Welcome back to yet another month of Universal Yums and delicious snacks. For the month of December things were a bit different with the boxes where normally each box would focus on one specific country to try snacks from, this month we tried snacks from 13 different countries. To celebrate the Christmas season and all of the other different holidays that are celebrated around the world, Universal Yums brought us snacks that are traditionally eaten on these holidays to give us a taste of what Christmas is like in these other countries.
Garlic Straznicke Bramburky | Czech Republic
In order to attend a proper Czech Christmas dinner there are a few things you must do beforehand, with one of the main things being putting a bowl of garlic underneath the table which is thought to provide strength and protection in the upcoming year. Rather than doing any of that, we’ll just be trying some garlic flavored chips from the Czech Republic which are hugely popular throughout Prague.
I absolutely love anything garlic flavored so I was really excited to try these when I saw them and I can say that I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest. They were so good to the point where I put them in the top three of the best items that I’ve received from any Universal Yums box to date. The garlic flavoring was just perfect and wasn’t too overpowering but wasn’t too weak either to the point where it was hard to distinguish the flavor.
Brevas Con Arequipe | Colombia
Figs have always been an essential part to any Colombia Christmas and can be paired with an abundance of different things ranging from syrup to cheese. For this month however, we’ll be trying them stuffed with creamy arequipe. We actually tried this treat back in August in the Colombia Universal Yums box and is essentially condensed milk and sugar that is heated up to create a caramel like pudding.
Though I was a fan of the arequipe back when I tried it in the August box, I really don’t like the taste of figs so this treat wasn’t my thing. Aside from the taste of the figs, I also didn’t really like how sticky and gooey it was.
Alfajor Bon O Bon Blanco | Argentina
Originally from Spain but now eaten on a regular basis in Argentina, the alfajores is a cake/cookie treat that consists of two crumbly cakes sandwiched between a thick layer of peanut butter and topped with a white chocolate shell. These sandwich cookies are eaten pretty much every single day in Argentina but even more so on Christmas which is no wonder that though these aren’t originally from this country, Argentina is now the world’s largest consumer of this special cookie.
Seeing as I’m a huge fan of basically anything with white chocolate and I love peanut butter as well, I was expecting to love this cookie but it actually wasn’t my thing. I found that it tasted almost a bit like lemons and though I’m a fan of both of white chocolate and peanut butter, I don’t find that the two mix well.
Mince Pie Candy | United Kingdom
Though they are known as mincemeat pies, there is no meat to be found in these candies and are actually named that because of the spices that can be found in them. Back in the 12th century, people used to store their meat for long periods of time and cure it using a blend of spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and a variety of fruits such as apples and raisins. Throughout history and after the banning of mincemeat pies in England, people started making the pies secretly but would leave out the meat and only use the blend of spices and fruits. Nowadays mince pies are widely popular especially during Christmas in the United Kingdom and though we aren’t trying actual mincemeat pies this month, we will be trying candies that are flavored with the same blend of spices and fruits as the pies are.
To be honest this candy wasn’t my favorite thing ever but it also wasn’t terrible at the same time. It has a very distinct flavor of cinnamon and nutmeg and the more that you sucked on the candy, the stronger the flavoring became.
Sol Del Cusco Chocolate | Peru
Christmas in Peru is typically celebrated on the 24th of December rather than the 25th and involves a large turkey dinner followed by gifts, fireworks, champagne, and hot chocolate. Though hot chocolate doesn’t seem very different and special seeing as virtually every city and country has it, the one in Peru is different in it’s own way. This special hot chocolate is made by hand by slowly melting chocolate in some milk and then adding in some cinnamon and cloves. This chocolate bar that has been included in this month’s box can be eaten as is or can be melted into hot chocolate like the Peruvians do it.
I’m not a huge fan of cinnamon or anything flavored with cloves so this wasn’t something that I would eat again but it was definitely different. I tried it both as is and also melted into some hot water to make it into hot chocolate. Though it did taste better as a hot drink, I’ll be sticking to the regular old hot chocolate that we have around here.
El Almendro Turron | Spain
Though this treat is normally eaten all year round, it is especially popular during the Christmas season and has become the most famous Christmas dessert in all of Spain. This sweet treat is made up almonds that have been folded up into a mixture of sugar, honey, and eggs which creates the shape and texture that the Spanish love.
Aside from the subtle taste of the almonds, I found that the turron was quite tasteless but still enjoyable nonetheless. It was also really sticky and it really gets stuck to your teeth but it’s easy to see why the people of Spain love this treat so much.
Handmade Maple Shortbread | Canada
An around the world box wouldn’t be complete without including my home country of Canada where maple syrup is obviously one of our delicacies and can be found in a range of different products from tea, candies, coffee, bread, and now in these shortbread cookies. These classic shortbread cookies are paired with Canada’s best exports to create a simple yet delicious cookie to enjoy not only during the holidays but all year round as well.
Coming from Canada where you can find just about anything and everything that has maple in it, I’m obviously a fan of the stuff so though I wasn’t surprised to see these in this month’s box, I was really excited to try them. The cookies have the perfect amount of maple syrup in them for them to not be overpowering or too sweet and are definitely one of the better snacks in this month’s box.
