When one thinks of Mexican cuisine, the mind immediately pictures the colorful images of crispy nachos with a piquant salsa, meaty chili con carne, well cooked meats served with rich, dark mole sauces or the all-time favorite – tacos. All of these are foods from different parts of Mexico, yet they provide only a tiny view of its vast cuisine. For no conversation about food can ever be complete without a tantalizing look into its desserts.
Doughy, deep-fried, sugar sprinkled churros dipped in smooth chocolate sauce have become a staple of any Latin American feast. While these addictive treats have their roots in Spain, they have now become a Mexican favourite too.
Another Catalan influenced dessert is the flan – a rich creamy concoction, similar to a caramel custard. Try making this dessert with candied oranges, or chocolate spiked with chilies, or use coconut milk for an unexpected flavour and don’t forget to garnish it with some sparkling silvered almonds.
Speaking of milk, have you heard of the Tres Leche cake? Its name comes from the three (tres) types of milk (leche) used in the cake. This is a classic Mexican dessert where a sponge cake without butter is baked, soaked in a syrup of condensed milk and topped with a layer of frosting making it the perfect end to a good Mexican feast.
Another Mexican milk product is Cajeta. The thick and sinful Cajeta is a lot like dulce de leche. The difference between the two is that while dulce de leche is made from cow’s milk, the Cajeta is made from goat’s cheese, lending it a distinctive flavour. Perfect to eat by itself, the cajeta is even better when swirled into brownies, topped over pound cakes, poured into a dessert smoothie or simply used as frosting for cupcakes.
Popular across all of Latin America are sopaipillas – airy square pockets of fried dough, dusted with icing sugar and meant to be eaten hot.
If however, desserts have to be about chocolate, then go with the darkest bar you can find. Melt it down, thicken it with some cream and finish it off with some ancho chili powder for the most glorious hot chocolate ever. The combination of chocolate and chili has become so much a part of Mexican cuisine that it works in almost any format, be it an ice cream, panna cotta, pudding, frosting, cake or cookie.
So go ahead and try out some of these Mexican delicacies at your next fiesta or when the mood to cook, creatively strikes!