'Dulces' on Serious Eats

Dulces: Bocaditos de Corn Flakes y Leche Condensada (Corn Flake Clusters)

What we were there to get: one large box of Kellogg's Corn Flakes and one can of sweetened condensed milk. Someone sprinted to the living room to return the keys while someone else fetched a stool. Yet another would rattle and rummage for a large pot and a long-handled wooden stirring spoon. I would fill a bowl with water while baking sheets were set up in the dining room. This was a house of seven children, though some were too young to participate, and I loved the buzz of activity and sense that everyone had a task, much like Cinderella's mice. More

Dulces: Turrón de Alicante (Nougat with Marcona Almonds)

Usually, we—my dad and I—would be at the pharmacy or checkout aisle in the supermarket and we'd toss a few glossy rectangular boxes into the red plastic shopping basket or already packed cold metal cart. But somehow, those gold-lettered boxes and cellophane wrapper, along with the excitement of Christmas being just a few days away, made a bar of nut-encrusted, wafer covered, crunchy, pale golden nougat a once-a-year treat that I truly looked forward to. More

Dulces: Buñuelos de Rodilla (Mexican Christmas Fritters)

Buñuelos de rodilla are just such a recipe. These "knee fritters" are named that way because the flat disks of translucent dough are shaped upon the knees of women. Imagine spending a whole day carefully stretching hundred of buñuelos, crafting them so they fry up crisp, golden, and airy. The picture of this scene is wondrous and really illustrates how even the humblest foods are treated with respect and affection. More

Dulces: Banana-Dulce de Leche Bread Pudding

Torta de pan—bread pudding—is not a novel concept to the dessert repertoire of many countries; in Latin America it is an everyday and very casero (homey) preparation. Variations and interpretations are abundant but not exhausting, surely due to the ease of its assembly and its always pleasing result. The custard-soaked and baked dessert is also a sensible way to salvage stale bread scraps that would otherwise find themselves tossed out with the fish guts and vegetable parings. More

Dulces: Pan de Muerto

Food is a central part of Día de los muertos. Pan de muerto is a sweet, soft bread, coated with sugar and made fragrant with the beautiful aroma of orange blossom water. Even if you won't be rapping your knuckles on stranger's doors on behalf of your calaverita, this is a festive and curious bread that's worth trying. More

Dulces: Tres Leches de Coco (Coconut Tres Leches Cake)

Tres leches is a personal favorite, immortalized in my taste memory by my mother's recipe, here slightly modified to make room for a bit of tropical taste and texture. One of her signature desserts, it's a large fluffy sponge thirsting for a flood of the milky trifecta. Just when it seems there is much too much liquid, that the cake will drown, the cake slurps it up, gushing out only when prodded with a greedy fork. More

Dulces: Torta de Higos (Fig Torte)

Lunch was usually at a popular steak house like Los Ranchos, known for the churrasco and creamy salsa jalapeña. The dessert menu was flimsy and limited to a few uninspired ice cream flavors, the unavoidable overcooked flan, and cocoa-deficient chocolate cake, but there was one saving grace: the torta de higos. It's an easy construction of three components: cake, custard, and poached figs, but together, holy trinity, Batman More

Dulces: Arroz con Leche (Rice Pudding)

I couldn't help but think of the stereotypical fiery Latin temperament when I was making this recipe. Arroz con leche (riz au lait or rice pudding), is such a languid, drowsy, gentle thing, so tender it's even suitable for those with smooth gums and weak constitutions, and yet, it is among the most well-liked and frequently made desserts throughout Latin America. Maybe we're all bark and no bite. More

Dulces: Calzones Rotos (Chilean Fried Pastries)

In Chile, legend has it that a woman who sold fried dough in a Santiago square during colonial times was surprised by a strong gust of wind that made her skirt fly up. The big reveal: her underpants were torn. Today, the pastries she sold are still prepared in Chile. They're called calzones rotos (torn ladies' underwear) to her—and her mother's—eternal shame. More

Dulces: Flan de Caramelo (Caramel Flan)

I resisted writing about flan for a long time. "How stereotypical!" I thought. After the eye roll followed performance anxiety. There's an overwhelming amount of bad flan made, served, and somehow eaten every day. Bad flan, riddled with deep dimples, like a bad case of cellulite. Bad flan, undercooked and slippery, like a strange serpentine sea creature swimming down your throat. Good flan should have slight jiggle, but more along the lines of a trainer-tightened posterior than a waterbed. Good flan is minimalist and sleek, like an expensive silk blouse. More

Dulces: Alfajores (Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies)

My husband says alfajores are in Latin America's what the Oreo is in the U.S. The sandwich cookies are arguably as recognizable, but they've got a more elaborate history. Alfajor is a derivation of an Arabic word meaning "stuffed," as these treats are. Popular in Spain and in multiple Latin American countries, the alfajor was introduced—along with other foods and cultural elements—to the Iberian Peninsula during the centuries-long Moorish occupation that began in the 8th century. More

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