30 Best Holiday Cookies From Around the World from 30 Best Holiday Cookies From Around the World Slideshow
30 Best Holiday Cookies From Around the World Slideshow
30 Best Holiday Cookies From Around the World
There isn’t a better treat to complement a glass of eggnog than a warm gingerbread cookie. The smell of cinnamon is a sweet reminder of holiday cheer and the warmth that comes with being with loved ones. Around the world, cookies are also a holiday treat, and different cultures enjoy their own traditional cookies.
Gingerbread cookies or sugar cookies are traditionally baked around the holidays in America (and in some other countries as well), whether we’re leaving them for Santa or baking them for ourselves. But beyond these classic confections, other countries have their own recipes for holiday cookies.
Mailänderli, a lemon-flavored shortbread cookie, is a holiday cookie in Switzerland that is usually cut into all shapes and sizes. Joulutorttu are pinwheel-shaped Finnish holiday cookies or little tarts that are traditionally filled with prunes or lingonberries. The vanillekipferl, or vanilla crescent, is a crescent-shaped cookie from Austria that is made with ground almonds, walnuts, or hazelnuts, flavored with vanilla, and dusted with sugar.
These holiday cookies from around the world will inspire you to try something new when baking with friends and family this year.
Varying recipes for these treats with dulce de leche spread between two butter cookies are enjoyed throughout Latin America, but they’re especially prominent in Buenos Aires, where they are often served year-round as a treat to accompany coffee. During the holiday season, though, it’s tradition to bake alfajores with one’s unique family recipe.
Brazil (Brigadeiro Cookies)
This treat is extremely popular in Brazil. Brigadeiro cookies are delicious, sweet little chocolate balls covered in sprinkles. They’re perfect if you’re looking for a quick and easy dessert to round off your meal. And with only 3 ingredients, they can even be whipped up in a microwave!
Belgium and the Netherlands (Speculaas)
In the Netherlands, the Christmas season begins on the second Saturday of November and continues through December 6, which is St. Nicholas’ Day. In Belgium and the Netherlands, these spiced ginger cookies are elaborately cut and carved into depictions of St. Nicholas (or Sinterklaas, as he is called in this region) and other characters from stories about him by way of special wooden molds.
Canada (Nanaimo Bars)
These treats are Canada’s hidden culinary secret! They are really wonderful and pretty simple to make: with a graham cracker base, an instant-pudding filling and melted chocolate on top. They are named after Nanaimo, British Columbia on Vancouver. The best part about making these is that they require no baking!
Caribbean and South America (Besitos De Coco)
Joulutorttu are pinwheel-shaped Finnish holiday cookies or tarts that are traditionally filled with prunes or lingonberries. Making them usually entails a two-day process, where the pastry and filling are made on the first day, refrigerated overnight, and then assembled.
These cookies are said to have been introduced to France in the sixteenth century by Catherine de Medici, who was raised in Florence before marrying Henri II. There are many different variations of the cookie — some include candied cherries, cornflakes, or oats.
Called either lebkuchen, meaning “gingerbread,” or pfefferkuchen, meaning “pepper cookie,” this cookie is softer than the traditional gingerbread cookie you may be used to and typically have honey and spices. The German variation can be rectangular or round and has a sweet, slightly nutty taste. Similar recipes date back to ancient Egypt, but the most well-known variation of the cookie is the Nürnberger lebkuchen, from the German city of Nürnberg, where it was made into creative shapes and designs and decorated by a professional guild of gingerbread makers, the Lebkuchner Guild.
These egg-shaped cookies are very sweet as they are dunked in honey and finished with nuts and cinnamon.
The kieflie (often called a kiffle) is a crescent-shaped pastry with a walnut filling. They are mildly sweet, very buttery, soft, and flaky, and they can be found throughout the country during Chrstmastime.
Small round cookies called struffoli are baked for the holidays in Italy. They’re also known as “honey balls,” and they can usually be found piled in a tree-shaped mound or arranged to resemble a wreath. Ingredients include honey, eggs, and margarine, but the treats can be topped with sprinkles, toasted pine nuts, silver balls, or candied fruits.
