudding is basically a mixture of grains, fruits and nuts. (Learn how to make this a version of asure here.)


India: Gulab Jamun

Gulab jamun is a popular Indian dessert made from deep fried dough soaked in sugar syrup and flavored with cardamom seeds, saffron and rosewater. It's enjoyed during important Indian festivals, marriages, birthdays and Diwali (the Indian festival of light). The dough is made from milk and then rolled into a ball with some flour. It's a delightful dessert for those who enjoy the texture of spongy foods. (The recipe to this sweet dessert can be found here.)


Korea: Tteok

Tteok (pronounced duk) are Korean rice cakes made with glutinous rice flour. Desired during celebrations, especially weddings and birthdays, Tteok has been a part of Korean culture for over 2,000 years, dating back to the Three Kingdom’s Period. There are about 200 forms of rice cakes which vary in size, shape, color and texture however, there are only four basic methods of preparation - boiling, steaming, pounding and frying. Korea has a Tteok Museum where visitors can learn about the rich history and tradition of Korea's favorite dessert. (Find out how to make this colorful rice cakehere.)

Germany: Lebkuchen

Lebkuchen, also known as honey cake, is a traditional German baked Christmas biscuit that resembles gingerbread with main ingredients that include honey, flour, sugar eggs and spices like cinnamon and ginger. It was created by Medieval monks in Franconia, Germany back in the 13th century and can be traced back to the early days in Europe when sugar was a luxury, and honey was used as a sweetener. These chewy, sweet and spicy biscuits are the perfect holiday treat. (Find a recipe for this German Christmas cookie here.)

Italy: Panforte

Panforte, also known as “strong bread” and is similar to a Christmas fruitcake. It is a traditional Italian dessert that's full of fruits and nuts. Originating in Siena, Italy, this chewy cake is also made of sugar which is dissolved in honey before all the nuts, fruits and spices get mixed in together with flour. Delightfully aromatic, this confection is said to have been paid to monks and nuns of an Italian monastery as a tax or tithe. (Find out how to make this delicious treat here.)

France: Bûche de Noël

Bûche de Noël is a traditional dessert that originated in France which is very popular during Christmas. The cake looks similar to a log and is cut off on one end, powdered sugar is sprinkled on top and it is decorated with branches, berries and mushrooms created from meringue. The origins of this dessert can be traced back to the ancient Celtic tradition of celebrating the winter solstice. On the shortest day of the year, the Celts would search for a large trunk and burn it as a symbol of the rebirth of the sun. It is typically made of a yellow sponge cake that's frosted and filled with chocolate buttercream.(Try making an elegant version of the yule log by following this recipe found on Gourmet.)


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Views: 888

Comment by The Mask on December 15, 2011 at 11:36

Where does one begin :)

Comment by Inspired Living SA on December 15, 2011 at 13:35

My favourite is definitely the Pavlova & Berries yum!!!

Comment by Everything She Loves on December 15, 2011 at 13:40

Pavlova all the way....to the gym:)

Comment by Inspired Living SA on December 15, 2011 at 15:40

Yip - that all forms part of the New Years Resolution list!

Comment by Socratis Avgitidis on December 15, 2011 at 15:44

My NY resolution is to actually bake one of these:)-Bûche de Noël is my kind of desert.

Comment by alexandra avgitidis on December 16, 2011 at 18:29

I'm going to bake the )Philippines) Bibingka!!

Comment by Inspired Living SA on December 16, 2011 at 19:52

Ok we would like a full report of all baking efforts! Taste tests would be good as well!

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