With the holidays surrounding us in full force, this month with Universal Yums things will be a little different than usual. Normally we get the chance to try snacks from a different country every month but this time around, in celebration of the festive season, we will be trying goodies from 12 different countries. Ranging from champagne candy to mustard chips, these snacks are foods that are traditionally eaten during the holidays in their respective countries.
Qualitats Marzipan Brot | Germany
Marzipan Bar with Dark Chocolate
A Christmas in Germany without some marzipan on the menu is completely unheard of. Though the treat never really took off in the States or Canada, it is a huge thing in Germany and is eaten especially during the holidays. The backstory behind this treat is both one of sadness and triumph, as this treat originated during the times when a famine swept through the city of Lubeck in 1407. With limited to no access to wheat, the locals got creative by mixing ground almonds and sugar together to form a paste in the shape of bread loaves. This recipe has been passed down for centuries now, and remains one of the top holiday treats in the country. Though there are different ways of making this snack, we’ll be trying the traditional version made using only the raw almonds and sugar as well as a dark chocolate coating to top it all off.
Rating – 3/5
Pierniki Uszatki | Poland
Gingerbread with Mint Icing
From gingerbread men cookies to gingerbread houses, the holidays are synonym with gingerbread, with it being found virtually everywhere in all shapes and forms. For Poland however, the stuff is a necessity and Christmas just isn’t the same without it. As part of the ‘twelve dishes of Polish Christmas’, gingerbread is consumed by basically every family in Poland during the winter time. Pierniki is also one of the most popular gifts given to children on St Nicholas day and locals even bake mini versions of the stuff to hang as ornaments on their Christmas trees. The mini pierniki in this month’s box are perfect for hanging on a tree but with it’s mint icing and fragrant spices, it’s guaranteed they’ll be eaten before they even make it anywhere near your tree.
Rating – 4/5
Straznicke Bramburky | Czech Republic
Mustard Potato Chips
While typically Christmas is celebrated on the 25th of December, in the Czech Republic, the big celebration takes place the day before on the 24th. Every year on this day, the Czechs celebrate something called ‘stedry den’ or ‘generous day.’ On this day, friends and family gather together to share in a massive meal and when the sun sets on the day and the first star appears, the traditional, signature spread is served. This spread consists of fried fish with heaping mounds of ‘bramborovy salat’, which is a potato salad made using mustard. Though we won’t be chowing down on any fried fish this time around, these unique potato chips perfectly capture the savory yet spicy and tangy flavors of the ‘bramborovy salat’.
Rating – 0/5
Prickly Pear Yugwa Candy | South Korea
Prickly Pear Flavored Rice Candy
Yugwa, this light, crispy rice candy, is Korea’s most fascinating and beloved holiday treat. This delicacy has been around for ages, having been created in the year 918, as a substitute for fruit in the winter time. This treat has long been reserved to be eaten only on special occasions such as the holidays or weddings. The method in making the yugwa is also highly strict and since it is regulated by the Korean government, it is only allowed to be made by a Korean Food Grand Master. The process the Grand Master must take to create this treat, involves soaking rice in water for 5 days straight and then pounding it into a fine powder which is then mixed with honey, fruit, and more water. The dough is then cut into smaller pieces then soaked in more honey and laid out to dry in the shade. Lastly, once dry, the dough is twice fried in oil and then finished off with yet another layer of honey along with puffed rice to top it off.
Rating – 4/5
San Andres Crunchy Chocolate Turron | Spain
Chocolate Nougat with Crisped Rice
A Christmas in Spain without any turron is just completely unheard of and something never before seen. This sticky treat is a staple in Spanish cuisine during the festive period which runs from the 25th of December through to the 6th of January. Though originally there were only two types of turron available, either hard or soft, over the decades there has been a new type of turron that has stolen the hearts of the Spanish. This special turron is made using chocolate which is blended rich cocoa and puffed rice for a crispy yet creamy delicacy.
Rating – 3/5
PopSmile Sweet Egg Yolk Popcorn | Taiwan
Popcorn with Egg Yolk Flavored Coating
Though you may think of eggs as a staple breakfast food normally served with a side of bacon and a few slices of toast, they are so much more than that in Taiwan. Eggs, more specifically the yolks, hold important significance to the locals and are the focus of multiple holiday celebrations, such as during the Dragon Boat Festival, and the Moon Festival as well as during Christmas time. The Taiwanese have created many different foods using the precious egg yolks including this popcorn, which has a salty corn crunch and sweet buttery coating.