India and Pakistan (Nankhatai)
These biscuits originated in the city of Surat during the sixteenth century and are now popular throughout India and Pakistan. Often served warm with tea in the afternoon or after a large meal, they have a dense, buttery texture.
Iran (Rice Cookies)
These classic Iranian cookies are made with rice flour and a hint of rose water (a common ingredient in many Middle Eastern dishes), and tend to be quite crumbly. They’re often topped with poppy seeds for decoration, but it’s optional.
This iconic cookie that is also very popular in Scotland and Britain is often eaten on New Year’s Eve. They are buttery and delicious — perfect to enjoy with a cup of tea or simply as a comforting reminder of your grandparents.
Hamantaschen is a Yiddish word that literally means “Haman pockets” — they’re named for Haman, the antagonist of the Book of Esther. Hamataschen are triangular-shaped cookies usually served on the Jewish Hoilday Purim. The inside of the pastry-like cookies can be filled with a variety of different fillings, including poppy seeds, prunes, nuts, fruit preserves, or caramel.
Japan (Matcha Cookies)
Japan is a culinary goldmine, and it’s famous for having many interesting sweets and pastries that have become popular around the world. Matcha has become particularly popular — not only for its health benefits, but also because of its unique, earthy flavor. These bright green cookies are easy to make, slightly healthier than your average butter cookie, and add a pop of color to any spread!
Malta (Maltese Lemon-Infused Cookies)
The addition of lemon gives these cookies a bright Mediterranean twist. They are crunchy and very buttery, a refreshing addition to your tea or coffee at a post-holiday feast.
Mexico (Galletas Con Chochitos)
These ring-shaped cookies are topped with colorful sprinkles — chocolate sprinkles for an everyday treat, and red and green ones for the holidays. They’re made with egg yolks, vanilla extract, an egg white, and, of course, a variety of sprinkles.
Russia (Russian Tea Cake Cookies)
This cookie was also popular in England in the Middle Ages and consists of lots of butter, flour, and sugar — with ground hazelnuts mixed in of course.
These nutty cookies are perfect for Christmastime. They’re rolled in vanilla sugar which gives them a great fragrance as well. The type of nut used can vary — both walnuts and almonds work perfectly.
South Africa (Koeksister)
The koeksister is a traditional Afrikaans treat and literally translates to “cookie sister” and is prepared by frying the dough strips in oil and then covering them in syrup. They we traditionally made at church celebrations or fundraisers.
Similar in taste to a gingersnap cookie, a pepparkakor is made with maple syrup and is traditionally cut into the shape of a star or heart, although other traditional shapes include a pig or a goat. This Swedish holiday cookie is hung as an ornament on the Christmas tree. Another Swedish custom is to place a pepparkakor in the palm of your hand and make a wish. Then, using your index finger or thumb of your other hand, tap the center of the cookie. If the cookie breaks into three pieces, your wish will come true. If not, you’ll still have a delicious cookie to eat.
Mailänderli are lemon-flavored shortbread cookies, which are cut into various shapes and sizes, are a traditional holiday cookie in Switzerland. They’re made with a simple list of ingredients: margarine, eggs, sugar, and a pinch of salt.
The Netherlands (Pfeffernüsse)
Recipes for pfeffernüsse or (pepper nuts) differ slightly depending on who you ask, but these tiny cookies, enjoyed during the holidays in the Netherlands, are commonly spiced with cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and anise. Other ingredients include molasses, honey, and margarine.
United States (Sugar Cookies)
Snowmen, Christmas trees, presents, dreidels, and bells come out to play during the holiday season in the United States — all in the form of sugar cookies. It’s common to find elaborately iced, colorful cookies cut into seasonal shapes at holiday parties, and they’re often also given as gifts. If you're looking for more cooking inspiration for the holidays check out the 30 Best Thanksgiving Pies of 2017 here.