While hopping over to France to ring in the holiday season may not be possible this year, adding a taste—both literally and figuratively–of French flair to your holiday season has never been easier. Whether Christmas, Hanukkah, or New Year’s is the day you celebrate most, our team at Taste France has a few ideas of how to bring the best of France’s seasonal flavors to your holiday table. Check them out here!
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Christmas - Whip Up a Bûche de Noël
If you’re someone who loves holiday baking, adding a bûche de Noel to your Christmas dessert repertoire is a surefire way to bring a taste of France to your holiday table. Referred to in English as a yule log, this tasty chocolate dessert combines chocolate sponge cake, creamy filling, and a handful of colorful decorations on top—you decide whether cranberries, sprinkles, or all of the above make the cut.
Historically, the bûche de Noël tradition dates back to the 1800s. The shape (and color) of the cake pay homage to the traditional yule log that families would begin to burn on Christmas Eve, which symbolizes good luck in the new year to come. Although the dessert looks intricate, rest assured that it’s quite easy to make. Check out one of our go-to recipes here, and don’t forget to spring for a pour of French dessert wine or eau-de-vie to pair with it.
Hanukkah - Play Around with Brie, Camembert, or Roquefort with Bourekas
For savory, cheese-filled pastries that can go the limits (and promise to please a crowd at holiday gatherings), look no further than bourekas. Popular in Sephardic Jewish and Israeli cuisines, these savory pastries are made in an array of shapes and styles, though generally speaking, puff pastry / filo dough and soft white cheeses are the staples.
Although feta and kashkaval cheese are the common go-to picks, for a French twist, experiment with using Brie or Camembert in your at-home recipes—and for those unafraid of a serious flavor punch, playing around with Roquefort promises a tasty alternative. As of 2013, Israel passed a law regulating that all bourekas crafted with puff pastry and dairy sold in kosher-certified bakeries must be formed into round or square shapes.
New Year’s Eve - Toast with Champagne
Sparkling wine and celebrations go hand in hand, and no other style embodies French joie de vivre like that of Champagne. Crafted in the eponymous region just east of Paris, these world-class sparklers are deemed the best expressions of bubbly in the world, and it’s really no surprise why. With centuries of history, strict regulations, and a unique terroir unlike anywhere else in the world, these unmatchable bottles of bubbles are as special as they are tasty—and we can’t think of a better region to spring for to ring in the New Year.
From non-vintage to vintage, village-level to grand cru, or blended to Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, and beyond, understanding the many intricacies of Champagne can be a difficult feat. Though worry not! Our team at Taste France has your back. To level up your knowledge on France’s most bubbly wine-producing region, check out our Champagne explainer, here.
Epiphany - Galette des Rois
In addition to Christmas and Easter, the Epiphany is one of the oldest holidays of the Christian church, despite being less widely celebrated as the former two dates. This sacred day commemorates the Magi’s first visit to Jesus, though in the present day, is more generally celebrated culturally as a big feast day. In France, this is where the time-honored tradition of the Galette des Rois comes in. Produced from puff pastry and almond cream, this tasty dessert is not only delicious, but also holds a small game within itself.
Each Galette des Rois is prepared with a small porcelain fève (charm) hidden inside of the cake. Upon serving the cake, the lucky guest who finds the fève within their slice becomes the king or queen of the day—and also gets to wear the golden crown that comes with said cake, if purchased from a French boulangerie. In theory, the king or queen gets to make all of the decisions for the rest of the day, but depending on who wins the game, we recommend taking that tradition into consideration…
Looking to bake your own Galette des Rois at home? Check out our curated recipe sourced from Chef Cedric Servela, here.
From our Taste France family to yours, we wish you a happy, healthy, and joyous holiday season!