5 Festive Dessert Recipes Around the World

This tour of dessert traditions will sweeten the holidays!

A plate of holiday treats in front of a Christmas tree.

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The holidays are here! All over the world, classic desserts are being lovingly prepared to be served over Christmas and New Year’s. There is no better way to get into the holiday spirit than by making a sweet and comforting dessert.

Take a tour of the dessert world and uncover a healthy version of international treasured classics. These five healthy food recipes are designed to sweeten your holidays. Each is scrumptious, and these healthy alternatives retain the flavor plus promote health, especially when prepared with love!

Mince pies from Britain

This traditional recipe is of English origins and was first made with a savory meat filling. It was first introduced to Britain in the 13th century when spices and dried fruit from the Middle East became readily available. Over time the dish evolved and became a sweet treat. It is still popular across the UK and Ireland during the Christmas season.

A healthy version  from Naturally Sassy substitutes white flour with spelt flour. For a gluten-free mince pie, use brown rice flour and ground almonds. The healthy stuffing has apples, raisins, hazelnuts, apricots, and cinnamon.

A plate of traditional Christmas mince pies.

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Bûche de Noël from France

Also known as a yule log, this delicious cake is made to look like a tree branch. To keep true to the forest theme, it has a bark-like texture and is even decorated with candy mushrooms made from marzipan.

Originally, families would burn logs to purge themselves of sins accumulated during the year, according to MSN. In the 17th century, this ritual was replaced by a much more enjoyable practice, a log-like dessert that is loved by all on Christmas. Bûche de Noël is a much-anticipated dessert across France, Switzerland, Belgium, Canada and other countries with a French-speaking population.

This sponge cake is first baked in a Swiss roll pan, then filled with buttercream or ganache, rolled and topped with a frosting. This gluten-free recipe from Eating Well uses gluten-free flour and swaps the sugar with agave.

A bûche de Noël or a yule log decorated with Santas.

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Panforte cake from Italy

This festive Italian Christmas cake has its origins in Siena, Tuscany, and dates back to the 13th century, according to Wallflower Kitchen. For this reason, the cake is also called Panforte di Siena. The Tuscans would bake this cake and give it to the monasteries as a token of thanks, according to msn.

Made with almonds and dried fruits including figs and spices, it is delicious and  addictive. And thanks to this healthy vegan version from Wallflower Kitchen, you can enjoy it that much more!

A traditional panforte di Siena, a Christmas dessert from Italy.

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Melomakarona cookies from Greece

The Greeks just love eating these mouth-watering macaroons over Christmas! The word melomakarona comes from the Greek word melo, meaning honey, and makarona, meaning pasta, according to Veggies Don’t Bite. The recipe dates way back to the times when Greeks would prepare round makaria, or bread, at funerals.

Today, this tradition has been elevated to one of joy and giving. A strictly gluten-free version replaces the honey with maple syrup, yet keeps the original flavors of cinnamon, orange juice, and brandy.  

Sugar-coated honey cookies with walnuts is a Greek Christmas treat called melomakarona.

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Spiced hot chocolate from Peru

Peruvians love to sip their spicy hot chocolate on Christmas day (wiki). In fact, chocolatada is the name of a Peruvian gathering where family members share food, give gifts, and enjoy hot chocolate accompanied by a sweet pastry, according to Spice and Tea.

Come December, churches all over Peru ask for donations to make large batches of hot chocolate and panettone, a holiday bread, according to Delish. This healthy, vegan version from Cookpad combines plant-based milk, cacao powder, maca powder, cinnamon, and allspice or ground cloves. Not too sweet, this drink is made from superfoods and is warming and energizing, just like the Incas loved it!

A delicious mug of spicy hot chocolate, much loved by Peruvians over Christmas.

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