One of the most treasured Peruvian Christmas traditions surely is having a thick slice of Panetón with a steaming cup of freshly prepared hot chocolate for breakfast, in the afternoon or as goody in between throughout the holiday season.
In rural areas it’s still very common to share this delicious treat on Christmas Eve late at night with family and friends.
Pannettone, as it is known in originating Italy, came to Peru with Italian immigrants in the mid-20th century. Soon it gained such popularity that it wasn't only consumed and sold for Christmas everywhere in the country, but also for the celebrations of Peru’s independence in July and now even year round. Malicious gossip even has it that the Peruvian Panetón by far surpassed the Italian original in flavor and texture.
Panetón actually is just a simple yeasted sweet bread with candied fruits and raisins that is fermented a couple of days to develop its special taste and then baked in a round paper pan to a huge cupcake-shaped light and fluffy cake. While numerous brands in Peru selling Panetónes more or less stick to the original ingredients and flavor (a few companies may sell Panetón with chocolate chips or nuts), locals especially in the Andes are more creative. Depending on where they are, they add for example potato flour, sweat potatoes, spices such as ginger, oats, amaranth, quinoa or even coca flour to the dough making this delicious treat even more Peruvian.
During the Advent season, so-called “chocolatadas” are very popular throughout Peru. Kindergartens, schools, companies, clubs and charity organizations invite children, workers or the poor to a get-together where a chunk of tasty Panetón and hot chocolate, prepared by melting a bitter-sweet chocolate bar in evaporated milk, is served, sometimes even together with a small Christmas present.