Golden Flake Dill Pickle Chips | United States
Though these chips aren’t necessarily eaten during the holidays and they aren’t a traditional Christmas treat, they are unique regardless. With just the right amount of dill pickle and vinegar flavoring, these thin potato chips are sure to deliver a punch but are also sure to be found around the Christmas dinner table in coming years.
We actually have dill pickle chips here in Canada as well so I kind of had an idea of what these would taste like, but I found that they have a much different flavor compared to the ones that I’m used to. I’ve always been a fan of pickle chips and though I felt the same with these ones, I felt like they tasted a bit more like salt and vinegar chips than actual dill pickle chips but regardless even though I saw a lot of people online saying that they didn’t like these, I would eat these again.
Mini Christmas Puddings | Australia
Originally hailing from the United Kingdom, Christmas pudding is one of the things that Australians have kept from their British ancestors and is one of the more popular treats that are eaten for the holiday season. Normally Christmas pudding is made from a mixture of thick batter of eggs, breadcrumbs, currants, figs, nuts, and a blend of spices then steamed for hours. The kind of Christmas pudding that we will be trying this month however has an Australian twist on it and is essentially a chocolate with the Christmas pudding filling in the middle for an authentic taste.
I’m not a huge fan of chocolate and even less of a fan of dark chocolate so while I knew I wouldn’t like this, it was still interesting to say the least. It tasted very much like a gingerbread cookie with the spices that were in it but for me it wasn’t a hit.
Jabri Baklava | Jordan
Typically eaten during the Islamic holiday of Eid-Al-Fitr, the baklava that we will be trying this month was created by one of the most famous restaurants in Jordan. The restaurant is so popular that it was even commissioned by the king of Jordan for their contribution to the country’s economy. We will trying two different versions of baklava in this box with the first being a more traditional approach made with thin layers of pastry dough with chopped cashews in between the layers. The second variation is one that’s known as a ‘birds nest’ for the shape of it and is made with thin strands of vermicelli pastry wrapped around pistachios.
I honestly didn’t think that this would be that good and while it wasn’t something that I would necessarily eat all the time, it still wasn’t bad. It is really sweet and sticky with hints here and there of the cashews.
Yuqwa Candy | Korea
Yuqwa has been around in Korea for a very long time and has been eaten since the year 918 and traditionally was only served during special events such as ceremonies, state banquets, and national feasts. Starting in the 1300’s, the consumption of this treat was restricted even further with it only being allowed to be eaten during special toasts and weddings. Nowadays the restrictions are more lenient and less severe but the way that the yuqwa is made is still strict. The making of this treat is regulated by the Korean government and must only be made by someone who is a certified Korean Food Grand Master. In order to make the yuqwa, the grand master must soak some rice in water for five days and then pound it into rice flour. After that the flour is then kneaded with some honey and water, cut into bite sized pieces, soaked in more honey and water, and then finally laid out to dry in the shade. Though it can be eaten virtually anytime, yuqwa is eaten more often during the Korean fall holiday as well as during other special occasions like the Korean New Year.
When I saw the yuqwa candy, being as picky as I am, I kind of just assumed that because it looked so weird and different from anything that we have here, that it wouldn’t be good. Surprisingly enough however, I loved this treat. Though it isn’t super flavorful it still tastes pretty sweet because of the honey and was actually in my top of favorite things in this months box. The texture is also very different and is really light and crispy.
Xu Fu Ji Black Sesame Candy | China
Known to be one of the most popular candies during the Chinese New Year, the black sesame candy is a huge hit in China. Almost everything in China has layered meanings and this treat is no different. First of all, any type of candy on the Chinese New Year is a must as it symbolizes happiness and sweetness in the upcoming year. Secondly, the color red which just so happens to be the color of the packaging for these candies, represents happiness and good luck. The black sesame candy is made with a crispy peanut crunch with hints here and there of toasted black sesame seeds.
This was another treat that I was nervous to try because I didn’t think that I would like it, but actually turned out to not be that bad. This candy is really flaky which I wasn’t really a fan of but the peanut butter taste was enjoyable.
Piselli Panettone with Chocolate Chips | Italy
Without a doubt in mind, panettone is Italy’s most famous and most eaten treat at Christmas time so it’s no surprise to find it in this month’s Universal Yums box. Though it is uncertain how this treat came to be and how it originated, one thing for sure is that panettone can be found virtually everywhere during the holidays and is more often bought from the store rather than hand made due to the grueling process it takes to create this treat. The dough takes about 30 hours to rise and then must be hung upside down to create the shape and to ensure that the top comes out perfectly.
I actually thought that I would really like this but in the end it wasn’t my favorite thing ever. I found it to taste quite average and it almost tasted like wine a bit which I don’t like. The cake however was moist and not too dry so that was good but the flavor didn’t cut it for me.
So there you have it, another month of Universal Yums in the bag. This coming month we’ll be embarking on a journey to the sunny, vacation destination of Greece to try their yummy treats and snacks so stay tuned for that. Feel free to also look back on the previous Universal Yums posts that I’ve done so far on my blog to get a glimpse of the other countries that we’ve visited thus far.