Food and Drink Natalia Martínez
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The seven Christmas desserts you must try in 2019

Where can you eat the best Christmas treats? We travel the world over trying traditional Christmas desserts. Some – like “panettone” – are famous worldwide, and others even have their own emoticon.

  1. 1 "Panettone": from Milan to the world

    Although Milan is where it was created, "panettone" has spread far beyond. This pastry made of flour, raisins and candied fruit in this city in Lombardy is taken very seriously. So much so, that last year the chocolate master Davide Comaschi presented the largest one ever made – weighing in at 333.2kg, it was 150cm tall and had a diameter of 115cm – at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

    Where you can try Milan’s best “panettone”: besides the Christmas market held in Duommo Square, Cova pastry shop is one of Milan’s oldest cafés and is perfect for trying them. At Marchesi 1824, you find them wrapped in silk and velvet, and at Peck you’ll be able to choose from among different versions, including chocolate, orange and ginger.

    Fly to Milan from 7,500 Avios each way.

    "Panettone", the king of Christmas desserts in Milan and almost everywhere.
    The world’s largest "panettone", created by Davide Comaschi – Image from Freedot Srl
  2. 2 Japan and its Christmas cake

    Japan may not be famous for its Christmas spirit, but if there is one tradition that the Japanese love, it’s eating Christmas cake. It’s a sponge cake filled and covered with whipped cream and decorated with strawberries that recalls the colours of the Japanese flag. It’s so popular that it even has its own emoji on smartphone keypads and can be seen everywhere at this time of year.

    Where to try Tokyo’s best Christmas cake: Aigre Douce, you’ll find a more refined variety made by the famous pastry chef Norihiko Terai, and at French Pound House, you’ll be able to choose between the white or red version of the cake.

    Fly to Tokyo from 29,750 Avios each way.

    One of the Christmas desserts par excellence is Japan’s Christmas cake, a sweet that’s very popular all year long.
    Japanese Christmas cake even has its own emoticon - Image by Milatas/ShutterStock
  3. 3 "Fritters and custard", Bogota’s Christmas specialties

    The Day of the Little Candles, 7 December, marks the beginning of the celebrations in Colombia. From that moment on, fritters (buñuelos) and custard (natilla, a version of traditional Spanish custard) can be found on every table. The fritters are made from a dough made of corn flour, milk and Costeño cheese, a bit harder and saltier than the fresh variety. It’s said that the custard traveled from Spanish and French convents to America and became denser and toastier from the corn and raw sugar.

    Where you can try the best fritters and custard in Bogota: for years, Natillas y Buñuelos Steven, has been in the business of sweetening palates every Christmas. Panadería Mousse claims to sell more than 25,000 fritters a day and Santa Clara is another bakery that is very popular among Bogota’s residents during the holidays.

    Fly to Bogotá from 21,250 Avios each way.

    You can't miss "Buñuelos y natilla", the Christmas specialty in Bogotá, Colombia
    "Buñuelos y natilla", the Christmas specialty in Bogotá - Image by samuelgarces/AdobeStock
  4. 4 "Kahk" for all in Cairo

    Although Egypt is a majority Muslim country, there is a large Coptic Christian community that embraces Christmas customs. These include making its famous "kahk" biscuits, made of flour, sugar and butter. They may be enjoyed all year long, but have become popular as Christmas sweets.

    Where you can eat the best "kahk" in Cairo: Abdel Rahim Koueider – in business almost a century – is one of the city’s oldest makers of kahk. At Salé Sucre, besides the classics, there are others filled with dates or malvan (a kind of jam).

    Fly to Cairo from 11,000 Avios each way.

    The "kahk" are becoming a very popular sweet at Christmas in Cairo
    The "kahk" are becoming a very popular sweet at Christmas in Cairo - Image by aepdesign/AdobeStock
  5. 5 Bucarest and its venerated "cozonac"

    This sweet bread is received with open arms when the snow arrives in Romania. It’s a synonym for celebration and, at Christmas, the king of desserts. It’s a traditional local sweet, and may be rectangular, flat or braided, and is usually filled with nuts, poppy seeds, chocolate or dried fruit.

    Where you can enjoy the best "cozonac" in Bucharest: it’s not hard to find it at many of the city’s bakeries, but Bread & Spices – besides offering fantastic breakfasts and brunches – has several reinterpretations of this popular treat. Just a few steps from Piata Amzei, Andreea Caretu at Miez Brutărie, Andrea Carețu puts all her passion into them.

    Fly to Bucharest from 10,000 Avios each way.

    The cozonac, synonymous with Christmas in Bucharest
    The cozonac, synonymous with Christmas in Bucharest - Image by jinga80 / AdobeStock
  6. 6 Brussel’s "Jesus bread"

    On 6 December in Belgium, the arrival of Saint Nicolas begins, and ovens are filled with sweet breads in the shape of a child. Their most traditional sweet is Jesus bread – also known as "cougnou" – a brioche somewhere between sweet and savoury, filled with chocolate and raisins. Although the decoration varies depending on the city where it’s baked, it’s always served with a cup of hot chocolate as an afternoon snack or dessert.

    Where you can eat the best "cougnou" in Brussels: It’s easy to find the big Christmas market in Place Sainte-Catherine. However, if you’d prefer to enjoy it away from the cold, the Charli bakery is very well known for the high quality of its artisanal products.

    Fly to Brussels from 7,500 Avios each way.

    "Jesus bread" or "cougnou", the Christmas dessert par excellence in Brussels.
    The shape of the "Jesus bread" or "cougnou" imitates the shape of a baby as a representation of Baby Jesus.
  7. 7 Helsinki’s cold: better with "joulutorttu"

    You won’t be able to escape them if you go to Helsinki this Christmas. This popular puff pastry in the shape of a star is always present in Finnish homes during the holidays Traditionally, "joulutorttu" are filled with prune jam, although they used to be made with apple or forest fruits jam, too.

    Robert’s coffee, expert coffee-makers for generations, has several locations in the city where you can buy dozens at a time.

    Fly to Helsinki with Iberia on via code-sharing.

    You can’t leave Helsinki without trying its most traditional Christmas dessert: "joulutorttu".
    "Joulutorttu" is the Christmas treat par excellence in Helsinki - Image by sebos/AdobeStock