Christmas is a time when we tend to indulge ourselves in all the sweet and savoury treats we don’t have the rest of the year. For me, Christmas really gets going when I get the recipes out for my favourite Christmas bakes. While mince pies, Christmas Cake and Stollen abound, I wanted to hear what other expert food and travel bloggers favourite Christmas bakes and non-bakes and reached out to them.
This post includes Christmas bakes I have never heard of, and some that I will be whipping up to try.
Speculaas – Danish Christmas Biscuits
by Larch from The Silver Nomad
I have been making this recipe since I was 11. My mother’s friend Hildegard passed the recipe for Speculaas to my mother. I could always tell when it was getting close to Christmas as the kitchen was perfumed with mixed spice, cinnamon and lemon. I would rush to the kitchen to help cut the cookies and, of course, try the mixture!
The first bite of a speculaas releases the gentle spices and then you get the sweet lemonly sweet biscuit with just a hint of almond. Perfect with a mug of tea or coffee while watching a Christmas movie, or pop them out for Santa with his glass of milk.
No bake Christmas Tiffin
By Susie from Quick and Easy Recipes
I love to make no-bake fridge cakes. All you have to do is chop some biscuits, melt some chocolate and mix together with any other ingredients. Then it’s simply a case of transferring the mixture to a suitable dish and chilling until set. Such an easy sweet treat to
make, and always so popular among friends and family.
This Christmas Tiffin recipe combines chocolate and shortbread with subtle festive flavours of orange and spice. It could alternatively be called Mince Pie Tiffin, as that’s what the taste brings to mind.
The recipe can be made as a simple dessert, or you could cut it into small squares to serve with after-dinner coffee. It makes a great Christmas gift, too, if you package the pieces in a pretty box or cellophane bag tied with ribbon.
Traybakes are often associated with fairs and fundraising, and this is ideal to make when a child’s school requests donations for the
annual Christmas fair.
So little effort – yet so delicious. I always know it’s a success when people keep sneaking back to the table to snaffle just one more piece…
Lebkuchen Biscuits – the taste of a German Christmas market
by Suzanne from The Travelbunny
The first time I tasted deliciously spicy Lebkuchen biscuits was at Munich Christmas market in Germany. It was the first of many weekends away with my daughter. Neither of us had been to a European Christmas market before and we loved all the festive feels.
Munich’s Christkindlmarkt dates back to the 14th century and is situated in Marienplatz square. The gothic town hall makes an atmospheric backdrop with the choir appearing on the balcony to sing carols at twilight. A lofty Christmas tree glowing with lights completes the picture.
In the square, stalls adorned with festive foliage sell decorations, gifts and handicrafts. The aroma of Glühwein and Christmas spices fill the air. We nibbled the warming ginger Lebkuchen biscuits with our mulled wine and loved them. From that weekend it became a tradition to bake these cookies at home for Christmas with our favourite Lebkuchen recipe. The spicy festive flavour of these little German biscuits will forever transport me back to Munich market and the taste of Christmas.
Burnt Butter Biscuits
by Larch from The Silver Nomad
Burnt Butter Biscuits are more delicious than they sound. The butter is basically taken to the point where it begins to caramelise and not fully burnt. This gives the biscuits a sweet, buttery crunchy taste and they are definitely moreish.
The biscuits are not strictly Christmas biscuits, but in our household, they were only made in December, so I think of them as Christmas ones.
The Burnt Butter Biscuits recipe was handed to my mother by her Australian friend, Hildegard. With only four ingredients, they are great for children to make, with supervision, of course.
Piernik – Polish Gingerbread Cake
by Karolina & Patryk from Lazy Travel Blog
One of the traditional Polish Christmas cakes is piernik. I am a native Pole and this Polish gingerbread cake recipe has been in my family for over 100 years.
I remember my great grandmother used to bake it every Sunday. She passed away when I was 8 years old. Right now, my grandma is baking this piernik from time to time.
Making this gingerbread cake is quite time-consuming. Traditionally, Polish housewives made a dough 4-6 weeks (!) before Christmas. They kept it outside, as it was cold enough to keep it fresh for that long.
They baked it a week before Christmas, then put the filling inside, 3-4 days before Christmas Eve.
Polish gingerbread cake is made of honey and it has a semolina custard inside. It’s so delicious! I love the pink frosting as well, it’s a little bit sour because it is made of the lemon juice.
Bejglis – Hungarian Christmas Rolls
by Raluca from Travel with a Spin
Hungarians have the Christmas dinner on the 24th of December these days, which was unacceptable in the past, as it was considered a strict fasting day.
The immediate family gets together and around the festively decorated table. The first dish served is usually a fish soup
followed by stuffed cabbage and bejglis. The last ones can’t miss from any Christmas table and are even nicknamed Christmas rolls.
Their sweet smell invades all the streets at this time of the year. The dessert consists of a yeast-raised dough and a poppyseed filling. The
omnipresence of bejglis is related to an old superstition that foods prepared with tiny seeds, like peas, beans, lentils or poppy brings good
luck, fertility and wealth in the coming year.
By replacing the filling, one can make more roll variations, modern or traditional. Some of the usual replacements are walnuts, coconut or apricots. This is an easy way to have more than one dessert on the Christmas table.
Hungarians also give them as a gift, so one might get a little too many. However, that’s not a real issue. They are best served cold and can be stored for up to three weeks. I love to have them for breakfast on Christmas morning next to a cup of tea or milk.