Rating – 1/5
Piselli Pandoro Chocolate Cream | Italy
Chocolate Cream Filled Pastry Cake
Translating to ‘golden bread’, pandoro is a beloved treat in Italy and is traditionally eaten during the holidays. This pastry is one of the few things the Italians prefer to buy prepackaged as opposed to making it homemade, due to the complex baking process it takes to create these cakes. The intricate baking process takes up to 30 hours and requires four long rising periods follow by more three more resting periods once the dough is rolled out. After that, it is then rolled out into a special angled mold and then slowly baked to achieve that golden-brown crust. With a rich, and luscious cocoa cream filling, this golden bread pastry is the perfect treat for the holidays.
Rating – 4/5
Jabri Mixed Baklava | Jordan
Pastries with Cashews and Pistachios
Made using paper thin phyllo pastry as well as nuts and syrup, this flaky dessert is one of Jordan’s favorite holiday treats and is served every year on Eid Al-Fitr, to mark the end of the Ramadan fast. In the weeks leading up the this special day, bakeries and restaurants across the country, spend weeks preparing these pastries in a large number of varieties. The Jabri classic holiday assortment included in this month’s box, allows us to get a taste of two different varieties of baklava, including the traditional layer baklava with crushed cashews and then the vermicelli ‘bird’s nests’ version stuffed with pistachios.
Rating – 3/5
Sol Del Cusco Chocolate | Peru
Hot Chocolate Bar with Cinnamon and Cloves
Not to be fooled, this isn’t your regular chocolate bar, as this one is actually made to be drank and not eaten. This cinnamon and clove infused chocolate bar is used to make ‘chocolatada’ which is a fragrant hot chocolate that is typically enjoyed throughout Peru on Christmas Eve. While hot chocolate during the Christmas period sounds like a great idea to warm up and get cozy, December is actually the start of the summer season in Peru where average temperatures are around 77 degrees, yet the warm weather doesn’t stop the people of Peru from sipping on their favorite holiday beverage.
Rating – 2/5
Jumbo Raspberry Hamantaschen | USA
Pastry with Raspberry Jam
Created especially for the Jewish holiday of Purim, these pastries are soft and chewy on the outside with a tart, raspberry jam filling. The holiday in which they were created for, takes place in March and celebrates the saving of the Jewish people from a royal advisor named Haman who had planned to get rid of all the Jews in ancient Persia. Though it is quite uncertain as to what the triangle shape of the pastry is supposed to mean, there are a few different theories including that it is meant to resemble Haman’s three-cornered hat or his ear after it was supposedly cut off. Whatever the reasoning behind the pastry, one thing for sure is that you won’t be able to get enough of it.
Rating – 5/5
Stockley’s Mince Pie Fudge | United Kingdom
Spiced Fudge with Raisins
Early on in the 11th century, Middle Eastern countries developed a method to preserve meat using fruit, sugar, and spices. This technique was brought over to England, about three hundred years later, where a multitude of different dishes were created because of this special method. One of these dishes was a savory Christmas pie made with minced meat, dried fruit, as well as a blend of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. This dish was served at King Henry’s coronation, where it quickly became very popular throughout the United Kingdom. Since that moment on, mince pie has remained a staple dish during the holidays and is now regularly consumed on Boxing Day, which falls on the day after Christmas.
Rating – 2/5
Pink Champagne Candy | United Kingdom
Pink Champagne Flavored Hard Candy
Starting the new year off on the right foot is typically something that everyone hopes to do, but in Scotland, they take this quite literally. There is a tradition in the country that says that the first person to enter a house on New Year’s Eve is then known as the first foot and will bring either bad or good luck in the upcoming year. Once this person is chosen, they are responsible for bringing gifts including a coin for prosperity, bread for food, coal for warmth, salt for flavor, and of course, a drink for good cheer. The drink of choice tends to champagne which is the flavor of these candies, and with a sweet and sparkling flavor, they’re sure to start any year off on the right foot.
Rating – 4/5
Lucky New Year’s Candy | China
Crunchy Sesame Candy
Not only is red the color of Christmas, it also signifies good luck, fortune, and happiness for those living in China. Every year during the Chinese New Year, which is typically celebrated in February, there is a huge party where giant red dragons dance in the streets, red envelopes filled with money are given as gifts, and these red candies can be found everywhere. These iconic candies are China’s most famous holiday candy and are made with peanuts and crumbly layers of black sesame.
Rating – 2/5
Another month of Universal Yums taste testing in the bag and on to the next, where we will be trying snacks from another brand new country.
In the meantime, be sure to catch up on any previous Universal Yums boxes I’ve done in the past, and I’ll see you all here next month.