10 destinations to celebrate National Cookie Day

Chocolate cookies against a white backdrop

Everyone loves a cookie. Whether filled with gooey chocolate, dusted in sugar, or packing a punch of spice, they’re a tea-time treat for every taste. As it’s National Cookie Day on Saturday 4th December, what better way to celebrate the nation’s favorite sweet snack than by counting down 10 of the most delicious cookies from around the world? A plateful of these would guarantee anyone a very happy National Cookie Day!

If you’re lucky enough to be staying in one of our Top Villas vacation homes this National Cookie Day, enjoy the freedom of baking your own cookies in your luxury private kitchen. Better yet, hire the services of one of our private chefs and savor a treat-filled getaway!

Lebkuchen in Germany

Pronounced LAYB-kue-chen, these delicious German cookies are a mainstay of Christmas celebrations in central Europe. Many countries have their own spin on lebkuchen, but it’s Germany, where they are originally from, that does them best. Lebkuchen are, in some senses, similar to traditional gingerbread. They are soft-baked cookies, flavored delicately with warming spices, perfect for keeping out the chill during a German winter. Lebkuchen spices typically include cinnamon and ginger, with sweetness added by stirring honey into the mix. The biggest exporter of lebkuchen in Germany is the city of Nuremberg, which is perhaps the best place in the country to get your hands on some. You can also find fantastic lebkuchen hearts and gift cookies at Oktoberfest and at Christmas markets all over Germany. Take a look at our Christmas market guide for tips about visiting the markets in Germany.

Lebkuchen hearts at a German Christmas market

Afghan Biscuits in New Zealand

Despite the confusing name, Afghan biscuits are as Kiwi as they come! There is debate about the origins of the name. Some people believe it’s from when they were sent by loving wives to soldiers fighting overseas in the Second Afghan War in the 19th century. Others think that the craggy appearance of the biscuits resembles the mountainous landscape of Afghanistan. However they got their name, one thing that everyone agrees on, is that they’re delicious. Afghan cookies are made of a basic biscuit base with cornflakes and cocoa powder folded in. They have a high butter content and relatively little sugar, which creates a melt-in-the-mouth texture. The cookies are always topped with chocolate icing and a walnut kernel.

Afghan biscuits with chocolate icing and a walnut

Speculaas in The Netherlands

Hailing from The Netherlands, Speculaas are traditional Dutch cookies with a spicy kick. Speculaas recipes include a whole menu of spices (known locally as ‘Speculaaskruiden’), including any number of cinnamon, cloves, mace, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, coriander, anise seeds, and pepper.

This warming concoction owes its roots to the trade roots of the Dutch East India Company in the 17th century, which bought back tastes and flavors of Indonesian cuisine, which still has an influence on Dutch cuisine to this day. Dutch Speculaas cookies are distinctive in the way that they look as well as in the way that they taste. Traditionally, a wooden stamp was used to press designs and patterns relating to St Nicholas onto the biscuits, which were eaten to celebrate St Nicholas Day on the 5th and 6th December. Nowadays, Dutch people enjoy Speculaas cookies throughout the festive season. They can be found year-round in grocery stores and bakeries.

Dutch speculaas cookies in of a windmill

Nan-e-Berenji in Iran

The delightful cookies are a delicate, light, and airy treat from the Iranian city Kermanshah. Nan-e-Bereji (نان برنجی) translates as rice bread, which gives you an idea of the ingredients and texture that goes into making them. They are traditionally flavored with rose and cardamom, giving them a floral, elegant taste, which is wonderfully refreshing in the heat of an Iran summer. The cookies are eaten all year-round and their lightness makes them a fantastic snack to nibble on at any time of day.

Persian rice cookies or Nan-e-Berenji in a glass bowl

Chocolate chip cookie in the USA

If there was a crowned King of the cookies, it would have to be the chocolate chip. Whether you prefer them soft and gooey or crunchy and buttery, there’s no denying that a good chocolate chip cookie hits the spot as nothing else can. America is the birthplace and leading light in terms of producing amazing cookies, with varieties ranging from traditional milk or white chocolate chip cookies to recipes with mint and coconut. You can find specialist bakeries in every state, and the art of making a great chocolate cookie has become a fiercely fought competition. 

Chocolate chip cookies against a bright blue backdrop

Almendrados in Spain

Spain may not be your first thought when you imagine great cookie-making countries. However, this vacation favorite has a few tricks up its apron sleeves that might surprise you. One of the most locally beloved products made in Spain is almendrados. They are almond cookies, traditionally enjoyed around the festive period. These nutty little delights are available all over Spain as a snack with a hot cup of coffee. They are made from a very simple recipe of egg whites beaten to stiff peaks, then sugar, egg yolks, and ground almonds are folded in and baked gently until the cookies are golden brown.

