Sweet and creamy flan may be the best known dessert from Mexico, but it definitely has company at the end of a meal. Syrupy cheese curds, spicy pumpkin chunks and other regional specialties abound, as do desserts with Spanish origins brought to Mexico in the 1600s. Mexicans enjoy candies and rice puddings after meals and cinnamon-dusted street food snacks to hold off hunger at any time of the day.
Custards of Many Textures
Soft, creamy and eggy flan custard is only one of a variety of Mexican custards. In Mexico, flan is typically loaded with vanilla and served in a pool of caramel. Orange-, coconut- and almond-flavored flans appear in the Gulf areas of the country. Cocada, a more dense and coconut-flavored custard, is sometimes so dense that it resembles macaroon cookies. Chocolate custard takes on a Mexican spin when it's flavored with Mexican cinnamon, a darker and more flavorful cinnamon than the typical American version.
Pastel de tres leches, or cake of three milks, appears on Mexico tables on special occasions but actually originated in Nicaragua. The cake is named for the sauce poured over it after cooking -- made with evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and cream. Churros, fried dough spirals or strands that resemble donuts, have a Spanish heritage, but are frequently served with a typical Mexican blend of cinnamon and sugar.
Fresh or Iced Fruits
Mexicans serve fruit in a variety of ways. Street vendors might serve mangoes skewered on sticks; mixed fruits in paper cones sprinkled with salt; and chili powder or fried plantains, which more starchy than bananas eaten in the United States. Fruit desserts served in a home might include poached guavas in a cinnamon, clove and lime juice syrup; flambeed mangoes; baked pineapple and banana desserts; or melons or pineapple made into icy granitas and ice creams.
Mexican candies appear as dessert after a meal at home or as snacks any time of day. Cookbook author Rick Bayliss cites Puebla as the candy capital of Mexico, with its milk fudge, sweet-potato or nut candies. Other regional specialties include fruit jellies and caramels in Michoacan; coconut candy in San Cristobal; marzipan in Yucatan; and meringues and coconut candies in Oaxaca. A goat's milk caramel, called cajeta, is a candy and a syrup throughout Mexico.
- Authentic Mexican; Rick Bayless
- Food & Wine: Mexican Desserts
- The Deluxe Food Lover's Companion; Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst
- The Essential Cuisines of Mexico; Diana Kennedy
- Photo Credit jantroyka/iStock/Getty Images
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