Maple Pecan French Toast Casserole
by Denise from Chef Denise
My favorite Christmas bake is my Maple Pecan French Toast Casserole. I have a long tradition of many relatives spending 3 days at my house over Christmastime. This averages 15 people for 3 days for every meal. And these people can eat!
So, to save my sanity, make-ahead breakfasts are a must! Who wants to start making a breakfast for 15 people on Christmas when you can heat up something you know your guests will enjoy? Baking this French Toast Casserole on Christmas morning fills the house with scents of pecans and maple, and puts everyone in the holiday spirit.
It always gets rave reviews from adults and kids alike! And it is so quick and easy! It does need some time to bake, but that’s the beauty of make-ahead meals. This one can be prepped, or fully cooked ahead of time–whatever you have time for.
Maybe best of all, is that it’s pretty healthy, low in fat, and a balanced meal on its own. However, for a crowd, I usually serve it with turkey bacon or breakfast sausages.
Panforte – Italian Candied Fruit Cake
by Roxanne from Faraway Worlds
Panforte is a Tuscan delicacy made with candied fruit, honey and nuts. Originally, panforte comes from Siena, where there are records of it as early as the 13th century. While it’s eaten all year round in Italy, it’s always been associated with Christmas in my household, probably because of its resemblance to fruit cake.
While you can buy imported panforte in many high-end grocery stores (especially around Christmas), there’s really something special about making it yourself. My panforte recipe is fairly traditional, with citrus fruits and a mix of spices. Cutting the candied fruit, toasting the nuts and grinding the spices always puts me in a festive frame of mind. For something closer to a traditional Christmas cake, try adding cherries or even chocolate if you’re after a more decadent dessert.
The result is always the same… a flat disc smothered in icing sugar. It’s firm and a little chewy, and tastes sweet, spicy and fruity at the same time. I keep one on hand during the Christmas season; it’s a perfect treat for any visitors that stop by. A small slice is usually plenty, accompanied with strong coffee or dessert wine.
Potica – Slovenia Dessert
by Džangir from Dr Jam Travels
Potica is the most traditional of Slovenian dessert. Usually prepared for Christmas and Easter.
It is prepared as a rolled dough cake with different fillings (nuts, raisins, poppy seeds or tarragon, even savory options, i.e. cracklings).
The medieval beginning was sweet bread with dried fruits. In the 16th Century by Trubar and a century later it was mentioned by Valvasor and the first recipe was published in 1799 by Vodnik. The Potica recipe is traditional.
Bret’s Bourbon Balls (Lower Sugar Recipe)
by Bret & Mary of Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide
Growing up in the Southeastern US, Bourbon Balls were a rare treat in our North Georgia Christmas celebrations. But when I became an adult, they became one of my favorite holiday treats.
If you’ve never had one, they’re perfect little spheres of holiday cheer, with the vanilla, oak, and caramel flavors of the Bourbon perfectly paired with dark chocolate cocoa powder, nuts, and crushed Vanilla Wafers. About the same size as a chocolate truffle, these bite-sized beauties are loaded with texture and flavor that lingers on the tongue.
I started out making them for friends and family using the classic The Joy of Cooking recipe 15 years ago, but over the years I’ve modified the Bourbon Balls recipe to suit my own tastes and low-sugar dietary needs. They were one of the last gifts I gave my beloved grandmother before she died, and the first gift I gave Mary, who eventually became my partner in both life and business.
Now, making them is an annual family holiday tradition. What I love about them is how quick and easy they are to make, with no baking required.
Chocolate Cookie Truffles
by Amy from Amy’s Cuisine
One of my kids’ and my favourite memories of Christmas holidays (and all other holidays, if I am being honest) is my recipe for Chocolate Cookie Truffles. I know, it sounds fancy. But this recipe can’t be simpler or more delicious! Better still? This is crowd-pleaser recipe has readily-available, simple ingredients and even simpler instructions. Yes, even my 7-year-old makes this Easy Chocolate Cookie Truffle Recipe like a professional baker.
Simple ingredients include Oreo sandwich cookies (or similar), baking chocolate and cream cheese. My friend, Sarah taught me this recipe many years ago. As a cook and major food fanatic, I began hosting a Cookie Bake-Off for my Foodie Friends in November-December each year. The goal? To walk away with 5-6 dozen Holiday Cookies to share with neighbours, friends, and family. In the meantime, a bunch of friends take time from the busy holiday season to share community, favorite recipes, yummy drinks and snacks together. What a brilliant idea! We eat far too much, laugh, share and delight in being together. Such a lovely tradition.
I can only surmise the origin of this recipe is American. While the food appears to have origins in Belgian or French cuisine, it seems Oreos are purely American. This coupled with the simplicity of the recipe make this an All American favorite. I hope you’ll take the time to make these truffles this holiday season. They are a sure hit among the masses.
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Larch lives a semi-nomadic life. Her life changed 20 years ago when a silly accident left her with restricted use of her right arm and neck and was told she would never work again. She turned her life around, retrained herself and set up as a self-employed website designer. This allowed her to work wherever she was in the world. Her passion for travel led her to start up her travel blog The Silver Nomad, to inspire over 40s to explore new destinations and expand their horizons. In 2019 Larch qualified as a CAA Drone Pilot which she combines with her travels.