From Italy’s amaretti to Greece’s Melomakarona, Musement takes a look at 10 Christmas cookies from around the world.
Whether Christmas is small or large, there’s no doubt that delights abound, stirring everyone’s appetites as they beckon from their place on the table. Cookies always play a role in dessert, so here’s a look at 10 different Christmas cookies from around the world.
1. Amaretti, Italy
Literally meaning “little bitters,” amaretti cookies are generally made with almonds, egg whites, and sugar. With two of the most popular iterations hailing from Lombardy (Amaretti di Saranno) and Liguria (Amaretti di Sassello), they’re often associated with Northern Italy, especially Piedmont, though it’s not unusual to find Italians around the peninsula enjoying them during the holidays. They’re also tremendous fun to make! (Note: They’re completely unrelated to amaretto liqueur)
2. Lebkuchen, Germany
These honey-sweetened gingerbread cake-like cookies are emblematic of German Christmas. Some versions are plain, others might be completely or partially dipped in chocolate while still others might be embellished with varied icings and/or nuts — regardless, they unfailingly add a sweet spiced touch to any holiday table.
3. Melomakarona, Greece
A combination of “meli”, the Greek word for honey, and “makarona”, a derivative of the Greek word for “blessed,” these cookies stand front and center in pretty much every Greek household when the holidays roll around. These oil-based treats made from honey, walnuts, citrus, and spices epitomize all that’s delectable about the holiday season.
4. Alfajores, South America
Found in various South American countries, including Peru to Argentina, traditional alfajores are a shortbread sandwich cookie filled with sweet dulce de leche and often topped with powdered sugar, though bakers nowadays often experiment with other fillings and toppings. Warning: it’s impossible to eat just one!
Though they feature a more truffle-like consistency, we couldn’t resist including this beloved treat that Brazilians especially enjoy during the Christmas holiday. Brigadeiros are traditionally composed of condensed milk, cocoa powder, butter and coated in chocolate sprinkles, but again, as is the case for many traditional foods, riffs on the classic exist. They’re soft, fudgy, and ever-so irresistible.
6. Kahk, Egypt
Christmas is just one of the holidays that these cookies stand front and center in Egpyt. Though kahk cookies aren’t just limited to Egpyt — they’re incredibly popular around the Arab world. These powdered sugar-coated nuggets are generally plain or contain a flavorful nut filling — they’re delicious either way.
7. Kołaczki, Poland
Found around Poland in various shapes and sizes, kołaczki are jam-filled cookies with a cream cheese and butter base. They dazzle any time of year, but there’s just something about the holidays that makes them all the more appealing. Plus, it’s no secret that Poland isn’t lacking in good eats.
8. Anzac Biscuits, Australia and New Zeland
An anagram for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, Anzac biscuits were baked into being during World War I. Women prepared these long-lasting rolled oat treats for their loved ones stationed in Italy, sending them off with some sustenance and a taste of home. Though they’re most often associated with ANZAC Remembrance Day on April 25, it’s not unusual to see them incorporated into Christmas, whether in their original form or as part of a grander delight.
9. Sablés, France
Shortbread meets sugar cookie in French sablés, which serve as a blank canvas for various shapes and designs. You may find them iced, covered with powdered sugar, or even simply plain. Regardless of preference, there’s something for everyone when it comes to this French holiday staple.
10. Pryaniki, Russia
This spiced cookie, or “honey bread,” regularly appears during tea time in Russia, but they’re even more popular during the holidays. The spiced cakey cookies are generally encased in a thin layer of icing, rendering the holiday season even sweeter.