You can have fun mixing Christmas pudding all together like in the UK, try the thousand variations of panettone or experiment with Middle Eastern desserts.
In Spanish-speaking countries, the habit of staying at the table chatting at the end of a meal while enjoying a dessert, coffee or a liqueur is called sobremesa. If it is an illusion in the frenetic pace of every day life for many, during festivities it becomes a luxury accessible to all. So, original thinking when it is time for dessert can transform a lunch or dinner into a real familiar moment.
Panettone and chocolate, the kings of the sobremesa
Created in Italy, particularly in Milan, but now widespread around the world, panettone today is probably the most cosmopolitan of the Christmas desserts. According to research by Nielsen, 53% of Italians will buy an artisan panettone for the holidays this year. "This is a historical overtaking" - comments Nicola Fiasconaro, Master Pastry Chef of the artisan company of the same name - "which confirms the good work done by pastry chefs in recent years. We have grown while remaining faithful to our formula, combining the traditional Milanese leavened sourdough product with the flavours of our land, Sicily, starting from the citrus fruits. This year, for example, we have prepared a panettone with a particular type of aromatic rose from our estate. But we look beyond recurring events: for 2021 we plan to open four production lines dedicated to pastry, to bring our artisanal quality to an ever-increasing number of people".
And if the hunt for a particular taste looks to tradition, candied fruit and gourmand chocolates can be the ones to amaze. "Our company is historically well-known for candied fruit, which we have been producing for over 145 years and in which we distinguish ourselves by using excellent local raw materials such as Sicilian oranges or almonds and figs from Bari", explains Vincenzo Maglio, General Manager of Cioccolato Maglio. "New and very popular this winter are the clementines from the Plain of Sibari and the citron lemons from Rocca Imperiale. Another peculiarity is the cherry with almond paste, while the great classics like the almond stuffed figs are also very popular. For several years we have also been focusing on bars and this year in particular we have launched two innovative lines of chocolate bar using Criollo cocoa from Venezuela, one of the finest single origin blends in the world, which come from the Porcelana from the Andean region and the Chuao from the Caribbean, respectively".
For all tastes from around the world
In the United Kingdom, where food influencer Sally Prosser lives and works, there is the long established habit of mixing up traditions from various countries. Attentive to organic and local products, Sally prepares her holiday recipes with home made ingredients: "I put the fruit aside in liqueur to rest weeks before for the traditional pudding and on the Sunday before Christmas, as per tradition, it's ‘stirring day’ when we get together with friends to mix the pudding in turn and everyone makes a wish while mixing". But, recognises Prosser, even the very typical pudding is changing: "This year alcohol-free versions are very fashionable, for those who do not drink". In the UK, in both sweet and savoury dishes, flavours from the Middle East are also very popular, but also those from Eastern Europe, such as Sauerkraut and kimchi.
Finally, the perspective from a country where Christmas is not a local holiday, but the atmosphere of the holidays is felt anyway. From the United Arab Emirates we have the point of view of Sana Chikhalia, cook, photographer and food blogger based in Dubai: "The Emirates have a multi-ethnic population and many nationalities celebrate Christmas, each with their own specialities: rum cake and the ‘Yule log’ arrive from Northern Europe in addition to ginger biscuits and German Stollen. Truffles are also very popular, while from India we have taken kulkul from Goa and kuswar from Mangalore, and from the Philippines, the dessert called bibingka". But also the local tradition is very rich in winter desserts: "kunafa is made with strands of puff pastry and cheese, while semolina is used to prepare basbousa, a cake garnished with sugar syrup, and maamoul, which are biscuits filled with dates. Ghraybeh, on the other hand, are traditional Middle Eastern butter biscuits".