Is it sacrilegious to say that Christmas food can get a bit boring sometimes? Who even really likes brussels sprouts? No-one. This does feel like it could be quite a hot take so close to Christmas. If you’re struggling a little with the thought of sitting down to turkey and cranberry sauce for the hundredth time, maybe you have a guest with a dietary restriction coming over and you’re not sure what to cook, or maybe you just fancy a change – try one of these Christmas offerings from around the world.
Christmas Cake – Japan
Japanese Christmas cake is nothing like our rubbish Christmas cake. It’s a white sponge with strawberries and cream icing. If you hate marzipan and are happy to explain to your guests what makes this a Christmas cake (nothing really except Japan says so), then this is a great alternative to the claggy, heavy British fare.
Cougnou – Belgium
A sweet bread made with raisins, cougnou – or bread of Jesus – is usually served to children on Christmas and St Martin’s Day alongside a nice hot chocolate. The bread gets its name from the fact that it looks like the baby Jesus, and it may come with a little baby Jesus on it, or simply be baked into a mold that resembles the infant Christ.
Buñuelo – Spain
Made from sweet yeasted dough, these churro-adjacent donuts are then fried and, depending on where you are, filled or topped with a huge variety of different delicious sweet or savory things. Depending on where you are in Spain or Latin America, they’re a Christmas treat that is often served with a special custard called natillas, or sugar and cinnamon, among many other things.
Æbleskiver – Denmark
Fans of The Great British Bake Off will be at least familiar in passing with these adorable little Danish treats. Made of wheat flour and buttermilk, æbleskiver are not sweet themselves but can be topped with all manner of delicious sauces and sprinkles. Traditionally, æbleskiver were filled with apple, hence the name “apple slices,” but these days they’re dipped in jams and covered in powdered sugar.
Kari Ayam Debal – Malaysia
The name of this Malaysian dish literally translates to “Devil’s Curry,” so you should know what you’re in for with this one. It’s a culinary tradition of the Kristang People from Malaccan and infuses the flavours of the country’s Portuguese colonisers with traditional spices and tastes from Southeast Asia. It’s traditionally served a day or two after Christmas.
Knäck – Sweeden
Meaning “break,” Knäck also goes by Christmas Butterscotch. It’s a traditional toffee-type sweet that’s served in little paper cupcake cases. If you’re a big fan of Daim bars – and honestly, who isn’t – you’ll love these lovely toffies. It tends to come in two varieties; one made with light syrup, and the other made with dark syrup.
Champurrado – Mexico
No-one does hot chocolate like Mexico. This chocolate atole (a masa-based drink) is thick, rich, and delightfully spiced, and it’s got such a lovely depth of flavour that’ll remind you of Christmas every time you smell it. Champurrado is traditionally served with churros after the Day of the Dead, and with tamales around Las Posadas, the nine days of celebration leading up to Christmas.