Spanish almendrados almond cookies

Macarons in France

You don’t have to be a dedicated follower of fashion to enjoy our next cookie pick, even if they do have a reputation for being oh-so-fashionable. We are, of course, talking about French macarons, probably the chicest biscuit in the world. Today, macarons are as French as baguettes, cheese, and the Eiffel Tower, but originally, they weren’t from France at all. They were in fact invented in Italy and brought into France around 1533, for the soon-to-be French queen Catherine de Medici. Macaron fever soon took hold, and today macarons are the most popular cookie in the country. In fact, the famous macaron house Laduree sells over 4000000 macarons every year. It also exports them to biscuit connoisseurs all over the world.

But what exactly is a macaron, and why do these colorful little cookies inspire such a following? They are a dainty, light, and airy 3 layer cookie, consisting of 2 meringue shells around a chewy middle layer. They come in a rainbow of colors and a plethora of flavors. Popular choices included chocolate macarons, fruit flavors including lemon and strawberry, and delicate floral flavors, such as rose. Paris is one of the top places to get your hands on macarons. You don’t have to go far in the French capital to see a shop window displaying beautiful arrangements of pastel cookies. The aforementioned Laduree bakers are the masters of making macarons. They have 4 shops across Paris, so it’s easy to pick up a gorgeously decorated box to try.

A row of colorful macarons

Chocolate digestives in the UK

British people love a biscuit. Biscuits in the UK are not quite the same as they are in America. Whereas in the States, ‘biscuits’ are a baked bread accompaniment to savory meals, in the UK, biscuits are the equivalent of American cookies. On average, each British person buys 500 biscuits every year. Biscuit consumption in the UK is the highest of anywhere in the world. In a nation of such ravenous biscuit aficionados, deciding the UK’s favorite biscuit is a serious business. So serious, that in the UK there’s an annual poll to find the best.

Taking the crown for the past several years has been the chocolate digestive. In fact, ⅓ of people surveyed named a chocolate digestive as their favorite biscuit of all time. Originally, a digestive was made with baking soda to aid digestion, hence the rather unappetizing name. Whether or not a chocolate digestive could be described as a healthy snack is up for debate, but what isn’t is that they taste absolutely delicious. Especially when eaten in the true British way, dunked into a hot cup of tea. When scientifically tested, the chocolate digestive was found to be good for 8 dunks into a hot beverage before it crumbled. That’s a pretty decent outcome when you take the noble art of biscuit dunking as seriously as British people do.

The big name in chocolate digestives is McVities, which you can get from grocery stores across the country. McVities chocolate digestives are available in milk and dark chocolate and are the best-selling biscuit in Britain.

A circle of chocolate digestive biscuits around a cup of tea

Biscotti in Italy

If anywhere’s going to do a great cookie, it’s going to be Italy. The country responsible for such gastronomic triumphs as pizza, pasta, and tiramisu has, unsurprisingly, quite a few fantastic cookies. The most famous is the Italian biscotti. This crispy biscuit is a huge part of coffee culture in Italy. It is always served on a saucer alongside your coffee of choice. But what is biscotti?

They go back all the way back to the ancient Roman empire when they were a cookie that could be taken on long trips and voyages. Their hard, dry texture means that they have a long shelf life and spoil over long periods of time. It’s believed that Christopher Colombus kept a stash of biscotti in his ships on his voyages to the Americas. The biscotti recipe hasn’t changed much in all those years. The basic ingredients are flour, eggs, sugar, and almonds or pine nuts. The cookies are twice baked to give them that crunchy, hard texture. Originally, they were dipped in sweet wine, but nowadays, they accompany hot beverages. Their crunchy texture makes them the perfect thing to dip into drinks. You can also pick up variations on the traditional flavors, with versions including chocolate, lemon, and amaretto available.

Italian cranberry and almond biscotti in a colorful tin

Paprenjaci in Croatia

In Croatia, cookies are served with a twist! The winter months need something tasty and warming to stave off the cold, and Paprenjaci is just the thing. These delicious Croatian cookies have an unconventional ingredient; black pepper. This gives the biscuits a firey flavor which is unique and just perfect for a warming winter snack. Traditionally, Croatian Paprenjaci cookies were simple squares with stamped imagery of Pagan or Christian symbols on them. In modern times, they are much more varied in shape and design, but the basic premise remains the same. Authentic Paprenjaci are available widely across Croatia, but the original pepper variety is most common in the capital city, Zagreb. There are also regional variations, such as a spiced version, found in Hvar.

Croatian black pepper cookies

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