Contrary to popular belief desserts are an important part of eating healthy. The key to making dessert a part of a healthy diet is thinking of them as something you should not eat on daily basis. Dessert is for special occasions such as holidays, celebrations, and can also serve as an “reward” in certain circumstances. Since one of those very special occasions— Christmas—is right around the corner we thought we’d do a little research and find 25 international desserts that will enrich your palate during the holidays. Just make sure you don’t overdo it though.
Christmas pudding (United Kingdom)
No British Christmas is complete without a Christmas pudding and despite this wildly popular dessert (outside the UK, too) not being as delicious as some might imagine, it has become an ultimate Christmas symbol, at least throughout the UK.
Dulce de Leche (Argentina)
Dulce de leche is the pride of Argentina. It’s a combination of milk and sugar that has been slowly cooked until the sugar caramelizes, producing a thick, creamy, intensely flavored spread. Literally translated, it means something like “candy made of sweet milk.”
Bolo Rei (Portugal)
Bolo Rei, also known as the King’s Cake, is traditional Portuguese sweet bread with nuts and crystallized (candied) fruit, served at Christmastime and on January 6th, which is Kings’ Day in the country.
These delicious Swedish Almond Tarts are thought to be a different variation of the Italian crosata di mandorle and their heritage is apparent in their etymology. They are named after the Italian-French cardinal and politician Giulio Raimondo Mazzarino, or Jules Mazari (1602–1661). That would make them nearly four hundred years old and their longevity proves only one thing: they must taste damn good to have lasted this long.
Sour Cherries Cake (Netherlands)
Lovers of cherries and chocolate will love this lighter Dutch version of Black Forest cake more than any other dessert with cherries they had before.
Gulab Jamun (India)
Gulab Jamun is among India’s most popular desserts and consists of dumplings traditionally made of thickened or reduced milk, soaked in rose-flavored sugar syrup. They sure do look good and we bet they taste even better.
In Iceland, this layered prune torte is made for the winter holidays (especially Christmas) and nibbled on all season, thanks to its long shelf life. The greatest thing about this cake is that most recipes are completely different from one another so our best advice is next time you’re in Iceland try as many as you can.
Banoffee pie (England)
Arguably the best and tastiest dessert in all England Banoffee pie is simply irresistible. Made from bananas, cream, and toffee from boiled condensed milk placed on a pastry base or made from crumbled biscuits and butter, Banoffee pie will definitely make you a happier and fatter person.
Kanafeh (Middle East)
Many different Middle Eastern countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Syria, and northern Egypt claim to be the original creators of this delicious dessert but no one can say for sure where it originated. The Greeks make a similar dessert called kadaifi, which however, doesn’t include soft white cheese inside and that’s what makes it different from the Mid East version.
Tiramisu is a famous coffee-flavored Italian dessert that is made from ladyfingers dipped in espresso coffee, layered with a mixture of whipped eggs, sugar, and delicious mascarpone cheese, flavored with cocoa on top. The recipe has been adapted into a variety of cakes and other desserts around the world thanks to its global success.
This traditional and elegant-looking Scottish dessert of oats, cream, whiskey (!), and raspberries is a delicious alternative to trifle and a great way to impress your guests. The fact that it includes whiskey makes things a little weird but let’s be honest, this shouldn’t be shocking since it’s Scotland we’re talking about here.
Rocky Road Dessert (Australia)
Rocky Road is an Australian dessert made with milk chocolate and marshmallow and is usually served in individual portions such as a cupcake or brownie. The dessert has become increasingly popular in the US where it is usually served with ice cream.
Chocolate Guinness Cake (Ireland)
Irish people have their own way of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day and Christmas and naturally alcohol could never be absent from an Irish party, not even when it comes to dessert. When all is said and done, chocolate and beer don’t taste as good together in any other form as they do in this cake.
Tres Leches Cake (Mexico)
Tres Leches cake gets its name, which means “three milks” cake, from being soaked in three different types of milk. Even though Mexico is widely known for its heavy but delicious cuisine, Tres Leches cake is one of the lightest and least harmful (in terms of calories) desserts and is ideal even for those on a diet.
Devil’s Food Cake (USA)
Devil’s Food is a cake made with dark chocolate and gets its name because it is supposedly so rich and delicious that it must be somewhat sinful, although the association is clearly humorous. The only sure thing is that if you have it once you will want to have it again and again.
Dobosh Torte, also known as drum torte, is a rich Hungarian sponge cake consisting of seven layers filled with rich chocolate buttercream and topped with caramel. It was invented by and named after Hungarian pastry chef Jozsef C. Dobos in 1884. Since then it has seduced everyone who has been lucky enough to taste it.
Brazo de Gitano (Spain)
When literally translated Brazo de Gitano means “gypsy’s arm,” and is the Spanish name for a Swiss roll. Strangely, the Swiss roll was not designed either in Spain or Switzerland and is most likely to have been found somewhere in central Europe. However, this dessert has become an interesting homemade staple in Spain, and one that is commonly found at family meals and celebrations such as Christmas.
Bûche de Noël (Belgium/France)
Bûche de Noël is the French name for a Christmas cake shaped like a log. It is a heavenly flourless chocolate cake rolled with chocolate whipped cream. Traditionally, Bûche de Noël is decorated with confectioners’ sugar to resemble snow on a yule log.
These small honey cookies (which you can never eat just one of) are the most popular treats throughout Greece during the Christmas holidays and their intense homely smell makes every house smell like Christmas. Unfortunately, the only bad thing is that bakeries usually make them only during Christmas and for the rest of the year they are not easy to find. The Melomakarona covered with milk chocolate are by far the best.
Profiterole is arguably one of the best desserts in the world with millions of hard-core fans around the globe. This French dessert consists of several choux pastry balls filled with whipped cream or pastry cream and “showered” with lots of hot or cold milk chocolate that won’t fail to add hundreds of calories to your standard diet.
The Original Sacher-Torte has been one of the most famous chocolate cakes in the world since it was created in 1832 by Austrian Franz Sacher. The basis of the confection is a chocolate cake thinly coated by hand with top-quality apricot jam. The chocolate icing on top is the crowning glory.
Pavlova (New Zealand)
Don’t let the name mislead or fool you; this is not a Russian dessert but instead of New Zealand origin. The famous meringue-based dessert borrows its name from legendary Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova but other than that it’s all “Kiwi.”
Panettone (Milan, Italy)
Arguably the most famous Christmas sweet bread loaf all across Europe the past few decades, Panettone originated in Milan, where it’s one of the most representative and significant symbols of the Italian city. Nowadays you can find different variations of it in most of Europe, South America, Japan, and the United States.
Cheesecake (Ancient Greece/USA)
This authentic creamy dessert promises to add a taste of New York to any Christmas dining experience regardless of where you are, even though this dessert’s history is way older than most of us think. The earliest attested mention of a cheesecake goes back to fifth century BC Greece, where the Greek physician Aegimus wrote a book on the art of making cheesecakes. Crazy, huh?
Black Forest Cake (Germany)
Called Schwarzwälderkirschtorte in German, which means “Black Forest Cherry Torte or Gateau,” this impressive cake usually has four layers of chocolate sponge cake, cherries, and whipped cream. It is frosted with whipped cream and covered with chocolate shavings and a few cherries for decoration. Definitely the kind of cake you want to give at Christmastime in case you want to impress or charm.