Food brings people together, especially during the holidays. This year, take your taste buds on a culinary journey by sampling wintertime traditions from around the world. There are so many wonderful bakeries and restaurants in St. Louis, representing a wide variety of cultures. We’ve picked just a few sweet treats you can find here in the StL—and no, none of them are fruitcakes!
bûche de noël – france
Also known as a Yule log cake, this is a holiday spin on the Swiss cake roll. They became popular in France in the 18th century before spreading to other countries. The dessert consists of sponge cake rolled and decorated to resemble a Yule log—a specially selected log in European traditions that is burnt during the winter season. The traditional flavor combination is yellow cake with chocolate icing, but there are variations.
Find it locally: La Pâtisserie Chouquette
ube crinkles – philippines
A colorful variation of the chocolate crinkle cookie, this Filipino sweet will make a welcome addition to any holiday spread. They get their vibrant purple hue from ube, also known as purple yam, and typically have a crunchy exterior with a chewy center. The cookies are usually decorated with powdered sugar, giving them a snowy appearance.
Find it locally: Saint Louis Filipino Bread
cucidati – italy
Originating in Sicily, these cookies consist of soft pastry filled with some combination of walnuts, dates, figs, honey, spices and jam. They are usually baked in strips or a ring before being cut into individual cookies. Typically, the treat is decorated with icing and rainbow sprinkles.
Find it locally: Vitale’s Bakery
springerle – germany
Anise may be a divisive flavor, but these decorative German cookies are sure to please. Dating back to the 14th century, the distinct feature of the treat is embossed images created using a special rolling pin. Springerle translates to “little jumper” or “little knight,” and while the reasoning for the name is unknown, it is speculated that it may refer to a popular jumping horse design. While the cookies are anise flavored, it is not mixed into the dough.
Rather the cookies are baked on top of crushed anise seeds.
Find it locally: Helfer’s Pastries
pineapple cakes – taiwan
These sweet treats are enjoyed throughout the year in Taiwan. As they are associated with well wishes and good fortune, they are ideal for the holidays. Believed to have been created in the 16th century when pineapple was first brought to Taiwan from South America, these individual cakes are somewhat like a cookie or hand pie. They consist of a sweet pastry filled with pineapple jam or a combination of pineapple and winter melon.
Find it locally: The Foundry Bakery
pecan balls – mexico
Commonly known as snowball or Mexican wedding cookies, these powdered sugar-dusted treats have a truly global history. They are believed to have first been created in the Middle East before being brought to Spain. From there, they made their way across the Atlantic Ocean to North and South America—it is believed they may have been brought over by European nuns. If you swap out the pecans for walnuts, the cookies are called Russian tea cakes; however, the confection’s connection to Russia is unknown.
Find it locally: McArthur’s Bakery